Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ongoing List of Mistakes and Lessons Learned

I find that there are many mistakes that I make and lessons learned almost every week that I run. Some lessons I continually learn over and over, others are experienced for the first time. The list below will be an ongoing project, one that I will compile, in no particular order, for myself as well as any other runners who are trying to learn from their mistakes as well as the mistakes that others have made. Ultimately this list will remind me of what not to do as I march ever onward towards that first Ultramarathon.

  1. Don’t overtrain; allow ample rest for your body to recover. Mistake: I was running and exercising continuously for days on end, sometimes 2 weeks straight. It never bothered me until I threw in 6.5 hours of tennis and then less than 12 hours later I ran a PR in a 10k. Problem was no rest and then went straight into two events where I exerted more energy than normal. Legs became tight and I couldn’t run for a few days.
  2. Eat and drink properly before an event or training. Mistake: Seems simple enough, but not always the case. I ate lunch at noon and the only fluid I had was a 40 oz. of coke at noon. Then I went and trained at 6:20. Result was I didn’t have the energy and hydration to be able to complete the training at the level that I wanted to train at.
  3. Don’t run on autopilot! Mistake: In the few races I have run this year so far I would always get tired and allow myself to run slower. I finally turned off autopilot and kicked it into high gear, overtaking the man in front of me at the end of the race. My legs have the strength to push on and I can dredge up more energy to increase my speed.
  4. Slower first mile then pick up pace. Mistake: Starting out the race on cold legs at a fast speed. Run the first mile at a good pace to warm the legs up, then increase the pace to the desired speed.
  5. Train with discipline. Mistake: Setting out and doing the same run, the same distance over and over again. Vary it up and go for a long endurance run, then do speed workout at the local track, then change it up and do a tough hill climb. The combination will ultimately put you in better shape and prepare you for the longer runs. Also cross train in other sports. Biking is a good one if you include hills, which will also prepare your lungs for the long runs.
  6. Pace, Pace, Pace. Mistake: My only races last year, the SF Marathon and the SJ Half Marathon, were run at terrible paces. I started out much faster than I should have and sapped my energy for the rest of the race. Each race takes a different pace. The 10k, for example, runs at 7-7:30 pace for me, whereas the Half Marathon at 8:30 pace. Mind your paces and you will go farther and faster than you ever have.
  7. Treat All Distances The Same. Mistake: I notice when I get ready for a shorter run, say a 4-5 mile run, I tend to drag my feet a little more than I should, and yet when I set out with the mind frame of running longer than 6 miles I feel light footed and don't drag my feet. Treat all distances as long distances and the miles will go by easier.
  8. Run the descents, walk the ascents. Mistake: No Mistake here, I knew that going into trail running that, and especially with endurance trail runs, you walk the ascents and run the descents. This prevents you from blowing all your energy and killing your legs by trying to run the hills too much.
  9. Don't run all the descents and don't walk all the ascents. Mistake: At about mile 16 at the Stevens Creek 50k was an extremely steep downhill. I took it like any other hill and tried to run it, although it was too steep to run so I had to lean back and do a half trot. All this did was not necessarily make up some time but definitely hurt my left knee from the massive amount of pressure the steepness caused from trying to run. I would have been better off walking it with that steep of a descent. Same with hills, run the ones that are manageable, and walk the steep ones.
  10. Just say NO! Mistake: After running the 50k last week I started to run again. The day went as such. I at lunch at 11:00, then met my brother at the gym at 4:00 and did some weight training on my chest and triceps for about 30-40 minutes, then decided to go out and run for an hour at 5:15 before eating anything. I got .2 of a mile in and knew immediately that it wouldn't be a good running day. Tired legs from the 50k, plus early lunch and hard weight training = no energy and heavy legs. Know when to say no to yourself and either not go out for a scheduled run or stop the run you are doing.

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