Running Times published a section in this month’s magazine discussing common mistakes that runners make. I’d like to focus this weeks blogs on a few of these by reviewing them. If they seem to overlap a bit, it’s because the mistakes tend to build on each other through different principals.
Mistake: Training at goal pace.
Walk before you run. Running at goal pace won’t get you there any faster. Incremental steps can make us better runners. A common error many runners make, especially when training for a long distance race such as the marathon, is to run their long runs at “goal pace”. They believe that this will prepare them for race day and they may even be able to run faster given that they are used to this pace. Unfortunately (or fortunately as many believe once they understand this!), that is not how the body responds to stress and improves. Be patient and allow the body to adapt. Running your long runs slower will allow the body to gradually adapt and in some ways recover for a harder run that is approaching. It is common in training for a marathon to have 2 important runs a week – the tempo run and the long run. Everything else (including the long run) is done at an easy aerobic pace.
Running at goal pace will not get us to goal race shape more quickly. If it worked that way, then every runner who went to the track and ran 200m reps in under 30 seconds would be a 4 minute miler. If we train for goals as if we already achieved them we will most likely overtrain and end up with an injury.