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Maximize Your Spring Training: 4 Mistakes to Avoid

Updated: Jan 5

Springtime is a common time to see more running-related injuries. This is partly because training errors are the number one cause of running-related injuries!

‍Show up to the start line of your spring races injury free by avoiding these common training mistakes:

Mistake #1: Starting back up right where you left off in the fall⁠

It’s time to check back on what your training looked like in the fall and start there, right? NO!⁠ Our bodies are constantly adapting to our day-to-day activity levels. So, if you haven’t run all winter or if you ran very minimally, your body has now CHANGED to fit your activity level from over the winter. Our bodies don’t live in the past but rather change to fit the demands of the present movement. Look back at what you have done in the past month and start your gradual training build from there.

With that said, keep in mind that being generally fit is not the same as being fit to run long distances. If you crushed skiing, cross-fit classes, or indoor biking this winter, that’s great! But these activities do not place the same specific load on the body as running does. Doing other types of exercise helps your general cardiovascular fitness, which is awesome! But it does not stress your tendons, muscles, bones, and other tissues in the exact same way as running and we need to respect that so we do not overload the body in the spring by doing too much running right off the bat. ⁠

Mistake #2: Going from 100% treadmill running to 100% pavement running⁠

The treadmill does a wonderful job of creating a little give while we run, leading to less load on the body. Pavement doesn’t offer this same give, leading to runners getting injured if they go from 100% treadmill running to 100% pavement running in the spring.⁠ Here is a general plan to follow to gradually ease back into pavement running:

Week 1: 1 short run on outside

Week 2: 2 short runs outside

Week 3: 1 short run and 1 long run outside

Week 4: 2 short runs and 1 long run outside

Week 5: All runs outside, including speed work

Mistake #3: Running really fast all the time

Spring is here! We feel happy and light and full of energy!! This extra excitement can lead to people running really fast all the time. This leads to overloading the body, making it really hard for our bodies to recover between runs. When our bodies can’t recover between runs, our tissue break down and get weaker, eventually leading to injury.⁠

Mistake #4: Not training enough for your spring races

We often hear about “overtraining” but, not training enough is a more common issue. Make sure to give yourself enough time to train for your spring races. This can be really tough to do, especially for us Midwest runners who have to deal with insane late winter/early spring weather conditions. We need to accept that our bodies don’t adapt well to short bouts of intense changes in exercise. You will be much more successful at your races and have significantly less risk for injury if you focus on consistent, long-term training.

Here are some general training time frames to follow for your upcoming races:

50-100 miles: 5-6 months

Full marathon: 4-5 months

Half marathon: 4-5 months

5k-10k: 2-4 months

Along with this, avoid signing up for races last minute if you haven’t trained for them. You won’t impress anyone by saying “I didn’t really train for this” and the few kudos you get for doing the race don’t outweigh the risk of getting injured and needing to spend weeks, months, or even longer rehabbing an injury. We know you are tough and can suffer through a race! But, is doing 1 race really worth all the time and money you will spend on physical therapy appointments? Take a second to weight the LONG-TERM pros and cons of signing up for a race. If you are having a bit of FOMO as you see other people signing up for races, get involved in other ways! Races always need volunteers!

I hope you have a healthy, happy, and successful spring of running!

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