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Five tragic flaws of the overambitious runner

Be sure to avoid these five mistakes and you'll significantly lower your risk of injury

Has this ever happened to you? You feel good, strong and like nothing can stop you, and then—poof! Your bubble bursts and you injure yourself. This is often attributed to errors in training. In fact, some studies have found that upwards of 60 per cent of running injuries can be attributed to training errors. What are these training errors, you ask? We’ve listed the five most common errors that you should avoid to give yourself a better shot at preventing injuries. 

Doing too much early on

Maybe you’re new to running, or maybe you’re just returning to training after dealing with an injury. Either way, a great way to hurt or re-injure yourself is to jump into things too quickly. Take it easy and don’t rush things. Going from zero training to a packed schedule is much more likely to hurt you than to benefit you. Instead, just gradually increase your workload. Remember: patience is a virtue.

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Going faster than you should

Another practice that can lead to your downfall and injury is pushing a pace for which you’re not yet ready. You might think this is easy to manage, but one situation when you may struggle with speed self-control is in a group run setting.

Think about it—you’re out with friends and they start to pick up the pace. It can be tough to ask them to slow down for you, and you might be tempted to just speed up with them. However, it’s better to run at a slower pace than you’d like, compared to not being able to run at all.

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Too many consecutive workouts 

Getting into running can be an exciting time. You’re experiencing a runner’s high, you feel fit, and you’re actually having fun doing your workouts. This can all lead to you wanting to run more, but you have to remember that rest days are just as important as training days. If you add runs to your schedule on days when you’re supposed to be relaxing, you could be putting yourself at risk of getting hurt. You might be able to get away with it a few times, but if you make this a regular habit, you’re bound to get injured eventually.

Premature load increase

No matter how much you run or how fit you feel, you can’t suddenly increase your weekly mileage by a substantial amount and expect everything to be OK. If at any point you ever find yourself thinking, “I should run an 80-kilometre week,” but your weekly average is 30 kilometres, stop, rethink, and try 40K out for size before making the jump.

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Too much intensity too often

Yes, track workouts are fun, and yes, going fast is what we all live for. As much as you want to satisfy your need for speed, though, try and curb that desire and keep the high-intensity workouts to a minimum. As a general rule, 80 per cent of your runs should be at an easy, aerobic pace, and just 20 per cent should be at a higher intensity. Besides, if you limit your fun speed workouts, you’ll appreciate them even more when it’s time to run them each week.