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  • Writer's pictureLoren Wooldridge

The Top 5 Training Errors Endurance Runners Make and How to Avoid Them

As physical therapist's, we often work with endurance runners who are passionate about their sport but find themselves sidelined by injuries. While running is an excellent form of exercise that offers numerous health benefits, it can also be hard on the body, especially when training is not approached correctly. As much as injuries can occur due to running form issues, more injuries come from training errors. With that knownledge, here are the top five training errors we see endurance runners make, along with detailed explanations, signs that these errors might be happening, and tips on how to avoid them.


running training
Runner training

1. Overtraining

Error: Pushing the body too hard without adequate rest.


Why It's a Problem: Overtraining occurs when the body is subjected to more physical stress than it can recover from. This leads to a breakdown in muscle tissue, increased risk of injury, chronic fatigue, and even mental burnout.


Signs This Error Is Happening:

  • Persistent soreness and fatigue

  • Decreased performance despite consistent training

  • Irritability and mood swings

  • Increased incidence of injuries

  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns


Solution:

  • Rest Days: Incorporate at least one full rest day per week. This allows your muscles to repair and grow stronger.

  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to signs of fatigue and soreness. If you're feeling unusually tired, take an extra day off or opt for a light activity instead.

  • Cross-Training: Engage in low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling to give your running muscles a break while maintaining your fitness.

  • Periodization: Structure your training into cycles that include phases of intense training followed by phases of lower intensity or rest.


runner lifting weights
Runner weight training

2. Ignoring Strength Training

Error: Focusing solely on running and neglecting strength training.


Why It's a Problem: Running primarily uses certain muscle groups, and over time, this can lead to muscle imbalances. Weakness in supporting muscles can cause biomechanical inefficiencies and overuse injuries such as shin splints, IT band syndrome, and plantar fasciitis.


Signs This Error Is Happening:

  • Recurrent overuse injuries

  • Poor running form and posture

  • Muscle imbalances and asymmetry

  • Plateau in performance despite increased running mileage


Solution:

  • Core Workouts: Include exercises like planks, Russian twists, and leg raises to strengthen your core muscles, which are essential for maintaining good running form.

  • Leg Strengthening: Incorporate squats, lunges, calf raises, and deadlifts to build the muscles in your legs and hips.

  • Upper Body: Don’t neglect your upper body. Exercises like push-ups, rows, and shoulder presses improve overall strength and posture.

  • Frequency: Aim for at least two strength training sessions per week, focusing on all major muscle groups.


3. Mismanaging Training Intensities

Error: Making the easy days too hard and the hard days too easy.


Why It's a Problem: Effective training requires a balance between stress and recovery. Easy days are meant for recovery, allowing the body to adapt to the stresses of harder workouts. If easy days are too intense, recovery is incomplete, leading to cumulative fatigue and increased injury risk. Conversely, if hard days are not challenging enough, you won't stimulate the necessary adaptations for improvement.


Signs This Error Is Happening:

  • Feeling fatigued on supposed easy days

  • Lack of improvement in performance metrics

  • Difficulty completing hard workouts

  • Consistently high perceived exertion levels


Solution:

  • Easy Days: Keep the pace conversational and heart rate low. These runs should feel relaxing and enjoyable.

  • Hard Days: Include interval training, tempo runs, and hill workouts to push your limits and improve speed and endurance.

  • Monitoring Tools: Use heart rate monitors or perceived exertion scales to ensure you are training at the correct intensity.

  • Plan Variation: Follow a structured training plan that includes clear guidelines for different types of workouts and their intended intensities.



4. Ignoring Pain and Symptoms

Error: Running through pain and ignoring warning signs from the body.


Why It's a Problem: Pain is the body's way of signaling that something is wrong. Ignoring pain can turn minor issues into serious injuries, such as stress fractures, tendonitis, or muscle tears, which can require lengthy rehabilitation and time off from running.


Signs This Error Is Happening:

  • Persistent or worsening pain during or after runs

  • Changes in gait or running form to compensate for pain

  • Increased use of painkillers to manage discomfort

  • Swelling, redness, or stiffness in specific areas


Solution:

  • Immediate Action: Stop running if you feel sharp or persistent pain. Rest and ice the affected area and consider over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.

  • Professional Advice: Consult with a physical therapist or healthcare provider if pain persists. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.

  • Preventive Measures: Incorporate regular stretching, foam rolling, and other recovery techniques into your routine. Listen to your body and adjust your training as needed.


5. Poor Nutrition and Hydration

Error: Not fueling the body adequately before, during, and after runs.


Why It's a Problem: Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial for optimal performance and recovery. Inadequate fuel can lead to low energy levels, poor performance, slow recovery, and increased susceptibility to illness and injury. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, fatigue, and impair your body's ability to cool itself, leading to heat-related illnesses.


Signs This Error Is Happening:

  • Frequent feelings of fatigue and low energy

  • Cramping during or after runs

  • Slow recovery times and persistent muscle soreness

  • Poor performance and endurance

  • Dark urine or infrequent urination (signs of dehydration)


Solution:

  • Pre-Run Nutrition: Consume a balanced meal with carbohydrates, proteins, and fats 2-3 hours before running. Consider a light snack if you're running within an hour.

  • During the Run: For runs longer than an hour, consume easily digestible carbs such as gels, sports drinks, or energy bars.

  • Post-Run Nutrition: Eat a meal or snack rich in protein and carbohydrates within 30-60 minutes after your run to replenish glycogen stores and repair muscle tissue.

  • Hydration: Drink water regularly throughout the day. For long runs, consider sports drinks to replace electrolytes lost through sweat.


Conclusion

Endurance running is a rewarding and challenging sport, but it requires careful attention to training practices to stay injury-free and perform at your best. By avoiding these common training errors and adopting a balanced approach to your workouts, you can enjoy a long and healthy running career. Remember, consistency and smart training are key to success!


If you’re experiencing any issues or need guidance on your training regimen, don’t hesitate to consult with a physical therapist. We’re here to help you achieve your running goals while keeping your body strong and resilient. If you have any questions about your running training, injuries, or upcoming races, shoot us your questions at loren@nvhealthlab.com



The Health Lab Sign
The Health Lab, Carson City NV

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