How to avoid running mistakes

Overcoming errors whilst running

Want to learn how to overcome your running mistakes? Whether you're an elite athlete, club runner or running novice, you’ll have surely made at least one or two running mistakes during your running career, and probably will again. Here we take a look at some of the common running mistakes so hopefully you can overcome any problems or running injuries you face.

Don't increase mileage too quickly

Many runners lose valuable training time because they increased their mileage too quickly. Experts advise an increase in mileage of no more than 10 per cent per week, or that a long run should make up no more than one third of your weekly mileage. But both rules will undoubtedly be broken as runners suddenly go from little mileage to runs well into double figures.

And no-one likes to stop training when they are injured. 'Can’t afford to miss any days training, I’m preparing for a race' is the typical response. One or two days off at an early stage of the injury is better than a few weeks out when we make it worse by trying to run through the pain.


Competitors need to ease down their training in the last couple of weeks and it’s important to get this right. Too early, or too much, and the legs will probably feel sluggish. Don’t ease down enough and your legs will feel heavy. Going from high mileage to next to nothing is a shock to the system so it is better to at least keep the legs ‘ticking along’.

Some good standard runners get it wrong sometimes. One 65-minute half marathon runner did 20 hard efforts of 400m, the day before running a half marathon. No wonder he wasn’t at his best the following day.

Get the right kit

Running kit is another problem area. 'If I look good I feel good, so I must get new shoes and kit especially for the marathon'. Think again! Don’t wear anything for the first time going into the marathon, and preferably not for any race.

Stop blisters

Blisters are an obvious hazard and almost inevitable if you wear new shoes. It is not unknown for even some of the best runners to make novice mistakes, and maybe have to drop out due to blisters caused by new footwear.

Stop runner's nipple

‘Runner’s nipple’ can be a discomfort and if grease or Vaseline is not applied they can look a painful sight after completing 26.2 miles. You don’t want your finisher's photo to be on of you crossing the line with your running top covered in blood!

Don't try anything new

Don’t try anything in racing that you haven’t done in training. If you want to stock up on carbohydrates the night before the marathon, then do so before long training runs. You’re training your whole body, not just the legs; don’t surprise it on the day by doing something different.

Stay focused on race day

You want to reach that start line feeling great, but don’t spoil all those months of hard training by blowing your race in the first few minutes. If other runners hold you up, don’t get irritated. If you weave your way through the masses trying not to lose time you will use up extra energy and run quite a bit more than 26.2 miles… and isn’t the marathon far enough already?

Like many seasoned runners, you will make mistakes, but let’s hope you learn from them and go on to achieve your best.

Comments (6)

  • BeckyHartley 'Are you calling it "mustakes" on purpose or is that just a typing mistake?'

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  • BrianSweeny 'What people should remember is that schedules you find in running books are just guidelines , I personally liked Bruce Tullohs schedules, but I done better when I adapted them to suit myself , all I really done was looked at his programme like a graph, and increased my mileage , but keeping to the highs and lows ( mileage ) of Bruce's schedule , and it worked for me, Bruce's schedule for the marathon would only take you up to 22 miles, in your high mileage week, but I felt if I was going to run a 10 mile race, I would be training up to 15 miles or more, so for the marathon , why wasn't I running over the marathon distance ? , in 1994 I won my age category in London , on that day Bruce was 2nd in our age category, he must have had a bad day, but it made up for the couple of times he ran me ragged in a North Devon 10 miler, LOL :>) '

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  • ghounsom 'I am running the Loch Ness Marathon in less than 5 weeks time, I am currently running on average 30 miles a week but the maximum distance is approx 12 miles. One of the issues is finding time during the week to go for long runs, busy job in London + commute makes it hard to equal out the long runs, so I end up doing a long-ish run at weekends (both Sat and Sun mornings) but then just short 7 miler's during the week. My question is, what is the minimum distance you need to be running in the build up to a Marathon, I have heard very mixed responses from 18 miles minimum to 26+ ''

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  • Star9 'I did a marathon with several 18 mile runs and felt fine. I think 20 would ave been better though. I wouldn't go much above that unless I was feeling particularly good on the run. I did another marathon having done only to 18 milers and really struggled. I think you need to do several long runs to make an impact. IMHO. '

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  • pommie78 'for my 2nd marathon, training was beset by injuries, so longest training run was 13 miles. Struggled the last 6 miles of the marathon, but finished just under 4hrs, so it can be done without really long runs. But it's probably better to get a few long ones under the belt if you have time.'

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  • sally_quartermain 'As an older runner (51 this year) I don't run more than twice a week - 10K mid week and a long run on a Saturday, building up to 21 ish miles two weeks before a marathon. I complement this with two one hour gym sessions and an hour swim during the week leaving two rest days. I ran Brighton Marathon last year in 4:05, so this works for me. Too much running can wear the legs out - cross-train and make sure you take rest days!'

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