What follows is a compendium of what not to do when you are racing or training. There are generally two categories of bone headedness: too much testosterone and using myself as a human Guinea pig. Whatever you do, try not to do these things to yourself!
1. Wearing new or different shoes in a race.
- If they are not broken in or you are not used to them, do not wear them.
- Failure to heed this advice can lead to anything from blisters to calf muscle tears.
2. Running in shoes that are in need of replacement.
- You are flirting with injury if you wear worn out shoes while running.
- I generally notice little aches and pains starting to appear in different joints of my body when my shoes start wearing out.
- A general rule is to replace your running shoes at least every 3 to 4 months depending on how much you are running.
- A big visual giveaway is when you have worn out the sole and into the midsole.
3. Wearing too little clothing for conditions.
- You can always discard extra clothing if you get too hot and retrieve it later.
- I once wore a singlet and shorts in a blizzard. Not really smart, and a recipe for hypothermia.
4. Mixing your own sport drink and not following directions.
- I ended up with an electrolyte concentration similar to that of the Dead Sea, and was dehydrated by mile one.
- Always follow dilution directions precisely, and when in doubt, dilute more.
5. Do not over consume alcohol the night before the race.
- This should be obvious, but in the heat of pre-race festivities one can get overzealous.
- If you must indulge, try alternating each alcoholic beverage with at least one or two glasses of water.
6. Do not run when you are really sick.
- Follow this rule of thumb: When symptoms of a cold go below the neck, do not train.
- Training when you have more than just a head cold can lead to much more severe illness and more time off.
7. Do not run through an injury that is not getting better.
- I ran through a stress fracture and had to stop running for three years!
- Be conservative with injuries. If they are not getting better, stop running and do non-weightbearing cross training such as pool running or bike training.
- Get another opinion to confirm what the injury is.
8. Training too hard or too much before or after a race.
- I once had a friend who loved to hammer me on the day after a race (which he didn’t run). Do not fall for it; rest and live to hammer another day.
- I also did a 15 mile training run up a mountain the day before a 800m track race. What can I say? That was really stupid.
- Remember, you need to give the body rest prior to and after a race to allow proper recovery.
Please heed the advice and save yourself some grief. I’ve committed all of the above indiscretions (and a few more I won’t admit to), and suffered accordingly. Hopefully, you can put this advice to good use and have a happier, healthier running experience.