5 or 6 BIG Mistakes I’ve made with Running


In my relatively short time in running (10 years) – I like to think I’ve achieved ALOT more than I thought I was capable of when I first started out. I’m not the best runner, I’m not even anywhere near the best in the North East. But I keep improving and I’m happy with my progress. I’ve thought about quitting so many times and I’ve lost motivation at times, had lots of injuries and suffered setbacks. But since last year everything seemed to come together for me, and I built a lot of confidence as I learned from my mistakes, found the solutions to my problems and then applied them!

Knowledge is Power – WRONG.
APPLIED Knowledge is Power

I’m a little embarrassed by a lot of these mistakes but I thought I’d post them up for you to either

A) Laugh at them
B) Learn from them
C) Relate to them

So here they are.

1. Listening to people who hadn’t achieved what I wanted to.

I did this a lot when I first started out. Admittedly I was 14 when I started out and listened to pretty much everyone that was running back then.

My advice would be to find someone who HAS achieved the things that you want to achieve, and seek guidance or coaching from them. I got pretty lucky in the end and surrounded myself with people who had achieved everything I wanted to achieve. Even today I still get advice from people who have achieved my ultimate goal – to break 70 minutes for the half marathon.

2. Training reeeeeally hard for a week or two – before feeling absolutely goosed and not wanting to run for a while

I used to do this all of the time. I’d train so hard for up to 2 weeks until I either got injured, ill or until I just hated to run. I think this is the kind of mentality most people have when they first start out. They want quick success with their running, and the truth is…. It takes A LOT of time and effort! I’ve seen some amazing changes in 4-6 weeks with some of the runners that I now coach, but I always tell them that it takes months and years to reach their potential.

Taking a long term approach is key – make small changes and run a little bit further each time.

3. Too many Average Training Runs

The basic idea behind training is that you stress the body, recover and then repeat again. As the body becomes fitter, stronger and faster you will need to stress the body a little more to see the adaptations.

When I first started out with running I got results quite quickly. I didn’t even need to do a lot of specific training sessions to see improvements.

The problem was that I reached a plateau quite quickly and didn’t see any further improvement. I used to think running miles and miles at a slow pace would make me quicker and stronger.

A lot of my runs were at an easy pace and I’d just focus on increasing the distance. The big thing that was missing from my training was INTENSITY, and running at a variety of intensities.

I did a lot of high intensity sprints with long recoveries, and I did long easy runs…. THAT’S IT!!

The problem was that I was feeling tired after these long runs so I thought that it was doing me good – but when I ran in events my times weren’t getting quicker and I wasn’t improving.

I quickly learned that I needed to keep my training SPECIFIC and to train with Intensity.

Train Slow = Race Slow
Train Fast = Race Fast

I’d do this either by running the distance or splitting the distance into intervals.

E.g. If I was training for a 10km Run – I’d do 6 x 1 mile

I’d start running at the pace that I wanted to race at. I’d do 6 x 1 mile at the pace I needed to run.

(6 x 1 mile means run 1 mile, then rest and repeat 5 more times with rests in between)

4. Being scared to Make Mistakes

Being scared to fail was a big problem for me. Fear of being judged by others and fear of failure would often stop me from running.

“It’s impossible to live without failing at something, unless you lived so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all” JK Rowling

I actually used to start my races at a gentle pace so I knew I wouldn’t get any slower. Do you think this worked in helping me to push myself to reach my goals?


I learned to be a little braver – to run a little faster at the start. If I blew out and slowed down – I’d find out why I blew out and I’d also find out my current limits. So what if I messed up? There’s always another run or race to be done.

5. Following one plan one week, and then changing the next week

I think this related to me wanting to get quick results without putting the work in. I’d follow one training plan for maybe a week or two and not see any improvement, and then hear from a friend who was trying something differently so I’d try their method. I used to switch from lots of different training plans and never find out what actually worked for me.

I started to write my plans in advance using the following SIMPLE system….

1. Write a plan
2. Stick to the plan
3. Test myself after the plan
4. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t work
5. Repeat steps 1-4

6. Negative Attitude

Changing my attitude or mindset was one of the biggest things I knew I had to do. I know the majority of you reading this will have had the same problem or still suffer from it.

I used to use all the excuses about why I wouldn’t perform well with running….

“I’m the slowest in the group”

“I didn’t run well today”

“Training isn’t going too good”

I used to use these excuses as reasons why I wouldn’t run well on a particular day…. And guess what??


Not surprising really.

I started to change my mindset, the way I spoke about my running and I flipped those excuses on their head. Charlie Spedding’s book “From Last to First” has a great chapter on doing this if you want to read more!

So I started to look at my excuses differently….

“I’m the slowest in the group”
(Instead I thought…. I’m training with better runners so I’ll get better)

“I didn’t run well today”
(Instead I thought… “What a fantastic training session!”)

“Training isn’t going too good”
(Instead I’d say “Training is going GREEEEEEAT”… until I actually believed it and built my confidence)

Taking positive points and learning from the mistakes is key to maintaining and improving your performance.

Applied Knowledge is Power!

Happy Running,


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