Misconception #1- You must run every day.
You don't need to run every day to be a great runner. My marathon training plan consisted of 4 days a week. Last year when I was training for a marathon I built a schedule running 6 days a week. That surely would make me a good runner and get me a BQ, or so I thought. I got injured and was out for about 3 months. Everybody is different and maybe you can handle more days a week but 4 days a week is a good number for me.
Misconception #2- You must run a lot of miles a week.
I thought when starting to train for a marathon that I should be AT LEAST 50 miles a week. 70 would probably be a better number. These numbers were pulled out of thin air. Last year I was so proud and excited that my training plan would put me above 50 miles. But I never got there because I got injured. This time around, my highest mileage week getting me to my BQ was 41.25 miles. Again, you might be different and able to run more.
I would truly love to run more days and more miles a week and maybe I will increase it. However, the time commitment becomes greater and I can fit the 4 days/40 miles into a schedule pretty easily now. Could I do 5 days? 50 miles? Probably but what gives in its place?
Misconception #3- Each week you must increase your long run and your overall miles.
For my weekly long run I would see saw between a long long run (18-22) and a shorter long run(14-16 miles) towards the end of the training plan. The long run paces I didn't worry about too much. However, I did try and have the last few miles be at goal pace. The shorter long runs were at goal pace. In order to be able to run goal pace in a race, you need to train with miles at that same goal pace.
Every 4-6 weeks a decrease of 30% should be built into your schedule. This allowed a break in the schedule and time for the body to recover. I would look ahead in the calendar and try and plan my recovery week around a scheduled vacation or a race. If you are feeling tired or feeling like you have plateaued (even if you aren't training for a half or a full), then you probably need to give yourself a recovery week.
Misconception #4- The pace for the miles doesn't matter and just do miles.
With your miles you also need quality miles (20% of your miles at 10K pace or faster) and goal paced runs to train yourself to run at your desired race pace. My 4 running days consisted of
- Speedwork. This could be at a track or also fartleks (running faster for a time or distance). I did 800's and worked up to 10x 800's (Yasso 800's). I also did ladders, 200,400,600,800,1000 and back down. Or I would go to track with the running club and do whatever the coach told us to run.
- Tempo Run. I started with 2 mile tempo at 10K pace and built up to 4 miles. Tempo runs are my least favorite and these would often turn into a tweener run ( a run between a tempo and a goal) or a whatever run...I was just running. These are easiest if I run with John since he is naturally faster than me and I would try and keep up with him.
- Goal paced run. Since 8:45's was my goal pace, I would have one of my mid-week runs be a goal pace run and also the lower mileage long runs be goal paced. If you are training for a half marathon, a 10K, or a 5K you should build in goal paced miles too.
- Long run. If it was a shorter long run distance ( 14/16) then I would do goal paced after my warmup miles. Otherwise I would just run whatever I felt like.
The numbers above are what I did training for a full marathon but it is the same concept for a half marathon, 10K and even training for a 5K. If you're training for a half marathon you still want speedwork, tempo runs, goal paced miles and just time being on your feet at whatever pace.
I have plenty more misconceptions but that's enough for now.
What misconceptions about running and training do you or did you have?