It's not about being perfect. It's about experimenting, learning, improving and overcoming. You can know intellectually what to do and what not to do. The truth is, however, we all have to find out for ourselves and this usually comes from trial and error. Think about the child who touches a fire by mistake. You think he/she goes back in for more? Not usually.
Here are a few mistakes I've made as a runner and how they've helped me learn the hard way. I am sure I still have much more to learn, so check back another day when I tell you more mistakes I am making.
Try these mistakes!
1. Do something different on race day.
Everyone tells you not to eat, wear or try anything new on the day of your race. At some point in your life you probably will. You'll get that new cute pair of shorts and you'll think, "What the hell? How bad can it really be to wear these new precious shorts...?" Then, half way into your marathon the chafing is so severe you are wincing and dropping the f-bombs right and left. The shower you take later on that day will have you screaming like a little girl. Lesson learned.
|A proud moment. Finished a half marathon with such bad|
chafing, I had to take off my skirt and wear my race shirt as pants. Don't be me.
2. Eat/drink too much of the wrong food before a long run or race
One time I thought eating chicken wings and drinking a a few Bass Ales the night before my first half marathon was not a problem. Until it was a problem at mile ten the next day. Paying attention to how you fuel and hydrate is a huge component of how you will feel and how you will execute on race day.
3. Buy the coolest/hippest/most colorful pair of running shoes even if they aren't right for you
Yes, it is very tempting to get the cheaper shoes or the prettiest ones. Go ahead and see what happens. Then limp back into the running store and buy what you should have bought in the first place. Good shoes matter.
4. Run through pain
Denial is a positive force. We want to do what we want to do, so we test the limits. "Oh, this stabbing pain in my ass will pass. Running will make it go away!" Once I had a major pain in my foot, but thought I should go ahead and run the Boulder Backroads half marathon anyway. 2 hours and a few tears later I had to be carried to the car. The result? Stress fracture. I will not make a mistake like that again. The longer you run the more aware you become of your body. You realize what is normal muscle ache and fatigue and what is not right and potentially the start of an injury. Be smart.
|Me and my friend the boot. Not fun. Don't be me.|
5. Don't lock the porta potty door
During the Boston Marathon I stopped to take off my underwear (don't ask why, long story, see #6). This was a solo potty at an aid station and I thought surely it was obvious someone was inside. Nope. Right as I had my shorts off and was ditching the pants, some guy barged in. Yes, it is worth the extra 2 seconds it takes to secure the door (and don't ask me why I was wearing underwear anyway...)
6. Trust a fart
Come on. You know you've done it and it hasn't been a happy, clean ending. You just had to try it, right? Once you trust a fart and realize it has a chaser, you will never do it again.
7. Run too much too soon because you think you are invincible
This one happens to newer/beginner runners all the time, me included. You just want to do all the races! You are a runner! You love running! You want to show the world! Then, BAM. You are burned out and/or injured. Over time you learn to not be greedy with your running. You get selective.
8. Go out too fast in a race
You are excited. You have been waiting for this day for months. The adrenaline is flowing. You know you should hold back, but you can't. The result? You burn out early. All those runners you passed early on are zipping by you. You are defeated. You knew better, but you did it anyway. Now, you get it.
|Finish line of the Bolder Boulder 10K. Yes, I went out too fast and|
hung my head in shame
Give this one a try for awhile. See how long it takes you to feel like shit once you realize how many people are faster, stronger, prettier, fitter than you are. Relatively quickly you'll see that comparing yourself to anyone else reaps no benefits. Be the best YOU that you can be. We all have unique gifts, strengths and challenges. Come to peace with it.
I like to think that the mistakes I've made not just as a runner, but in life, have made me resilient and want to fight back. Knock me down and I will try to stand back up (and punch you). In this day and age of chasing perfection as we are bombarded by social media, I say go SCREW UP. Do it often because it means you are trying. But, ultimately, make sure you learn from your mistakes.
What is a running mistake you have made and learned from?