Distance Running Problems and How to Overcome Them

By Rick Morris

Are you having problems getting in your daily training run? Are you unable to run as much as you would like? Are roadblocks being thrown down in your path to successful running? You’re not alone. I doubt there’s any runner that ever laced up their shoes that haven’t had to dodge or jump over the occasional roadblock. Those roadblocks may require a detour but they don’t have to stop you in your tracks. Here are our top distance running problems and how to overcome them.

Time Crunch

Many distance running problems have to do with time. Lack of sufficient training time is one of the largest roadblocks many distance runners run into. Work schedules, family time, social commitments and daily duties all take up the majority of our day, leaving precious few hours for training time. Keep in mind that as busy as you may be, you will always find time for what’s important to you. Roger Bannister became the first runner to break the 4 minute mile while he was in medical school. Schedule some time for your training just as you do with your work and family schedule. Try to stick to your schedule but still maintain flexibility. If you can’t make your scheduled training date fit your training in later or earlier in the day. You probably won’t skip dinner, so don’t skip your training run.

Injury Bug

Injuries can definitely throw a monkey wrench into your training routine. It’s hard to avoid an occasional running injury. When you do become injured, focus on properly recovering from and rehabilitating your injury. That will minimize your down time. Running through a serious injury will just make things worse and increase your time off. If you suffer from frequent injuries you should try to determine why and take steps to correct the problem. Frequent injuries are usually caused by training errors, poorly conditioned muscles or improper running mechanics. Schedule some time with a running coach or physical therapist if you need help in determining the cause of your injuries.

Over Training

A somewhat hidden cause of running problems involve over training Over training or unexplained underperformance syndrome is a very common problem for distance runners, especially those that specialize in the marathon or ultra marathon distances. Over training can lead to chronic fatigue, poor performance, frequent illness and lack of motivation. That will most definitely result in a running roadblock. Avoid over training by including planned rest and recovery in your training program. Follow a hard/easy training sequence on a weekly basis and consider taking at least one day off per week for rest. Also try to include a longer rest and recovery period of decreased mileage and intensity several times per year.

No Joy

Even the joy of running can cause running problems. Running is fun, but it isn’t easy. Running requires a lot of physical and mental effort. If you aren’t experiencing the joy of running it will be difficult to keep training. What takes the joy out of running? Many times we begin to focus so much on performance and competition that running becomes more like work and less like recreation. If running is no longer fun, I would suggest that you forget about your pace and your performance for a while. Just go out and run for the pure joy of running. Run fast or run slow. Run on trails or on the road. Run however, whenever and wherever you like. The only rule you need to stick to is to have fun and don’t worry at all about speed, pace or performance. Before you know it, joy will make a triumphant return to your running.

Sick Leave

Did you wake up with a sore throat, fever or cough? Is your stomach topsy-turvy today? When you’re sick it can be very hard and, in some cases, unwise to run. Just as with an injury it is usually a good idea to rest and recover so you minimize your down time. If you do go for a run when you’re sick, keep your pace nice and easy. Conserve your energy for recuperation. If you have frequent illnesses it could be due to a depressed immune system. Consume more fresh fruits and vegetables to increase your intake of immune boosting anti oxidants. Also watch out for symptoms of over training. A depressed immune system is one of the early warning signals.

Mother Nature

There are always times when Mother Nature messes with our training schedules. Extreme heat or cold, very high winds, lighting, dangerous storms or even high pollutions levels can sometimes make running outside a poor choice. Those times are a perfect time to hit the treadmill. You can do nearly any of your training runs on a treadmill while staying warm, safe and cozy.