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All your hard work can fly out the window if you aren’t careful.

I’m nearly halfway there. It’s week five, and this is right around the time that people tend to get lazy. With seven more weeks of training left, it’s easy to fool myself into thinking: I got this.

Yes, I’m getting stronger, faster and more confident in my fitness. But that doesn’t mean I’m not making a few mistakes along the way. If you’re ready to start training for a marathon or half-marathon, watch out for these five rookie mistakes that could throw you off track and derail your progress:

1. You set a goal time
If it’s your first race, don’t even think about setting yourself a goal time for finishing. Timing your runs and trying to better your pace is fine, but your focus for the first long race you do should just be to finish. Yes, you want to make sure you can complete it within the set time frame (if your race has one), but don’t worry about completing by a certain minute mark. For various reasons, you might run more slowly on race day. So give yourself a break and just plan on crossing that finish line.

2. You think you have to run the race distance before the race
When I first started training, I had a goal that I wanted to complete the full 13.1 miles before I actually ran the half-marathon. But I’ve heard from several people that this plan isn’t always the best.

Why?

For one, you won’t get to that point until much later in your training schedule (probably a week or two before your race). This can tire you out before the big day. Second, many people have said that not completing the full distance beforehand is what really motivates you to push through on race day. It gives you something to strive for. It lights the fire when you’re on those last few miles.

3. You don’t stretch
As I start to get stronger, I notice that I don’t ache as much after runs. So for a while I stopped stretching. Big mistake! You may not even realize how tight your body is until you get an injury and it’s too late.

Get a foam roller and do some IT-band massage and make sure you stretch your quads, calves and feet after every run. I’ve been going to yoga once a week as well, which is really helping to loosen up my body. The last thing you want is to get hurt right before your race, so schedule time after each run to unwind, lay on the floor and stretch.

(Continue Reading @ Frugivore…)

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  • nona

    Great article! I want to get a few more 5ks under my belt before I try a half-marathon, but this was still super helpful.