Henjo Hoeksma
Henjo Hoeksma

My last years top 3 running mistakes

Last year was a good running year for me. Also I made some mistakes in the process of completing the 1136 kilometers the statistics are showing (yeah, I am proud of that accomplishment!). In reflection of last year I want to highlight the 3 largest mistakes I made in hope to anchor the lessons and not make them again and maybe help you to prevent them as well.

Mistake #1: Stop thinking about my schedule

The first few months of the year my schedule was pretty clear: run 3 times a week, with on Sundays a long run. Not to fast, just build the number of km's per week. The first landmark set out was to be able to run a half marathon. And I made it that far in april.

After a while I ran another half marathon distance. While slower I am still happy to have reached a distance that long.

However after running this distance twice, I kinda lost focus and started loosening my schedule. With that loss of focus my runs were just that - runs. Not practice or training to improve - just running.

I think it is great to just run. I love it, especially when coming home and you feel you have worked and done something good. Running too long without some sort of focus, some sort of direction clearly doesn't work for me though: I start doing random lengths of my runs and with that random stress on my body. 

Running on a schedule for me means running 3 weeks in which I build up about 10% in km's per week with a fourth week falling down to the level of the first week. Than a new cycle starts at the level of my last training week and repeat the whole 10% thing.

For me this works like a charm in having my body get used to the amount of km's I am putting on it and giving it time to recover every fourth week.

It is mainly the resting and recovery that somehow got lost while running without this focus. Mostly because I wasn't thinking in terms of how to manage my body.

Keep the unfocused runs to a minimum period of time. They are great, but if you are not working towards a bigger goal for a longer period of time you might up hurting yourself more than strengthening yourself.

Mistake #2: Making speed matter too much

Since my focus wasn't as clear as the first half of the year, I got triggered to run faster - something I have been avoiding consciously the first half year. 

I don't care about running fast. That is, I don't want to care about it as much as I obviously do... 

Why run faster?

Well, when you run faster you get more done. More km's a week in less time. That's a win.

It also is driving you to keep upgrading your running form to be more efficient.

Last but not least: everyone on Strava is running faster than you are, so there is a form of social pressure, right? 

Why not run faster?

Running slower (not too slow however) means lower impact on your body and - usually - a lower heart rate. This way you are building up more for endurance instead of speed and for me endurance running is more my overall goal than running faster.

Running slower is nicer: constantly running fast is mentally pretty tough. I do love getting mentally stronger, but running should stay as much fun as possible as well (that is when I look at my long term objectives).

Working on speed improvement is great. Do it focussed however and make it part of your training schedule to keep control on the impact it creates.

Mistake #3: When you don't experience problems from a recent injury it doesn't mean you should not pay attention to it

Years ago when I started running I finally had to quit after an injury to my knee. When I picked up running again in 2018 I did so with the note of a physiotherapist who gave me some exercises to strengthen a specific muscle group and with that giving me a green card to slowly start running again.

Almost a year into my latest running endeavors my knee pain was still gone and I started slipping in doing the exercises my physiotherapist gave me. 

After little over a month, combined with the mistakes I mentioned above - no clear schedule, building up speed - my old injury started surfacing rapidly again. 

I now face the challenge to keep up the km's per week and work hard to prevent the knee problems.

The weak spots in my physique needs attention and love - even when I don't experience any down sides.


There, you have it: my biggest mistakes of last year regarding running. 

There were a couple more...

Like: don't go all out when you are still a bit sick and low in oxygen supply due to a cold - you might end up feeling pretty fucked up when you come home (I haven't been more sick from a run than that one!).

Like: don't go running a few minutes before the sun sets in a dark place without bringing lights (I literally had to walk parts because I couldn't see the road in front of me, not to forget other road users were definitely not seeing me either!).

Lessons learned! Really?

I truly hope so. I know I am pretty stubborn though and somehow making the same mistakes over and over is something I am familiar with. Especially the ones that require a different routine or set of habits. It's so much easier to slide back into the comfort of the path traveled before...

The plans are there. The will is there. 

I want to run my first marathon this year. I want to run an ultra-run (50km or more) this year. Endurance and health are kinda required. And so is having and sticking to a schedule...

I did break my 1000km goal by over 10% last year. My new goal is higher than that and currently set at 1250km. I am going for at least a 10% break again!

Now go, run! Make mistakes and grow! ☺️