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Angela Bekkala: Mistakes In Running? I’ve Made Them All

Angela Bekkala has tried to learn from her running blunders over the years.

Looking back at my training for races, I do a lot of cringing.

As in [insert forehead slap], What was I thinking?!

Name any single one—fueling during training, pacing, etc. and I’ve done them all. I’d like to think I’m getting wiser the more I run, that I’m learning from my past mistakes. But I’m a stubborn runner. Sometimes it takes a failure or five, for me to have an AHA! moment.

I’ve had two big training mistakes that I’ve repeated more times than I like to admit, over the years.

Running Through An Injury

You’re out on a glorious run when out of the blue, your knee starts to ache. You think it’ll go away and try to run through it. It doesn’t go away and is still there two days later but you still keep running, hoping it will magically disappear.

I can’t even count on one hand how many times I’ve done this. It’s stupid and I know it. Last fall, I was aiming for a PR in the half marathon. My mileage was higher than ever. Training was good. I was feeling strong except for a nagging tendon injury in my ankle/foot that would not go away completely. I could run and it wasn’t painful, but it was noticeable. Looking back, I should have forgot about that particular half marathon. I needed time off from running to fully heal. There would be other races to run. But I didn’t listen. I ran the race and tanked 3 miles in.

I’ve learned that I need to listen to my body more. I’m a work in progress but I think I’m getting better. I recently took four days off from running due to a cranky calf. The old me would have never done that! Of course, I worried what it was doing to my marathon training. In the end, it worked out great. My calf felt 100 percent better with the time off and I was ready to run again without any fitness lost.

Not Training My Mind

I can be my own worst enemy. When things get tough, my mind instantly turns to negative thoughts.

I can’t becomes my mantra.

In the same half marathon I mentioned above, I think one of the main reasons I tanked at mile 3 was from negative thoughts. I was so worried beforehand that my tendon injury was going to prevent me from reaching my goal. Worry leads to self sabotage. I felt one little twinge and spiraled out of control with negativity. By mile 6, I was ready to walk off the course.

I’ve learned that running is at least 90 percent mental. My mind needs to be trained just as much as my muscles and cardiorespiratory system do. When negative thoughts creep in, I now replace it with a positive. Even a simple I CAN! shifts my outlook and effort.

With every mistake, there is a learning opportunity. A time to look back and see what can be changed to make it right. The more I practice that, the better runner I become.

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit