How To Become A More Efficient Runner Part 3

By Natalie Johnston

Natalie Johnston Running
The author out doing what she loves.

Finishing what we started in Part 1 and Part 2, here’s a bit more detail on the next couple of training mistakes, and how we should correct them.

Training Mistakes Reminder:

  • Training on limited sleep
  • Being addicted to fatigue in your workouts
  • Training at the same pace day in and day out
  • Not eating enough, or even eating too much.
  • Recovery and/or Complete Rest Days & Protocols disregarded
  • Focusing ONLY on the end goal, and expectation to get there in a few months or weeks
  • Allowing your EGO to control your workout
  • Running hard or working out hard too many days in a row. (This includes all forms of exercise.)
  • Warming Up & Cooling Down too fast
  • Not keeping a training log
  • Neglecting Drills, Stability, & Strength Work
  • Not wearing proper footwear
  • Pain that lasts more than 72 hours, and continuing to train.

Fix Your Training Continued:

9) Respect Your Warm Ups & Cool Downs!

My warm ups and cool downs consist of fitness walking and easy running. If I am doing some type of interval work I will do 5-10 minutes fitness walking, 10-20 minutes conversational paced running, then an additional 5 minutes at a more moderate pace building up into the actual workout. Subsequently, I do easy running at the end with an addition of 5 minutes of fitness walking to cool down. Warm Ups & Cool Downs are meant to be slower, or in speed work – pace is gradually increased; however, they are NOT the workout, so stop treating them like they are!

10) Keep A Log of Your Training

Best way to assess your training load is to keep track of it! You could do the old school way of writing things down, but I prefer doing as little writing as possible to cut down on time. I have a Garmin watch which syncs automatically to my Training Peaks account, and it keeps track of all my workouts. You really have no excuse for not keeping track when it’s all done for you wirelessly. Of course the best solution is getting a coach to help you keep track of your training!

11) Don’t Neglect Your Drills, Stability & Strength Workouts

Running is a unilateral movement, so one key thing I have my athletes work on, is being able to balance on one leg at a time. Keep in mind when balancing, DO NOT grip with your toes, you want to keep them splayed out, so you are not relying on the grip to keep you stable.

Another thing to master is having adequate toe dexterity. The big toe helps to produce a more stable foot. Here is a video demonstrating how to gain adequate toe dexterity. Try it out.

Start out with the fundamentals first, and build on them.

Here are a few examples of some of the drills I do in my weekly routine:

  1. Slow Marching (Barefoot to start)
    3 X 10 – yard passes
  2. Single Leg Balance on Yoga block or box with Abduction
    3 X 10 – 15 reps each side
  3. Lateral Toe Taps
    3 X 10 Each Side
  4. Toe Off to Step Up
    3 X 10 Each Side
  5. Push Up Plank Holds
    3-5 X 30s – 1:00 holds

12) Assess Your Shoes and Make Sure They Fit Like a Glove

I’ll keep this one simple with a video. I go through how to properly assess your shoes before you buy them.

13) Get Help if You’re in Serious Pain

Training is going to leave you sore at times, but if you are in pain and it persists longer than 72 hours, I highly suggest getting things checked out by a doctor, or Physical Therapist. Catching potential injuries sooner than later will only help you. If you continue to train on them, you could make whatever is going on worse. Alternatively, you could have odd aches and pains, that aren’t an injury, and just your body adapting to your training. I have a 72-96 hour rule of thumb, if things aren’t getting better, then I go in to see someone just to make sure.

If you are injured, learn from your mistakes, and come back slowly. You don’t want to end up in the same seat again!

Hope this helped everyone! Just remember when we falter, it is just another place to learn and grow! Happy Training!


 Natalie JohnstonNatalie Johnston has been running since she was 13 years old, and has been a competitive athlete since the age of 3. She competed in sports ranging from horseback riding, competitive swimming, to dance. However, running was the one sport that stole her heart! She says,”Running frees my mind and soul, you can just grab your shoes and run anywhere!” Through many ups and downs in her life, running was the one place for her to let go, meditate (aka release her emotions), and grow as a person.  She believes running is more than just getting fast times, it’s about connecting to something deeper in yourself; She believes that running saved her life in many ways. Through High School and College all Natalie thought about was being the best and getting fast, since then she has changed her way of thinking, and believes that you should train like you want to run until your 100. With that mindset, she has been able to run faster, be less stressed, and enjoy her runs even more now than she did before! Learn more about Natalie and her coaching at RUN F.I.T. Coaching.