Now that it's 2009, I'm working on building up my endurance so that I can tackle the Peachtree this summer while minimizing my risk of injury. February's issue for Runner's World talks about how to handle some of the common hurdles runners face when trying to either increase distance or improving speed. I kind of laughed at myself because this is the second time since I've started running in 5ks that a publication has said you should be able to run 4 miles before considering a 5k. Oops!! I'm very close to the 3 mile mark and I've been running/walking in 5ks for about 7 months. I don't regret my decision though because the races have really kept me motivated.
So far I'm trying to increase weekly mileage by 10% each week, but I am remembering to take it easy every 3 weeks or so. You need to give your body a chance to rest so you don't hurt yourself or burn yourself out mentally. I can usually tell when I've pushed too hard too long when I start feeling the pains in my shins. I have really hurt myself getting shin splints in the past, so I've learned my lesson!
Basically learn to read your body's signals. Some pains are okay. Some are not. The worst demotivator a runner will face is injury. If something does happen, don't be afraid to see your doctor. Don't forget the RICE method either (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). I know it's tough to rest when you want to get out there and keep improving, but don't hurt yourself any more because you're overenthusiastic.