Running seems like such an easy sport, right? Just grab your shoes and go! But once you get started, you might suddenly realize that it’s not so easy. What’s that pain in my knee? I’m so exhausted! My feet hurt. It hurts to walk down stairs. I get side aches. What’s a runner to do?
Here’s 10 mistakes runners make and how to avoid them
- Too much too soon
- Over striding
- Bad form
- Breathing improperly
- Not taking rest days
- Not cross training
- Other shoes you wear
- Not moving post workout
- Eating new foods before a run
- Starting too fast
Too Much Too Soon
You’ve just signed up for a race, and you start running every day. You’re so excited and motivated you run more and more miles. Suddenly, you have shin splints, your IT band hurts, your hip hurts, what is happening??
Your body needs time to adjust to running. Take it slow, slower than you feel like you should. Most training plans encourage you to be running consistently for 3 months before you start training. The general rule is to increase your mileage by no more than 10% each week. Be conservative, take breaks, don’t be afraid to walk!
Over striding is landing heel first with your legs out in front of you. Unbeknownst to me, I had this problem for years! I had severe knee pain that I just couldn’t quit. I finally went to a running coach and learned the cause- over striding.
Over striding wastes energy, adds extra pressure on your knees, can cause runners knee, and shin splints.
The solution, land on your mid foot with your feet underneath your body. Practice running with light quick feet.
This includes slouching, swinging the arms too much, clenching your fists, over striding, and twisting the upper body.
Your back should be straight (poke your chest out), and you should have a slight lean from the ankles, not the waist! Your upper body should not twist and your arms should never cross the mid line of your body. Keep your hands and shoulders relaxed- don’t waste your energy and create tension by making fists and hunching your shoulders.
This one can be tricky. Breathing improperly can lead to side aches and lightheadedness.
My high school cross country coach clued me into the secret of matching your breathing to your stride. It’s a little bit different for everyone. I breathe in 3 steps and breathe out 3 steps, some runners breathe in 3 and out 2. Play around with different rhythms and find what works for you.
Take deep breaths from your belly, avoid shallow breathing.
Not Taking Rest Days
Your body NEEDS to rest! Even if you feel energized, still rest. Otherwise, after weeks of training, you will have more injuries and less energy. Be kind to your body!
Not Cross Training
Runners who do nothing but run are more likely to have injuries. The more you run, the more you strengthen your running muscles. If all you do is run, this can create an imbalance as some muscles get strong and others get weak, which can cause problems like runners knee.
The solution, cross train and strength train every week to maintain balance within your body.
Other Shoes You Wear
Hard soled shoes like ballet flats and flip flops are more likely to lead to plantar fasciitis, an enemy to all runners.
The solution, wear proper foot wear with cushion throughout the day.
Not Moving Post Workout
Keep the blood flowing after a run with walking, gentle stretching, and foam rolling. This will help with stiffness and soreness! You may not feel like moving because you are so tired, but remember, motion is the lotion.
Eating New Foods Before A Run
Just don’t, don’t even try. Nothing is worse than having the runs on your run. Figure out your foods while you train and don’t try anything new on race day.
Starting Too Fast
If you plan to run a certain pace, start at or below that pace. Don’t let the excitement at the starting line push you to go faster. My last marathon I started running with the 9 mile pace group- unfortunately they started at an 8:30 pace. I felt fine for the first 10 or so miles, but couldn’t maintain and eventually fell behind. Save your energy for the end of the race when you will really need it.
For more running mistakes, check out this link- 25 Runners Share The Biggest Mistakes They Made As Beginners