Runners are stubborn, something which many won’t deny. Striving to go further and faster for longer can cause you to pay less attention to the small details and result in you making running mistakes. Even if the mistakes aren’t major, neglecting or failing to rectify them can lead to difficulties, loss of motivation and injuries. We’ve come up with 10 common running mistakes, some which border on fitness crimes! So have a read through the list and keep in mind the solutions to help you avoid them in the future and become a healthier and more successful runner.
1. Wrong Shoes
Wearing the wrong shoes for running can result in discomfort at best, and serious injury at the very worst. There are some fantastic running shoes on the market today, and they don’t all cost an arm and a leg. If you’re serious about running you need to go to a specialist who can assess your gait and find the shoes that give your feet the support they need for the way you run and the type of running you’re doing – road, cross country, long distance or sprinting.
2. Skipping the Warm-up
An effective warm-up is as essential for the seasoned runner as the novice. Take five to ten minutes before you run to get the blood flowing, the muscles warm and the joints moving. This will ensure your muscles are ready to go and will also feed the body’s natural lubricant – synovial fluid – to your joints to protect them when you move at speed and handle the repetitive impact of a good run.
3. Not stretching afterwards
Running involves repetitive movements which take the joints through a restricted range of motion. Failing to stretch after a run will eventually shorten muscles, particularly the hamstrings and calves. This will ultimately restrict movement, inhibit performance and compromise your posture. Post-run stretching is great because the muscles are more supple when they’re warm, so keep everything aligned with a good five to ten-minute stretch.
4. Wrong technique
Check out this guide to see if your technique is right. Apply these simple rules and you’ll find your pace and endurance will soon increase.
5. Increasing distance too quickly
Running is one of the best ways to improve fitness. Anyone who starts running regularly will notice an improvement in stamina and speed in the first month. But be wary, this early and often rapid rise in fitness is soon followed by a plateau and thereafter a more gradual improvement. Maintain your motivation by keeping increases in distance and improvements in time realistic.
6. Not eating properly
You wouldn’t drive a long distance on an empty fuel tank, so you shouldn’t run a long distance without good fuel to see you through. A healthy diet will ensure the body has the energy and nutrients to sustain you during a run and help you recover afterwards. Aim to eat about an hour before you run and have a healthy snack like a just-ripe banana which will release energy slowly into the system to keep you going.
7. Neglecting the pain
Pain is the body’s way of letting you know something is wrong. If you experience it during a run slow down. If you experience it after a run take a rest. Allowing yourself a short time to recover is preferable to giving yourself an injury which prevents you from running for a longer time during which your fitness will drop dramatically.
Running can become addictive, but remember even top performance athletes have rest days. Such days are essential for the muscles to repair and the vital organs to recover. Take at least two days off running a week, you can still exercise if you want – Yoga and Pilates are great disciplines to help stretch and strengthen the body for a really effective running style. Overtraining and ignoring pain are two frequent running mistakes that can be fixed quite easily.
9. Wrong Upper Body Posture
Technique for good running is not confined to the lower body. How you hold your torso effects the position of the pelvis, the impact on the spine and the pressure on the knees. A tall torso with some tension in your core muscles will support the pelvic girdle when you run and make the movements of the legs more efficient and effective. If you’ve got poor posture, Yoga or Pilates ought to be incorporated in your training.
10. Being too strict on yourself
You’ve probably taken up running to get fitter, lose weight or set yourself a challenge. Whatever your reason it’s bound to be commendable. But every now and then you may not make your usual time, cover your minimum distance or even feel like going out. We all have off days, but that’s all they are, single days. Don’t beat yourself up if you have one, just start over the next day, and congratulate yourself when you do.