Starting a running routine is a fantastic way to improve your physical health, boost your stamina and endurance, and even de-stress. But, like any new activity, it’s essential to start slow and avoid some rookie mistakes.
Here are three common beginner running mistakes you should avoid:
Overdoing it too soon
Starting off too fast, too far, or too frequently is a common mistake many beginner runners make. It’s tempting to push your limits, especially if you’re feeling motivated and excited to hit the trail. However, overdoing it too soon can lead to injury, burnout, or even giving up entirely.
Instead, start with a sensible running plan tailored to your fitness level and gradually increase the duration, intensity, and frequency over time. Remember, running is a long-term game, and sustainable progress takes time.
Skipping warm-up & cool-down
Proper preparation and recovery are essential for any physical activity, including running. Skipping your warm-up and cool-down can significantly increase your risk of injury, especially if you’re not used to the movement.
Before a run, take a few minutes to walk, stretch, and do some dynamic exercises that target your major muscle groups. This will help lubricate your joints, raise your core temperature, and get your body ready for the effort to come.
After your run, cool down by jogging, walking, or doing some static stretches. This will help bring your heart rate, breathing, and body temperature back to normal, as well as promote blood flow, and reduce muscle soreness.
Wearing improper shoes
Running shoes are the most crucial equipment you’ll need as a runner. Wearing improper shoes can cause discomfort, blisters, or even more severe injuries like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, or knee pain.
Make sure to invest in a good pair of shoes that fit your foot shape, running style, and fitness level. Go to a specialty running store to get expert advice and try on different models before making a purchase. Replacing your shoes every 300-500 miles or when you notice significant wear and tear is also crucial for injury prevention.
Beginner Running Mistakes: What to Avoid
Not tracking progress
One of the most effective ways to improve your running performance and stay motivated is to track your progress regularly. Not tracking your progress can lead to a lack of direction, unrealistic expectations, and frustration.
There are many ways to track your running progress, including using a running app, a GPS watch, a journal, or a spreadsheet. Track metrics such as distance, pace, time, and heart rate. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small they are, and learn from your setbacks. Adjust your goals and your training accordingly.
Ignoring hydration & nutrition
Running is a physically demanding activity that requires proper fueling and hydration. Ignoring your nutrition and hydration needs can leave you feeling weak, dizzy, or even lead to severe health complications.
Drink water before, during, and after your runs to stay hydrated. Avoid alcoholic, sugary, or caffeinated drinks that can dehydrate you and interfere with your performance. Eat a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Plan your meals around your running schedule and avoid running on an empty stomach or immediately after a heavy meal.
Skipping rest days
Rest days are just as crucial as your training days, if not more. Skipping rest days can lead to burnout, injury, and a lack of progress. Rest days allow your muscles, joints, and bones to recover and repair, helping to prevent overuse injuries and improve your overall performance.
Plan for at least one or two rest days per week. Use these days to do low-impact activities like yoga, stretching, or walking, or simply rest and recover. Listen to your body and adjust your training plan accordingly. Remember that rest is not a sign of weakness but a strategy for long-term success.
By avoiding these three common beginner running mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your running goals while staying injury-free and healthy.
Beginner Running Mistakes: What to Avoid
Running with bad form
Running with proper form is essential for injury prevention and performance improvement. Running with bad form can lead to injuries, inefficient movement, and slower times.
Here are some common form mistakes to avoid:
- Overstriding: landing on your heel with your foot too far in front of you.
- Bouncing up and down: wasting energy by jumping with each stride.
- Hunching over: reducing lung capacity and increasing the risk of back pain.
- Not swinging your arms: losing balance and reducing forward momentum.
- Clenched fists: wasting energy and contributing to fatigue.
Focus on keeping your body posture straight, landing mid-foot under your hips, and swinging your arms naturally. Consider getting a gait analysis to identify and correct any specific form issues.
Pushing through pain & injury
Running can be painful, but there’s a difference between discomfort and injury. Ignoring pain and pushing through an injury can worsen the condition and lead to more significant and longer-lasting issues.
If you’re experiencing pain while running, stop and assess the situation. Determine if it’s mild discomfort or a more severe injury, like a sprain or a stress fracture. Seek medical attention if the pain is severe or persistent. Take the necessary time off to recover and make sure to follow a proper rehabilitation plan.
Remember that running is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient, enjoy the journey, and stay mindful of your body’s signals. Avoid these rookie mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a stronger, healthier, and more efficient runner.