Common Running Mistakes to Avoid
Running is an accessible and low-cost form of exercise.
All you need is a pair of quality shoes and some determination and you are good to go. Almost anyone can do it, so it is no surprise that it is a popular way to stay fit. In 2017 alone nearly 18.3 million people in the US registered for road races.
Healthcare practitioners are recommending this activity as it offers numerous physical and mental health benefits.
Still, there are some things you should know before immersing yourself in the world of running. Whether you're a newbie or pro, it is not unusual to make some mistakes.
Find out how to avoid falling into some common running traps that can lead to issues like injuries.
Doing Too Much Too Soon
Mistake: Ramping up your mileage too quickly.
When you first start running you may find yourself excited and overenthusiastic about this activity. As a result, you might increase the mileage too fast. Too much too soon can wear your body down. Common running injuries such as runner’s knee, shin splints, or ITB syndrome are likely if you don’t increase your mileage gradually.
Follow the 10%- rule - make sure to increase your weekly mileage in 10% increments.
The Importance of Slowing Down
Mistake: Ignoring rest days.
Make sure to take enough time off to rest and recover. Having at least one full day off from exercise every week can prevent injuries. Also, bear in mind that muscles repair themselves and heal during the rest days.
Rest is crucial for avoiding the stress fractures as well. Vary your speed and intensity throughout the week to allow your bone tissue to repair.
To ensure recovery, try to include down weeks in your training. Take a down week every 3 to 5 weeks to reduce the mileage by 30 to 50%.
Mistake: Wearing an inadequate pair of running shoes.
You might try to be practical and frugal and opt for an old pair of shoes – a bad idea. Also, wearing the wrong type of shoes for your foot can lead to unnecessary pain or even injuries.
When choosing shoes for running look for comfortable, lightweight footwear, which you can find online here. Make sure to replace the shoes every 300-500 miles. Consider getting another pair of sneakers to rotate between your runs. More well-cushioned, heavier models with a full rubber outsole are likely to get you towards a 500-mile range.
If you notice the loss of cushioning, it is time to retire the shoe as this can lead to injuries too.
Mistake: Shallow chest breathing.
Inefficient breathing will quickly get you out of breath while jogging. Practicing proper breathing techniques can improve your performance.
For maximal oxygen uptake practice deep belly breathing (or diaphragmatic breathing). This breathing technique uses the entire capacity of the lungs. Breathe through both your mouth and nose, but give advantage to the mouth. It allows getting enough oxygen, especially as the intensity of your training increases.
In general, avoid shallow chest breathing while jogging and focus on deep, conscious belly breathing.
Not Getting Enough Water
Mistake: Dehydration due to not drinking enough water.
Staying well hydrated affects your performance as well as your recovery time after a run.
The general rule is to drink 17 to 20 ounces of water about two hours before the run. Right before you start you can drink another 4 to 8 ounces to ensure you are hydrated. If you plan to run longer than 90 minutes, include a sports drink to replace lost sodium and electrolytes.
To maintain an optimal hydration level during the workout, drink about 5 to 10 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. If you are running for longer than an hour, opt for drinks containing sugar or maltodextrin to speed up your recovery. Water, sports drinks and diluted juice are good choices to replace the lost fluid.
Rehydrate after you finish running as well!
Mistake: Underestimating the importance of nutrition on running performance.
Grab a light pre-run snack about 1 to 2 hours before the run.
Opt for food high in carbs and lower in fat and proteins like a smoothie or a banana. If you are a long-distance runner you will need some carbs to get you going through the race. Sports drinks, energy bars, and gels provide enough carbs to replace some of the calories burnt during such a strenuous activity.
To restore your glycogen and repair the muscles after a hard run, add salmon, lean beef and whole-grain carbs to your menu. A long race can take a toll on your muscles and increase the risk of a running injury, so make sure to fuel your body adequately.
Running is empowering and exhilarating, but make sure to train smart to stay injury-free. Adopting proper pre- and post-run practices will help you boost fitness and get the most out of this great sports activity.