1. Wearing the wrong shoes
Many runners, me included, have made the mistake of wearing the wrong type of shoes for your feet and running style. This can lead to an uncomfortable running experience and injuries.
When I first started training for a race a few years back, I used the running shoes I had laying in the corner of my room– they were a few years old, run down and not suited to my running style. I got chronic shin splints, until a point where I struggled to run over 2 miles due to the pain.
Visit a specialist running store and get your running style analysed in order to find the perfect pair of shoes for you. Remember, running isn’t all about looking good and sometimes the best looking shoes, might not be the best for you.
Also, try to replace your shoes every 300-350 miles because the loss of cushioning can lead to injuries.
2. Going too far, too soon
More isn’t always better when it comes to running. Trying to do too many miles, too soon is a common mistake made by new runners. Getting excited and enthused with running is a great thing, but too much running too soon can lead to injuries like runners knee and shin splints.
A few tips to avoid going too far, too soon:
- Don’t let your weekly mileage increase by more than 10%
- Allow yourself rest weeks by dropping your mileage by 50% periodically (every fourth week, for example)
- After a long run, give yourself a rest day
3. Ignoring sleep
There are a number of sleep trackers (Jawbone Up and Fitbit One) and apps (like Sleep Cycle) that will allow you to keep a close eye on your sleeping patterns. You should also factor sleep into your training plans.
4. Taking long strides
It’s often assumed that a longer stride will improve speed, but that’s not the case. Overstriding is one of the most common injury-causing running form mistakes and also wastes valuable energy as landing heel first with your foot well ahead of your body acts like a brake and slows you down.
Focus on landing mid-sole, with your foot directly underneath your body with every step. Try to keep you steps light and quick.
5. Ignoring rest days
When you catch the running bug it can be tempting to keep going and ignore any planned rest days in your training plan.
Be strict with yourself. Recovery is an essential part of any training program and without allowing yourself the full time you need to recover from your longer runs, you won’t reap the full benefits. If you have to get out and run every day, make sure to take it easy on rest days and significantly drop your pace and mileage.
6. Getting behind on training schedules
Making time in our busy lives for running can be tough, but making up for lost time in training is even harder. Try to set a realistic training schedule that you know you can stick to before you start. Apps like RunKeeper have great training features to help you schedule and stick to a training program.
If you miss a week or so of training due to illness, give yourself a few warm-up runs to allow your body to catch up before you start back on your training program.
7. Running without hydration
Runners often understate the amount of hydration they need during the course of a run. Some runners don’t want to stop for hydration due to fear of losing time, others worry about a stitch, but hydration is essential during a run of any length.
If you’re running for 30 minutes or more you should definitely have some form of hydration during your run – even for shorter runs we’d recommend having a bottle of water or some fluid with you. As a rule, if you’re feeling thirsty or your mouth is dry, you should have a sip of water and rehydrate.
8. Wearing the wrong clothing
It can be tempting to wear the same running outfits all year round, or just chuck on your favourite pair of shorts in the middle of winter. However, wearing the wrong type of clothing and the wrong materials can put you at risk of injury or illnesses.
Dress appropriately for the time of year; Runners World recommends the following:
- 30 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a vest keep your core warm. Tights (or shorts, for polar bears).
- 10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your base layer, and wind pants over the tights.
- 0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for the cold-prone) and a jacket. Windbrief for the fellas.
- Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of mittens, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava.
- Minus 20 degrees: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 extra pairs of mittens, 1 balaclava, sunglasses. Or, says Arribas, “Stay inside.”
9. Skipping the warm up
I know it can be tempting to skip a warm up, especially if you’re short of time. But neglecting a warm up can lead to injury and struggles during your run.
If time is short, you should start allowing for warm up time in your training plan – if you know you need 30 minutes to run, leave aside 35 minutes to include a warm up.
Sometimes, it’s not lack of time, but lack of habit that leads to skipping warm ups. If this sounds like you, try to make warm ups a part of your running routine by leaving yourself reminders to warm up. Eventually it’ll just feel like part of your run.
10. Stop comparing yourself to others
Everyone is an individual, and no matter who you are someone will be able to run quicker or for longer than you. Don’t beat yourself up about how anyone else performs or be discouraged because someone has finished quicker than you.
No matter if you’re running on your own or as one-of-many in a marathon, the only person you need to focus on is you.
Simply, run for you.
Image credits: Jack Newton, Peter Mooney, See-ming Lee, David Goehring, Joe Lanman, yoshiko314, Andrés Nieto Porras. padsbrother