Whether you’ve been running for years, or are new to the sport, there’s always lots to learn and of course many mistakes and hurdles to overcome. Some of it comes with years of practice, while some comes with just one or two bad running experiences. The best thing though is when we get to share it with others and help everyone learn from our running experiences and hurdles. Running for me is such a passion driven thing that makes my heart the happiest and that has had a positive impact on my life in so many ways. Most of the time I want to sing about it from the rooftops, but I get that for some, that’s a little excessive. Instead, I’ll share it with you here, and talk about these eight running mistakes you may be making and how you can fix them now before they derail you from your running later!
- Doing too much too soon – This is the case of the over excited first-timer, who walks out the door and starts out way too fast, covering too much distance for their first run and then proceeds to repeat this pattern for the next several days before waking up one day completely burnt out and never running again. Sound familiar? Running is a gradual sport. There’s a lot of time (and miles) behind improvement, and none of it happens overnight. That’s why if you try to make it happen too fast, things go awry, ending in injury or burn out, or just plain losing interest. Instead of risking all of that, create a training plan that allows for gradual increases in distance and intensity and that grows as you grow. Here’s a good place to start!
- Not investing in the right gear – There was a time, in my early days of running, when I ran in cotton leggings, a long-sleeved cotton shirt and a brightly coloured fleece vest. Mind you, I was 12 years old, so it’s not as bad as it sounds, but the thought of wearing any of the above now makes me cringe. Sweat wicking fabric is life-changing. If you are going to be running regularly, do yourself a favour and invest in the basics (tights, shorts, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt), made from proper sweat-wicking fabric. You will notice such a huge difference and it will be a good motivator to get you out the door. As you run more, and if you find you like it and want to continue with it, you can gradually grow your wardrobe and invest in more clothes. Just be careful: it can lead to requiring a whole separate set of drawers just to house the running wear!
- Not challenging yourself enough – It’s one thing to make sure you don’t do too much too soon and overexert yourself, but it’s another thing to shy away from challenge and not push yourself when it’s time to take your running to the next level. It’s true that you should have easy days, where you return from your run feeling like you had a run, but that it wasn’t hard. Just the same though, you should have hard days, where you return from a run feeling like you put in a great effort and really pushed yourself. The challenging days are what let us improve and take our running to the next level. Find a good balance of both in your training plan.
- Overanalyzing your running – Let’s just run. Let’s forget about Garmins and stopwatches, shoe pods and step counters. Let’s forget about calories burnt and miles covered, pace and distance and pace per distance. Sometimes, in the throes of all the technological advances and the amazing wearable tech that allows us to record and understand nearly everything about our run, we forget to just run. We forget that running is, in and of itself, enough. That sometimes it doesn’t matter how far you went or how long you were gone for, but just the fact that you got yourself out the door and went for a run. Instead of beating yourself up over the time you didn’t make, or the distance you didn’t cover, take some time to enjoy every run and smile about the running you did do.
- Not getting enough rest/cross training – I’ll be the first to admit that I’m terrible at taking rest days (i.e. sometimes I don’t), just because I want to run so badly. I’ve gotten much better at incorporating cross training, but only with time and some dedicated effort. Failure to adequately incorporate either of these components in your training plan will not only make you more likely to get injured, but also won’t allow you to improve: cross training works muscles outside those typically used for running, allowing you to improve your overall running abilities, while rest allows you to give your body time to rebuild and recover.
- Making poor decisions outside running time – Whether you run twice a week, or twice a day, whatever happens outside your running time will have an impact on your run. This includes things like sleep, nutrition and your state of mind. Choosing to regularly eat bad food, go out too often for drinks with friends and staying up too late most nights of the week will eventually catch up with you and affect your performance. Your body needs all the regular processes to be at their optimal to ensure it can perform at its best Of course, a few indulgences are fine, and we all have late nights, but just don’t make either one a habit.
- Not asking for help – If you’re new to running and there’s a few things you don’t know, THAT’S OKAY! The same as it is totally okay (and in fact encouraged), to ask for help on those things that you arrive at with uncertainty. Things like training, long runs, your first race, running in different seasons etc., can sometimes be taught best by the people who have experienced them and learned from their mistakes. And in case you haven’t noticed, runners LOVE talking about running. In fact, secretly, we hold ourselves back from talking about it 95% of the time, because we know it can get little repetitive (sorry!). But regardless, build yourself a running community who you can reach out to for motivation and advice and your running experience will become that much more valuable. Just starting out as a runner? Reach out to me if you have any questions, concerns or just want to talk about running even more!
- Not listening to your body – It’s hard. I totally get it. And sometimes when your body tells you to stop, it’s the last thing you want to do. But most of the time it knows best, and will tell you about an injury far before it becomes severe if you listen to it well enough. Pay attention when you need some extra rest or something seems oddly sore. Pay attention when your run seems unusually difficult or you feel unusually sluggish. These are all body signs that something needs to be looked after, even if it is just that you need some extra sleep!
Did I miss anything? What are your suggestions based on some things that you have learned from? Have a great weekend!