Running: 9 Common Mistakes You Need To Avoid
Running is a favorable form of exercising because it’s easy, free and a great calorie burner. Unfortunately, while this form of exercise is the most beginner-friendly way to keep fit and it requires no special instruction, there are things that one needs to be mindful of if they want to get the best out of their run.
Common Running Mistakes
Mistake 1: Avoiding a massage
Aside from being an incredibly relaxing experience, getting a massage comes with a lot of benefits – including improving your running and reducing your risk of injury.
“I highly advocate getting a deep tissue massage during your training, as I find that patients who do regular body maintenance – for example, getting a tissue massage once a month – tend to not get injured as often,” says clinical director at Ultra Sports clinic Ashleigh Wienand to Harper’s Bazaar. “That’s because the treatment is picking up on things that are tight or out of alignment in their bodies”.
Chiropractor Dr. Kevin Kinney echoed these sentiments to INSIDER,
“Chiropractic adjustments can reduce muscle tension in the hips and low back by returning normal tone to the nerves that control them” he explained. “Extremity adjustments can also help decrease injury and improve performance, ie adjusting an ankle to improve range of motion and proprioception can allow faster times and less injury.”
Mistake 2: Forgetting to stretch
An often underrated part of your fitness routine, stretching is incredibly important and not doing so can be quite detrimental to your health.
Stretching wakes up the body, and it provides the muscles with the chance to adapt and to help them better endure stress. Aside from enhancing your workout, here’s how stretching and loosening up your muscles can better your health.
Mistake 3: Going too hard, too soon
Getting fit can be exciting for new runners but being too excited can actually do you more harm than good. A lot of new runners become so exuberant with their running, that they end up doing too much, too soon. Furthermore, they also opt out of rest days and this then increases the risk of injuries such as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (commonly referred to as runner’s knee), stress fractures and Achilles tendinitis.
As exciting and beneficial as running can be, it’s important not to exert yourself when starting out. Aside from the injury risk, you’re also likely to lose interest. The most advisable thing to do is incorporate rest days into your routine as this will give your body and muscle the chance to recover and gain more strength.
Mistake 4: Having a poor upper body form
Poor form when running can actually hinder your running performance and increase the risk of injury. Luckily, by being conscious of a few minor details, poor form can be easily fixed,
“Many amateur runners have poor biomechanics which can lead to an increased prevalence of injury and wasted energy,” said Dr. Kinney to INSIDER. “Make sure that your upper body is upright as not leaning too far forward at the hips can help reduce injury. Elbows should be at a relaxed 90 degrees, swinging front to back. Side to side movement of the arms will increase forward slouching at the hips, which can lead to injury or loss of balance”
He adds “Be sure not to over-stride and focus on landing on your mid-sole, never your heel. That’s a common mistake that can lead to having shin splints.”
Mistake 5: Ignoring pains
Running is meant to improve your health, not hinder it. Thus, it’s important to pay attention to any aches that you’re experiencing while out on a run.
“People believe they have to be properly injured to see a physiotherapist but that isn’t true. The tendency to say, ‘it’s just a niggle, I don’t need to see someone’, actually means people further injure themselves and everything takes longer to heal,” adds Ashleigh Wienand, “while it’s also fine if that stiffness takes a day or so to go away. But, if it persists for more than 72 hours and it hurts every single time you run, don’t just Google it, go to see a physio as soon as possible”
Mistake 6: Keeping to the same route
There’s nothing wrong with having a favorite running route. However, the concern arises when you become too comfortable using the same route.
Wienand reveals that running the same route can actually increase your risk of injury because it causes a muscle imbalance in the body. In addition to this, switching up your running route can help you build strength, increase effectiveness and maintain your interest in running.
Mistake 7: Not drinking enough water
Hydration is vital when it comes to running as runners can lose a lot of fluid when they hit the trail.
“Consuming over two litres or about a half gallon per day is recommended for the average person, however, you may want to double — or even triple — this amount if you know that you are going on an intense run or training day. You want to start your hydration process a few hours to a day, before your planned run,” advises Dr. Kinney.
Mistake 8: Not replacing your shoes
If you’re new to running, you may have recently purchased a great pair of running shoes that’ll help to enhance your fitness journey. If that’s the case, it’s important to not get too attached as you will have to replace them eventually.
“Lots of people out there are running in old and unsupported shoes and they don’t even realize how much that contributes to injuries,” says Wienand. Wienand explains that over time, the body changes and, just like we do with our clothing, it’s important to adapt your running shoes in conjunction with these changes. If not, you’re risking the chance of injuries as well as back, hip and ankle pain.
Speaking to INSIDER, personal trainer Marshall Weber not only echoed the importance of replacing your running shoes, but he also suggested that fitness junkies have a separate pair of exercise shoes, with each pair dedicated to one exercise, “Make sure you have a pair of shoes that are dedicated to running and no other form of physical activity,” he advised. “Different workouts wear your shoes down at different rates and you will burn through a pair faster if you’re using it for both weightlifting and running, for example”.
When going to purchase your new pair of running shoes, it’s important to go to a store that offers expert specialists who are adept at selecting the right pair of running shoes.
“Determining the right type of shoe for you can be a tedious process, but it will make all the difference if you plan on putting in some serious miles,” says Dr. Kinney, “You first want to learn your running style and stride pattern (neutral pronation, supination or overpronation). Then, you’ll be able to find the correct brand and model of shoe that suits that specific style.”
Once you get your perfect pair, the general rule of thumb is to have them replaced every 300-350 miles because by then, they would have lost their cushioning and this often heightens the risk of injury.
In addition to the right shoes, it’s also important that your running attire is up to par. The wrong clothing can make you uncomfortable during your run and it can also make you more vulnerable to weather-related illnesses. Preferable, lightweight and breathable fabrics to wear during your run include nylon, polyester, and polypropylene.
Mistake 9: Poor breathing
Breath work is another factor that runners need to be mindful of, as poor breathing can affect their performance.
“Maintaining control of your breath is another hidden key to improving performance while running,” Dr. Kinney says. “You want to be sure to take deep belly or diaphragmatic breaths, versus shallow breaths with your chest. This will allow for maximal oxygen intake. Finding a rhythm that fits your pace is also key to maintaining breath control while on the run.“
Want To Know More?
In addition to enhancing your physical health, a good run can also benefit your brain by providing it with a natural and healthy high. Click here to find out more about a runner’s high.