Running can be a great way to stay fit, but it’s important that you’re running correctly. Mistakes could inhibit your performance – or worse cause you to have injuries.
Here are just 10 common running mistakes that you don’t want to be making.
Wearing the wrong footwear
Running in normal sneakers isn’t recommended. Such shoes aren’t designed to support your ankles and knees when running for long periods and could lead to injuries such as sprains and strains. For this reason, it’s always worth investing in a pair of specialist running shoes. While some running shoes can be very expensive, there are more affordable brands out there.
Running on the wrong surfaces
You should also be careful of running on the wrong surfaces. Uneven surfaces such as sand or gravel can increase the chance of an injury, because it puts more strain on your ankles. Sticking to pavement and flat surfaces can prevent an injury from occurring.
Running with an injury
If you suffer an injury while running, don’t continue to train while injured – even if you do have a race coming up. You could make the injury worse and what could be a minor injury could end up turning into a major long-term injury. Allow yourself a rest and see a doctor if you have any concerns. You may be able to speed up your recovery by hiring the help of a sports medicine doctor. Such professionals are able to advise you on dieting, stretching and exercise to help you heal faster.
Running too far, too soon
Taking on too many miles too soon could result in an injury. If you’re training for a long run such as a marathon or a half marathon, build yourself up slowly over a period of several months to a year. This gives your body time to adapt. Mentally, you’ll also find it easier to push your distance up from seven to eight miles rather than one mile to eight miles.
Skipping the warm-up
Warming up is essential before a long run. A few small exercises can help to get blood flowing to your muscles and can help them to be more supple for the run ahead – this can prevent cramping. Static stretches aren’t really recommended for running. Try jogging lighting on the spot, doing jumping jacks or performing lunges – these will loosen up and warm up your muscles, making you feel more ready for the run ahead.
Wearing too many layers
A lot of people make the mistake of layering up too much before a run. This is particularly the case in the winter when it can be very cold and difficult to motivate oneself without a few layers. However, these layers could cause you to overheat too quickly. While you can take them off, you then have to carry them around with you – which is extra unnecessary weight to lug around and tire you out. Invest in a lightweight running jacket that will offer the warmth you need all in one layer. This will be much easier to take off and carry with you if necessary. Gloves and a hat could be useful for keeping your hands and head warm, while a pair of merino wool socks will keep your feet warm without becoming too sweaty.
Not eating the right foods
It’s important to follow the right diet when training for a big run. Cut back on junk foods and try to increase your healthy sources of carbs – including whole-grain pasta, oatmeal and bananas. Other foods like dark chocolate, peanut butter and coffee can provide energy. On top of eating the right foods, it’s important that you know when to eat. Don’t eat immediately before – unless you want to get a stitch. Instead, aim to eat a meal an hour or so before. During a long run, you should aim to consume no more than 100 calories every hour. Refuelling after a long run is very important, so prepare yourself a large protein-heavy meal afterwards.
Not drinking enough water
Staying hydrated is also important when running – fail to drink enough water and you could find yourself cramping up. Every 15 to 20 minutes, you should aim to drink six ounces of water to keep your body hydrated. You can buy water bottles specifically designed for running that can be conveniently carried in a holster. Long runs will have lots of places along the way to top up.
Not protecting your nipples
‘Runner’s nipple’ is painful and not very pleasant. You’re unlikely to experience it on a short run, but on a long run, you could find that your clothing starts to rub and cause irritation. There are lots of ways to prevent runner’s nipple such as using tape or adding petroleum jelly.
Tensing your upper body
A lot of people get cramped shoulders when running. This can be the result of unconsciously tensing up. Try to pay attention to your upper body when running and don’t let your arms or shoulders tense up. Relax your shoulders and run with open hands rather than clenching your fists.