Running truly is a great form of exercise, but it can also be an easy way to injure yourself if you don’t know some of the most common Running Mistakes to Avoid. Unfortunately, running is not always as straight-forward as it may seem, and can actually be an easy ticket to the permanently injured list if you are not careful! But that’s why I’ve created this list, to help you avoid a myriad of mistakes that are often made while running.
1. Wrong Shoes
Wearing old, worn-out shoes or wearing the wrong kind of shoes for your feet can lead to injuries. Your feet are obviously the most important aspect of your running, and they need to be treated as such. Go to a running specialty store to have a professional determine what kind of a runner you are (overpronator, underpronator, or neutral runner), and have them recommend the best shoe for your style. Remember, it’s important to replace shoes every 300 – 350 miles, because the padding wears out and this too can lead to injury.
2. Too Much, Too Soon
There’s no mystery why someone came up with the phrase, “runner’s high” – running causes a streamline of endorphins that can make you feel like you are on cloud-9. However, this euphoric feeling can often lead to multiple running mistakes, including running too often, too far, and/or too fast, leading to a multitude of injuries. Running, like everything else, needs to be done in moderation and trying to take on too many miles, running every day, or at too fast a speed can lead to various types of injuries including, shin splints, runner’s knee, and/or ITB syndrome. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard, because once you are injured it’s not always easy to get back into it.
Have you ever seen a runner lunging out with their feet well ahead of their body’s center of gravity in an effort to increase speed or running efficiency? This is called overstriding and can be detrimental to one’s run. Landing heel first like this actually wastes energy since you are literally braking with each foot strike, slowing yourself down. Instead, focus on landing mid-sole, with your foot directly under your body. Also concentrate on using a short, low arm swing as this is key to keeping your stride short and close to the ground.
4. Running Too Fast Downhill
Running can be a lot of work, so when it’s time to go downhill, who doesn’t like that extra little help from gravity to help push them onward? However, this extra momentum can actually be detrimental to your body, and is not worth the minute or so it will shave off your distance. While the tendency is to lean the torso forward and overstride to help propel you, try to only lean enough to bring your shoulders slightly ahead of your hips, focusing on taking short, quick strides instead. This will prevent you from losing control on the decline, saving your feet from unnecessary pounding, which in essence, is saving your knees and hips as well.
5. Not Controlling Your Upper Body
Another common running mistake is that most people don’t think of their upper bodies as being part of the equation when it comes to running. However, not controlling this aspect of your form can slow you down and cause undue tension. Beginners, in particular, will often swing their arms side-to-side or hold their hands high up by their chest, causing tightness and tension in their shoulders and neck. Concentrating on keeping your hands at waist level with your arms at a 90 degree angle, will help to alleviate this problem. It’s also important to remember to keep your head up, your back straight and erect, and your shoulders level. if you begin to become tired and notice yourself slumping over a bit, focus on poking out your chest, so you won’t feel unnecessary stress in your upper body and lower back.
6. Not Drinking Enough
Water is vital to help keep our bodies functioning normally, we all know that. Then why don’t we make sure to adequately hydrate ourselves when we know our bodies are using more amounts of water when we run? In the hour or so leading up to your run, drink approximately 16oz of water to make sure you are well hydrated. Then during your run, you should be drinking 5-12oz of water every 15-20 minutes. if you are running for more than an hour, it is best to drink a sports drink of some type, because your body needs those extra carbohydrates and electrolytes to keep it moving efficiently. Take note, if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so drink plenty of liquid before this happens.
7. Not Fueling Properly
Just as water is important for our bodies, so too is the fuel (aka, food) that we put into it. Don’t underestimate the importance of nutrition, either before or after your run, as it plays a huge part in your performance and recovery. Eating a well-proportioned diet of healthy carbs, fats, and protein is vital to keep your body moving at its optimal level, and to keep you from getting sick and preventing muscle soreness. While running on a full stomach isn’t good for you either, it is suggested to eat 60-90 minutes pre-run, and then within 30-45 minutes after. This way your body will have a source of fuel to pull from as you go through your run, and then more so that it can help you recover after the fact.
If running is your thing, take special note of these 7 mistakes to avoid, because you can’t afford not to! What «mistake» have you found yourself participating in? Are there any others that you would add to this list?