Blogger Highlight: The Foodie Runner’s 10 Common Runner Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
All runners have to start somewhere with their training, and making running mistakes is all part of it. It’s common to get off on the wrong foot, but I’m here to clear that up for you.
Mistake 1: Running in the wrong shoes.
Running in old, worn out shoes or the wrong shoes for your feet and running form can lead to chronic injuries.
HOW TO AVOID IT: There are two important steps to making sure that you have the proper footwear to support your new running habit.
Step 1- Get fitted for the right running shoes for you at your local running store. The employees at these stores are very passionate about running as well as helping new runners find the gear they need. They will typically do a gait/running test on you, and look at how YOU run to help you find the shoe you need whether that’s stability, neutral, or minimalist.
Step 2- Track your shoes’ mileage and replace them every 300ish miles—after that is when you are more susceptible to injury.
Mistake 2: Running too much too soon.
When you’re new to running, it’s easy to want to run all the time. But increasing your mileage too quickly can lead to injury, fatigue, and/or burnout.
HOW TO AVOID IT: Slowly increase your mileage every week. The recommended increase from week to week is 10%, so if you ran 10 miles one week, the next week you should run 10%—or 1 mile more—for 11 miles. Follow this pattern until you reach a mileage that you can easily maintain in your weekly schedule.
Mistake 3: Running too fast on easy runs.
Easy runs should be at a conversational pace that feels comfortable and sustainable. New runners tend to think that it’s necessary to run fast to get faster, but if you run with hard effort every day, you won’t see improvement.
HOW TO AVOID IT: If you have to, use a heart rate monitor on your easy runs, and keep your heart rate at 60-75% of your maximum heart rate. Your heart rate won’t lie, so you’ll have clear evidence of whether or not the effort was easy for you.
Mistake 4: Not switching it up.
So, many new runners get in a rut of running the same thing day in and day out. In order to get faster, it is important to switch up how far and fast you run.
HOW TO AVOID IT: Make sure that your weekly runs are a good mix of easy runs, tempo runs, intervals and long runs. If you are a little unsure where to start, find a training plan and follow it! There are a bunch of great, free options available online. Whether it’s a Couch to 5K or Jack Daniel’s Half Marathon, plan on using a prescribed training plan that will ensure that you are switching up your routine—ultimately making you a faster runner.
Mistake 5: Thinking that racing “isn’t for them”.
I’ve talked to many new runners that have been apprehensive to sign up for a race because they aren’t “fast”, but racing is a fun way to test your fitness level, and connect with your running community.
HOW TO AVOID IT: Bite the bullet! Find a friend and sign up for a 5K together. And then another one. Each race you complete and race medal you collect will make you so proud of your accomplishments, and then you’ll wonder what you were ever afraid of in the first place.
Mistake 6: Running on the wrong side of the road.
On a daily basis, I see runners running on the wrong side of the road, putting themselves in danger. When no sidewalk is available, you should be running on the left-hand side of the road, facing oncoming traffic, so you aren’t caught unaware by a car coming up behind you.
HOW TO AVOID IT: It’s pretty simple—either get on a sidewalk or run on the left-hand side of the road.
Mistake 7: Not fueling properly.
Running really ramps up your metabolism, leaving you feeling hungry all day. While it’s important to refuel correctly, studies have found that runners can overestimate how many calories they burned leading to overeating and sometimes weight gain in new runners.
HOW TO AVOID IT: Eat a well-balanced snack (4:1 carb:protein ratio) within 30 minutes of finishing your run. These carbs will replenish your glycogen stores and protein will aid in muscle recovery—keeping you feeling full. Keep in mind that for each mile you run you burn approximately 100 calories (although, this depends on your gender and weight) and fuel accordingly throughout the rest of the day, focusing on healthy, unprocessed foods.
Mistake 8: Not taking rest days.
Running everyday is a recipe for disaster, but lots of new runners ignore this important part of their training.
HOW TO AVOID IT: Build rest days into your exercise schedule, and when your calendar says it’s a rest day, listen! This way you won’t forget about them, and you will give your body the time it needs to rest and recover from all the hard work you are putting in.
Mistake 9: Not listening to your body.
Little aches and pains are common among runners, but there comes a time in every runner’s journey that there is a bigger injury. When this happens, many new runners will not listen to what their body is telling them and will continue to run on injuries. This leads to having to take more time off to heal than would have been necessary if you stopped at the first sign of a problem.
HOW TO AVOID IT: Be cautious! When something is hurting, take an extra rest day and/or get it checked out by your doctor. Don’t be a hero and run while you are in pain. It’s always better to take off one day to give yourself some time to heal than to run on it and have to take off weeks.
Mistake 10: Getting caught in the comparison trap.
In the age of social media, your running buddies are posting all about their training on Instagram, Facebook, and Strava. It’s easy to start comparing your training to others, and get discontent with what you are doing.
HOW TO AVOID IT: Find what works for you and stick with it. Every runner is different—different life circumstances, different job demands, different goals, different abilities. That’s the beautiful thing about running—so many different kinds of people can find joy in a shared activity. Remind yourself of this when you start to go down the comparison trap, and congratulate your running buddies’ successes while also being proud of yours!
Stay tuned, The Foodie Runner goes over a nutrition plan for runners!