“You run, you learn, then you get better”
A full month into the New Year and hopefully those of you who set running goals are sticking to them. Also, spring racing season is so close that many runners (myself included) are in full training mode. All in all, a good time for all runners to ensure we’re practicing good habits – and kicking the bad ones.
Mistakes are natural in every aspect of our lives, no matter if we’re new to something or old pros. Running is no exception. Don’t make these five common running mistakes and do stay a healthy, happy runner.
Mistake #1: Improper Attire
There are seemingly infinite choices when it comes to athletic apparel, including running shoes. Improper running shoes for a runner’s foot type can lead to pain or injury, while shoes that don’t fit well cause discomfort, blisters and excess toenail trauma. All reasons why it’s imperative to get fitted for correct running shoes by a knowledgeable professional.
That being said, there’s no need to panic – picking out the correct shoes isn’t like doing long division (I know most people would say “rocket science” here but, let’s face it, long division is a much more relatable struggle). There are three main types of running shoes designed for the three main types of feet.
Motion Control – Low/No Arches
Motion control shoes are designed to slow the rate of over pronation (feet rolling inward). They’re much more rigid than other types. If you have no arches/flat feet, these are probably the shoes for you.
Cushion / Flexible – High Arches
The opposite of pronation, supination is when the foot rolls outward. Cushion (sometimes called Flexible) shoes offer more cushioning to handle the greater shock of this type of foot strike. People with high arches would seek out cushion shoes.
Stability – Medium Arches
Combining some rigidity and some cushioning, stability shoes are designed to maintain the natural running pattern of those who don’t over pronate or supinate to a major degree. Those with medium arches should start with stability shoes when looking for the best choice.
Even if you know what type of arch your feet have, a pro at your local running or sporting goods store should be able to further help you determine what type of shoe is best for you – just ask!
Along with wearing the correct shoes, proper running clothes are essential to preventing unpleasant runs and side effects.
Cotton. It’s the fabric of our lives. It’s also one of the worst for runners. Cotton doesn’t move well, especially when it becomes soaked with sweat. This can lead to uncomfortable rubbing or full-on chafing. Similarly, overly baggy or loose clothing can cause the same effect. And guys, I don’t need to tell you that a cotton shirt plus a long run plus bare nipples is an experience you don’t want to have.
Indoor or outdoor, always go with moisture-wicking fabrics and clothes that fit closer to the body. Bonus, dri-fit fabrics are lighter than cotton and you’ll notice it.
Speaking of outdoor running, depending where you live and seasonal factors, layering is an important strategy to learn. Check out my recent winter running entry where I share some proper layering tips and techniques.
Mistake #2: Too Much Too Fast
Like any exercise, it’s easy to go overboard right away. Whether you’re just starting a running program or you’re starting to train for a race, the key is gradual. Pushing yourself to increase mileage too fast puts you at risk for injury and burnout.
A generally-accepted rule of thumb is to increase running mileage by no more than 10% a week and/or per long run. A similar guideline is true for the long run itself; it’s not advised to increase your weekly long run by more than 1 mile per week. This rule flexes a bit when it comes to long runs that are more than 10 miles, in which case it’s okay to increase your long run by 2 miles per week.
I know, I know that’s a lot of math and of the potentially confusing kind. I have another, personal rule that has worked out really well for me during marathon training: Weekly mileage should equal or be slightly greater to than the long run.
For example, I’m planning to run 12-13 miles next weekend. So, my weekly plan looks like:
6 miles Monday
3 miles Wednesday
5 miles Thursday
14 miles total in the week
Throw in leg day on Tuesday, a couple upper-body lifting sessions, some EFX and StairMaster time on non-running days, I’ve got a solid week!
Which brings me to my next point…
Mistake #3: Run, More Running, OMG ALL I DO IS RUN
Yes, running is great. It’s very easily addictive too. However, a well-rounded runner knows he/she needs more than just running. It’s a great idea to mix in upper- and lower-body strength training, as well as other types of cardio. Not only does this allow proper recovery after tough runs, it keeps the rest of the body healthy, fuels better running and prevents burnout. Taking a day off from running to do another type of cardio makes me more excited for my run that next day.
Mistake #4: Avoiding the Great Outdoors
Treadmill workouts are great. Speed work, incline work, easier interval management, and those days where you need to put your brain on autopilot and just let your legs go. Never venturing off the treadmill, especially if you’re training for a race, is a major mistake.
Running outside is harder – on endurance and on the body. Treadmills are much more forgiving than concrete, asphalt, even trails. Different types of terrain requires different muscles and can also put more stress on the feet, knees, everything. Running outside makes you a stronger runner and is the only way to adequately prepare for real-life running like road races and being chased by murderers.
Story time: I know a guy who trained for a full marathon almost exclusively on the treadmill. I think he mentioned only doing one or two long runs outside in the four months he trained. Marathon day came and his body broke down in the second half. His calves cramped, knees were shot, feet killed; basically he limped his way to the finish line. The body just needs to learn how to adapt to the great outdoors.
Mistake #5: Skipping Stretching
Those of you who read this blog regularly know I’m an advocate of stretching. And you also probably think I’m starting to sound like a broken record. Good, that means my stretching message is getting out there!
Stretching is SO important after a run. Your muscles work so hard, they need it.
If you’ve never stretched or aren’t sure where to start, you’re in luck! I recently wrote a blog with my 5 Top Stretches for Runners. Read it and do it.
Now that you’re in the know, don’t make these five running mistakes. I hope everyone’s February is still on track with goals. As always, please comment or tweet at me @runlikeagirl311 if you have questions or need some motivation to keep chugging away towards your running goals!
Also, if you liked this post or know a runner who would, please share on Twitter or Facebook!