5 Common Running Mistakes You Should Avoid

by | October 16, 2013 at 2:15 PM | Health

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Run faster and stronger when you fix these common flubs.

By Katie Rosenbrock, TheActiveTimes.com

1. Blaming Your Shoes
We know, we know. You’ve heard it a million times, get fitted for a good pair of shoes. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran runner there’s no disputing that investing in a quality pair of shoes, and maybe even getting fitted at your local running shop is a good idea. But If you’re struggling with a persistent or recurring injury, or you just can’t push past a plateau, instead of blaming your sneakers and going on a hunt for the next best pair, take a closer look at your training program. Yes, sometimes running in a pair of sneakers that isn’t necessarily right for you can cause an injury. But more often than not, it’s a poor training program that will leave a runner sidelined. Pay more attention to your body, and reevaluate your training strategy. If you’re continually dealing with injuries, it’s time to see a doctor.

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2. Not Warming Up
In the good old days during gym class, we were taught to stretch before the big dodgeball game. But these days, some studies show that static stretching before exercise might not be such a good idea. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t warm up, though. Save static stretches for after your workout and get some blood flowing to your muscles and loosen up your joints by performing a series of dynamic stretches  before a run instead. Even if you’re crunched for time and adding a few extra minutes to your routine for some seemingly silly movements might feel like a pain in the neck, it could mean the difference between running injury-free and not being able to run at all.

3. Training Without Progression
Once you get the hang of it, running makes you feel really awesome. So awesome that sometimes it might make you do crazy things. Like trying to tackle a distance longer than your body is ready for. You’ll probably hear this time and time again, but doing too much, too soon is one of the most common mistakes made by runners of every level. To be a successful runner you have to start at your current fitness level and work your way up. In other words, progress your training. The amount you can safely advance your routine depends on how much you’re already running. Beginner runners should keep their program the same for 3-4 weeks at a time. If you have a little more experience under your belt, a general rule of thumb says you can increase your mileage by about 10% each week.

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4. Not Enough Recovery
We get it, you love to run. You love it so much that you just want to get out there and go, like almost every day. Enthusiasm is great, but not allowing your muscles to rest and recover isn’t. During a workout, your muscle fibers withstand many microscopic tears. It’s only while you’re resting that damaged muscle tissue can be repaired. If you don’t allow ample time for this process between workouts, you’ll never grow stronger or faster. Aim for anywhere from 2-4 days of downtime between high-intensity sessions. And don’t forget, racing is way more stressful on your body than training, so plan for some time off after you cross the finish line. Most importantly, listen to your body. The way your muscles and joints feel and your overall mood will let you know whether or not you’re ready to run again.

5. Expecting Immediate Change
We’re sure you know the old cliché “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Sure, it’s annoying because you’ve heard it a million and one times, but it’s around because it’s true, and it applies to almost any goal you set out to accomplish. You won’t get results without putting in the hard work. Running can be frustrating because, typically, it takes way more time than you’d ideally like to grow stronger and get faster. Like, probably weeks and months more than you thought it was going to take. So just be patient. Whether you’re aiming to finish your first 5K or you’ve got your sights set on a marathon, if you’re consistent with your training and take each workout one step at a time, there’s no reason you can’t successfully reach the finish line.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.