01 Mar Common mistakes new runners make and how to avoid them
Those new to running can be overwhelmed with excitement and jump straight in without knowing how to establish a healthy routine.
Running is a such a great way to get fit and the beauty of it is that pretty much everyone can do it. There are no limitations, zero discrimination and all you need is yourself (plus some minor motivation).
The convenience of running is why it’s popular and why so many people of different skill levels attempt to jump right in. It seems that most runners become set on routines they establish and never realise the common mistakes they are making day in and day out.
If you are just starting out, consider these points to increase your chance of running success.
MOST COMMON MISTAKES NEW RUNNERS MAKE AND HOW TO AVOID THEM:
Too much, too soon
When you start to see progress, it’s motivating that sometimes it’s too hard to hold back your excitement. You want to train more, run longer and see more results! But new runners often get caught up in the moment but don’t realise they should ease into training.
Warming up/cooling down
If you are guilty of running out the door without warming up or down properly… you aren’t alone. One of the most important aspects to exercise, yet the most skipped. Warming up has many performance benefits that will make you run faster, but it will also help avoid injuries.
Benefits of warming up:
- Raised body temperature, speeding up your metabolic processes and energy supply
- Enhanced muscle performance, allowing your muscles to contract faster and more powerfully
- Increased cardio performance, allowing for higher oxygen uptake
- Better joint load distribution
- Injury prevention
Mastering a proper cool-down is just as important. Cooling down relaxes your muscles and lowers your heart rate and breathing that will maximise your recovery.
Benefits of cooling down:
- Brings your body back to a resting state as efficiently as possible, including your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Reduces the build-up of lactic acid, which can lead to muscles cramping and stiffness.
- Allows a gradual decrease of activity so you don’t stop too fast and feel sick; stopping suddenly can cause light-headedness because your heart rate and blood pressure drop rapidly.
Many new to running think that to become a better runner, you must run as much as possible, as frequently as possible. Yes, you do have to run frequently but like anything, if you only focus on a single movement, imbalances start to form elsewhere. Doing activities other than running not only prevents boredom but helps train other muscle groups to prevent imbalances in our muscles. Runners should incorporate strength exercises to help build a strong core to help improve their form and efficiency.
Not wearing the right gear
Having the right gear is important when it comes the running. We aren’t talking about buying flashy new kit to look great, but its more for a comfort point of view. Your running shoes are the most important piece of gear you need as a runner. Investing in some quality shoes can be the difference between you reaching your peak performance or picking up an injury.
Comparing yourself to other
Running unfortunately falls victim to the comparison trap more than almost any other exercise… especially when starting out. You are surrounded by runners who make it look so easy and always question yourself. This obstacle is a big reason why people start to avoid it. Here are a few things to remember:
- Train by your efforts, not by pace – Forget checking your watch for pace, your effort says it all. Removing the option to judge yourself mid-run will help keep you focused. Sometimes your slower runs feel the best and there is nothing wrong with that.
- Every runner was once a worse runner – We ALL have been there. No one became a sensation overnight, remember running isn’t easy but improving is.
Run for yourself, not for others says Dave Ridley, Nike Run Club Coach.
“All runners (new or seasoned) have made mistakes when training. Some even repeat the same mistakes over and over again! But once you learn and take steps to avoid them, you’ll become a much better runner overtime”.
Exercise Right asked Dave for his top three tips for amateur runners about to start their journey.
Dave’s top three tips for new runners:
1. Play the long game by running as easy as possible in the early weeks and months.
To improve your running, consistency is the key ingredient. Pesky injuries can cause unwanted setbacks leading to inconsistent training. To help avoid injuries, give your body time to adapt to running. In the early days, run as easy and short as possible. Then, very, very gradually add pace and time to your runs.
2. Set achievable goals that help build good habits.
Our minds love positive feedback. Set simple goals that you know you can easy achieve. Over time, gradually push the goals to become challenging. This is a great way to effectively give yourself positive feedback and create lasting habits.
3. Good shoes and socks help.
Investing in at least one pair of good runners (and a few pairs of socks) is a must. Running shoes are designed for lots of different types of runs; Easy runs, steady runs, fast runs and long runs. Match the right shoes for you to the right shoe for the run.
Need help getting started?
Consult an exercise professional, such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist prior to starting a training program, or if you are experiencing any pains whilst exercising.
We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.
The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.
Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.