Running is a great cardiovascular workout, but launching into a running routine requires some preparation to avoid injury and frustration. Here are nine common pitfalls of beginner runners and how to avoid them.
Running is your only workout
Running is great for you, but it shouldn’t be your only workout, especially at first. Cross-training with other activities like weight lifting, swimming, or yoga will help strengthen your body and make you a better runner in the long run.
Stretching after your workout is as important as stretching before. Taking a few minutes to cool down and stretch out helps prevent stiff and sore legs.
Pushing yourself too hard
It’s tempting to give it your all when you start a new workout routine, but pushing yourself early on can lead to injury and burnout. Create a schedule for yourself where you slowly build up in distance and difficulty.
No rest days
Rest is just as important for your body as exercise. Running seven days a week will leave you feeling lethargic, so incorporate a couple of rest days into your weekly schedule where you opt for a long walk or light yoga class.
Running is not as simple as just strapping on some sneakers and hitting the road. Take some time to research proper form and strengthen critical muscle groups like hips and glutes to avoid injury.
Overworking your sneakers
The lifespan of the average running shoe is 300 to 500 miles. After that, they no longer give your feet the support they need. If you haven’t bought new running shoes in a few years, it might be worth investing in a new pair for your new hobby. If you’re training for a long-distance event, it’s a good idea to keep a few pairs in your rotation so you don’t hit the day of the event having to choose between worn out or brand new sneakers.
It can be tempting to ignore and push through that twinge in your ankle or swelling in your knee, but pretending injuries don’t exist is the perfect recipe for them to get worse. If you’re injured, take some rest days to let your body heal and see your doctor if the issue doesn’t seem to be getting better. Taking a few days off to rest is better than losing months to a serious injury.
Failing to hydrate
Hydration is the name of the game when it comes to running. In addition to drinking water after you run, you should make sure to hydrate well in the 12 hours before a big run as well. If you’re running in hot weather, be sure to wear moisture-wicking cool clothing and pack water. Likewise, if you’re running in colder weather, be sure to hydrate enough as we often forget to drink water when the weather isn’t warm.
Not fueling properly
It’s a good idea to eat a nutritious meal several hours before a run or, if you run in the morning, a small snack to get you started. If you have a big run planned, stick to reliable favorites and avoid trying any new or unfamiliar foods before heading out.