Of course you know how to run — you've been doing it ever since you learned to walk. It seems pretty straightforward, but you could unknowingly be making some mistakes that not only hinder your performance, but worse, may be putting you at risk for an injury. Check out these five common running mistakes and how to fix them for your future runs.
The Wrong Footwear
The issue: Wearing shoes that don't fit properly, are not meant for the surface you're running on, or are too old won't support your feet effectively, which can lead to issues with foot or knee pain as well as impede proper running form. They also won't protect your joints from impact, which might be one reason you suffer from knee, hip, or lower-back pain.
The fix: Don't just pick out the cutest pair! Go to a running store and have an expert watch how you run so they can help you find the most supportive sneaker. And be honest about the surface you usually run on — don't buy a trail runner if you'll mostly be on the treadmill. Replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles or more often if you notice pain or that they are no longer offering the cushion or support.
The issue: Not drinking enough water before, during, and after your run can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, or cramps, which may cause you to cut a workout short.
The fix: Drink 15 to 20 ounces of water one to two hours before working out; sip another eight ounces 15 minutes before. While running, sip six ounces of water every 15 minutes, or if you're working out for longer than an hour or in excessive heat, drink an electrolyte-replacement drink. Make sure to drink another 15 ounces of water after your run — you'll know it's enough when you visit the ladies' room and see light-colored urine.
Keep reading to learn about three more common running mistakes.
The Wrong Surface
The issue: Only running on a hard surface such as concrete will eventually cause issues with your joints.
The fix: Switch things up and run on softer surfaces such as dirt, grass, and even sand.
The issue: Stretching cold muscles before your run is a surefire way to pull a muscle. Equally damaging is forgetting to stretch afterward since regular stretching makes your muscles more supple, reducing your risk of injury.
The fix: Before your run, skip the stretching in favor of a five-minute dynamic warmup. Afterward, do this postrun stretching sequence that targets the hamstrings, hip flexors, quads, and lower back.
The issue: Running is simple, easy, and effective at burning calories and strengthening your muscles, but strictly running and doing nothing else — even if you're training for a race — can put you at risk for an overuse injury.
The fix: Include cross-training sessions in your weekly routine to not only keep your muscles guessing but to also keep your spark for running alive. Try yoga, CrossFit, biking, Zumba, Pilates, Bar Method — anything other than running. Strengthening all your muscles will prevent muscular imbalance issues that can lead to common running injuries, and it will also make you a stronger, faster runner.