Daily Archives: January 7, 2011

Fitness Friday – 8 Most Common Running Mistakes

Hello and happy Fitness Friday! It feels like it’s been a while, no?

Seeing as it’s the new year, I know it’s a time when a lot of people are setting race goals for 2011, or even just getting back into exercise! I’ve already gone over the 5 Most Common Weight Lifting Mistakes, but today I’m addressing the most popular form of cardio. Everyone wants to be a runner, but many of us are doing it wrong. Here are the most common running mistakes to ensure you don’t get sidelined this year.


1. You’re running too fast.

A lot of newbie runners tend to sprint right off the bat. After three minutes they feel like they’re dying and determine that running is either too hard, or they’re just not cut out for it. Fact is, it takes a looooong time to figure out what a comfortable pace is for yourself. Chances are it’s waaaaay slower than what you wish it was. If you can’t muster up a sentence, or if you’re frequently getting side stitches, try taking it down a notch. We’re not shooting for the Olympics here, there’ ain’t nothin’ wrong with a slow and steady jog.


2. You’re running too much.

Running is fantastic for releasing those feel-good endorphins. Problem is, some people get hooked. As soon as you can run, you want to do it all the time. Keep the 5-day-a-week schedules for the marathoners. If you’re a recreational runner/racer, try to take a few days off once in a while. Remember the 10% rule – never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%. Jumping from 15 miles one week, to 25 miles the next is setting yourself up for injury. Shin splints for example, are usually caused by running too much too soon.


3. You’re running route sucks.


This point means two things:

a) You need to find a route that suits you. I hated running outdoors when I first started because I was doing all city routes. But then I discovered trail running and fell in love. Some people on the other hand love the noise of a city, the pavement, or even prefer a treadmill! Experiment with different settings until you find one you like best.

b) You’re doing the same route over and over. As with anything in fitness, you should be changing it up. Some streets and sidewalks are tilted, which can cause pain in one leg and not the other. Running too many hills can do a number on your achilles tendon, but not running enough won’t challenge you as a runner. It’s okay to have a favourite route, but changing it up is sometimes motivation enough to get you out the door.


4. You’re in the wrong shoes.


And I’m not just saying that because I sell running shoes for a living. I see so many people frustrated with aches and pains that are all the result of a stupid cheap shoe. Splurge the extra hundred bucks for the proper shoe, it’s worth the pain and injuries it will prevent. I know, I was off my feet for two months once thanks to a long run in old ratty shoes.


5. You’re not eating right.


If you’re cramping up, feeling lightheaded, pukey, burpey, or feeling like you gotta go youknowwhat, take another look at what you’re eating before a run. I can’t counsel you in what’s perfect for your body. It’s something that is best discovered through personal trial and error. Personally, I like a quick digesting carb (bread, banana, apple) with a little bit of nut butter about an hour before. If you’re running in the morning, make sure you’re eating a decent snack the night before so you don’t run out of energy first thing.

For me, I have to stay away from anything salty before a workout because I get so thirsty after. Worst bike ride of my life was the day I ate a bag of popcorn before setting out for 40k.


6. You’re not stretching


Runners by nature are “go-go-go” type people, which means they typically don’t have the patience for static stretching after a sweaty run. Or morning runners neglect to make time for stretching before they jet off to work. Well too bad. Just do it.

You have no idea how many injuries I see as a personal trainer because people ignored their flexibility. Back injuries that put you out of commission, plantar fasciitis that makes simple walking hard, hip injuries that make it near impossible to put pants on. If you’re running for your health, then you can stretch for your health too. Otherwise, you may just be doing more harm than good.

Click here for a list of running stretches.


7. You’re not icing.

Running causes inflammation, sometimes to the point of pain. If you’re running long distances, get into the habit of icing any trouble areas you may have for 10-15 minutes once you get in. This will help bring down the inflammation and prevent any future pain or hobbling. I still have a cranky hip from an old hip injury that I know to ice even if it doesn’t hurt right away. If I don’t, chances are I’ll get a little pain walking around for the rest of the day. Without ice, I would have given up on running a long time ago.


8. You’re not cross training.

Now that you’re following point #2, you’re finding yourself with lots of spare time. Instead of running every single day – cross train! Ride a bike, do yoga, go swimming, hop on the elliptical, take a kickboxing class. Other activities will actually improve your cardiovascular and muscular condition for running.

But most importantly, weight train. Because it’s a repetitive motion, running only uses certain muscles over and over, while others are neglected. This causes muscular imbalance in your body, which in my opinion is one of the main reasons for injury. You can hurt yourself when one part of your body is trying to compensate for a weakness in another part of your body. Runners especially need to work on their glutes, hamstrings and calves. But moreso, focus on every muscle group in the body to create equal strength overall.


Question of the Day: Runners, help me out with this list! What are some running mistakes you’d advise against?