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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?


Fitness Friday – Stretching For Runners

Happy Fitness Friday!!

After a brief hiatus last week, I am back to babbling about all things fitness at the end of each week.

This week wraps up what has been a series of several posts that are running related. I wrote about buying the right running shoes in this post and this post. As well as strength training for runners in this post.

Today’s topic covers the stuff you do after a run – stretching. I recently gave a talk to a local running group on the importance of stretching and put together the following program for them. I see so many people come into the running store with an ailment (plantar fasciitis!!) that could be solved, or significantly relieved through a proper stretching program.

I know it’s easy to forget about, or put low on your priority list. This is why I schedule stretching time into my workout time. I know I’m going to stretch 5-10 minutes after a run. So when I’m trying to figure out what time I have to wake up to get four miles in before work, I automatically add those minutes on to my running time.

It’s also worth mentioning that stretching is done after a workout and not before. You never want to strain cold muscles. A proper warm up (like 5 minutes of brisk walking) is the best thing you can do to get the oxygen and blood flowing and your body ready to exercise. If you want to stretch before, wait until after your warm up.

As far as dynamic stretching goes, I’m not a huge fan unless you’re a pro. Especially not weighted dynamic stretching. Some jumping and arm swinging isn’t going to hurt you, just be careful!

Now here is your own personal post-run stretching plan :)



Stand with front toe pressed against a wall and heel on the floor. Lift your back heel to intensify the stretch. Stretches: Gastrocnemieus (calf) and bottom of foot.
Good for: Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis.







Stand with one foot in front of the other. Push your weight forward, slightly bending the front knee. Back leg remains straight.
Stretches: Soleus, gastrocnemius
Good for: Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis.








Grab on to your shoe laces and pull knees together. Do not let knees float apart and push hips forward to intensify the stretch.
Stretches: Quadriceps (front of thigh)
Good for: Runner’s knee, ITB syndrome




Lunge forward with your front leg. Bend your back knee down so it is hovering above the floor. Take the same arm as the back leg and stretch it toward the ceiling. Lean back slightly, then to the opposite side.
Stretches: Front hip flexor
Good for: Hip flexor injury





In a standing position, cross your ankles and lean forward. Repeat with other side.
Stretches: IT band (along side of leg)
Good for: ITB syndrome








Sit with legs straight in front of you. Bend one leg up and over the other. Twist your body to wrap around the outside of the bent leg.
Stretches: IT band, lower back, hips
Good for: ITB syndrome, hip flexor injury







In a seated position, bring one heel inward and stretch the other straight out in front. With a straight back, tip forward from the hip in the direction of the outstretched leg.
Stretches: Hamstrings (back of thigh)
Good for: Pulled hamstring




Lying on your back, bring one leg towards the ceiling. Keeping the legs straight, pull the outstretched leg toward your body.
Stretches: Hamstrings
Good for: Pulled hamstring





Lying on your back, press the outside of one ankle against your other knee. Reach between the legs and grab the thigh of the bottom leg.
Stretches: Glutes, hips
Goof for: Hip and sciatic injuries



Click here to get the PDF version of these stretches. Print it out and hang it on your fridge and go through it whenever you get home from a run. Your body will not only love you for it – but I bet you’ll get better at running because of it too!

Fitness, err, Saturday: All About the Shoes Part III

Well. Writing a Fitness Friday post on a Saturday is not the same thing at all ;) Truth of the matter is, I didn’t get home from work until 10:30 last night and the idea of writing a blog post after a full night’s rest sounded a lot more appealing!

So after 9 hours of glorious slumber, a belly full of oatmeal, and a whole day off ahead of me, I think I’m in a much better frame of mind to write. Let’s get to it!

Today’s post is the third and final post in my Running Shoe Series. I highly suggest you catch up on Part I and Part II if you missed them. We covered a lot of ground on how to pick the right running shoes for you.

In this post, I’ll be answering your questions about running shoes and delving into the great barefoot debate. Ohmy.

I’ve always wondered this….now…perfect time to ask! LOL
I’m still wearing running shoes (GT-2150 Asics) for everything. Honestly, I don’t even run anymore. LOL I know, I know…but they’re so darn comfortable, and I know that. No dropping $100 on shoes and finding they suck. :)
So…question….you go to a running store to be fitted for running shoes…but….where do you go/how do you know what cross-training shoes to get?
And, is a good cross-trainer enough for someone like me who has exercise ADD? Some days it’s walking the pup outside, some days its all gym cardio, and MOST days its weight-lifting.

In an ideal world, we’d have different shoes for running, walking, hiking, cycling, and the gym. Of course, few of us have the money to throw down on all of those things.

It’s important to know that running shoes are designed with forward motion in mind. They are best for running and walking. It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes your gait changes between running and walking, and sometimes you require a different shoe for both. I am a perfect example of this, as I get pains in the bottom of my feet when I go for long walks in my running shoes, but could run 10 miles in them and feel fine.

Cross-trainers are built for lateral motion. The side-to-side movement that you do in exercise classes or weight lifting. They have a wider outsole to support this. It’s easier for most people to wear running shoes to the gym in case they want to step on the treadmill or stair climber for a little bit. But it’s also a great way to wear out the cushioning in running shoes without even running in them.

With this in mind, I always recommend wearing old running shoes to the gym, and wearing only your newest running shoes on your actual runs. Just make sure you label which is which if they’re the same make. Trust me, it sucks getting them confused :P

As for where to get fitted for shoes – I can’t tell you that! Every town and city is different. The national chains we have in Canada aren’t everywhere else and every place has the mom and pop sports stores. Start googling and calling places and hopefully you’ll get pointed in the right direction.

Lily @ Lily’s Health Pad
Oddly enough, I am not a pronator, yet I was fitted many years ago at a swanky running shop and it was suggested I wear the Asics 2100 series. I’ve been wearing them ever since and have found I love them.

However, according to your last post…I think I’m a supinator! (Land on my outer heel and roll onto my outer forefoot) I tried running with shoes and without shoes…supinator either way.

Uh…I guess I’m wearing the wrong shoe??

This is where I say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! I sometimes get customers in the running store who have had a lot of success with a shoe that I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen for them. I look at the wear patterns and they’re all wrong. But I get nervous putting them in something different, because changing it up could end up causing more harm than good! You’ll know if you’re in the wrong shoe, despite what all the “rules” out there tell you you should be in.


Could you help me? If so, many thanks!!

I have a wide foot and pronate quite a bit….what should I be getting?

(I have been buying men’s Brooks the last few years(to accomodate wide foot) but wonder if there is abetter option for me?

I am overweight and using shoe for jogging and walking.(have had in the past plantar fasciitis, and other feet problems as I have gotten closer to middle age!)

Thanks Susan!!!


Just realize I am not sure if I pronate or supinate…..I do one of them lot.
My shoes are worn away more on the OUTSIDE edges of foot,not inner….so which is that? Thanks again!

First, running on the outside of your foot is called supination. That puts you in the cushion category for shoes. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to correct running on the outside of your foot. Even worse, not a lot of cushioned shoes come in wider sizes!

Brooks shoes actually tend to run a little more fitted, so I probably wouldn’t put you in something like that. New Balance are one the widest shoes out there. And people who are a little overweight sometimes need extra cushion in their shoe, so my first recommendation would be the 1064 (or anything in the 1060 series).

Adidas shoes can also run a little on the wide side. The adiStar Ride series are the ones with the more cushioning.

Shoes like Brooks and Mizuno actually do gender-based shoe construction, so I wouldn’t recommend going to the men’s side on those. If you still can’t find a women’s shoe that is wide enough for your foot, try something like an Asics or Saucony. The biggest difference with those is the wider toe box in the men’s shoe, which is exactly what you’re looking for!


Alina (Duty Free Foodie)

What are your thoughts on the Nike Free? I think I am a bit of a pronator, but I am trying to use the Free as a gateway shoe to perhaps try barefoot running in the future.

Nike Free shoes are incredibly lightweight with just a pinch of support and cushioning meant to slightly mimic the feeling of running with no shoes on. Let me put it this way, if barefoot running is something that interests you, these would be a good place to start (as opposed to Vibram FiveFingers or just throwing your shoes out all together). I don’t recommend them if you’re a heavy pronator or need orthotics. And definitely don’t log too many miles in them. Start with a mile at a time and keep them for your short runs.

Brie @ Brie Fit
I want to know where you stand on the barefoot/minimalist shoe trend! Are you going to trade your current shoes for a pair of VFFs or Nike Frees any time soon? I’ve had sooo many foot and lower leg issues, I’m wondering if I should give it a shot or if I’m setting myself up for disaster. Discuss!

Brie, you already put my answer in your question! :P

Barefoot running is just that, a trend.

I do think there is something to it. Some of the world’s best runners never wore shoes. Running shoes can actually change your gait to hitting more heavily on the outside of your heel, when ideally you’d want to hit closer to your forefoot. In a perfect world, we’d all have the perfect barefoot gait and could run around the mountains injury free.

But let’s get real. Most of us are recreational runners who only started endurance running as teenagers or adults. Most of us grew up wearing shoes and not gallivanting around barefoot. Most of us live in suburban/urban areas where our paths are made of pavement or littered trails.

Yes, the best cushioning for running already resides in your feet. Something shoemakers have been trying to mimic for years.

And in a perfect world, I wouldn’t get droves of clients who can’t push 5 lbs above their heads because they’re so weak from sitting at desks all day.

My point is, we live in a modern world where the human body is not used like it once was. We’re an ever-evolving species. Instead of trying to mimic the way history tells us we’re supposed to move, we should just move the way we’re built to now.

It’s also important to remember that each body truly is different. Just because one person has success ditching their shoes, doesn’t mean it will work for your body’s individual needs. No long-term studies have been done on the effects of barefoot running. So you may save money on shoes now, but what kind of money will you have to spend on rehabilitation later?

If it is still something that interests you, I suggest you start very small. Something like the Nike Free pictured above, doing very short runs to begin with. Never go barefoot for a long run unless you’ve already been training without shoes for a couple of years.

As for me, I’ve never had any problems with running shoes. I like the extra protection they give me. I’m not that competitive and like running for the fun of it. I don’t really care if ditching my shoes will make me better, I’m happy with the way I run now.


Question of the Day: Where do you stand on the barefoot running debate? Have you tried it yet?