Running is a pretty simple sport, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of lessons to be learned about it. We usually have to make our own mistakes before a lesson truly becomes rooted in our brains, but if you can pick up a few tips based on what other runners have discovered before making the same slipups yourself you can potentially avoid a lot of hassle.
In the previous installment of our running mistakes series we talked about everything from sneakers and warm ups to training plans and recovery.
This time around we’ll tell you how to avoid five more common running mistakes that can hinder your performance. The more you run (and read), the more you learn!
1. Running On Repeat
If every one of your workouts involves the same 30-minute loop through your neighborhood it’s probably time to switch up your routine. Not only should you vary the routes that you run, but you should also avoid what David Olds, director of the Nike Bear Butte Running Camp, calls the “medium run mentality” by experimenting with different types of workouts that will encourage you to run at varying speeds. Some workouts should be slow, some should be fast, and some should be somewhere in between, but for the most part every single one should have a purpose and they should never all be the same.
2. You're Slave to "The Plan"
When you have a well-organized training plan perfectly crafted with every workout that will lead you to race day, it’s easy to develop an extremely stubborn mindset. All of sudden you become some sort of running robot who refuses to miss even one workout, no matter what the circumstance. Instead of worshiping your training plan as some sort of omnipotent being, allow room for adaptations based on how your body is feeling. Never try to run through serious pain and if you have to miss one or two workouts, don’t overdo it by trying to “make them up.” Pick up where you left off and give your body time to get back into the swing of things.
3. Never Cross Training
“It seems like many runners, just don't train comprehensively. They're under the false assumption that running is the only thing they need to do,” says Andia Winslow, Master Certified Fitness Pro and founder of The Fit Cycle. “But that's not the case. Cross training is vital for sustained injury prevention.” Weak glutes, tight hip flexors and hamstrings, and sub-par posture are common muscular imbalances among runners, all of which can impact performance negatively. Luckily, they can be corrected by incorporating exercises other than running, like cycling, yoga, and strength training in your routine.
4. Forgetting About Fun
You wouldn’t run as much as you do if you didn’t love it, but that enthusiasm can start to fade quickly when you focus too closely on goal times, splits, and your pace every time you go for a run. Remember how I said every workout should have a purpose? That includes planning relaxed runs that are free from all tracking devices and meant purely for enjoyment.
5. Eating Foreign Foods
This mistake particularly applies to the meals you eat right before a run. Since our insides get tossed around a bit while running, you’ll always want to avoid eating anything that might upset your stomach, and if you need to fuel up before a workout leave ample time for digestion between your last bite and when your workout will begin. Acceptable pre-run foods are different for every runner, so it may take some trial and error before you figure out what types work best for you.