When they want to lose weight and get in shape, the form of exercise that many people first turn to is running.
Running is a great form of exercise -- especially for improving cardiovascular health -- and it’s accessible to more people than a lot of other workouts. At the same time, it’s also an easy form of exercise to mess up.
Many people have a hard time sticking to a running routine because they make one of these five common mistakes. Before you start trying to make running a regular part of your life, make sure you’re not guilty of any of the mistakes listed below.
1. Wearing the Wrong Shoes
When they first start running, it’s pretty common for people to just strap on their old tennis shoes and hit the pavement. This works for some people, but wearing the wrong kind of shoes can often lead to injuries and hinder your ability to see progress with your runs.
If you want running to be a lasting part of your routine, it’s worth it to invest in a good pair of quality running shoes. Getting fitted at a running specialty or sporting goods store is best. That way, you can work with a knowledgeable salesperson and have your foot type and running style evaluated.
2. Running Too Much
Because they’re full of momentum and excitement to be starting a new routine, many new runners make the mistake of taking on too much, too soon.
Running too many miles right from the beginning sets you up perfectly for overuse injuries and burnout, neither of which are good for creating a long-lasting habit.
Instead of diving in head first, be conservative when you’re starting out. Don’t be ashamed of having to take walking breaks, and don’t try to push through and run faster when your body is clearly telling you to slow down.
3. Heel Striking
Poor form is often the cause of running injuries that slow your progress or cause you to give up altogether. One of the most common form-related mistakes that people make when they first start running is known as heel striking.
Heel striking is typically the result of taking too long of a stride.
Instead of heel striking, try to shorten your stride and land with the middle of your foot. This is typically considered to be better for preventing shin splints and other injuries, especially when you’re running down a hill.
4. Poor Upper Body Control
Many new runners also make the mistake of not realizing how important their upper body is to their overall running performance. Poor upper body control will tire you out faster, which, in turn, will increase your injury risk.
Avoid swinging your arms side-to-side as you run. This will make you more likely to slouch and breathe less efficiently. It’s also important to avoid holding your hands up by your chest, as this can tire you out and create tension in your neck and shoulders.
Instead, keep your hands at waist level and bend your arms at a 90-degree angle while keeping your elbows close to your sides. Make sure they’re rotating at your shoulders to swing back and forth rather than to the sides.
5. Ignoring Injuries or Illnesses
Finally, in the same vein of taking on too much, too soon, many new runners also make the mistake of trying to push themselves through injuries or illnesses when they really need to take a break.
When you’re dealing with serious injuries like a severe type of ankle sprain or chronic knee pain, it’s especially important to take time off and figure out the cause of your injury.
Remember, if you try to push through an injury, you’ll likely end up making it worse, which will mean you have to spend more time off than you would have if you’d rested right when the injury occurred.
Running can be a great form of exercise for beginners, but it’s important to start slow and avoid making these common training mistakes. Keep them in mind as you begin your training, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a safe, lasting habit.