Beginner Running: Common Mistakes to Avoid
1. Too Much Too Soon:
– It’s great to be enthusiastic about running, as I am, and to get fit you do need to train pretty regularly. But there’s training hard, and there’s overloading. Many new runners get the bug, go hell bent for leather, and then suffer injuries such as shin splints. There’s nothing wrong with starting with a few 5ks and working your way up from there.
2. Running too Fast:
– “Run slow to run fast” is a mantra many beginning runners would do well to adopt. This was a famous training method used in the 1960s among marathon runners. Marathon running is an aerobic sport. Therefore, in most cases, it’s volume not intensity that should be addressed first to improve performance. Many schedules include base building, when you run at low intensity, for the first block of training. When you run at a low intensity, you use fat as fuel, and that’s what we need to get good at when training for distance runs. Running at low intensity is a great way to build your endurance base, and gives you a fit platform to lift off from, with more intense faster work as you progress.
3. Not mixing it up enough:
– The other mistake new runners make is running at the same (and often too fast pace) and not adding variety to train different energy systems used in running. Alex Bliss, a physiologist from the University of Brighton explains it. “Novice runners tend to self-select a pace and stick to it in every session. Performing the same type of run over and over again will lead to boredom and will eventually stop providing a sufficient training stimulus to produce overload, a critical factor for successful training and athletic development.” Speed and interval work, hill training, and long slow runs are all crucial to the runner’s recipe for success.
– Personally for training I enjoy Hal Higdon training plans, which are free at his website www.halhigdon.com or Jeff Galloway training plans, also free on his website www.jeffgalloway.com
4. Wearing the Wrong Shoes:
– I was guilty of this for my first run, and boy do I wish I’d invested in good shoes first! During training, my feet didn’t really hurt, although they sometimes were slightly achy after a longer run. But after my first race, I had a pain in my arch that lasted for days, and even made it difficult to complete some aspects of my day job. I found out that this was because I was wearing the wrong types of shoes.
– Many running shops will offer a gait analysis of the way you run, which I did when I went to Fit to Run in my city. They measure your feet, check your stride and gait, and determine if you have flat, normal or high arches. Based on these main three components, they then assist you in selecting a shoe type (usually made for under/over pronaters, or for neutral runners) and recommend specific types of shoes and brands that would work for your run type. Personally, I did not opt to buy shoes from them, as I bought mine from Shoe Carnival when they had a discount sale going on. Running shoes are expensive, and I wasn’t in a place to spend $150 on a single pair of shoes. However, I did manage to find and read several reviews on the types of shoes recommended for me, and now I suffer no pain when running. It’s a significant improvement. For those of you on a budget, another option is www.zappos.com, which sells brand name shoes at discounted rates.
5. Setting Unrealistic Goals:
– Goals are important if you want to succeed, but unrealistic hard-to-achieve goals will have the opposite effect. For example, running your first marathon is a hard thing to do, so unless you have some real benchmarks, i.e. lots of half marathons at consistent times leading up to the race, then setting tough time targets can be detrimental. Having smaller goals and targets to reach over a longer period of time can benefit you more in the long run, and create a more positive, lasting success marker that makes you want to continue running.