Does running have to be a high-risk, high-injury rate exercise? With as many as 60% of all runners being injured at any given time, you would think so. But it doesn’t have to be!

Learning good running technique and using some common sense, even though it’s not so common anymore, makes all the difference.

So let’s make sure you’re not making any of these mistakes!

1. Not warming up and starting off too fast.

I know, you’re stressed for time and can’t wait to get out there and start your run. But your body and your mind work differently. Your body needs time to warm up, so pushing it with the impatience of the mind is not a good idea. That’s why in the Running Made Easy workshops, I teach you about joint mobility warm-ups so you can get your blood and oxygen flowing before you start your run.
And slow down your starting pace. It allows you some time to check in with yourself and see how you’re doing and how your body is feeling. A lot of muscle strain/sprain injuries happen at the beginning of runs and it’s often because your pace as you start your run is too fast.

2. Thinking you have to go faster than you should.

Remember, your mind and body work differently! We all want to see ourselves as the fastest runner possible, leader of the pack, the Kenyan winning the Honolulu Marathon. I know, I’ve been there. But the reality is that when we let our egos push us beyond what our bodies are ready for, we’ll end up in pain and with injuries. Listening to your body is both an art and a science and it’s key to running without injuries throughout your life.

3. Running too many days in a row.

It’s important to break up your running routines with other activities. Your body needs down time from running to rest up and repair. So again, listening is key. Enjoy a walk instead of a run, or just enjoy your day without any exercise at all. Most people find that taking days off from their primary exercise brings them back fresher and ready to have fun again.

4. Running too far on new terrain.

Have you ever had the experience of running in a new place and on a different surface? I know, I know, you’re in good shape and a great runner, but switching up your runs, and especially the terrain you run on, and then on top of that running your usual distance, especially if you’re a long distance runner, can cause problems.

I’ve had this happen when I’ve run on the beach or by trail running when I haven’t done either for a long time. I’m not at all saying not to do this switching up of surfaces, but I am saying to beware and notice how your body feels. If you feel tense or like you are working too hard, you can walk instead or decrease your distance.

5. Running through pain or injury.

If you do run with pain, check in with your body and listen! If your pain increases as you run, your body is telling you that something is wrong with what you’re doing. You can try adjusting something in your technique and running form or you can stop. This is a tricky one but a lot less so if you’re experienced at LISTENING! See how most of these mistakes come back to being a good listener and paying attention to what you hear?

6. Incorrect fueling and/or dehydration.

Both incorrect fueling and dehydration can lead to a seriously awful run and more serious injuries, too. Feeling low blood sugar or starting to “bonk” is dangerous!

Your body has about 90 minutes of stored glycogen in it. So on a shorter run, fueling isn’t that much of an issue. For longer runs, a good general plan is to eat about 120 cal./hr. I say general plan because it depends somewhat on other factors like how fast you run and how efficiently you run. You want to eat what’s easily and quickly digestible. Before any race, make sure you test out your fuel ahead of time. It’s NEVER a good idea to try new fuel in the middle of a race!

Neither over-hydrating or under-hydrating is good for you when you run. Again, as a general rule, if your workout is longer than an hour, bring water with electrolytes and sip every 10 minutes. Be sure to take extra water and electrolytes on hot days.

7. Wrong shoes.

This is perhaps a topic I get more questions about than any other running topic. And it’s why I devote a whole section to the topic of running shoes in the Running Made Easy workshops.

Minimal shoes are all the rage and it is a good idea to wear the least amount of shoe you can get by with. But factors like HOW you currently run and the distance you’re running need to be factored in. Shoes should feel comfortable when you first put them on, and should never restrict the natural motion of your foot. I don’t generally subscribe to the idea of “breaking in” shoes. I want them to feel good from the get-go.

The general rule for the maximum mileage on a pair of shoes is 500 miles. Some people mark the purchase date on the box or on the shoes or keep track with technology. Figure out what works for you, perhaps watch your wear pattern, and go with a sense of how your feet feel after your runs. Running in old shoes can lead to pain and injury.

8. Being too serious.

Maybe this should be the first mistake NOT to make. Running should be fun and put a smile on your face. Becoming a runner takes patience and practice and it’s not always a straight line. There will be setbacks along the way, so keep them in proper perspective.
Getting caught up in results rather than the experience can easily turn fun into frustration and feeling bad about yourself and your efforts. I believe with all sports and active hobbies, focusing on your technique, making improvements, and staying INJURY FREE brings good results!

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