Top 5 Mistakes Runners Make

When I write articles, most of the time I am writing from my own personal experience. In this case, I made big mistakes while working to step up my running game. Through poor decisions and the lack of knowledge, I have suffered from foot pain, knee pain, IT Band Syndrome… The list goes on. During the process. I have sought out the best to train and coach me on how to increase my running game and not destroy my body; to not push through the pain, but rather avoid it all together along with the common mistakes runners make.

The one thing I realized during this process is that I’m not the only one who has this issue. Most of us “learn” how to exercise in high school, and then use those same terrible principles as an adult, usually leading to a lot of unnecessary injuries. So let’s dive into the top 5 mistakes runners make so that you can exercise with nothing holding you back.FullSizeRender (4)

1) Buying trendy shoes

I see this so often. I also used to be a victim of trends. A patient of mine was showing me her new running shoes which she got from a fashion store the other day and it took some serious will power not to cringe. Why? Because buying a shoe based on appearance is setting up your running career for a lot of pain.

Professionals should fit running shoes. It doesn’t even cost any more to get this done. All you have to do is go to a shoe store that specializes in running. When I got my first pair of running shoes, they sat down with me and measured my foot. Next, they scanned my foot to see the way my arches were shaped, and then finally, had me run on a treadmill and watched my gait. The store clerk then grabbed 4 pairs of shoes based on the results, and that is how I bought my first real pair of running shoes.

Don’t base your running shoes on looks, but rather a shoe based on science that is going to protect your feet, ankles, knees and low back. My personal favorite running shoe right now is Brooks. They fit my feet the best and are the most comfortable for me.

2) Going too hard too fast

When you first start running, it is very common to get overuse injuries simply because you’re pushing yourself too hard. It is very common in runners due to the repetitive motion of the sport. Keep in mind that your joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles all take time to strengthen. So you have to take it slow and give your body the proper time to heal. This is why many coaches suggest that you don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% each week. I personally suffered from IT Band syndrome from pushing myself too hard when I first began running. The best way I can describe IT Band Syndrome is that it feels like you have a knife stuck right in the side of your knee every time you try to run. To sum it up, slow and steady wins the race. If you injure yourself by pushing too hard too fast, you’ll be taking time off and getting nowhere.

3) Failing to stretch

So many people fail to stretch adequately. I think the biggest reason is because stretching doesn’t directly equal results in most people’s minds. So when they have an allotted time to workout, they want to be all gains. I can’t stress the importance of stretching enough. The reason people often get overuse injuries from running is because you are working the same muscle in a repetitive motion day after day. So muscles can become chronically tight, shortened and destroy proper biomechanics. So make sure you are stretching before and after your run for a minimum of 5 minutes.

4) Failing to build strength

Many runners like to do what they are good at, or even what they are comfortable with, and that is run. Getting out of you comfort zone and hitting the weights to strengthen your hip stabilizer muscles is a must. As a matter of fact, runners who strengthen there hip stabilizers experience less injuries, according to a study that compared two groups of runners. As you are running and fatigue the major muscles, recruitment will take place. This means the muscles that are not used as often will have to kick in and start pulling their weight. If those smaller muscles are very weak and cannot pull their own weight, proper biomechanics will not be maintained and soft tissue injury will occur. So be sure to hit the weights to strengthen your legs and your hips. It is proven to improve your running performance and prevent injury.

5) Repetitive training

If you want to improve your running game and progress to new levels, you can’t show up and do the same thing every day expecting better results. These are considered “Junk Miles”. What you do need to accomplish, is a different style of running regularly. This pushes your body and activates different muscles on each workout, setting you up for domination on race day. Here is what it would look like throughout the week:

• One day of burst training (HIIT Training).

• Two days of the typical 1, 2, 3 or even 4 mile run. (Based on individual ability)

• One slow-paced, long run per week. A pace that would allow you to chat with your running partner because you’re not winded. Starting off your long run may be 3 miles; a well-trained runner will be looking at 10 miles.

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