Decided to add some running to your workout regimen? Loads of people are inspired by the spring’s warm weather to try out running, but if you don’t plan and learn how to start running properly, you may get discouraged and give it up. To help you learn to love the sport, watch out for the common mistakes new runners make.
Pacing yourself poorly.
If you go out too fast, you’ll get tired and out of breath and maybe even too discouraged to try running again. “For a new runner, you should aim to jog lightly whereby you are able to breathe and talk comfortably. Once you build this base, you will be able to increase your speed without getting out of breath,” says Brent Bishop, a Toronto-based personal trainer who is helping train several runners for the Sporting Life 10K race in Toronto this spring.
Wearing any type of athletic shoe.
Not only do you want to make sure you’re wearing a running shoe (versus one for tennis or basketball, for example), you should also take the time to get your foot and gait assessed before buying a pair of runners. “This can alleviate pain, discomfort and injury in the future,” says Bishop. “It is important to know if you need a shoe for neutral, over pronation or over supination when it comes to comfort and keeping your joints healthy with impact exercise.”
Doing the same type of run over and over.
“Your body and mind will adapt to the stimulus you present,” says Bishop. If you are running the same route each week, you will soon hit a physical plateau; but perhaps more importantly you will reach a mental plateau, he adds. And you know what that might lead to? You’ll get so bored that you won’t want to run anymore! He suggests changing the focus of your runs from day to day. “Try a three day per week run routine (one day hill training, one day tempo/speed training and the third day distance building).”
Tackling more than you should too soon.
Yes, you may be eager to be able to say you can run 10k or a half marathon, but what can often happen with a new runner is the eagerness to build distance can be lead to joint problems, says Bishop. So even if your cardiovascular system may be able to handle 10km of running, if you are a brand new runner, it is wise to start off with shorter distances first (or a walk/run routine) in order to allow for your joints to become accustomed to the impact, he says. Doing this can ensure that you progress with a far less risk of injury. The general rule of thumb is to not increase your overall distance each week by more than 10 percent.
Once you’re done your run, do you just kick off the shoes? Not stretching can lead to flexibility/mobility imbalances, abnormal tightness and increased injury risk, says Bishop. You’ll want to do two types of stretches for your new running regimen. Before running, warm up with dynamic stretching through full range of motion prior to your runs. After your run, finish with some stretching and/or myofacial release such as foam rolling and/or self massage. “Doing so is proven to increase performance and keep injury risk at bay,” he says.
Choosing a lofty race goal such as a marathon as your first race.
Brand new runner who’s never run a race before and want to scratch a marathon off of your bucket list? With training, you can get there, eventually, but consider planning out your race strategy and start with a 5 or 10k first, then a half marathon and then the big marathon goal, says Bishop. “In doing so, you will not only prime your body and mind for that big goal but also gain valuable race experience that will help you along the way,” he says. He recommends a new runner prep for a 10k race eight to 10 weeks.
Not running consistently.
“Remember the benefits from exercise are cumulative and rely on consistency. If you are a new runner, you must ensure that you run consistent enough as well as plan your rest days from running,” says Bishop. Make sure you fit in all of your runs so you can run that race with your body and mind properly prepared for it. To benefit from consistent improvements in conditioning, he suggests planning to run three days a week with a break between each day.