6 Biggest Mistakes of Beginner Runners
image by Myxi — by Sylvester Janssens
Running is one of the greatest activities to get involved in. The running community is very accepting and supportive of everyone involved. Running is an exercise that can be taken part of by everyone located in almost any location around the world. For running you don’t need access to gyms, expensive and numerous pieces of equipment or other people to play with. That’s one of the main beauties of running is that you can practically lace up a pair of shoes (or go barefoot), head out your front door and enjoy a nice run.
But possibly a big downfall for beginner runners is the relatively ease of getting into the sport. Many beginner runners find it easy to take up the sport and therefore often times do not find out exactly what it takes to actually become a runner. There are a few mistakes every new runner should plan to avoid when first taking up the sport. By properly planning for these 6 areas and not making the same mistakes many new runners have made before, the beginner runner can drastically increase their chance for success in one of the greatest sports and exercises around.
6 Biggest Mistakes
1. Doing too much too soon
One of the biggest mistakes new runners are seen making is not building a proper base. When first making the decision to become a runner and possibly deciding to go for a certain goal, new runners can get very excited. Adrenaline is pumping, enthusiasm is at his highest and motivation is through the roof. Motivation is so high that you can head out the door and easily find yourself running farther then you’ve ever run before, whether that be around the block or a mile or 10 miles.
However, it is important for new runners to reel in this excitement. Whenever starting a new activity such as running, it is important to ease into it. Do not make the mistake of going to far to soon or running too fast before you are ready. Ease into a training program by gradually building up both your distance and your running intensity or pace. By easing into your training program the beginning runner can drastically decrease their high risk of injury.
2. Ignoring recovery
Many beginners think that the only important part of running is the act of running itself. Many beginners put their shoes on, head out the door or to the treadmill, get in their run and then immediately hop the shower and go off to the next part of their day. However, this is a big mistake!
Running is an intense exercise that requires you take great care of your body to reach your full potential. In order to alleviate the aches and pains involved with running, beginners need to pay special attention to recovery. Recovery starts in the cool down. At the end of any workout it is important to do a cool down by either doing a slow jog or walk for about 5 minutes after your run. After a cool down the beginner runner should focus on stretching. Stretching can help minimize some of the soreness that usually follows a good run. Beginning runners also need to focus on proper hydration, refueling the body with some proteins and carbs and then icing any sore muscles or joints shortly after the workout.
3. Not wearing proper shoes and equipment
While it may be true that there are no barriers to entry in running such as high tech and expensive equipment, it should be noted that there are some basic pieces of equipment beginning runners should acquire early on in their running endeavors. The most important piece of equipment for running is a proper pair of running shoes.
There is great debate in the running community currently about whether you need the traditional running shoes sold by the big companies such as Asics, Brooks or Nike or if you are better off running barefoot with protective footwear such as is sold by Vibram. However, it is very important to have some protection for your feet. Proper footwear can help protect our feet from debris on the roads. Whichever side of the debate you are on, it is important for new runners to not run too much in improper footwear such as basketball shoes or regular tennis shoes. These shoes are not meant for running and will force your feet and legs to take on a running form that will more then likely produce injury. Along with proper running shoes, the beginning runner should make sure they have proper workout clothes to help protect them from the elements of nature.
4. No goals or plan
Another mistake new runners make is not having a predefined goal or a plan on reaching that goal. Motivation is very important in running. Having a goal with a proper plan in place to reach that goal helps the beginning runner fight through the times when motivation starts to lack. Many beginning runners decide they want to get healthy or lose weight and therefore they will start running. But these are not good goals. A goal needs to be specific so if you are running to lose weight then it is important to decide exactly how much you want to lose.
Create a goal and come up with strong reasons why you want to run and achieve this goal. A good goal with a strong reason for the goal can help get any beginner through the rough times. Running is very challenging. When the going gets tough many will quit. But if you have a strong goal and a well thought out plan for how you can achieve your goal then you are more likely to stick to the intense exercise of running. If you do not know how to attain your goal then it is probably important to seek out help. Find a coach, read books about running, read blogs like this one and reach out to others who may be able to help you develop a plan to reach your running goals.
5. Learning to properly pace
A big mistake many beginner runners is not learning how to properly pace themselves. Many new runners will be excited and take out the door to run their first run. But they will inevitably take off too fast at first. Gradually they will slow down until eventually being forced to stop and walk. The same thing happens to beginning runners who decide to enter a local 5k road race.
Many will start off way too fast in the first mile and be forced to dramatically decrease their pace or even walk in order to finish the race. Proper pacing can help the new runner avoid the slow down or forced walk. By learning to run an even pace, new runners will have a much more enjoyable experience with the sport. Not only can running a slower even pace help the runner finish without walking, but by running even pace the whole way the runner is more likely to have an overall better time! The good news is that properly pacing comes with experience. The more running the beginner does, the better feel for their own body and fitness will be achieved which in turn leads to better knowledge of how to pace themselves on a run.
6. No variety in training
Many beginner runners know how to do only one type of training run. Most beginners focus only on going out for slow short jogs. Usually running every run in the same distance at the same pace, many times on the exact same course. One of the keys to success in running is variety in training. There are many ways to get variety in training. One of the easiest ways is by running different courses. By running different courses on your different runs you will add variety to your training with hills, flats and possibly even surface conditions. Running different courses can help prevent injury since different surface, hills and flats will work all your different running muscles.
The other way to add variety to training is by doing different types of running workouts. It is important to mix up your pace by sometimes doing faster speed workouts and sometimes doing slower long runs. Mixing up pace and distance of runs will add variety to the beginning runners training which in turn will help the beginning runner improve at a much faster rate.
Running is a great activity to take part in. By avoiding these 6 mistakes that new runners frequently make, you can dramatically increase your chances of running success in the future.
If you have any other mistakes or experiences to share, please comment below.
Good luck in all your future running adventures!