7 Mistakes Every New Runner Needs To Avoid

by | 31 Jul 2020 | New runners, Running mistakes

In the beginning most people know one fact about running – that it’s faster than walking. And that at times both feet are in the air. And soon you figure that you need some trainers, and that you couldn’t run wearing a thick fleece. Or maybe you could if you felt cold. Sometimes as a new runner you simply have no idea what to do but at least you are buzzing with enthusiasm and are gearing to go.

However, there are certain things that you really should look into and avoid some running mistakes in order to make your maiden running steps a bit easier.

Mistake No 1 – Not buying your first running shoes through a gait analysis shop

People buy shorts and tops so, naturally, they want to complete their looks with matching socks and shoes. But are you looking for any specific road or trail shoes, maybe some with support, or simply a pair that looks good and has a lovely logo?

When it comes to cardinal errors this one tops the list of importance.

People buy the image, even think that money always means quality. The truth is, bad or inadequate shoes can cause bad injuries. And bad or inadequate running shoes does not always mean ‘cheap’ – sometimes even very expensive shoes can be very inadequate for the type and shape of your feet or ankles.

Sometimes it takes some of the worst injuries and a word with a physio to understand that your first proper shoes should be bought through a good specialist shop that offers gait analysis. A good assessment done by a good and knowledgeable person will provide you with perfect shoes for your unique feet.

Great shoes equal minimal if any shoe related injury risk.

Mistake No 2 – Not following a running program aimed at new runners

When people start running many are keen to run 5km in no time. They are often oblivious to the fact that they would need a proper plan, especially in order not to get hurt through overtraining. And of course, some might wear a pair of woefully inadequate shoes.

There will be runners with no idea how to run, no idea of the tempo, frequency, rest, no idea of anything.

That’s how you pick up an injury without even trying.

Beginners programs such as Couch to 5K program make your early steps and uncertainties much clearer and your running journey much easier. You should have a solid plan with structure that is easy to follow. You will learn that your running target can be achieved through proper training found in a program that you are able to follow.

Mistake No 3 – Not hydrating, eating, or sleeping well

Proper running hydration does not mean having a bottle of water before, during, or after a run

Many new runners, and people in general, think that hydrating just means avoiding being dehydrated but have no clear idea what proper hydration process means. Drinking water daily is crucial when it comes to it.

Common early mistake is not to drink much daily and then simply taking a bottle of water when running those first short runs. Of course, many new runners just don’t know. Water that you drink during a 15 minute run will still be sloshing in your stomach by the time the run is over, never entering the system.

Proper hydration means that the water is ALWAYS in the system.

Novice runners seldom connect headaches, dizziness and ‘heavy legs’ with dehydration.

Eating for running

Equally, when it comes to pre-run food new runners often don’t know what and when to eat and what difference that all means. Short beginners’ runs in the morning do not require vast amounts of food to fire up your efforts.

All you need is a toast and a cup of tea or coffee, maybe a boiled egg, a banana or just a half, and maybe a small glass of juice. After the run you may want to have a more elaborate breakfast. Lots of food and no gap between the runs will make you feel heavy or bloated and will definitely send you running, but you will be running elsewhere, courtesy of one very upset stomach.

Sleep and running – how much sleep do you need before a run?

Sleeping well? Sleeping and running are linked. Running will help improve your sleep quality and good sleep will help you run better. Running when tired through being sleep deprived is not fun at all. A mistake we learn straight away.

As to how much sleep we need before a morning run – well, as much as your body needs is the short answer.

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Mistake No 4 – Running fast and hard

New runners can be a very enthusiastic bunch, aiming to run fast, hard and furious. That way, they believe that they would become like one of those proper runners on the telly.

Except that they won’t.

Fast and hard in the beginning will maximise the injury risk, which you can learn in a spectacular way if you get hurt. Slow is the key. As you are waking up some long forgotten muscle groups you need to ease them into motion very gently. As they grow strong, they will enable you to go faster in time – but that WILL take time and patience. Even top-end pros who are training for marathons will train very slowly and there are solid reasons for that.

Keep it slow and let the body work out the rest.

Mistake No 5 – Not Stretching

Keep it basic and simple in the beginning. Learn about dynamic and static stretching. Do them properly. Do you find them boring? You do? Who cares, do them anyway, they will do you lots of good. Do them daily, it doesn’t take long. You will be grateful in your old age.

Remember, stretches are meant to cause slight discomfort. Discomfort is good, you are working on your body.

Pain, however, is not good. Do not stretch through pain, ever. If there is a stretch that is uncomfortable and is causing you great discomfort and is activating pain, stop it. Do something else.

My good stretch may be your bad stretch. We all have different bodies, don’t push it too hard. Which takes us to another point………

7 Mistakes Every New Runner Needs To Avoid

Mistake No 6 – Not listening to your body

Your body is your best judge, nobody knows things better when it comes to exercises than your body.

All advice comes to nothing if your body disagrees. When you run and you feel a deep ping somewhere around your knee, listen to it. It’s probably nothing but be aware of it. If it appears again, focus on it more. If it starts to hurt don’t go brave and push through the pain barrier. No. Listen to your body’s warning signal and stop. Rest up, come back, listen again.

If it hurts again that’s your body telling you that something’s not right. Go and see a physio. Your body will not lie.

Rare are the injuries that simply come out of blue, unless we are very unlucky. They come with a series of little signs, the signs that are designed for us to follow. Never ignore them and your body will stay in good shape for much longer as a result.

Mistake No 7 – Not learning from other runners and running communities

All previous points can be sorted out quickly if you ask questions first. Which many don’t because they are new to running and don’t think that there is anything of any importance to ask. But instead you should ask. You should always ask.

Ask any questions – more experienced runners are keen to talk, and happy to share what they know with new runners.

Ask about any aspect of running, especially when starting out, it’s so important to get a good start in order to avoid injuries and time wasting. Join online discussion groups and read blogs, get your running knowledge in place and you will gain important confidence.

Ask, ask, and then ask some more!

Hindsight is always ‘easy…..’. Oh, I wish I knew…. Hopefully this blog will prompt you to discover as much as possible, before anything wrong takes place. Try and be a step ahead, don’t lag behind, be prepared, stay in the know.

Simple things sorted in advance will result in your running being better and more comfortable.

Good and comfortable running is why we are running in the first place!

Cover photo by George Becker from Pexels

What was the biggest rookie mistake that you made? How did it affect you?👇


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I hope that sharing my story, and what I have learned along this journey, will inspire you to get started and to keep going. To keep striving and being the best you can be. In running and in life.


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