Running is a great way to exercise because it’s easy to get started, but the opportunities to grow are endless. Running is also one of the most accessible sports for beginners because it can be done anywhere and needs relatively little equipment. Unfortunately, there are a few common mistakes that new runners make that can ruin running for them. Fitness coach Walter Keating Jr. says avoiding these mistakes is the key to a long-lasting and healthy running hobby.
Mistake #1: Running Too Fast
An incredibly common mistake that new runners make is running too fast for their current fitness level. Although it can be fun to push yourself to run as fast as possible, it isn’t the best way to improve as a runner.
Running too fast will tire you out quickly. This limits the distance you can run before taking a break, which means you’ll improve slower. In addition, running too fast increases your chances of injuring yourself.
Experienced runners know that most runs should be done easily and comfortably. One rule of thumb is to run slowly enough that you can easily carry on a conversation as you move. By slowing down to this conversation pace, you’ll be able to run longer distances, and you’ll also reduce your chances of getting injured.
Mistake #2: Wearing the Wrong Gear
Another mistake that new runners make is wearing improper shoes and clothing. Shoes are the most important piece of equipment that runners own. Running in your ordinary casual shoes can lead to serious injuries in your feet and legs, so it’s essential to purchase proper running shoes before picking up the hobby. Your local running store can help you find the shoes that best match your foot shape and running stride.
The rest of your outfit is important as well. You don’t need to shell out huge amounts of cash on top-of-the-line running clothing, but even just switching from cotton to synthetic fibers can make a huge impact on the quality of your runs.
Cotton, the material used for most of your everyday clothing, is a poor choice for running because it soaks up sweat, growing heavy and sticky. In contrast, synthetic fibers such as polyester can help keep you dry by wicking the sweat away from your body. You’ll notice the difference right away, especially when you run in the heat.
Mistake #3: Focusing Too Much on Short Term Improvement
A final mistake that new runners make is focusing too much on immediate improvement instead of their long-term goals. When you first start running, you’re likely to see fast improvement. These so-called “newbie gains” occur because your body is rapidly learning to move in a brand-new way.
After a few months of running, the quick improvements that your used to will suddenly slow down. This is a natural part of improving as a runner, but the transition can be demoralizing for many new runners. Sometimes it can feel like you’re no longer making any progress at all.
The key to staying motivated is to stay focused on your long-term goals. Instead of trying to run your fastest 5k every week, focus on improving month by month or even year by year. If you have trouble focusing on long-term goals, following a professionally designed training plan may help.
Running can provide you with a lifetime of fun exercise, but it’s important to start off on the right foot. Make sure to get the right gear, start slow, and celebrate your long-term success. You may be surprised to discover just how great a runner you can become.
About Walter Keating Jr.
Walter Keating Jr. is a Toronto-based fitness coach specializing in triathlon coaching and corrective exercise training. He graduated from the Fitness and Lifestyle Management Program at George Brown College and immediately started his professional career. Mr. Keating has worked as an endurance coach, personal trainer, spinning instructor, and corrective exercise trainer.