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Five mistakes every beginner runner makes - and how to fix them

by , 27 July 2015

Running is a great way to keep fit and enjoy the great outdoors. Plus, it's more cost-effective than a gym membership and all it requires is a a pair of sneakers! And, preferably, a running buddy too...

But there are some common mistakes EVERY beginner runner makes when he or she starts out. Today I'm going to teach you about them, and help you prevent them...

Avoid making these five running mistakes

#1: Starting off too fast
The most common mistake new runners make: Going too hard, too fast. By not easing into it, you end up exhausted much sooner than expected, and the tail end of your run becomes a wind-sucking session. This can make running seem too hard, which can lead you to quit your programme all together.
 
Solution: The key is pacing yourself; running is a sport in which progress is especially slow and gradual. If you’re running outside, downloading a pacing app like RunKeeper (free, iTunes and Google Play) can help you keep track of your speed. Start off at a moderate pace, and gradually increase throughout your run. This will make for not only a more enjoyable run, but it’s also the key to building endurance.
 
#2: Wearing the wrong shoes
Maybe you’ve heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating. You may think because your feet feel okay, and you’re not getting blisters, you’re in the clear. But poor-fitting shoes can cause all sorts of unexpected problems:  ankle pain, hip pain, even shoulder pain, and so on. This is why I think of the wrong shoes as the “silent killer” of running programmes.
 
Solution: The best advice is to sidestep this from the get-go. Hit your local running store and have them fit you for the proper shoes. They will look at your gait and see what areas of your feet take on the most pressure while you walk and run. The right shoe will take your runs to a whole new level.
 
#3: Setting unrealistic goals
It’s very easy to get caught up in what others are doing and try to match up with them, especially when it comes to running. But remember: the only person you should be competing against is yourself. If you’re a brand new runner, trying to run a 5 km straight through right off the bat is likely going to leave you feeling discouraged. It’s okay—even recommended—to start with an even smaller goal, like running a kilometer. And then move forward from there.

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Solution: Start with a realistic program that will help you build the strength and endurance to reach your running goal. For example, start with a run/walk program that allows you to take rests in between each set of running. Over time, you’ll build the endurance to run all the way through with no breaks.
 
#4: Fuelling improperly
A car can’t run without gas, right? It also probably won’t run very well if you fill it with water. This is exactly the way you should be thinking about fueling yourself for a run. New runners often find that one day, they feel like a million bucks on their run, but then the next, it feels like all progress has gone out the window. Often the difference is proper food and water.

Solution: Everybody is different, so you’ll have to experiment a bit to find out what works best for you, but there are some tried and true solutions that work for most.
 
If you have one hour or less before your run, eat a small mixture of protein, carbohydrates and fats. This could be a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut or almond butter spread on top. If you have two hours, eat a meal that includes larger portions of protein, carbohydrates and fats. This could be eggs, bacon, and a slice of whole wheat toast.
 
#5: Heel striking
You may have heard the term, but many people don’t know what this is or how to fix it. By overstriding (landing on your heel first), you are opening yourself up to injury, such as shin splints.

Solution: Aim to land mid-sole. Your stride may have to shorten up to achieve this, but you’ll be happy you did in the long run (pun intended)!

Happy running!

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