As runners, we always mean well. We try to put the miles in, eat right, and work hard to keep up our fitness. But as hard as we try to train right, many of us have some bad habits that tend to sabotage all our good intentions. Most likely, we aren’t even aware we’re doing them. Check out my list below. Any sound a little familiar?
Runners Should Never:
1. Run Through Pain
Okay, okay, so not all pain is bad, and you CAN run through the mild stuff. It’s pretty common to deal with aches and muscle soreness when you’re training. BUT! When the pain gets so bad that it’s causing you to alter your stride or limp, it’s time to stop. And if a few days rest doesn’t do the trick, you might want to get it checked out with your doctor.
2. Think Running Gives You a License to Eat Anything
Running doesn’t mean you’ve earned the right to eat bad food, or even overeat the healthy stuff. Don’t turn your running into a free pass to the fridge, and definitely avoid the mindset that you run to binge, or vice versa. You need to balance your diet and running, making sure you eat to maximize your recovery. That means healthful nutrient-dense foods (in reasonable portions) that will ensure your muscles have the nutrients they need to rebuild.
3. Ignore Recovery
You can actually weaken yourself or set yourself up for injuries if you don’t allow enough recovery time between your runs. Think of it this way; it isn’t the run itself that makes you stronger, or makes you run longer, faster, etc. In fact, the run is breaking your body down; weakening it. It’s actually the recovery time between your runs that’s responsible for repairing and strengthening your body. Your recovery is the most important part of your running fitness. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, alternating hard and easy run days, and taking at least a day off from running each week.
4. Start Out Too Fast
Starting off too fast is probably the most common mistake made in racing. But it isn’t just during races that we runners tend to make that mistake. Developing a sense of pace should be an important part of your training, and it gets easier with time and experience. A smart training strategy (or race day strategy) is to run your first mile the slowest. That gives your muscles time to warm-up and get in the groove. So, for example, if you run 8 minute miles over a 5k, pace yourself around an 8:15 minute mile for the 1st mile. Your last mile should be your fastest, so you’d aim for 7:45.
5. Skip 2 Runs in a Row
Barring any illness or injuries, if you skipped yesterday’s run because you just weren’t feeling it, don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply make a rule that tomorrow’s run will be non-negotiable. Never allow yourself to skip two runs in a row. When you start skipping one, then another, and another, it becomes way too easy to fall out of the fitness habit. And picking it up once again can be far more difficult than pushing through. Finding the motivation to keep going can be a total mind game, but with smart strategies in place you can win that game. Just remember, no one said running has to be fun. When you feel your lack of motivation prevailing, go on auto-pilot. Put your running shoes on, open the door, and just do it.
If you’ve got any of these 5 bad running habits, it’s never too late to set some new running goals and make some change. Don’t give up! Running can be tough. Be tougher.