Running helps you push your physical limits, get in shape and reduce mental stress.
However, before you lace up your shoes to start out on a run, make sure that you’re not practicing some of the most common mistakes that runners make. Although some of these habits will only make you uncomfortable while you run, other mistakes can lead to serious injuries. Fortunately, it’s easy to adjust your habits so that you can focus on your fitness and having fun while you run.
1. Skipping a Rest Day
If you’re training for a marathon or just trying to burn off that extra slice of cheesecake, skipping your normal rest days may seem like a good idea.
But rest days are an important part of your overall exercise plan. Running strains your joints, ligaments and muscles; after running for several days in a row, your body needs a chance to recover. If you feel the urge to exercise, participate in gentle activities, such as a short hike or bike ride. After a day or two of rest, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle the pavement once more.
2. Ignoring Pain
Pain is a warning sign from your body. You may feel tougher after running through your pain, but you won’t be doing your body any favors.
If your pain is caused by running, you may aggravate it more by not taking a rest. Failing to heed your body’s warnings can lead to a painful injury, such as runner’s knee or a stress fracture. Instead of pushing through the pain, take it easy for a few days and let your body heal. If your injury hasn’t improved, you may need to seek advice from your doctor.
3. Leaving Your Water at Home
Even if you live in a mild climate, you need to keep yourself hydrated during each run.
Proper fluid intake can prevent dehydration and its side effects, including fatigue and vomiting. If you don’t like carrying a water bottle, there are plenty of products on the market that are designed for runners like yourself. Hydration backpacks, for example, let you store and access water easily during your run.
4. Wearing the Wrong Shoes
Your feet absorb the impact of every step that you take while running.
Failing to properly care for your feet can lead to blisters, twisted ankles and other foot problems. Don’t be content with a cheap pair of tennis shoes; invest in a pair of quality running shoes from a running store. The employees at these stores are trained to identify the best type of shoes for your gait. You should also wear quality socks that will wick moisture from your feet and help them feel dry and comfortable.
5. Not Warming Up
After you step out of your house and breathe in the fresh air, you may feel tempted to immediately break into a run.
Unfortunately, running without warming up can lead to an injury. Give yourself a few minutes to stretch out your legs and complete a simple flexibility routine. In addition, remember to stretch after you finish your run to keep your muscles loose and prevent muscle cramps.
Even if you’ve been running for years, it’s easy to slip into habits like these that can make your runs less enjoyable. Taking care of your body is the first step to staying energized and motivated for your running program.