9 Mistakes Avid Runners Should Avoid Making

Running is a great way to exercise, but for those who take it seriously, it is also a complex and scientific art form. Dedicated runners take the time to perfect their technique, wear appropriate clothing, invest in necessary equipment, and make running as normal and as important to their daily lives as eating or having a job. That being said, many people who are just getting into running as a hobby and exercise form and even those that have been doing it for years always have room to improve, just like the average Joe always has a bad habit they could afford to get rid of. Here are nine common mistakes that even the most skilled and dedicated runner can make that could prevent you from getting the most out of your exercise routine.

1. Running in Bad Shoes

Rookies can make the mistake of running in everyday tennis shoes and such, but still, people that have been running for some time might still be wearing shoes that are not built or that are appropriate for running. In fact, not wearing the right kind of shoes can potentially lead to serious injury. Consult with a professional at your local shoe or fitness store to find the right fit for you.

2. Not Staying Hydrated

Water, next to air, is the key to life, and your body needs it to stay energized while you run and exercise. Often times, runners will avoid stopping to drink in a race, or they won’t drink enough to avoid getting a cramp, which makes them more likely to experience effects of dehydration like disorientation and muscle cramps. You should be drinking at least 8 cups of water a day, and when you are exercising, stop to take a drink whenever your mouth is dry, or you feel thirsty. Just be sure not to drink too quickly.

3. Not Warming-Up

Warming-up and stretching your muscles is an important part of any workout. This gets your blood flowing, which is important for carrying oxygen to your muscles while you exercise. Skipping a warm-up can lead to muscle cramps and tightness while you workout, and considering it only takes a five minute walk, or a short series of jumping jacks, there is really no reason not to do it.

4. Not Dieting

You might be under the impression that because you are an exercise junkie you can just eat whatever you want. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While being an active person does afford you the right to indulge in a really tasty meal on a more regular basis, your diet still needs to be balanced with your daily-recommended amount of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and calories. Eating whatever you want after a run is counterproductive to your efforts, and may actually cause you to gain the weight you are working so hard to lose.

5. Not Eating Before a Run

Granted, you don’t want to be running around with a belly full of pancakes and syrup, but running is an activity that requires energy, so eating something small before you go is really in your best interest. We’re talking a protein boost like a peanut butter and banana sandwich, or a bowl of cereal, or an energy bar. Try to eat at least 90 minutes before you run, but if you are running in the morning, and do not plan on going an extended distance, you can probably get away with just glass of water.

6. Ignoring Pain

A lot of people assume that if they keep running through aches and pains their bodies will naturally become conditioned to your exercise routine and there won’t be any further issues. Pain, however, is an indication that something is wrong and that your body needs to rest and recover. Missing a few runs will not seriously affect your exercise routine, so never feel like you can’t take a few days to recover before starting out again.

7. Keeping the Same Route

Sticking to the same route, or only going to the gym to run around the track every time you run will quickly cause you to get bored with your run and won’t really do anything to improve your skills or endurance once you become used to the same amount of work. Switching up your route to include some hills and change your pace can help improve your strength and endurance, so feel free to change it up once in a while.

8. Not Accepting your Plateau

Runners who are always participating in races and other such events often fall into the trap of constantly trying to outdo their personal record. There will come a point, however, when you reach a plateau in your running ability that you simply won’t be able to beat, at least not without unhealthy effort and strain. Once you have become a conditioned runner, it is important to have realistic expectations about your running capabilities. Don’t set goals that you simply do not have the ability to reach; become comfortable in your ability and endurance, and continue to focus on technique and endurance.

9. Always Comparing Yourself

Chances are great that there will always be someone that can run faster, farther, and longer than you can. Trying to out-do them, or accepting their exercise goals as your own, however, will not help you improve on your own abilities. It might, in fact, cause you to seriously hurt yourself, or at the least, make you go mad with frustration. Your body is your body; you know its limits and you know how far you can push it. Once again, be realistic about your abilities and focus on your own health and fitness goals, and you will always stay on the right track to good health.