If you are planning to get into a bit of running, there are a few pitfalls to avoid.
So to make sure you start out on the right track – take note of the top 5 mistakes that people make when starting to run. Don’t fall into the same traps!
- Expecting to run too far too soon
- In the initial eagerness people often start out by running too far and too fast too soon. This can lead to a ‘crash and burn’ where joints or muscles are overloaded.
- We can sometimes overestimate our physical ability and adopt a ‘more is better’ approach. While this mental strength is good, often our bodies simply can’t handle the amount of load and impact.
- It takes 4-6 weeks for your body to adapt to new exercises. If you haven’t run for a while (say 3-6 weeks or longer) then you are going to have to modify how far and long to are able to run.
- Start off slow, take some breaks where you might walk for a minute or two and try to avoid hills.
- Slowly increase your speed and running time over 6 weeks.
- No rest days
- Following on from above, part of allowing your body to adapt in the best way is to ensure that you have adequate rest. Your body doesn’t get stronger whilst you are running.
- You actually need rest so that your muscles and joints can recover from the loads and stresses of running. It is in these rest days that your body will improve muscle and bone strength.
- No rest time to recuperate will lead to overloading and injury at some point. When you are first stating out with a running program, it is a good idea alternate your running and rest days to allow some recovery time between runs.
- This may change as your body adapts to the impact and you may be able to run on consecutive days with no problems.
- Not including some cross training and strength training
- Running is a very repetitive movement for your hips, knees and ankles. You need to have good muscle strength and endurance in order to support these joints through the amount of repetition.
- This strength doesn’t come from just running. It is important to add some other activities into your program.
- Swimming, cycling and rowing are all good low impact activities that will help to give you more lower limb strength and core strength. It is also a good idea to add in some specific lower limb strength training such as squats, lunges, step ups and hamstring curls. Initially this is best done under guidance from you physiotherapist to ensure that you technique and sets/reps are spot on. Adding in some other training will help to reduce you likelihood of injury and keep you running longer.
- Changing your running style without appropriate advice
- In the past few years there has been a lot of attention placed on running styles, particularly mid foot and forefoot gait patterns and the apparent benefits. The temptation for the new runner is to try and adopt a new running style straight away. This is not necessarily wrong, but problems arise when there is not professional help or advice to work out if a change in style is the right thing to do, and then how to implement the change over a period of time. Your physiotherapist can help identify what style would be best for you and how to make the switch without causing injury.
- Not having a plan to follow
- It is critical that you have a running plan to follow that progressively builds on your distance and time and incorporates some rest days and cross training/strength training. Without a plan you run the risk of straying off track and either doing to little or too much. It will also help you to stay on track with your nutrition and rest days and most importantly will lead you to your end goal, whether that is to loose weight, run faster or complete a marathon! To get the most out of your training, seek some professional help to get your running program tailored just for you.
For more tips on running or to start a running program, book an appointment at myPhysioSA.
myPhysioSA Associate Physiotherapist