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Common running mistakes and how to avoid them

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Running is a simple and effective cardio exercise that’s great for beginners who are looking to get back into shape. 

A pair of trainers, a safe place to run and a healthy dose of motivation is all you need to tap into the various mental and physical health benefits, such as weight loss, stress reduction and decreasing your risk for disease.

Despite all these benefits, you might make a mistake and hurt yourself. Here are some of the common mistakes running beginners make and tips on how to avoid them.

Running with the wrong shoes

Running long distances without the proper shoes can lead to running injuries, which is why it’s vital for you to choose the right pair of trainers. There are a variety of tips for finding the right shoe, such as walking around in the shoes to see how comfortable they are and checking the soles of the shoes. It’s also important to wear the right running socks with your shoes to prevent blisters.  

Wearing the wrong running clothes

While the right pair of running shoes is vital, what you wear can also affect your performance and health during different kinds of weather.

During winter it’s important to wear running clothes that can keep your warm, since training during cold weather can lead to hypothermia and other cold related ailments. However, you need to account for the increase in body temperature that happens when you run and dress accordingly.

In summer, you need to wear running clothes that are looser and allow you to keep cool. It’s easy to ignore the heat and push through, only to discover later you’ve experienced heat exhaustion or sunstroke.

Not understanding how nutrition and hydration affect you

Food and drink aren’t only important to your performance during a run, but also to your recovery. Food gives you vital nutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins, that provide energy and help rebuild muscle, while liquids such as water or sports drinks prevent you from dehydrating during a race. Even as a beginner runner, a well thought out nutrition plan is key to optimising your performance and recovery.

Another issue to be aware of when eating is that you don’t run too soon after a meal. Running too soon after a meal affects your digestive system. You might experience bloating, or possibly even stomach pain and diarrhea if you fail to give yourself enough time to digest your food.

Adapt your training plan as necessary

Sometimes you lay out a perfect training plan, only for life to intervene. If you miss a running session, accept it and don’t try to make it up. If you miss more multiple running sessions, see if you can change the volume you run over the following week to make up for it. Just make sure to be careful about your volume and intensity to avoid injuring yourself.

Failing to warm up properly

One of the most important steps to prevent running injuries is warming up. Warming up gradually improves your heart rate and circulation, blood and flexibility in your muscles, and improves joint lubrication. There are many warm up exercises you can do to prevent an injury during a run including skipping, shuffling, and backward jogging.


Overstriding, or landing primarily on your heel with your foot too far ahead of your body, is an issue that affects many runners. It causes extra stress on the body through increased vertical gains that cause you to land harder on the ground, as well as increased strain on the knees, hip and back due to improper form.

You can fix overstriding by wearing shoes with less cushioning at the heel or by improving your running cadence. You can improve your running cadence by counting the number of times your right foot touches the ground during 30 seconds of running. You then multiple this by four to get your cadence. If this number is between 145 and 190, your cadence is ok, but you should aim for between 170 and 190.

Pushing yourself too far or too hard

Many people start off with the right motivation, but don’t think about how their sudden enthusiasm may backfire on them. If you’ve only recently gotten into running and you overextend yourself, you might experience an injury such as iliotibial band friction syndrome, runner’s knee or stress fractures. You can avoid these issues with the right precautions, such as pacing yourself and gradually increasing your running activity.

Breathing properly

Whether you’re training for a sprint or long distance running, there are specific breathing techniques that can help you improve your running. Practicing before you run or using different breathing tempos can positively affect your running performance.

Whether you’re a beginner or have recently started running again, contact us about our Injury Prevention and Return to Running programmes that will help you get back into running while minimising the risk of injury.

Running with a weak core

Doing strength training may not be very high on a runner’s list of priorities, but a weak core can negatively affect how you run. By increasing the strength of your core, you improve your stabilisation, balance, and posture, improving your speed and reducing the energy you spend.

Poor hill running technique

Hills may be a great way to improve as a runner, but there are problems with running downhill due to the increase strain it puts on your legs and feet. Poor downhill running technique can lead to problems like pain and muscle damage. You can minimise the impact of running downhill with these three methods.

Firstly, by choosing hills with an easy gradient to start with and slowly tackling hills with increasingly higher gradients. Secondly, focus on keeping your posture upright upright while keeping your upper body inline or slightly ahead of your lower body. This help you stop your natural urge to lean back and slow down. Thirdly, schedule hill running into your training, while giving yourself adequate time to recover between each run. You can increase the number of hill runs you do as you get used to them, but make sure you don’t overtrain and rest adequately to avoid injury.   

Focus on the run, not your GPS

Many people will set a specific route to run and try to improve on their run time every week. Unfortunately your body is not that predictable, and there are days when you should leave your GPS behind and listen to what your body is telling you.

Even if you take the necessary steps to prevent a running injury, accidents still happen and you might need advice or treatment for your condition. Our Sports Injuries Treatment and Recovery Guide can assist in your recovery, or you can contact us to arrange a Free Phone Consultation  with one of our orthopaedic specialists.