Good for you for lacing up those running shoes and hitting the pavement! Jogging is a great (and inexpensive) way to get exercise, but it's good to have some basics nailed down before you get going.
When you have good technique it will help you feel more comfortable while running, and help to prevent injury. Here are our tips for fixing some common running mistakes.
Common Running Mistakes: Fixed!
Upgrade your running shoes.
If you have old shoes or if your feet often hurt after you've completed a run, it may be time to find a replacement pair. Look at the soles of your old shoes to see if the tread is significantly worn. You may require more padding and support. Also, if your feet hurt your shoes could be too small. It's often recommended that you purchase shoes a half- to full-size larger than usual to compensate for the extra pressure on your feet while running.
Focus on your breathing.
It seems simple, but breathing is so natural that it is often something to which we don't pay much attention. Finding a rhythm to your breath will help you run better, and possibly even farther. Try breathing in for two steps, then exhale the next two, and continue in rhythm. Want to work on some breathing exercises outside of your run? Check out these tips!
Keep your chin up.
When people first start running, they often look at their feet to make sure they're doing everything correctly. However when you look down, you sacrifice your posture and alignment causing stress on your neck and spine. Trust your coordination, and focus your gaze straight ahead.
Although running is a great workout, it shouldn't be the end-all-be-all of your routine. Strength training is an important way to support those muscles, and help prevent injury. You'll probably notice more spring in your step when you start building muscle, and it will lead to more endurance down the road.
Check your stride.
You shouldn't be sprinting down the road with a long stride in order to propel yourself forward. It is a common mistake for beginners, as this seems like a good way to get going quickly. However if your stride is too wide, it causes a bigger shock to your legs and can lead to injury. Keep your stride shorter, and remember to pace yourself.
Drink more water!
Many people sacrifice drinking water while running, as they believe that it will lead to cramping or that sloshing feeling in their stomachs. If you sip slowly as you go it will prevent dehydration, and will give your body the power it needs to go the extra mile. Adding a little flavoring to your water will encourage you to keep sipping.
Warm up those muscles.
Don't just stand and stretch, really move those muscles to get them going! Doing some dynamic stretching with lunges and mini-jumps will do much more than just standing still and stretching. Also, resist the urge to just plop down on the couch after your run. Stretch well post-workout as you'll be at a much lower risk of injury at that point.
You shouldn't be knocking out a 5-mile run your first week out. The best way to get your distance up is to start small. Alternating a couple of minutes of walking with a couple of minutes of running will help build your endurance slowly, and prevent burnout. Using an app to track your progress can also be beneficial so that you can see how far you've come.
Following these tips will help you get started on the right foot, and keep you going well into the future. Running not your thing? Try biking instead!
[Credit: Lawler, Moriya. 14 Things Youre Probably Doing Wrong on Your Run. Greatist.]