“The biggest mistake people make – and why people think running is so hard – is because they try to do too much,” says running coach Lindsey Parry. “So someone will start running and they’ll try to run five kilometres. Now, to your average person, five kilometres sounds like nothing. But it’s five thousand steps and your body isn’t even accustomed to taking 10. My advice is rather start by doing too little.” Here are five more mega mistakes to avoid.
1/ You’re running for distance
If you’re just starting out, don’t run for distance, run for time, recommends Parry. And we’re not talking hours, either. “I would never run more than five minutes in a row if you’ve never run before,” he says. Parry recommends this pattern: walk four minutes, run one minute and repeat that three or four times. “Over a period of weeks you’ll gradually reduce the amount of walking and increase the amount of running. And if you follow that you’ll typically find it takes around 12 weeks before you can run 20 minutes without stopping.”
2/ Trying to go way too fast
Trying to go too fast is another common mistake for new runners – and usually the reason you’re gulping for air like Nemo out of water by the first corner. Run with a friend who loves to skinder – if you can keep up the conversation, you’re running at a good pace. And as you get fitter, says Parry, that conversation pace will naturally get quicker. That said, if you can sing along to Taylor, you’re going too slowly.
3/ Running every damn day
Yes, exercise is good for you, but it also puts stress on your body, especially when you’re new to the game. Pushing on without rest can set you up for injury, plus it’s during times of post-exercise rest that you get stronger.
4/ A wonky stride
Research suggests the ideal foot stroke is on your mid to forefoot, but, says Parry, humans no longer move like our ancestors did 100 years ago and this doesn’t work for everyone. If you naturally hit the ground heel first, trying to force yourself to land on your forefoot could lead to shin splints and other injuries. Instead chat to a podiatrist about supportive footwear that allows you to run comfortably without getting hurt.
5/ Forgetting to breathe
It sounds like the punch line of a bad blonde joke, but forgetting to breathe properly can lead to a stitch and hamper your performance. If you find yourself panting, focus on breathing in and out, slowly and deeply, as if from your belly, advises running technique coach Sean Tait. This will lower your heart rate, get enough oxygen to your body and make the run feel easier.