How not to run.
The red flags of running.
On the surface, running is just putting one foot in front of the other. However, it’s very easy to take one wrong step. Whether you’re a beginner runner or a seasoned pro, here’s a list of don’ts when it comes to running.
In order to improve and get faster and able to run further, you have to train. However, there needs to be a balance between not training enough and training too much. Effective training is also achieved through a cycle of stress and rest. You must put your body under stress through training and then have effective rest to ensure a proper recovery from the stress.
It’s very easy to do too much training and put your body under too much stress without adequate rest and recovery. This is called overtraining. Systems of overtraining aren’t always clear but here are some red flags to look out for:
- Poor performance in training and racing
- Fatigue — low levels of energy
- Disturbed sleep patterns — struggling to sleep despite being tired
- Persistent muscle soreness — feeling ‘heavy legged’ and sore between sessions
- Poor immune function — frequent colds and infections
Don’t land on your heels.
The correct running profile can do wonders for you training and well-being when it comes to running. You want to avoid landing on your heels when running. Running with heel landings can contribute to back pain, knee pain and ankle pain. Instead, you’ll want to lean forward and land on the front of your foot, allowing the leg muscles to catch the weight of your body in flight and reducing the impact on the joints and bones.
Don’t use a long stride.
Again, coming back to running style, try and take short but effective strides. Leaping forward while you run can be an energy drain. Instead, lean forward and stand tall to ensure a shorter stride. Less movement means a longer, healthier life for your joints and bones.
Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated.
Many runners don’t even realise that they are chronically dehydrated. The fluid requirements of a runner are higher than the average person, due to the amounts of water lost through sweating. Furthermore, many of us are guilty of drinking caffeine-rich drinks which have a diuretic effect meaning it’s hard to hydrate without enough water.
Symptoms of dehydration include dry skin, dry lips, dizziness and headaches. The easiest way to keep an eye on how hydrated you are is through the colour of your urine. If you go for pee and it’s clear, pale or straw coloured, then you’re at optimal hydration levels.
Don’t under/over fuel.
Many runners don’t realise the importance of both quality and quantity when it comes to nutrition. If you’re constantly hungry or craving sugar, caffeine, fat or salt then it may be your body’s way of telling you that your diet is lacking vital nutrients. Low carb diets are all the rage nowadays, but endurance athletes need carbs to fuel their engines. Starving your muscles of carbs is a sure fire way to feel tired and sluggish and not perform well.
On the other hand, eating too much can also do damage. Having too much of a certain nutrient can have a detrimental effect. Further to this, running with a full stomach is uncomfortable so make sure to leave enough time to digest before embarking on your run.
Don’t skip your warmup.
A warm-up is designed to prepare your muscles for the upcoming workout. A warm-up should be done in two steps; firstly by stretching and secondly with a dynamic warm-up. Stretching is important as it loosens up the muscles before usage. Failure to stretch will often lead to injuries and interfere with training. A dynamic warm-up (ie. small jog, dynamic stretches, etc.) will not only loosen your muscles but will also get your blood pumping and prepare your lungs and heart for the challenge ahead.
Don’t ignore your feet.
Although it may seem trivial and superficial, running shoes are very important. Running shoes do have an expiration date if you’re using them a lot. As a rule of thumb, you should change your running shoes every 300 miles (or 500km) to ensure they keep they don’t expire and start to hinder your performance.