Running is easy.
You lace up and run, right?
True, but…there’s so much more to running than just running. Once you fall in love, it’s easy to want to get faster, run more races and learn everything there is to know about running. There’s a whole laundry list of the right and wrong ways of becoming a better runner.
Here’s just a few of the bad habits that runners should stop doing now:
1. Run your easy runs too fast – Easy runs were meant to be easy. There should be a difference in pace between your easy runs, speed workouts and tempos. If every single run is at the same pace, there’s something wrong. Even elite runners slow down significantly for easy runs. Race day may be a pace of 5:xx but an easy run can be in the 8:xx range.
2. Stop saying you aren’t a real runner – If you run, you are a runner. End of story.
3. Stop skipping a warm up – In an ideal world, I’d be able to get in a 5-10 minute walk/jog before foam rolling and doing a full dynamic warm up. But I’m more likely to get a minute or two of foam rolling and a 5 minute dynamic warm up before a run. I then try to keep at least the first mile pretty easy. Most of my runs are a time crunch so corners are cut to fit it all in. Not ideal but at least it’s something.
Need dynamic warm up ideas?
4. Overdressing – I know it’s easy to pile on the layers before heading out for a run when it’s cold outside. But when we run, our bodies heat up and having extra layers will soon be uncomfortable. When getting dressed, it’s best to think of what you’d wear if it was 20 degrees warmer. You may be cold at the beginning of your run, but you’ll be glad you opted for less clothing within a mile.
Ok, I needed ALL the layers on this day when the temp was 3 degrees and the windchill was -15. But I still was not overdressed!
5. Taking zero rest days – Your body needs rest to recuperate from the hard workouts you put it through. The whole #nodaysoff thing is a bunch of bull. Running builds stamina and strength but it also causes tiny amounts of tissue damage every time you lace up. Taking rest days allow for your body to recover and come back stronger and faster for future runs.
6. Skipping strength training – A runner can’t survive on running alone. Strength training should be a big part of any runner’s weekly routine. Single leg exercises that work the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves, upper body and core exercises and mobility work help prevent injuries and will increase running power and economy. I share my strength training on my weekly workouts wrap ups.
Here’s some great strength training ideas for runners:
7. Paying too much attention to their GPS – I love wearing a GPS watch while running. I have a general idea of mileage points in my town but it’s nice to get the exact amount. I also like to get the feedback of all the numbers after my run. Notice I said AFTER my run. It’s easy to become fixated on the numbers during the run, particularly pace. Don’t be a slave to the numbers. Learn to run by effort rather than pace. If you find yourself looking at your watch too much, try running naked (i.e. watch free) one day a week. Or if you still want the data, turn the watch read out to the time of day. Try anything other than staring at your watch for the whole run.
8. Racing too much – There’s more to running than running races. If you all out race every single weekend, you are going to find yourself burnt out and most likely injured. Pick a goal race every season of varying distances for keep things interesting. If you love the race environment, you can still be a part of it by using the race as training run or for fun to support your goal. Or better yet, volunteer!
9. Expecting a PR at every race – When you first start running, it becomes the normal to set a PR at every race. It’s so exciting that you want that to happen every single time. Eventually you will reach a plateau and will find that the PR’s aren’t as easy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t set goals but be realistic. Don’t expect to knock off minutes every time you run a half marathon. Just like in #7 above, continue to set goals for yourself but also make sure you are having fun races too.
What other bad running habits would you add to the list?