April 2019 - Biggest Mistake Runners Make

The Question

April's question was from Jack in Edinburgh. Jack is keen to avoid rookie errors:

I’ve just taken up running. Having previously been a half-decent cyclists I would like to avoid making lots of rookie errors now I’m switching disciplines. What's the biggest mistake that runners make?

- Jack, Edinburgh

Matt - running coach
Matt - Athletics coach and distance runner

“Leaving the training aspect to one side for the moment, there are lots of things you can in preparation for running that people often don’t think about.

It's vitally important to get the right shoes for the type of running you’ll be taking up. You'll need a pair that you are comfortable within and suit your gait. The best way to do this is to go into a running shop and ask for a gait analysis, which is where you’ll go onto a treadmill and experts will look at the way you run. Shoes can then be recommended based on this. This is a pricey tactic - they will inevitably try and flog you the expensive pair! So ask for alternatives if that's too much. This is, however, the safest way to get the right shoes and avoid injuries (like shin splints) down the line. If you are very brave, you can get the analysis and the model of shoes and then walk out of the shop and order them online…but you didn’t hear that from me!

You'll probably need to get a few different variants of running tops / shorts / running tights / running socks / gloves. These needn't be too expensve. The important thing with all kit is thats it's a) comfortable and b) has a breathable fabric that wicks away moisture.

Make sure you eat enough to fuel your runs. I've had athletes in my group start eating less when they up the mileage and this is a big error. You'll be expending a lot of energy when you are on runs so you'll need to eat more when you are running your most mileage. It's 100 calories per mile roughly.

Now we come to training. I’d recommend at first starting off with gentle steadier runs with 1-2 rest days in between to allow the body to recover. Runs should be no more than 20-30 minutes maximum to start off with. After a few weeks of building up in this way, you can then start to add in tempo and interval sessions, and longer steadier runs.

For more tips see our article on getting started with running.

Our Member's Answer

April's member's answer was from Sam in Minneapolis. Sam learned from his mistakes:

Sam - doing things the hard way

“My mistake was to train too hard. Following the "No pain, no gain" mantra, I went out and ran as hard as I could all the time. Of course, I improved for a while, but then had to take six weeks out with a stress fracture. Just take it easy. Keep cycling and add running gradually.”

An excellent point, Sam. As a non-impact athlete you need to be even more careful since you won't be limited by your cardiovascular fitness like a lot of new runners.

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