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New to running? Avoid these five common mistakes made by beginner runners and you'll get more enjoyment and make great progress that you'll be able to maintain throughout the year.
1. Too Much Too Soon
It’s great to be enthusiastic and to get fit you do need to overload. But there’s overload and there’s overload. Many new runners get the bug, go hell bent for leather and end up with overuse injuries like shin splints. Try one of our beginner programmes to help get you started. Follow the Couch to 5k Training Plan.
2. Running Too Fast
“Run slow to run fast” is a mantra that many beginners would do well to listen to. Arthur Lydiard was famous for making this type of training popular amongst the elite marathon runners back in the 1960s. The marathon is an aerobic event, and uses the aerobic energy system; therefore in most cases it’s volume not intensity that should be addressed first to improve performance and many schedules include base building, when you run at low intensity, as the first block of training.
When you train at a lower intensity you use fat as fuel, and that’s what we need to get good at using when we do a marathon. Running at a low intensity is a great way to build your endurance base, and gives you a fit platform to lift off from with more intense faster work as you progress.
3. Not Mixing It Up Enough
The other mistake new runners make is running at the same (often too fast – see above) pace and not adding variety to train different energy systems used in running.
“Novice runners tend to self-select a pace and stick to it in every session,” explains physiologist from the University of Brighton Alex Bliss. “Performing the same type of run over and over again will lead to boredom and will eventually stop providing a sufficient training stimulus to produce overload, a critical factor for successful training and athletic development”.
Speed and interval training, hill training and long slow runs are all essential ingredients in the runner’s recipe for success. Find training schedules and training tools here.
4. Wearing The Wrong Shoes
Ever since Chris McDougall’s famous 2009 Born to Run book described the Tarahumara ‘barefoot’ ultra running tribe, and discussed the research by Dr Daniel Lieberman, the need for shoes has been under scrutiny. Lieberman pointed out that it was from 1972 with the invention of the modern athletic shoe that injury rates rose to the current 65 to 80 per cent annual injury rate.
Whether we need shoes or not is a debate that lingers on, but there is a consensus that the level of cushioning we choose will make a difference. And many runners opt for extra support when they don’t need it.
A study in 1989 found that runners in the most expensive cushioned shoes were 123 percent more likely to get injured! Most good running shops offer a gait analysis; some more sophisticated than others. Shops like Sweatshop offer specialist gait analysis services and often your local running shop will have an experienced runner and seller of shoes who can give you the once over as you run up and down the street outside the shop.
See our article, Which Running Shoes are Best for Me?
5. Setting Unrealistic Goals
Goals are important if you want to succeed, but unrealistic hard to achieve goals will have the opposite effect. For example, running your first marathon is a tough thing to do, so unless you have some real benchmarks i.e. lots of half marathons at consistently similar times leading up to the race, then setting tough time targets can be detrimental. Getting round really is a good option. Set your goals the SMART way.
What mistakes have you made in your running? Share them via the comments below so hopefully others won't make the same mistake
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I'm new to running and have made the mistake of running too fast, too soon. I'm building up to being able to run 5K in under 30 minutes; my first attempt took 38 minutes and I've been trying to reduce this through increased speed but all that means is that I can run for about 5 minutes before I feel burnt out and then I need to walk for the next 5 minutes to recover. Now I'm running at a comfortable pace for the first 8-10 minutes and gradually increased the speed to a level that I can maintain for 5K. Much more satisfying despite my time not reducing.
That sounds a great idea Karrie. I do mainly 5K to 10K runs and it is always best in training to start at an easier pace and build up to a speed you can maintain to the finish. Even in events, I find that it is so much more motivating to start a bit nearer the back where the pace is slower, and gradually work your way through the field, rather than start nearer the front, get out of breath trying to keep up with the rest and get overtaken all the time. The one exception is where you are really pumped up to do a PB and are confident from training that you can maintain a fast pace from the start.
If you want to work on your speed(which is the only way to get PBs!), I would suggest that you do approx 6(up to 12) x 400m intervals, perhaps laps round a sports field or park nearby. Time yourself on each interval and rest for a few minutes to get your breath back before the next one. The idea is not to sprint the first half of the interval and get exhausted, but to go as fast as you can comfortably maintain all the way round. You should find that your pace naturally improves over the course of the interval session and with further sessions. Keep a PB of your best time and pace round the lap. It will obviously be better than your speed over 5K training runs and events, but gives you a target pace to aim for over these distances. The next stage is to extend the interval to 800m(eg 2 laps) and then to 1200m(3 laps) and 1600m(4 laps) etc, to increase the distance over which you can maintain the pace. Good luck!
While doing the Couch to 5K plan from Sept. to Dec., I read the Beginners Training Tips carefully, in particular '5 Major Running Mistakes and How to Avoid Them': the warnings 'Too Much Too Soon' and 'Running Too Fast' are invaluable. I'll be going from Couch to Half Marathon (Great Birmingham Run 2013) in about 13 months, and am progressing slowly and surely – did my first 5K in about 45min in Dec. I'm resisting my 'machismo' urges to run too much faster in training – because I'll be 70 this year and plan to live a lot longer!
Looks like the most common so far is too much, too soon, I signed up for a 5x50 challenge and done far too much in the first few days and suffered from shin splints. I think the 5x50 done the trick of getting me into the habit, but didn't really teach me to run, I'm now following the counch to 5k schedule and feel that's making a difference. I also got new shoes from Run4it and they made a big difference as well (I had trail running shoes, but was told that the base is harder and can cause extra impact for road running).
Done a 5k at the beginning of January and another one signed up for in February, March & April:-)
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