7 surprising things that will ruin your run
Shocking running mistakes you might be making
Are you struggling with your running progress and don’t know why? There are plenty of hidden pitfalls that even the most elite of runners can fall into without realising. Here are seven surprising things that could be ruining your run.
Whilst running is an innately natural movement, if you want to make sure you’re doing it properly you need to start seeing it as a skill that can be improved on. One thing you’re likely getting wrong is your running cadence, which is how many steps you take per minute when running. Most runners naturally move towards a stride that is too long, which reduces running cadence. Instead try to gradually shorten your stride and aim for the ideal running cadence of 180 steps per minute, as outlined by running master Jack Daniels in his book Born to Run.
Worrying too much about form
Fixing measurable movements such as stride length and cadence will improve your running capabilities, but delving even further into your form could actually be reducing your running efficiency. Research conducted by Stephen McGregor, PhD, found that runners who are forced into factoring in multiple form considerations ran slower, despite the fact that these changes should have improved their efficiency. This is due to the increased brain activity that is required for multiple form tweaks, which reduces the unconscious efficiency of running. So, whilst considering stride length is all well and good, if you’re worrying about the exact angle of your head and the perfect knee height on every stride, you’re probably taking form too far.
Your running buddy
Have you got a friend who is just getting into running who is looking for some help? Or is there someone from work who’s run a sub three-hour marathon that you want to pick up tips from? Don’t go for a run with them. Training with people who do not run at your pace can play havoc with your technique over time, whether they’re slower or faster than you. If you want to run with other people, head down to your local running club and find a group to train with who are around your ability level.
Running too often
You might pat yourself on the back after going for a run every day of the week, however this could very well be ruining your future runs. According to research carried out at the University of Montana, the leading cause of injuries amongst runners is overtraining. If you train too often then you are not giving your body enough time to properly recover before you start your next session. The only way for your body to improve is to allow your muscles to strengthen through recovery. If you do not give yourself adequate recovery time then this improvement will not take place, and you risk injury.
Sticking to the same runs
Running the same runs over and over again will hinder your running progress, no matter how much you enjoy those runs. Reaching a running plateau can be a frustrating and confusing experience, but more often than not it is due to a training regime that doesn’t provide enough variety. There are literally hundreds of running training techniques out there for you to try, and by adding just a few of them into your plan to mix things up you’ll be avoiding a running problem that plagues newbies and veterans alike.
Stretching pre-run has always been an accepted good practice, but in recent years research has emerged to suggest this might not really be the case. An investigation carried out at the University of Zagreb into past stretching experiments found that performing prolonged static stretches before exercise reduces muscle strength by around five per cent. Gentle stretching is preferable, but on its own it is still not a sufficient warm up. Instead, pair it with some light cardiovascular activity before your run, such as a brisk walk or very slow jog.
Having no goals
Nobody can deny the liberating feeling of going out for an impromptu run every once in a while. However, as fun as this is, it is doing no favours for your running progress. Without a running goal in mind, your runs will soon become meaningless and you won’t be putting in as much effort as you should be. Whether it’s finishing a local 5k fun run or beating your marathon PB, any goal will result in improvements in your running. Remember, for your goals to be effective they should be ‘SMART’ – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related.
Are you training for a longer event such as a marathon? Check out these 10 marathon training mistakes you might be making.