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How to Run Better: 6 Common Running Mistakes to Avoid

The world is finally starting to loosen lockdown restrictions as vaccination rollouts continue. As a result, people are able to maintain a semblance of normalcy as they return to their regular pre-pandemic routine. 

So what better way than now to stay healthy and shed off some of the excess pounds over the months spent in lockdown? 

There are various ways for you to stay fit, and walking and biking are just a few examples. Running, in particular, is a great way to lose extra weight. Moreover, it’s also a great stress reliever because it lets people enjoy the outdoors. 

The problem is that a lot of people who run aren’t able to maintain the proper running form. When this happens, it could lead to common running mistakes that lead to injury.

In this article, we’ll be listing down some running tips for beginners so you can enjoy the benefits of running. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Wearing Worn Out or Incorrect Shoes

If you’re a beginner, there’s a huge chance your running shoes are not the right fit for you. Proper running shoes are extremely important because they provide stability and arch support. Properly fitting shoes can also prevent injuries and improve performance. 

As a general rule, your running shoes should offer enough breathing room for your toes. To measure this, position your thumb vertically and try to lodge it between your toes and the front edge of the shoe (toe box). There should be enough room to accommodate your thumb. 

Also, while most shoes will offer neutral stability, some can help address issues related to overpronation or underpronation. The former happens when the arch of your foot excessively rolls inward, while the latter occurs when your foot excessively rolls outward. If you have either of these conditions, consult a professional. They’ll be able to assess your foot and offer recommendations based on your needs. 

You should also replace your running shoes every 500 miles or every six months. Frequently replacing your shoes ensures that they don’t get too worn out and offer good protection.

2. The Eager Runner

One of the most common running mistakes a beginner makes is pushing themselves too hard when they aren’t ready yet. Similar to other workout routines, over-performance will not help you progress faster. In fact, it’ll only lead to injury, which could derail your progress.

The best way to become a better runner is to build your foundation first. This is especially true for beginners or those who have taken a long break from running. Failing to follow this advice will only lead to injuries like shin splints, runner’s knee, or IT band syndrome (ITBS). So start slow and gradually pick up the pace. 

It’ll be up to you how much you’ll change your running distance after running for three weeks. Just make sure you’re setting achievable goals that also push you to work harder. 

3. Breathing Techniques for Running

Maintaining the proper running form is essential. But you should also practice breathing techniques for running. These include:

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, otherwise known as belly breathing, is crucial to running as it allows you to inhale more oxygen. In turn, you’re providing your muscles with more oxygen-rich blood, which will effectively ward off fatigue and increase your endurance.

  • Inhaling & Exhaling Through the Nose & Mouth

If you’re running and only breathing through your nose, you won’t get enough oxygen to help your body keep up with the demanding workout. Conversely, if you’re only breathing through your mouth, you’ll end up expelling more CO2, which could lead to hyperventilation. As such, it’s best to practice breathing through both your nose and mouth, especially during an intense running session.

  • Rhythmic Breathing

This is a breathing technique for running where you follow an alternating pattern of exhaling to prevent muscular imbalances. As a beginner, you may want to follow a 3:2 rhythmic breathing pattern. By following this technique, you’ll breathe for three steps and exhale after two steps. But if you’re running faster, you might want to opt for a 2:1 pattern.

Regulate your exhale patterns to alternate between your left and right foot. That way, you can balance the impact on both sides of your body and increase your core stability.

4. Inadequate Rest

Rest is a crucial part of how to become a better runner. It allows your body to recover from the rigorous activity and makes it easier for you to adapt to your new routine. It’ll also prevent musculoskeletal injuries that could be caused by a repetitive workout. 

Your rest period will depend entirely on what your body is telling you. Some prefer taking a day or two of rest for their weekly runs. Others like to take only one day off while also decreasing their prescribed running distance before reverting to the norm. Pay attention to your body and adjust accordingly.

5. Focusing Only on Running

If you want to become a better runner, you should only focus on running right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Running doesn’t just engage your lower body muscles — it also heavily relies on your core for balance and stability. So during your rest days, try to perform core strengthening exercises to improve your core strength and endurance.

You can even integrate some of these exercises during your usual run. For instance, planking is incredibly beneficial for runners as it works your abs, quads, hamstrings, chest, shoulders, and the group of muscles running the length of your spine.

Perform planking for 30 seconds to a minute before your run. Doing this will warm up your body for the upcoming workout and strengthen your core.

6. Poor Nutrition

It’s 2021 so it’s time to break bad eating habits! Getting the proper nutrition plays a vital role in how to run better. After all, food offers fuel that’ll help you reach peak performance.

If you’re running first thing in the morning, drinking a glass of diluted fruit juice will be enough to prevent your sugar levels from dipping during a 45-minute run. But if your run is scheduled after breakfast, make sure you enjoy a nutritious meal. A banana, energy bar, or bagel with peanut butter are great options.

Just remember to avoid limiting carb consumption because carbs are runner’s fuel. Instead, you should limit your consumption of fatty foods and protein to achieve maximum performance.

Maintaining the Proper Running Form 

Running is an extremely fun and engaging physical activity. But keep in mind that you’ll need to maintain the proper running form to reap the full benefits of this exercise. 

So take it slow at first then build your momentum as your body begins to adapt. In time, you’ll eventually get stronger and improve stamina. And reaching your fitness goals is incredibly rewarding. For more exercise and healthy lifestyle tips, visit the LifeClinic blog

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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