Like most sports, getting into running isn’t easy. It can be a long mental journey from the couch to your front door. Once you’re ready to step out you want things to er, run smoothly but beginner running can be full of pitfalls.
Lucky for you our resident runner Kieran Alger has already made the mistakes so you don’t have to. Here are his top running errors you need to avoid.
1. Slipping on the Wrong Shoes
It doesn’t matter if you’re running 5km or 50km, finding the right pair of running shoes is essential. And, yes, that does mean shoes made for running, not those beaten up old Converse pumps you’ve just dragged out of the back of the cupboard.
Questions you need to answer before you buy include where you’re going to run. Roads, trails or treadmills, or even all three? Whether you prefer something cushioned or slightly more minimal? Also whether you under or over-pronate.
Lastly, make sure you pick a kick-ass colour. Go fasters stripes are definitely allowed and once you’re wearing a pair of bright orange trail blazers you can’t really run slow.
2. Going From 0-Sick-sty in 60 Seconds
Despite your bright orange shoes that suggest a top speed of five minutes per mile, going out too fast, too soon is a surefire way to make your running romance a short one.
It’s far too easy to turn on what turbo you might have the moment you’ve stepped out of your house. Go out like Usain Bolt and we guarantee that five minutes later you’ll have your head between your knees, wondering why the hell you thought this running lark was for you.
Pacing is everything so invest in a GPS running watch to track how fast you’re going. Find a pace that’s comfortable, where you can still hold a conversation. Make a mental note and use this pace each time you run. Starting slower will help you go further, build endurance and avoid those spirit crushing moments where it all feels too much.
3. Forgetting the Fuel
There are three important stages to eating for running: the before, during and after.
Before: For short runs you don’t need to do much more than have a small breakfast. For half marathons and marathons you might consider carb-loading, aka adding small amounts of extra carbs to your meals. Don’t fall into the trap of eating your own bodyweight in pasta the night before. Carrying a pasta baby over 20km is no fun at all.
During: Runs up to 10km you don’t need anything over than a little water but on runs longer pushing beyond the 10km mark it’s a good idea to top up your energy tank. While a lot of runners reach for jelly babies, your best bet is to find a carbohydrate gel that works for you. These gels offer an instant hit of easy-to-digest sugar that’ll help keep you going longer.
Popular brands include: SIS Gels, Lucozade Elite and PowerBar.
After: Once you’re run’s done, you need to give your muscles what they need to rebuild and that means protein, preferably within 20 minutes of finishing.
Because it’s quite hard to gobble down a salmon fillet, most runners opt for a protein shake like MaxiNutrition Recovermax.
4. Underestimating the Chafe
Stand on the sidelines of any marathon and at some point you’ll see a horror of the running world – the bleeding nipples of a runner who’s ignored the affects of friction.
More often those nipples belong to men. The good news is that the red rings of doom are easy enough to avoid. One option is to apply generous helpings of Vaseline or anti-chafe balms like Body Glide.
But even before you start lathering on lotions and potions, find good anti-rub base layers, for upstairs and downstairs. UnderArmour, X-Bionic and Skins all offer nipple friendly gear with fewer seams and comfier fabrics for a chafe-free run.
5. Blessing Your Cotton Socks
Forget your sock drawer even exists. Every single pair of cotton foot cosies that currently live there are a blister nightmare waiting to happen.
If you want to avoid having soles that resemble bubble wrap after longer runs, then treat your feet in some specialist running socks.
Go for a pair with a double layer that helps reduce friction or even the glove-like Fivefingers that keep your toes snug and separated.
6. Get a Drinking Habit
Staying hydrated is vital but carrying water while you’re running can be a complete pain and glugging three litres of water right before you run is a one-way ticket to a public pee stop.
Luckily there are plenty of ways to increase your bladder capacity. Hydration packs like Camelbak let you carry litres of water on the move, while for shorter runs the inov-8 handheld bottle (pictured) makes it easy to carry a 500ml bottle worth of fluid on the move without the vice-like grip that can lead to tension up top and a skewed running form.
You should also consider an rehydration solution. You can get tablets or powders with carefully combined electrolyte formulas, that you to add to your water to help keep your salt levels balanced and help get enough water on board. SOS Rehydrate is a particularly good brand to look out.
7. Rocking (the run) But Not Rolling
Although it might not feel like it 2km into that 5km, your legs are actually on your side. Treat them right and they’ll reward you, by carrying you over ever-increasing distances. Neglect them, however, and they’ll rebel. That usually means niggles and injuries.
One of the best ways to avoid injury is to create a post-run routine with a healthy dose of foam rolling. Foam rolling is basically a form of mild self torture that various types of firm foam cylinders to dig deep into all your tight muscles like Turkish masseur with a terrible grudge. From the Reebok to the lumpier Physioroom Elite, you’ll hate the way it feels but boy is it better than a torn Achilles tendon.
8. Thinking an Untracked Run Actually Counts
Just like a tree falling in the woods with no one to see it, everyone knows that if you fail to fire up a GPS running watch, or let your smartphone Strava, Endomondo or Nike+ app track your stats, then you never actually ran it. Fact.
You can get running watches from as little as £60 and right up to £400, to make sure your miles don’t get forgotten. Alternatively, if you don’t fancy one of those then you can always strap your phone on your arm with a fancy running arm strap and let a free app log the miles.