3 Mistakes I Made When I Started Running, and What I did Right

When I ran my first mile six years ago my only goal was not to stop.  I also intended it to only be 1 mile.  I never expected to run it very fast and I never thought I’d go over a mile.  But I was in a Fitness Challenge with a mom’s workout group, surrounded by runners… And I’ve decided it’s just contagious.  I quickly made a 5K goal for myself.

As a beginner runner I made a few major mistakes.

1.  I Broke the 10-Percent Rule

  • To increase your milage safely, and decrease your chances of injury, you should only run 10% further than the week before.   For example, if you ran 3 miles last week, you should only run 3.3 this week.

When I began making race goals for myself I was so excited I just went out and started running.  I did not do any research on how much or how far I should run.  I didn’t hire a coach or find a program online, I just went out and ran.  I mean it sounded so easy, you want to run further, you just go out and run further!  I had no idea that I was setting myself up for failure.  Not mentally but physically.

  • As I learned in Physical Therapy 6 months after I began running– there is a 10-Percent Rule.
  • My body began to break down because I was not increasing my milage correctly.  And then I ended up injuring myself and going to physical therapy and I had to take 6-weeks off in the middle of my training.

2.  I Didn’t Research Running Nutrition

  • You need nutrition during a run, especially when you begin increasing your milage past a 5K.
  • I would hit “a wall.”  When you hit a wall when doing any workout, you feel like you can’t finish.  All of a sudden you feel like you just can’t take another step, you might slow way off your goal pace, or find you’re extremely hungry or thirsty.
  • There are many options out there to fuel your body before, during, and after your run.  
  • I learned that micro-nutrients were a KEY for recovery; they actually combat the oxidative stress we put on our bodies when we exercise, which leads to sore muscles and injuries. But I had always focused on macro-nutrients! 

It’s important to realize that you are burning A LOT of calories when you are running and as you increase your milage your body needs to refuel in order to keep your goal pace and go further.  When I began running I had never done any activity out of a gym and did not realize that there are a whole new set of requirements to make sure my body performs at the level I wish it to.

3.  I Didn’t Stretch!

  • This is SO simple and even seasoned runners make this mistake.
  • It is important to stretch every day.
  • Yoga a few times a week is wonderful and my physical therapist recommends 45 minutes twice a week to develop overall body strength and flexibility.
  • Stretching will not only make you a stronger athlete but will also prevent injuries.

What I did Right:

  • I went to a running store and got fitted for a running shoe.
    • I found out I was wearing a sneaker a whole size too small and that I needed a shoe that would correct the way I landed while running.  I highly recommend getting fitted for a running shoe before increasing your milage.
  • Most importantly–  I found a group of friends to run with!
    • Having accountability when you have to wake up at 5 am was key to my success!  I still need to meet someone for a run to make myself go do it.  Plus, it’s amazing how fast a long run will go when you are talking to a friend.  All of a sudden you don’t realize you’re running faster, going further, and actually looking forward to that Saturday morning run.

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