Once you’ve made up your mind to start running, it’s tempting to pop your headphones in and hit the pavement without putting much thought into what you’re doing. After all, you’re just putting one foot in front of the other, right? Wrong. There are a lot of things to consider (and stop stressing out about) before you even lace up. We spoke to professional triathlete Jim Lubinski about the five mistakes he sees rookie runners making the most often, and what you should really be focusing on before you hit the open road.
1. Buying the wrong shoes
We all have different feet. What works for one runner may not(probably will not) work for another runner. Yes, it is nice to buy the expensive, sexy shoes you see Usain Bolt wearing, but chances are they are the wrong shoes for you. Go to a running specific store and get properly fit for a shoe that has been built for a foot similar to yours. The wrong shoe leads to injury and poor performance.
2. Too much volume, too soon
Running is a high-impact sport. It consists of constant pounding, over and over. You must start slow with light volume and gradually build week over week, month over month. It’s in our human nature to want to go out and test ourselves from the start. But too much, too soon will only lead to soreness and injury. You must give your body time to adapt to the stress running places on it.
3. Running workouts that are too intense for your current state of fitness
In our current atmosphere, where every Elite Runner posts their workouts to Twitter and Facebook, you (the beginner) may think that’s the way you should be training. You must be realistic and perform workouts you are ready to perform. This starts with easy running for week after week. Once your base is built, you can add some variety, but never add variety in until you have established a base.
4. Getting caught up with form
We have all seen “ugly” runners—the runners who look like they are up on their toes or marching in a band. I will be the first to tell you: do not worry about how you look when running. Just get out and run. There is a lot of emphasis put on “proper form.” Especially as a beginner, the last thing you want to do is change your form and move your body in a way that is unnatural. Just get out and run. Do what feels good for you.
5. Becoming a slave to your watch
A lot of newer runners get caught up in time/distance/pace/etc. Learn to leave your watch at home occasionally and just run. Running is fun, but if you are constantly looking at data and forgetting to take in the enjoyment, you have the potential to burn out and forget why you are out there in the first place.