I’d like to start off by addressing all runners; it’s just fabulous that you go jogging! I’m assuming you jog, but if you don’t, this is still good advice for any sport or exercise you practice. It’s great that people can find the motivation to upkeep their health and fitness, not everyone does so and that’s apparent in today’s society. Running is a really simple, basic way of staying in shape, with all you need being some decent trainers and the trail you blaze.
Unfortunately, there are some seriously bad habits that some runners seem to have adopted, or simply don’t know any better. Here’s 10 of the worse offenders:
This is not only extremely dangerous, but also a personal pet peeve. I like to call them lobsters on the loose or sun sluts, though scorchers will do for the sake of decency. I honestly don’t know what they must be thinking, but I like to imagine their internal conversation goes a little like this: “Oh would you look at that! It’s 2:00 in the afternoon at the peak of summertime, and the sun is at it’s strongest. The roads are crowded and pollution is stagnant with the heat. You could probably fry an egg on the tarmac, and I read in the newspaper the other day that two people in my area were rushed to hospital with heat stroke. One of them didn’t survive. They were exercising at the hottest part of the day, on the roadside, just like I’m about to do. I won’t bother taking any water with me, and sunscreen is for the weak. Besides, I think sunburnt red is a good colour on me. Especially when it shines with the litres of water I’m losing through my extreme sweating as my body struggles to cool me down.”
Yeah… Those people. If you do this, please for the sake of yourself and others. Just stop. There is no reason you need to be outside exercising in dangerously high temperatures, no reason at all. If that’s the only free time you have available in your day, it would be healthier to try a treadmill or indoor track.
2) Pain Takers
Being tough is not a bad trait, but pain is there for a reason. Pain, no matter how extreme or minor, is our bodies way of alerting us. “Run through the pain” is not good advice. The best way to ensure an injury is to ignore the early warning signs and plough through relentlessly. Missing a few training sessions in order to let your body recuperate will not ruin your progress or hinder your goals. If you have reoccurring pain you should see a doctor. It could be anything.
3) What are thooose?!
On the subject of sport-related pain, how often do you swap out your training shoes? I’ve seen some sad, worn out excuses for running shoes and I’m here to warn you that it can be hazardous. Worn-out shoes lose their support, and this can lead most commonly to foot or joint pain. It is recommended to replace your running shoes every 300 – 400 miles, but there’s some interesting further insight into when you should change your shoes. Read about it here.
4) Empty Stomachers
Running on empty is not advisable in any theory of mechanics, the human body especially. It doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be a large sit-down meal, but you should ideally have some form of slow-burning nutritional calories in your system before setting off for a training session. It’s recommended to give your body 90 minutes of digestion time before partaking in heavy exercise. The fuel you intake will enable you to run stronger, longer and avoid your body going into a brief ‘starvation mode.’ However, this theory proves difficult if you are one of those morning runners who wake up, brush your teeth and head straight out. After all, who has 90 minutes in the morning to wait around for digestion to run it’s course? Not I.
The key with morning running is to at the very least, ensure you have hydrated. A cup of herbal tea and an oat biscuit or two is a great way of waking up your bodies systems and kick starting your metabolism. This way, you will avoid any light-headedness during your run, due to low blood sugar or dehydration, which is both unsafe and restricts your performance. Give your body no less than 20 minutes after hydrating or ‘tea and biscuit-ing’ to avoid symptoms of indigestion. If your running time is longer than one hour, you should absolutely be taking water breaks.
5) Lazy Fools!
You there! Who never bothers to stretch, and then complains you’re feeling stiff or sore. (I’m sooooo guilty of this.) We are lazy fools! Every run needs to be started with a warm up and finished with a warm down. It doesn’t take long and is hardly any effort compared to the actual run itself, so why are we slacking? The excuse of not having enough time shouldn’t justify the lack of post and pre-run exercises, they are vital for keeping everything running smoothly and glitch-free. If you don’t have time for it, then shave time off the run itself. It really is that important, here’s why.
6) Poor Dieters
Ok great! You have a good exercise regime going. You take time and effort to work out and keep fit… Why are you hindering that with a poor diet? And I’m not talking about transforming yourself into a pure vegan, organic-only salad enthusiast. I’m talking about eating a balanced diet and not getting completely wasted every weekend, or worse, being an incessant smoker. Come on you lot! Cut down on the smoking, reduce the alcohol intake and take care of yourself. Do you have any idea how much better of a work out you could achieve when you’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Let’s not even get started on the general benefits to your physical wellness.
This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that evening glass of wine, or social smoking every so often. By all means, life SHOULD be enjoyed, and if you want that Burger King cheat-meal on a Saturday followed by a Hagen Daaz triple ice cream scoop on a Sunday, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. As long as for the majority of the time you are following a balanced diet and taking care of what you put into your body. Exercising doesn’t give you the excuse to lack in other areas of health maintenance.
Shin splints go hand in hand with these offenders. Over-striding does not improve speed or performance, and can cause injury. It is actually a very uneconomic way of running, as it wastes energy and causes your body to brake with each foot strike. You should not be lunging forward with your feet, especially when on a decline. Landing heel first is common with over-striders, and is a really poor way of running. For the best run, your muscles should be kept loose and your movements natural. This means letting go of physical and mental tension, and not pushing yourself or over-exerting. Your shoulders should be down with your arms held at comfortable 90º angle at your sides. Your torso should be upright with your hips forward, head up, and your eyes looking far ahead, jogging proud!
When you land with your heel first, it stresses the knees. Your foot should be landing on the balls of your feet mid-sole, keeping your footsteps light. No thudding or slapping or stomping the ground please. Good God.
8) Flat Liners
Now, this is doesn’t really qualify as a rookie mistake, but it is something to take onboard. When you’ve been running for a while it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. You get comfortable in your routine, and it doesn’t even occur to you to change it up. Covering the same ground day in and day out can get really monotonous. The exercise no longer inspires, turning the activity into just another thing you have to do that day, instead of a joy. This is what I like to call flat liners. Why not change it up with a different route, a longer run or going at a different pace? Even better, if you’re used to running on flat grounds, try including elevation. There’s nothing better for your glutes than an uphill climb. Every day doesn’t have to be different, but it’s beneficial for your body and mentality to add variety to your workout whenever you can. Variety is the spice of life after all.
Are you interested in health and fitness? Do you feel like a career change, or are you just looking to improve your own health and that of your family and friends? The School of Natural Health Sciences offers over 50 holistic therapy courses including Sports Nutrition and Sports Psychology. All the courses are internationally recognised and can be taken from the comfort of our own home, at your own pace.