5 Rookie Running Mistakes — And How To Avoid Them

Running is without a doubt a top-notch workout: It's a killer cardio session, ab-toner, and leg-sculptor all rolled into one. It's no wonder that some of the best athletic bods are the ones that incorporate a lot of back and forth rapid pacing — we're talking about you, David Beckham.
Best of all, this miracle workout is low maintenance. All you need is a good pair of sneakers, open space, and you're good to go! But, if this is your first time making strides, pay attention! Because we've got five major blunders every novice jogger almost always makes. Take notes, because this can save you a lot of pain later.
Mistake 1: Using any ol' tennis shoes
Investing in the right kicks is the first step to starting off on the right foot (no pun intended). If you're not sure where to start, head to a specialty runner's store. There, pros can fit, measure, and test your feet to find the perfect sneakers for your workout. Because, while we love our Keds and Chucks, they're just not built for mini-marathons.
While you're at it, be sure to replace your shoes before they wear down too much. David Barton Gym personal trainer and sneaker specialist Steph Herrick's general rule is to replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles, or every six months. "Ideally, you should invest in a nice pair of running shoes, and a cheaper pair for other workouts or everyday use," she says.
Mistake 2: Setting unrealistically high goals
Rome wasn't built in a day, and you can't train for a marathon in one, either. Your body needs time to adjust to your new level of physical activity, which means starting slowly. If you've never run seriously before, Herrick recommends this pattern: "Run for five minutes straight, walk a few minutes, and then run again." Take it day by day, and you'll be stronger before you know it. .
Technology can also be your best friend if you're pounding the pavement. Download a track app (RunKeeper and Nike+ Running are good ones) or purchase a GPS watch so you can visually see your progress. It's motivating to see the results of your hard work on-screen.
Mistake 3: Bad form
It's hard to believe, but you can actually be running incorrectly. A few quick pointers from Herrick include keeping your arms relaxed and your elbows close to your hips, swinging your hands from your ears to your butt, and using your full range of motion. A good form can be the difference between a successful workout and an injury.
Mistake 4: Not having a well-rounded workout
Just as woman cannot survive on bread alone — carb overload! — a beginner cannot reach peak fitness solely by running. While running is a cardio and endurance workout, it still needs to be complemented with some weights, plyometrics, and even some yoga. Celebrity trainer Lacey Stone of Lacey Stone Fitness recommends squats and lunges to build your leg muscles. "Strong legs can help improve your running time as well as strengthen your endurance, so you can make it that extra mile," she explains.
Mistake 5: Skipping the cool-down and stretch
The cool-down and stretching session is just as important, if not more important, than the actual run itself. Muscles are tight and stiff after a run, no matter how short it was. First, walk at a comfortable pace for one or two minutes as your heart rate calms down.
Afterwards, stretch out those ligaments to prevent them from getting sore. Stone suggests rolling out with a foam core roller to loosen up any knots that may have formed. "Another great move is to kick your leg up to hip level, then swing it back behind you," she says. Squeezing in a good stretch can help prevent soreness and injuries from occurring — which will get you back out running again in no time.
Photo: Courtesy of Nike.

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