As runners there are many things we constantly do to improve our performance. We keep our focus on certain things and keep our bodies runner ready. There are also a few things runners should not focus on or do.Some runners get overwhelmed and caught up instead of enjoying the run.Here are some point that I know many runners, including myself are guilty of:
1.- Don’t skip the pre-run stretching – I know some this is still an unclear topic to runners, and some say to never stretch, but I believe doing a light stretch helps. Some professionals will tell you NOT to stretch, and others will tell you its vital. I think you know your body well enough to know if you need it or not. In my opinion, it can improve your performance, and it will protect you from getting hurt. Some runners don’t stretch at all and if you start off running too hard too fast too strong, you are putting A LOT of pressure on cold muscles. If you don’t like to stretch, then at least do a quick 10 secs stretch for your quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Doesn’t matter how far you plan on running, stretching is important. It’s a great way to get the blood flowing and muscles warmed up for the run along with slowly increasing your heart rate. I have made the mistake of running without stretching and I paid for it. My muscles tighten up and had a rough 2 miles start to my run. I also was hit with a bad side stitch that lasted my entire run.
2.- Stop comparing yourself to others! I hear this all the time and was guilty of it myself. As runners sometimes we compare ourselves to fellow runner friends or fellow racers. Don’t do that! There is always going to be someone faster, stronger, and can run farther than you. Don’t get crazy comparing yourself to others. It can discourage you to keep going, so instead focus on YOU. Think of how far you’ve come and focus on a goal you have set. It helps keep you on track. 😉
3.- Don’t expect a PR at every race. When you first start running, yes, your times at each race should improve making it easy to get a new Personal Record. It is very effective to set time goals as it keeps you focused. Just make sure they are realistic ones, especially when trying to get a faster time at a race. It can put a lot of pressure on you making it not fun anymore. Each race is different, and weather can affect each race. It will get to a point that getting faster times can become difficult so setting a new time goal should be reasonable so you don’t obsess over getting or not getting that goal. Mixing it up by signing up for fun, not timed races, like The Color Run, can help ease that pressure.
4.- Stop wearing improper shoes. I have talked about it many many times in the past and I will say it again, WEAR SHOES THAT ARE RIGHT FOR Y-O-U! There are many nice, colorful, sweet looking shoes out there, but running in shoes that aren’t for you will cause chronic issues and makes you prone to injuries. Go to a specialty running store that has employees who can check your running style and check your feet to put you in the right pair of shoes. Luckily, I have an AMAZING specialty running store who is aware of my condition and has helped me find the PERFECT shoes for me and help me keep injury free.
5.- Stop ignoring pain! Some runners “run through the pain” thinking that the pain will go away or you think you aren’t doing that much damage. When you feel pain, your body is trying to tell you something!!! If you have pain when you run, you need to stop and take a few days off until the pain subsides. Its better to be out a few days from running than to be out for weeks or months because you decided to run through it! Taking some days off will not prevent you from reaching your goal, your body needs rest and YOU must listen. Doing R-est I-ce C-ompress E-levate will help with pain, even massages help. If your pain is too severe, seeing a Doctor might be best.
6.- Stop running without hydration. Even on days where its real cold outside, you must keep yourself hydrated. Runners should start to hydrate after running at least a mile and a half. Living in FL it get real hot and humid some days so staying hydrated is vital. If runners drink too much it can cause a side stitch, which can affect your performance. But when runners get thirsty, its time to have at least a sip of water. The good thing about races, at least the ones I’ve done, have plenty hydration stops. I recommend you stop at each one and at least wet your throat. Don’t become dehydrated!!! Your muscles will cramp up, possible headache, dizziness, and light-headed. This will cause a DNF at a race.
7.- Stop saying you are not a real runner. This used to be me. With Scoliosis and chronic pains, I felt I wasn’t a “real runner.” I would talk to many runners who run 7 minutes miles, never get hurt, and winning many races. I thought to myself, there is no way I can do this. But I have and I am. If you run 1 mile a day, run at what you would consider a slow pace…YOU ARE A RUNNER!! Going back to the other one, don’t compare yourself to others. You are on your own journey with no one else competing against you. You run, you are a runner! End of story!
Sometimes we tend to put too much effort on things we shouldn’t and forget about all the work we have done. Deciding to become a runner, is an accomplishment in itself. It takes a lot of sweat, a lot of miles, and a lot of heart. Be a smart runner and take note on the great things that happen. Enjoy the journey to your destination.