When you’re new to running, it may seem like a relatively simple sport. There are no referees, no fancy equipment, and minimal rules. To do it, you simply lace up a pair of shoes and hit the road, right?
I love running for how simple and inclusive it is. It’s truly a sport that most people can do if they put their mind to it.
But if you are dedicated to becoming a regular runner, knowing a few extra tips will help you a lot along the way.
No, I’m not getting too technical here. Nothing about precise carb-loading before a race or the nuances of the foot strike. But there are 10 common new runner mistakes I see all the time that I want to warn you about. These running mistakes completely impede your progress, and they’re so simple to fix!
Are you making these mistakes? Keep reading to find out!
Please note: Check with your physician before starting any exercise routine or starting any particular diet. See this Disclaimer for more details. This post may contain affiliate links. For details, please visit my Disclosure page. Thank you!
10 Common New Runner Mistakes
1. Running only 3x per week
It feels like every other day I see a running plan that recommends running only 3x per week.
The age-old saying here still applies: if you want to get better at running, you need to run more.
Running just 3x a week is not going to accomplish that for you.
Unlike resistance training, you don’t need a rest day between runs to let your muscles recover. Running isn’t nearly as taxing on your muscles as heavy weight lifting.
So if someone tells me their main goal is to become a better runner, I encourage them to run at least 5 days a week. 6 days is even better, but may require some time to work up to.
2. Not committing to a running schedule
So many new runners have no rhyme or reason for the days they run or how much they run. Not only will this stump your progress, it will likely lead to you becoming discouraged and quiting.
Don’t make this new runner mistake. It’s such a simple fix.
Instead, create and stick to a running schedule!
When you have a pre-made schedule, you’ll be way less likely to pass on running each day. Knowing that you’re supposed to hit 20 miles this week will make you way less likely to skip that 4 mile run on Thursday. Because otherwise you’ll have to make that up another day!
RELATED POST: The Best Workout Planners to Crush Your Exercise Goals
3. Not running on days you don’t feel great
When you’re tired, or your legs feel a little sore, or your stomach feels a little off, you may be tempted to skip your run that day.
More often than not, these days will actually be some of your best runs.
It’s a bizarre phenomenon that many runners experience; sometimes you just feel like a completely different person on your run. On some runs you feel like a ball of energy while on others you feel like your feet are strapped to bricks. But it’s impossible to know how you’ll feel until you’re actually out running!
Of course if you’re sick, take the day off! But don’t let little body fluctuations derail your running plans. At least get out there and start – you can always turn it into a brisk walk if you’re still not feeling it.
4. Running fast every run
I’ve 1000% made this mistake in the past.
An important skill you’ll learn as a runner is being able to slow down and maintain a slow pace. When you’re first getting started, you may feel like you’re not getting the most out of your run if you’re not really pushing yourself.
But so much of running is just spending that time on your feet. Trust me, you will definitely strengthen your body and become a better runner by taking it easy some days. And especially by not starting a run too fast and then feeling awful for the rest of it.
As my boyfriend (who is also a runner) says, “It takes a mature runner to go slow.”
5. Forgetting about strength training
There are so many reasons why runners should strength train.
First of all, it’s just good for you! Resistance training should be a part of everyone’s routine. It strengthens your muscles and bones, allows you to do more in your daily life, and helps burn more calories.
But it also helps you become a better runner. Strengthening your core, arms, and legs allows you to generate more power when you run. It helps you have better form and decreases your risk of injuries.
I recommend at least 2 days/week where you complete a full-body resistance routine.
6. Not investing in a good pair of shoes
Running is something you can do with no equipment – save a good pair of shoes.
And this coming from the girl who has to think about any purchase for practically 2 weeks before finally investing!
Honestly, a lot of running injuries can be avoided by running in the right shoes.
Since there’s a lot that goes into shoe design, I always recommend going to a specialty running store. They can assess the structure of your feet and your foot strike and recommend the best shoes for you and your goals.
And hey, when I got plantar fasciitis in the spring they were even able to assess my feet over FaceTime! A lot of running stores are making accommodations like this during lockdown.
Really, don’t buy any old pair of shoes. Investing in the proper pair is one of the best decisions you can make as a runner.
7. Not running long enough
When you’re just getting started, running even 20 minutes may feel like a lifetime. So the thought of working up to longer runs such as 45 or 60 minutes may sound absolutely nuts.
But as I said before: “If you want to get better at running, you need to run more.
It doesn’t have to be fast, you just have to do it.
To make this more stomachable, a technique you can try is adding some brisk walking to the end of a run and slowly converting that into running over a few weeks.
8. Running the same route every day
When you run the same route every day, each run starts to feel tedious. You start to spend the whole run counting the steps until you get home – which makes it feel so much longer than it actually is.
You also won’t improve as much because your body gets used to the route.
Correct this mistake by keeping your runs fresh and exciting. Switch up where you run each day and the terrain you run on.
Both your body AND your mind will thank you for this one.
9. Thinking you need gels on shorter runs
Unless you’re running for long periods of time, gels and other nutrient sources are simply not necessary on a run.
Regardless of running conditions, if you’re exercising around 60 minutes or less your body doesn’t need carbohydrate/electrolyte supplementation.
Once you exceed 60 minutes, it may be helpful to consume a sports drink or gel with 6-8% glucose and that contains sodium and potassium. Everyone’s stomachs react differently to eating while running, so it’s something you’ll need to experiment with. What is best for you is whatever gives you energy and your stomach can tolerate.
Seriously, I’ve never eaten during past half marathon races either. Even with a time of 1 hour 33 minutes, despite going over the 60 minute mark, I never felt like eating was necessary.
It all depends on you and your running goals. If you’re new to running and each run is less than 60 minutes, you really don’t need to concern yourself with eating during your runs.
10. Not setting realistic goals
When starting out, many runners set race or distance goals that are unrealistic.
Keep in mind: going from no running at all to running a 5k is a lot of work. It’s absolutely possible, but is definitely a longer-term goal.
So along the way, focus on hitting smaller goals that are more about consistency. So much of being a runner is committing to the running “lifestyle.” It’s lacing up your shoes consistently, even on the days your body isn’t feeling it (shout out to tip #3!).
So set goals like sticking to your weekly mileage or getting out there 5 days/week. Then the bigger goals will become attainable too!
If you enjoyed this post about new runner mistakes, check out my other posts for new runners!