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What are the worst running habits?

All bad habits can be a slippery slope to falling short of your race goal

In running, it’s easy to cut corners to get you closer to achieving your goal. Sometimes the stress of hoping for race day success can overwhelm you during training. Some habits are worse than others, but all bad habits can be a slippery slope to falling short of your objective. Here is our list of running habits you need to try to break to ensure you meet your goals most of the time.

Pushing too hard on recovery runs

Your coach assigned a 40-minute recovery run and asked you to keep your heart rate under 140. Instead, you go out and see how much distance you can cover in 40 minutes. A recovery run shouldn’t be a time trial, and if you’re treating it this way, it will lead to fatigue at best, and possibly injury.

Recovery runs are some of the most important days in your training schedule. They are there to allow your body to heal from harder days. Resist the urge to push the pace, as it will only damage your racing aspirations.

No warmup, no activation

There have been a few scholarly publications on how a warmup or static stretching may not be as beneficial as you think it is, but dynamic stretching is an excellent way to help you ease into a run. Some examples of dynamic stretching are leg swings, butt kicks, high knees and arm swings. The purpose of these stretches is to replicate the running motion without intensity or stress.

Injured but still training (overtraining)

If you are suffering from any pain or discomfort, it’s better to rest than to make things worse by continuing to train at the same intensity. Missing one or two days of training may seem like the end of the world during a marathon build, but at the end of the day, the impact on your training will be minimal, and you may just avoid a more serious injury.

Cutting things short

It may seem to contradict what we said earlier, but if you’re healthy, don’t take the easy way out by cutting your workouts short. Workouts are meant to be difficult–not difficult enough to hurt you, but difficult enough to challenge your fitness (assuming they’re appropriate to your level of fitness). It’s in adapting to that training stimulus that you increase your fitness and reach your racing goals. If you consistently aren’t finishing workouts, you need to ask yourself why. 

Going out too fast

The most common bad habit in running is starting too fast in workouts and races. Try to settle in the first few minutes of your race, and run a pace you can maintain, then speed up if your body is feeling good later on. If you’ve got gas left in the tank near the end, push it!

Comparing yourself to others

No matter the setting, it’s easy to compare your training or speed to other runners on the same team or on Strava, but this is counterproductive and leads to a poor mindset. When the urge to compare grabs you, try to compare yourself only to your past times, not other runners.