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7 Newbie Running Mistakes to Avoid

Your fellow runners confess the biggest mistakes they made as beginners in the sport.

Running is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s straightforward. Chances are, if you’re new to running, you’re going to muck things up at some point. You’ll feel bad, but you shouldn’t – ask any runner, and they’ll likely tell you they made that very same mistake. We asked runners on Twitter to share their newbie mistakes, and they were quick to share their bloopers and mishaps. They’ve suffered plenty, to save you some – here’s what to learn from their running mistakes.

Mistake #1: Wearing The Wrong Shoes

I underestimated the importance of a good pair of shoes! -@occhickadee

Picking running shoes because they looked cool. -@im_beccable 

I bought a running shoe everyone I knew was wearing. I developed some lower leg issues. After getting properly fit I found out I was wearing a stability shoe when I needed something neutral. @theMikeGroff

Not getting a run analysis and picking and incorrect shoe for my weird waddle-style run stride. -@SchwarzAdam

Don’t crowdsource your shoe selection! Your training buddy may swear by a particular shoe, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Instead, visit a local running specialty shop that offers gait analysis. By watching you run on a treadmill or outside, the shoe experts on staff can identify the right shoe for your running style.

Running 101: How to Select The Best Pair of Running Shoes

Mistake #2: Visiting Chafe City

Wearing cotton. – @OCRunner

Protect the nipples! -@1strockfister

As I started running longer than 1.5 hrs, noticed my nipples were a bit sore. Ya know the saying “rubbing salt on a wound?” Well, in a post-run shower, the salt pouring over my nipples was the most painful thing ever…until the salt reached my testicles! Ouch -@slotriguy 

Every runner experiences chafing at some point – and no runner enjoys it. The friction that happens when skin rubs against something, be it other skin, clothing, or even a watch band, can create a painful, burning sensation. To avoid this fate, wear technical fabrics that draw moisture away from the skin, avoid zippers and seams that can cause friction, and apply a skin lubricant to any skin surface prone to chafing.

How Runners Prevent Chafing Issues

Mistake #3: Failing to Plan

23 years ago, going on a 20-mile run training for my 2nd marathon, bringing no water thinking I could stop & get some along the way. It was a big snowstorm so everything was closed. I had to try and eat snow….you can get dehydrated in freezing temps! I’m much smarter now. -@KennesawChiro

Not realizing how important it was to know where all the bathrooms were before a long run. -@run2normi 

The longer the run, the more planning is required. For runs of 60 minutes or more, consideration should be taken with regard to hydration, nutrition, and safety. Many hydration belts and vests on the market have ample storage for water, fuel, and a cell phone. A small amount of cash is a good idea as well – just in case you find yourself in need of a cab or a mid-bonk caffeine fix from a gas station. If you’re prone to – er, pit stops, it’s a good idea to know where you can go, lest you fertilize your neighbor’s bushes.

Running 101: Hydration During Running
6 Ways to Carry Gels on Long Runs

Mistake #4: Under-Training

Ran my first marathon (Ogden) after not running more than one 16 mile long run. Hip was jacked for months. – @WesDavis4 

Didn’t have a real program to follow when I trained for my first half. I didn’t do any speed work, I did 12 miles the week before the race (no taper) and I ran most of my long runs at race pace. -@MVGutierrezMD

Taking on more than I trained for. Like a half marathon w an elevation gain of 3400’. Be bold, be adventurous, but dammit build up to tough runs. Or expect to be in pain days afterward. -@tellmeastory314

You should enjoy your first race, not suffer through it! By following a training plan, you can condition your body to not only survive, but thrive on race day. Find one that is designed for the level of runner you are (beginner, intermediate, advanced) as well as your goals for the race. Finally, gather information about the race and adjust your training accordingly, whether that means running hills or acclimating to heat.

Which Training Plan is Right For You?
Competitor Running Training Plans

Mistake #5: Over-Training

Not understanding how easy those easy runs really should be! -@laurenlaughs

Not taking an extra day to recover instead of pushing through. -@fronsoe

While training for my 1st marathon I did a 20 mile run. The next day I did the Carlsbad 5000, a very fast 5k. I thought it could be a fun run but there was a lot of energy along the course. I pushed it too much and ended up with an injury. Now I’m smarter about long run recovery. -@ron_mahoney

Don’t skimp on recovery. Many beginners feel like taking an easy run or a rest day would mean losing momentum on their progress, when in actuality the opposite is true. Rest and recovery helps the body to absorb the training and allows time for your muscles, joints, and bones a chance to recover from the stress of training. Repeat this mantra: You get stronger when you rest!

How Much Rest Between Training Cycles is Enough?
Do I Really Need a Recovery Week?

Mistake #6: Forgetting Your Race Plan

Starting too fast during a race! – @HelenProdehl

Always, always, always going out too fast on a race! I still have to fight to slow myself down. -@ArgyleGecko

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of race day. It’s easy to focus on how good you feel on mile 1, and it’s easy to forget that you still have more miles to go. And when that happens, it’s really, really easy for the wheels to fall off in those later miles. Having a race plan – and, more importantly, sticking to it – will help ensure a solid performance from start to finish.

Racing Around The Marathon “Wall”
Sound Racing Strategies for Runners

Mistake #7: Falling Into The Comparison Trap

Comparing myself to more seasoned, experienced runners and getting frustrated. -@KaceySchreiber

I was too self-conscious to join a group, so I broke into running on a treadmill in a musty, windowless room without any support or camaraderie. Worse decision than the cotton. -@3DBrad

It’s natural to compare yourselves to others and see the success of others as a reminder of your own shortcomings. In the process, the comparison trap can make us lose sight of our own successes, and it can keep us from seeking out a support crew, which can make running so much more enjoyable! Rather than dwell on what others have accomplished, shift the focus to achieving your own goals. What progress did you make toward your goal today? Celebrate that victory – you deserve it!

Don’t Get Caught In The Comparison Trap