Running is an easy activity to get into. It doesn’t require the kind of supervision you need at the gym: there’s no equipment you need to know how to use correctly, no need for a personal trainer to show you how to do the exercise properly. There are, however, several bad habits that habitual runners often find themselves falling into. If these habits have made it into your running routine, it’s time to break them!
Bad Habit #1: Skipping the Stretching
You’ve just been for a long run. All you want to do is collapse on the couch — or perhaps you run at the beginning of the day, and now you have to head out and get your day started. You don’t really have to stretch today, right? Actually, stretching post-run is critical for maintaining flexibility and reducing the risk of injury. While you don’t want to engage in static stretches before you’ve had the chance to warm up, you definitely want to take advantage of those warm muscles to stretch out while you cool down.
Breaking the habit: Choose a stretching routine that you enjoy as much as you love your run. Don’t push until it hurts; rather, stop right at that border to enjoy the full benefits of your stretch.
Bad Habit #2: Training Excessively
Your run is more than just an exercise routine. It’s also your mental reset. When you’re running, you feel calmer than you do any other time so skipping your run one day feels detrimental to your mental well-being. Or perhaps you’re cross-training, engaging in other exercises on the days when you’re not running. As a result, you’re exercising seven days a week and never letting your body have a chance to rest and recover. Unfortunately, over-training can raise your risk of injury and actually decrease your progress toward your goals.
Breaking the habit: You don’t have to spend all day lounging on your couch to enjoy a rest day, but you should have at least one day every week that doesn’t contain an intense workout. Create a schedule that allows you to keep track of your workouts so that you know when you’re pushing too hard.
Bad Habit #3: Eating Poorly
You’ve seen the t-shirt slogans, right? “I run because I love cookies.” “I run so that I can eat tacos.” Unfortunately, no matter how true those statements might be (who hasn’t added an extra mile to their run so that they can indulge in a special treat later?), you need to eat right in order to fuel your body properly both before and after your run. A poor diet will make you more prone to illness and injury, prevent you from losing the weight you’re hoping to lose with your exercise routine, and make it harder for you to meet your goals.
Breaking the habit: Opt for an overall healthy diet, and keep your post-run dietary habits in check. Choose healthy snacks, in particular, to help you meet all of your fitness goals: nuts and eggs are great sources of protein, while fruits can offer the sweet taste you’re craving without filling your body full of sugar and chemicals.
Bad Habit #4: Skipping the Sunscreen
You run every day, rain or shine and you don’t take the time to slather on the sunscreen while you do it. Unfortunately, this habit means you’re exposing your skin to the sun quite a bit: if you’re running for just thirty minutes three times a week, that’s more than an hour and a half in the sun. Not only are you risking sunburn, you’re putting yourself at higher risk for sun damage and skin cancer!
Breaking the habit: Purchase long-sleeve running gear and pants with appropriate wicking and cooling technology for the hot summer months or go ahead and take the time to put on sunscreen before you head out. Your skin is worth it!
Running is a great form of exercise that lets you torch calories with a minimum of equipment. By paying attention to the details and avoiding these key mistakes, you can keep successfully running longer.