I’ve been running on and off for more than 25 years, so I’ve pretty much done everything wrong at least once. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. So, learn from my mistakes.
Here are four things that I used to do that negatively affected my running. It wasn’t until I changed these bad habits that I felt more comfortable in my size 10 Brooks Adrenalines.
You feel guilty if you don’t go running.
Do you do this? I used to. But then I realized I shouldn’t feel guilty about not doing something that I don’t really have to do. It’s not my job. It’s not my life. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, if I miss a run, the planet will actually continue to turn.
Some days, I don’t have time to run, and some days I just don’t feel like running at all. And that’s okay. If I don’t feel like running, I walk instead. If I’m too busy, and only have 10, 15, or 20 minutes, I may do some sprinting with walk intervals. Every run doesn’t have to be an adventure—as much as I’d like it to be.
You run as hard as you can every single run.
Unless you have a specific pace to run as part of a training plan, you can run easy. In fact, many experts say that runners, in general, run too fast. One of those experts is Dr. Phil Maffetone, who created the MAF method. He urges runners to slow down, and says on his website—philmaffetone.com—that by going slower, you develop the aerobic system first. When you do this, he says, over time you will get faster without the increased risk of injury.
As someone who’s been injured, and seen most of her friends get injured from running, I’ve learned—the hard way—to slow down. Most of the time, I even leave my running watch at home. What we really need to do, you guys, is a jog. I know nobody likes that term, but we should be jogging—or, as Ron Burgundy calls it, yogging. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.
You’re using running as an excuse to eat whatever you want.
I began running (after a hiatus) in 2009 in order to lose weight. But it wasn’t long before I would want a doughnut, try to resist it, and then eat two of them while saying to myself, “It’s okay, I ran today.” And then I wondered why my weight loss stalled.
These days, I know that running isn’t necessarily the best way for me to lose weight, and that doughnuts make me feel terrible (do they have gluten-free doughnuts?). But I now also believe it is okay to have a doughnut whenever you want separate from whatever exercise you did that day. Instead, I’ve learned the importance of eating moderately—enjoying my food, but still being mindful about nutrition—and preventing myself from using food as a reward for exercise.
You always run alone.
Running alone is nice, but running with friends is nicer. I used to run alone for several reasons. One was that I was usually running with a toddler in a jogging stroller. Another was that I was embarrassed of my weight, my clothes, my breathing, my hair…should I continue? But one day, I decided to meet a new friend for a run, and that day changed my life. Suddenly, I knew people that had similar goals and struggles, and we could laugh about them while also getting our run done.
If you don’t know anyone that runs, there are hundreds of running clubs and groups that are always welcoming new friends. I found my running friends by writing a blog about running, which meticulously documented all of these mistakes…plus plenty more.
Kerrie Turcic is a runner from Maple Valley, Wash. Kerrie is currently a copywriter by day, and also a