5 Common Mistakes Runners Make

and how to avoid them

Adam Condit, photos by Branden Nall, Kelsey Smith

Eau Claire Marathon (Image: Branden Nall)
Eau Claire Marathon (Image: Branden Nall)

You’re all fired up and ready to run! In fact, you might have a longer term goal you’re working towards and want to make this year your fittest year yet! Motivation is at an all-time high and you have daydreams of flying down the homestretch of your neighborhood with the city children whooping your name as they ride behind you on their bikes. But wait! Beware of the following common mistakes that beginning and experienced runners alike will fall prey to from time to time:

1. Too much too soon

Before you eat your raw eggs, pull up your grey sweatpants, and train hard like Rocky, be careful not to push your body beyond its limits. Running and exercising too much too soon can lead to injury, burnout, and lack of motivation later. Most running injuries stem from too much stress on the body, and everybody is different in the amount of pounding they can handle before they start to break down. Start by using the “10 Percent Rule” where you don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent from week to week.

2. Getting stuck in a rut

Change things up! Don’t think of yourself as only a “trail runner” or “marathon runner” or “non-competitive” or a “morning runner.” We all have our favorite parts of running, but changing up your common routine can help freshen up your legs and your mind. You may LOVE running on the trail alone, but catching a group run on one of the Chippewa Valley’s paved bike trails might be a great change of pace. Some folks love to run the same races every year which can lead to the same training every year. Try to keep your body guessing by trying out a different distance or terrain. Treat running like a house or apartment - changing up the furniture or layout sometimes gives you a new appreciation for the same space!

3. Not fueling after the run

Running is a stress on the body. We break our bodies down when we run. We are quite literally in worse shape after we run than before we run. What makes us better and more fit is everything that happens BETWEEN the runs. Sleep, nutrition, and recovery are key. Fueling your body with the right food and hydration within the first 30 minutes and during the next full meal are essential to putting your body in a position to benefit from the stress you put on it. Carry a bar, banana, shake, and/or extra water if you’ll be finishing your run somewhere other than your house … or just end the run at your favorite burrito food truck!

Eau Claire Marathon (Image: Kelsey Smith)
Eau Claire Marathon (Image: Kelsey Smith)

4. Buying the wrong equipment

There are many reasons people buy different running shoes, socks, and gear. Some buy for fashion, some for support, some for comfort, and some buy for all of the above. Running shoes are tools, and you have to have the right tool for the right project. Just because a friend or training partner likes a particular brand or model doesn’t mean it will work for your training and foot. Having the wrong footwear can lead to discomfort or even injury; do yourself a huge favor and have your walking AND running gait looked at by a local running store that specializes in shoe fittings and gait analysis. Your love of a particular shoe’s look or sale price will quickly fade when you don’t enjoy running or end up in the doctor’s office.

5. Running without goals

Need motivation to move? First, write something down! Scheduling something either on the calendar, in the mirror, or in your journal can be a great motivator when you wouldn’t feel like running otherwise. This does NOT necessarily mean signing up for a race. For some, having an event or race on the calendar is what works to stay motivated, but for others having a more personal goal of self-care, happiness, weight loss, or having a healthy way to relieve stress can be what gets them out the door. Write it down. Look at it. Often. Then run!


Adam Condit is a husband of one, a father of three, and a business owner in Eau Claire. He and his wife, Alicia, own Blue Ox Running in downtown Eau Claire.