Do This, Not That: How to Learn From Common Running Mistakes

art by Caitlin Chock

Instead of crying every time you have to shell out big bucks for a new pair of running shoes, DO THIS: Buy your shoes two at a time, then alternate between the two. Why? Doing this will prolong the life of both of the shoes and, in the end, save you the green stuff. Bonus, if your favorite pair of shoes happen to be on sale, stock up and buy even more than two.

Experts recommend replacing shoes every 500 miles. If you don't keep track of the mileage you put on your shoes, here's how to detect the life span of your shoes. 

Instead of wasting your time stretching before your run or workout, DO THIS: Use the first couple of minutes, or mile, of your run as a warm-up, and ease into the pace. Stretching cold muscles can actually cause you to rip or tear them—some reports even claim that stretching before a warm-up could limit your muscle strength and workout potential. 

Only stretch your muscles after they have been working and have had a chance to warm up. Often we're pressed for time, so use what precious "extra" time you have to stretch or do core work after you run.

More: 5 Injury-Preventing Stretches for Runners

Instead of watching the minutes click by on a treadmill while you plod along at the same pace, DO THIS: Vary your workout or run every couple of minutes, mile or half-mile. Do an interval workout or hill repeat session for your hard days, and the time will fly by. But even on the easy days, play with the pace and incline every so often; it doesn't have to be by a huge degree, but you don't need to stay stuck in the same pace rut the whole run. This not only makes for a better workout but it also helps beat dreadmill mental burnout, too.

More: 3 Treadmill Workouts

Instead of sabotaging your race or workout from the start by going out too fast, DO THIS: Aim for even splits or even better, negative splits. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement, or be tempted to try and "give yourself a cushion" by being under pace early, but it will bite you in the butt. The body, physiologically, runs more efficiently if you go the negative-split route. Plus, you want to be the person out-kicking people at the end, not the one getting passed as you stagger to the line.

More: Your Guide to Perfect Pacing

Instead of ruining your love of the sport with self-imposed pressure or a bum attitude, DO THIS: Remember why you run. If you don't like it, then move on and find something you like better instead. It's easy to get so focused on your goals that you suck the passion and joy out of it by being too stressed and taking it too seriously. If you have to, chuck the watch and don't worry about splits sometimes. Don't worry about the pace of your easy runs—run to recover and for pleasure.  

More: A Fresh Perspective on Recovery Runs

Most importantly, upon accomplishing a goal savor it. Relish those moments of achievement before looking ahead to the next goal. Keep running forward, but always take a moment to reflect on each benchmark goal you hit along the way.

Instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again, DO THIS: Learn from them! So easy in theory, but sometimes it's tempting to fall back into a bad habit. Try to learn from every bad race, workout or injury so you can be smarter going forward.

More: How to Cope With Injury Grief

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