25 Common Mistakes Runners Make

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A few weeks ago a member of the Master Runners SparkTeam posted a thread asking his fellow SparkPeople runners what had been their biggest running mistake to date. The responses were quite interesting and varied which prompted me to take this forum to the other running SparkTeams to see what mistakes other runners have done in their training or racing that we could all learn from.

I believe that we learn more from the mistakes we make than by doing everything in life perfectly. However, by learning from other members mistakes maybe we can avoid some of the same issues others have experienced. I would like to thank all the runners who shared their mistakes. You guys are awesome.

  1. Ignoring (or being unaware of) the importance of rest. -LBTHOMASJR

  2. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was donating blood the week of a half marathon! Blood donation is a wonderful thing but an awful training tool! -MBSHAZZER

  3. Trying to use marathon training to lose weight. Some weight will drop off but you need to eat properly to train properly. -H3HOUND

  4. Running on the wrong surfaces (sidewalks are hard on the legs) -JEMILLER51

  5. Comparing myself to other runners in a race and thinking "Oh no she didn't! That speedwalker is NOT going to beat me in this race!" I should be going at my own pace and not worrying about others. -ANNEKATHLEEN

  6. Thinking if I was a "real runner" I would just push a little harder. -APPLEPIEDREAMS

  7. Not bringing a map of the course with me and then realizing it was too late as I found myself running past a cow and wondering what happened to the trail (Grasslands Half Marathon). -MARATHONMAMATO3

  8. Continuing to run another 3 miles even though my thighs were rubbing together painfully. Did not look pretty and showering hurt for a week. -KVM23

  9. Over training/under eating - I have a habit of increasing my physical activity and forgetting I can't eat like a rabbit, then I bonk during my runs, or fall asleep at my desk - NOT good! -SHINIGAN

  10. Running too fast on my easy days making it hard to do my speed and tempo runs. -KVROMBAUT

  11. Dressing too warm on a cool day. 50 degrees and higher only requires shorts and a t-shirt, even if it feels cool starting out. -TX_RUNNER

  12. Not realizing my number belt made a perfect ring of "chub rub" around my waist until I got into the shower. OUCH! -GOOFY4RUNNING

  13. Don't put sunscreen around or above your eyes, sweat dripping in your eyes is bad enough, extremely harsh when sunscreen is mixed in.-MEL_UNRAU

  14. Not cross training -BETHMOM77

  15. On my first 5K, I picked up both my husband's and my race packet. I took the numbers out and put one on myself, handed him the other. Turns out, I mixed them up, so he had mine, I had his. It was a small local run, so no big deal, but it was funny that I placed near the top of my division (40+ women) according to the official race results. -VIRGINIAGRETA

  16. New running shorts- try them on a short run first. I'm long waisted and what seemed to fit in the stores started riding up and twisting when I ran. -TWINSAND3DOGS

  17. Not doing strength training specific to the muscles that support your knees. -JEM0622

  18. Getting all suited up for long winter runs - pants, jacket, fuel belt and then remembering that you need to use the bathroom! -LAB-LOVER

  19. Thinking at Dublin Marathon that it would warm up from 10:00 a.m. start temperature so I ran in a singlet. It got colder and rained and wife got hypothermia. - IPA-RAY

  20. Believing that all runners must have run track in school. Seems like the majority of runners had a case of adult onset running, sometimes brought on by birthdays ending in zeros. -MUCKITY_MUCK

  21. As a new runner, thinking that I could just jump into running distances because I've been working out for over 2 years--started the C25K and thought it was too easy so I just made up my own training plan...ended up with an injury to my knee. -BETRME100

  22. I suffer from the terrible 2's. (Am I a toddler in a "Master"'s body?) LOL ....too much, too soon, too fast, too far, too long-EDWINA172

  23. Not wearing shoes that had plenty of room in the toe box. After the first marathon I did I lost 9 out of 10 toenails. Fortunatley I didn't feel it while running...I feel like an expert on black toenails.-AELARLEE1

  24. Keeping pace with faster runners just to be social--note to self keep to your own pace you can always talk meet up after run. -FREEDOMSTAR

  25. Training for distance running and then suddenly deciding I was a sprinter. It was the Senior Games 2009. I did a 50 yard sprint and hurt my knee. While the doctor gave me clearance to continue distance running (he said I wouldn't make it worse by doing so), I was still running with pain for a few months. -GLADGAD

I received such a tremendous response from the SparkPeople runners that I will be submitting part 2 in the future. So stay tuned.

Have you made some of the mistakes mentioned above? What mistakes have you made, not just in running, but when it comes to any exercise? What is your favorite one listed above

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Yup, #20 for me! Birthday ending in 0 coming up... Report
Like EDWINA172 I decided that I knew more than the experts - and paid the price in injury after injury for over a year! Smartypants knowitall! Report
Number 22 is me all the way!!1 Report
Thanks for the blog! I just started running (motivated by a birthday ending in a zero!) and this is very helpful. I'm in week 2 of C25K and I'll add knee exercises to my strength training. Report
I like that #13 about sunscreen. Even other activities that sweat a lot (like aerobic dance, marching in open space), somehow the sunscreen will "melt", drip into eyes and the rest of activities will be too painful! Report
I'm a new runner (finished C25K and working on OHR now). I think I am having a hard time with #10 as well. It's making it hard to finish my distance runs. If I'm going to try to pick up the pace at least I should to it towards the END of a 45 minute run! Report
Two thumbs up on #1 Report
As a new runner, I'm glad to hear some of this now. Maybe I will avoid some of these!
Thanks! Report
I have experienced (with less drastic results) the shoes not having enough toe room problem. They were amazingly comfortable when I was standing or only taking a few steps, but amazingly UNCOMFORTABLE when I tried to run in them or even go for a long walk : ( Report
I definitely compare myself to others when I shouldn't. Great blog, these were really funny quotes! Report
My current mistake is having worn old shoes for far too long which definitely contributed to my current (and first) stress fracture and a lot of pain and inconvenience. Not being able to find a good new pair is and keeping on running in the old ones is a huge mistake I totally regret making.... Report
One of my lifelong mantras was "I don't run." A couple months ago I had the need to change that. I became "hooked." Then I found myself sort of addicted. Well, addiction is a bad thing and I wound up doing too much too soon and then found myself back on the couch because I hurt my back. I don't directly attribute the back injury to my running because I was having occasion spasms before I started running. But the last spasm was far too intense for me.

I've backed off my need to run until I shed some more excess weight and improved some of my muscle tone. When I pick it up again I'll start slow and probably read a whole lot more and pay attention to the C25K program. Report
These are great! Unfortunately, I've made several of the same mistakes :) Report
this is hysterical but highly informative. great points to keep in mind! thank you.
My favorites were:
#5. Comparing myself to other runners in a race and thinking "Oh no she didn't! That speedwalker is NOT going to beat me in this race!" I should be going at my own pace and not worrying about others. -ANNEKATHLEEN
#7. Not bringing a map of the course with me and then realizing it was too late as I found myself running past a cow and wondering what happened to the trail (Grasslands Half Marathon). -MARATHONMAMATO3
I brushed off all the advice from other runners about hydrating, thinking, "I don't need to learn how to drink water". I almost always waited until after a run to drink water, forgetting that it's equally important to hydrate a few hours before and even the evening before a race. In my first half marathon I ended up guzzling too much water during the race because I hadn't hydrated myself before, and then ended up running half the race with that awful sloshing feeling! Report
My favorite is Edwina172's "terrible twos" (#22) - she hit them all on the head!
I haven't done any of these but my son has. Report
Love it!!! Report
These are great and I have done far too many of them!! Thanks! Report
I'll have to remember these when I eventually start running...! Very helpful! Report
I'm too new at running to have reached the level of any of these mistakes (still doing 30-second stints in a fast walk on the treadmill) but this is a very good list of things to avoid in the future (not that my future will include any flavor of race or marathon). Like the poster who commented about 'adult onset running, sometimes brought on by birthdays ending in zeros'. In my case it has been brought on by a birthday ending in -6 and the death of a friend only 12 years older. I'm COMMITTEDDDDD

Sounds like several of those fall in the category "Too motivated for my own good." I definitely see that, running my slow runs too fast, psyching myself out by comparing myself to others or the clock, and the terrible toos. Report
I too suffer from the terrible toos Report
This is really helpful...thanks! I'm currently a walker but want to work up to running so it's great to read all of this advice. Report
This may help me avoid a big mistake. After a year long "break" from running, I've started again. Perhaps I should be listening more closely to the hints from a foot, a knee, both hips and my heart rate telling me that I've been doing too much, too soon. Report
Number 5 - comparing myself to other runners! How many times have I sabotaged my own race because I compared myself to another runner - determined not to let "that speed walker" pass me! So I speed up to stave off the inevitable shame of being passed, only to run out of gas later. Running brings such humility.

Thanks for submitting these ~ it's comforting to know that other runners struggle too! Report
Coach, if I was a teacher - you would get an 'A+' for this blog. It hits the nail on the head. I think my beginner challenge (perhaps a mistake) was not to fuel properly on longer runs, particularly prior to the run. Not only that - but make sure the carbs you eat are complex rather than simple.
This was helpful to me since I am just beginning to pick up running...Thanks for the reality check! Report
Very helpful! Report
Not wanting to take the time to loosen my shoe laces after noticing discomfort across the top of my foot. I ended up at a podiatrist with a huge hematoma one month out from a marathon. Losing 20 seconds of time to fix your shoes is not worth the 3 weeks of subsequent pain. Report
Good info, and timely too....was just telling my DH the other day that I had been thinking about C2-5K but that I might have to start small by walking it, especillay since I have not done any running at all....thanks Report
Great one! Report
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