Running isn't the type of sport that attracts people halfway. You either love it or you hate it. There is a contingency of people who force themselves to jog because it provides ample means of boosting cardiopulmonary function and burning calories, but once they've reached their goals they're likely to stray.
Those who love running, on the other hand, develop a lifelong passion for feeling the pavement roll by under their feet, enjoying the sun and wind on their skin, and pushing themselves to go just a little farther or endure just a little longer. These enthusiasts run for the adrenaline, endorphins, and feelings of satisfaction inherent to making a body work the way it was intended to.
Because running is often a solitary sport, however, it's all too easy to make mistakes and fall into bad habits that can cause discomfort, pain, or injuries that derail your progress. While there are plenty of resources available to offer advice (websites, blogs, and other runners, just for example), you may not begin to ask questions until you come up against serious problems.
By then you could be facing health issues like chronic pain or injuries. In other words, it's best to discover the bad habits you've adopted sooner rather than later so you can break them immediately. Here are a few of the most common poor running habits and how you can break them.
Posture is an important part of running and your form can have an impact on how you run. It is commonly recommended that runners lean slightly forward at the ankle so as to keep their feet closer to the ground when running, moving their legs in a forward trajectory instead of up and down.
Unfortunately, some runners end up bending forward at the waist instead, exacerbating the problem and putting more bounce in their step. This will not move you forward more quickly or efficiently - all it will do is add to the impact of your activity, putting more strain on bones and joints and potentially causing pain and injury.
Strangely enough, a common complaint from those who run frequently and/or go long distances is pain in the neck and shoulders. How does this happen when your legs are doing all the work?
The problem, as with bouncing, revolves around proper running form. Most runners swing their arms as they run to increase momentum. However, it is a common mistake to swing the arms across the body instead of parallel to the sides of the torso.
This can lead to aches and pains in and of itself. If you pair it with unconsciously hunching your shoulders, the problem gets even worse and could result in tension headaches, pinched nerves, and other issues. Pay attention to your shoulders and make sure to relax them throughout your run.
Your body needs recovery time, especially when you're pushing it hard physically, as when training for a race. Even if you're not overtraining, a failure to schedule in adequate time for rest and recovery could lead to soreness, stiffness, and lack of stamina at best (impeding your progress), and serious injury at worst.
Whether you're training or just trying to improve your distance and speed with regular runs, it's important to create a schedule that includes downtime for rest and recovery.
Life in general requires you to provide your body with adequate nutrition through balanced meals, plenty of fluids, and perhaps supplements like daily vitamins. When you're exercising a lot your body will naturally require more or different nutrients to continue functioning at peak levels.
Depending on your goals, you might want to increase the amount of protein in your diet (in order to build and repair muscles more quickly). However, all runners should increase their carb intake, at least slightly, to account for the many calories they're burning off and increase energy before or after running.
The right running gear can make a world of difference, not only in how you perform, but in how your body feels. Shoes are the most essential element since the wrong ones can leave you with foot, ankle, knee, and hip pain, not to mention shin splints and other aches and pains.
You should also consider wick-away clothing that helps to keep your body cool and dry, as well as extras like Body Glide, sunblock, and items intended to keep you comfortable and protect your skin while running.