As a Martial Artist, running is one of the main complementary activities I do. I started to run even before starting Muay Thai since it is one of the most accessible sports. There are various small but big mistakes that people make which can affect performance and health in the short and long term. Here is a list of 5 things that I often witness:
1. Start and stop
One of the most common mistakes I see people do is the one I like to call “start and stop”. People are running, they suddenly stop, and then they start running again. They repeat this sequence over and over. Rapidly stopping from running is a shock for our body; we are supposed to do this slowly, decreasing the speed, walking, and finally stop. If we ”start and stop”, we end up tiring our body more, running the risk to get injured. So if this is your first run ever, or you haven’t run in ages, please do not start and stop! It is way more beneficial to run for a shorter distance but without stopping and starting again. With patience, eventually, you will increase your distance and improve your pace too.
2. Not warming up and starting too fast
This is a huge and common mistake which can affect the overall wellness of your body. Warming up is essential before starting any kind of activity. I usually walk for around 10 minutes to reach the place where I’ll begin to run, plus before starting, I do some basic aerobic exercises to let my body understand that we are going to run. Once I feel warm enough, I start running. I consider the first kilometre still part of the warming up, and after that I gradually increase my speed. I do believe that ideally we should increase our speed in parallel to the kilometres we run. Obviously, we should consider to decrease our speed when we approach the last kilometres, fact that lead us to the next common mistake.
3. Not cooling down or stretching
This error is strictly related to the precedent one. In order to protect our body, we should not abruptly decrease our speed and stop. We are supposed to to do this gently, letting our body understand that we want to stop. We need to think of our body as a machine which we need to take care of. That’s why, to avoid injuries, it is essential to stretch after running, giving our muscles the opportunity to recover and relax. After running, stretch all of your body, focusing on your legs.
4. Not engaging the muscles enough
Another common mistake that I see very often is that people who are running don’t engage their muscles enough. Too often, they drag their legs instead of doing a complete movement lifting the leg up first and then kicking back. This incorrect technique has a terrible effect on our joints, other than making us feel more tired than if we were running more appropriately. If you are not sure about the way you run, watch some videos on youtube or read a book, there is a lot of material out there!
5. Not wearing the right shoes
This is a hugely underestimated fact: I regularly see people running with shoes such as Converse, Vans or any improvised shoes. Those are not running shoes! It is extremely important to run with the right shoes, both for health and performance. If you have decided to run, you really need to invest some money in a decent pair of proper running shoes. Moreover, after a certain number of kilometres, you must change your running shoes! This number can vary depending on the shoes and other factors, but it can never be over 750 – 1.000 km.
There are lots of mistakes that we make when running and small precautions that we can take in order to prevent injuries and improve our run, both in the short and long term. My biggest tip is to take care of your body, if you decide to run, take the necessary time to warm up and cool down, stretch, and don’t be in a rush to see your progress. Be patient, the time of achieving your goals is to a running distance.