The 5 Mistakes Every Running Newbie Makes

If you don't cock up at least a couple of times, there's something wrong with you

1. Immediately Going ‘Full Radcliffe’

Once you’ve been bitten and infected by “the running bug”, it’s all too easy to get immediately carried away and start ramping up the distances and cranking up the pace. Unfortunately, that’s a surefire way to get yourself injured, or frustrated, or injured and therefore frustrated.

You need to build your skillz up steadily. Don’t run before you can walk, or at least don’t run for more than 30 minutes before you’ve knocked half-a-dozen 20-minute runs at an easy pace – i.e. a speed at which you can still comfortably talk without gasping like a mad wazzock.

You’ll be running 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons and then ultra marathons before you know it. Just not, like, by next Tuesday.

2. Getting Upset Over A Crap Run

Every runner has a rubbish run now and then. Mo Farah has rubbish runs. Jess Ennis has rubbish runs. That guy from out of Chariots Of Fire had rubbish runs, albeit rubbish runs with a cool theme tune.

Your rhythm is all off, your trainers feel too tight, you get a stitch, you need a poo…

Your rhythm is all off, your trainers feel too tight, you get a stitch, you need a poo, you have to walk the last bit of a steep hill… Some days, every so often, it just doesn’t happen.

But the ability to shrug off a crap run is a key part of becoming a runner. They just don’t show you that bit on cool sportswear commercials, because shrugging doesn’t look all that cool in slo-mo with an air-punching tagline (“Just Do It”) over the top.

3. Over-Tweaking Training Plans

If you’re following a reputable training plan designed to get you up to a specific distance, it can be tempting, after a couple of weeks, to start fiddling with the formula. But while there’s definitely room for a little fiddling here and there (and you needn’t beat yourself up if you miss a day out every so often), mess with the plan too much and you risk injury and progress-hampering.

There’s definitely room for a little fiddling here and there

Yes, it can feel futile and frustrating to follow an hour-long Sunday run with a day off and then a piddling 20-minute run, but the peaks and troughs of a training plan are there for a reason. It’s all about steadily building up your stamina, strength and speed while incorporating ‘down time’ to allow your body to recover and adapt.

If it was simply a case of running slightly further, slightly faster every day up until your race, every training plan would be one line: “Run slightly further, slightly faster every day up until your race.”

4. Running In ‘Civilian’ Clothes

Comfy your adidas Gazelles may be, but they’re not going to be a titchy fart of good to you for anything above a gentle jog to the bar for last orders. You’re going to have to bite the bullet and go buy some ugly-arse running shoes (half-a-size above your normal size, so that your toes don’t bang against the end) and that’s just the way things are.

Your feet and bits and bobs will thank you

And some shorts, while you’re there. And a technical-fabric T-shirt, if you don’t want to be chafed into oblivion. Your feet and bits and bobs will thank you.

5. Treating Your Mate Like An Infallible Oracle

So your mate’s been running for years, and they’ve got lots of wisdom to impart to you, the wet-eared newbie. Thing is, while they’ve probably figured out how running works for them, they’re not you.

So don’t worry if their advice – “Never run after 10am”; “Always eat a big bowl of soup beforehand”; “Lace your trainers up with fishing wire” – makes little or no sense to you. You’ll have your own freaky-weirdo way of doing things soon enough…


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