By Karen Kwan
Thinking about taking up running? You may think it’s as simple as pulling on any old pair of sneakers and just getting out there and pounding the pavement, but there’s way more to it—especially if you want to build distance, remain injury-free and keep motivated. Lea Amaral, owner of Energia Athletics in Toronto, shares the four biggest mistakes newbie runners make.
1. Doing too much, too soon. “Often, people who’ve never run before go out and run every day for a week—and they don’t stick to it,” says Lea. You need to ease into a new activity, she says, recommending you start by mixing walking and running to introduce your body to this new sport. If you want to start running on your own, aim for going out three times a week. On your first run, Lea (who developed the running programs at Energia Athletics) suggests going out and walking five minutes and then walking one minute, and repeating these intervals until you’ve completed 30 minutes total. Then, every following week increase the run time by one minute while decreasing your walk time by one minute.
2. Running too fast. “Beginners have no idea about pace—they think about running around the track in high school,” she says. You shouldn’t be running at a sprint but rather at a pace where you can have a conversation. “At the beginning when you’re less fit, you will be breathing more heavily, but you will build up your endurance and find your conversational pace,” she adds.
3. Wearing the wrong footwear. Those fashionable sneakers? They’re cute, but they’re not made for running. “Beginners think they can pull on tennis shoes or Keds, but you really need the right equipment,” says Lea, who’s been a runner for nearly 30 years. You should get your foot assessed for the proper pair of running shoes first and foremost (“A running watch, the clothes, etc., those can come later,” she says).
4. Not fueling up properly. “People new to running may jump out of bed and go for a run—not thinking about how this will affect their run,” she says. You need to consider how long ago you ate and hydrated and prepare your body for the run you’re planning on doing. You can try a banana as a pre-run snack—“it’s good because it doesn’t have a ton of sugar,” says Lea—but you’ll definitely want to experiment with different foods and see what upsets your stomach or not.