Five common running mistakes

If you are a new runner there are so many things to think about it can be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! I’ve complied 5 very common running problems that can slow you down, but can easily be fixed.¬†

When I began running about 9 years ago all of this information was foreign to me. Over time it eventually became part of my life and vocabulary. I tried to break everything down into small, easy to understand sections.

Like always, leave me a comment if something confuses you! ūüôā

5 common running mistakes

1. Slow cadence

Your running speed or pace is a direct result of your stride length multiplied by frequency. This sounds like a horrible algorithm, but I promise it is quite easy to understand!

Many new runners will try to increase their stride length, thinking it will make them faster. However, doing so will reduce your stride frequency. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 170-180 foot strikes per minute. An easy way to count your stride frequency is to count your steps for 15 second and then multiply by 4.

If you count 35 steps in 15 seconds, that means you are roughly striking the ground 140 times per minute.

You can gradually increases your stride frequency by focusing on increasing your turnover.

Next week try aiming for 40 strikes per 15 seconds, and so on.

Lastly, focus on your feet hitting the ground and trying to minimize the time your feet are in contact with the ground. The more time your feet spend in contact with the ground the more energy you are unnecessarily spending.

2. Heel striking

Heel striking is common for beginner runners and unfortunately partners quite well with slow cadence.

Heel striking occurs when you strike the ground with your heel and then roll forward. However, this method of striking the ground is not efficient and can damage your feet. It is also harder to propel yourself forward when you are heel striking.

You may need to go to a running store and get fitted for correct shoes if you realize you are a victim of heel striking.

2. Tight upper body

This is a VERY common running problem. A lot of runners tend to tighten their shoulders, resulting in a hunched look.

Four things I while in college have really helped me with my own running form:

  • Pretend your thumb and index finger are holding a potato chip and you do not want to break it. Meaning, you need a loose grip instead of clenched fists. This will help to ease tension in your arms, shoulders and neck.
  • Your head is being pulled up by a string. One of my running teachers/coaches told me to pretend I was like a marionette and my chin is being lifted up by a string. I tend to look down when I run, so I constantly need to remind myself of this.
  • Lastly, keep those shoulders low! Try to keep your shoulders released and away from your ears!
  • Keep your elbows are a 90 degree angle, and do NOT let your arms rotate in front of your torso- keep them lightly swinging in rhythm to your cadence at your side.

4. Lack of mobility

You do not want to be like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. A great way to slow down your running is to be rigid, stiff, and overall not flexible and mobile.

A great way to increase your running efficiency is to be more mobile and flexible! I do yoga and stretching throughout the week to keep up with my mobility. For more on yoga and running, read my article here! For information on stretching, read my article here!

5. Not enough speed work 

Speed work often gets overlooked when it comes to running. Many fear spadework and it tends to get a bad rap.

I actually LOVE spadework. It is a quick way to get in a great workout while helping to improve your running speed as well as burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

Try incorporating speed work into your weekly routine!

For more on speed work, read my article here!


I hope these help you!


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