When you’re new to jogging, everything can feel a bit strange. You’re not used to controlling your breath or pushing through that initial discomfort. This new jogging learning curve can leave us feeling defeated and ready to give up.
Once you find your groove, you may start looking forward to and even needing your jogs. Jogging is one of the easiest ways to work out. Simply lace up your sneakers and go. However, it can be dangerous if you’re making some of these common running mistakes. Before heading out for your next run, check out 12 signs that your jogging needs a change.
Your Neck is Sore
When you run, make sure to focus on what’s ahead of you, placing your gaze on the horizon. “Many people, when they first start running, tend to stare at their feet because they’re trying to see what’s going on down there,” Cat Fitzgerald, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist and running consultant at New York Custom Physical Therapy told Greatist. Looking down throughout your run puts unnecessary stress on your neck, leaving you feeling stiff and sore after your run.
Fitzgerald recommends looking straight ahead and trusting your own feet to follow along. “It’ll protect your neck because when you’re looking down your neck is flexed and then your posture collapses,” she explained.
You’re Holding on for Dear Life
If you have ever jogged on a treadmill, then you know how tempting it is to grab those sides. Those attractive little railings are sitting there, just waiting to be leaned on. Resist! Holding on to the sides too tightly will not only throw off your posture, it robs you of your workout.
When you lean on the treadmill, you’re putting more body weight into your arms and taking it off your legs. You definitely will not be burning as many calories as the treadmill says you are.
It’s best to gently swing your arms, but never across your body’s midline. Keeping your arms relaxed and slightly bent, use your arm stride to propel you forward. If you feel like your arm swing is causing you to rotate side to side, it’s time to slow down. “Using a small and swaying arm drive can cause you to rotate, and can eventually lead to all kinds of problems,” Los Angeles-based running coach David Siik told Women’s Health. “A powerful leg and arm drive creates a great force that meets across your abdominals, giving you an incredible core workout — and a speedy path to a flat, tight stomach!”
You’re Working Out Before Bed
Any workout is better than nothing. If you are only able to find time to exercise in the evenings, keep doing your thing. However, it seems that the morning exercisers are reaping all the benefits.
A recent study looked at the effects of exercising first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, and right before bed. “Much to our surprise, 7 a.m. exercise was better in terms of reduced blood pressure throughout the day and greater sleep benefits than exercise at 7 p.m., and there was little blood pressure or sleep benefit when exercise was done at 1 p.m.,” says Appalachian State University’s Dr. Scott Collier. “We don’t yet know the physiological mechanisms that result in these changes, but we do know enough to say if you need to decrease your blood pressure and if you need to increase your quality of sleep, 7 a.m. is probably the best time to exercise.” If you’ve always resisted the idea of waking up earlier, maybe try getting up just five minutes earlier tomorrow. Slowly work your way up until you have time to work out in the morning.
Your Dogs are Barking
If your feet are hurting every time you run, it’s time to look at your shoes. One of the most common jogging mistakes is wearing the wrong shoes. “Many injuries of the feet and ankles can be traced back to ill-fitting shoes,” Megan Leahy, DPM, a podiatrist at the Illinois Bone & Joint Institute in Chicago, told Fitness magazine. Dr. Leahy recommends keeping plenty of extra room in your shoes, and actually goes up to a size nine running shoe from her normal size seven.
Nothing will kill your new jogging routine faster than aching feet. “If your feet hurt because the shoes don’t fit properly or you’re not running in the perfect shoe, then you’re certainly more apt to not continue with the program that you’re beginning,” Timothy Miller, MD, a sports medicine specialist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Greatist. Dr. Miller also recommends going a size up when buying running shoes. You actually need some extra room in those running shoes to protect your feet.
Now that you have the right shoes, make sure you’re replacing them often. “As a general rule, it’s been said that a pair of sneakers should never see a birthday,” Michele Favale, run ambassador for Lolë, told Yahoo. Replace your shoes about every 400 miles or so.
You’re Gasping for Air
When you’re a new runner, you may always feel out of breath when you run. You are using your body in a new way, and it’s natural to feel like you’re huffing and puffing. However, using your breath to keep you going is crucial for all runners and joggers alike.
A study in PLOS One found that the ideal breathing rate is to inhale over two steps, then exhale over two steps as you run. This rate allowed study participants to run further without becoming tired. “Finding your pace is crucial to having successful runs and starting out too quickly is one way to burnout,” Favale says.
You’re Not Exactly a Yogi
Runners are known for being tight, especially in those leg muscles that get so much work, but if bending forward to touch your toes is a joke, there’s a problem. We have to keep our muscles loose and relaxed to prevent running injuries. One of the most important parts of your jogging workout is the warm-up and cool down. You need dedicated time for stretching at every workout. Marnie Kunz, a running coach at the Lolë running club and RunStreet recommends dynamic stretching, or stretching as you move (as opposed to just sitting on the ground and stretching). “Dynamic stretching is a great way to get your heart rate up and your muscles stretched before a run,” she told Yahoo.