Running is one of the most talked about sports out there, and one of the most affordable for everyone. Regardless of your age or your living lifestyle, you can’t go wrong with running. Plus, if you’re able to run outside, you get the benefit of getting adequate sunshine, enjoy nature’s beauty and varying your running routine so your workouts don’t become routine and mundane.

The health benefits are too many to count as long as you do it right. Here are just a few:

• HDL cholesterol levels increase
• LDL cholesterol levels decrease
• Decrease in body fat
• Reduced risk of heart diseases
• Lower high blood pressure
• Maintains healthy levels of blood sugar levels
• Increased hormone and enzyme activity which allow the heart muscle to work more efficiently
• Weight Loss
• General fitness

The American College of Sports Medicine has placed safety guidelines to running so that you reap the benefits without working your body too hard. These guidelines state that each running session should last anywhere from 20 – 60 minutes for 3 – 5 days each week.

However, sometimes the excitement of trying something new can be overwhelming and you run the risk of doing things too much too soon. Here are some of the problems you should avoid while running.

1. Running too far
You should start running with the aim of getting stronger and fitter. So worrying about how far you’ve gone simply defeats the point. And it can be a bit disheartening. Take things at your own pace, and remember that intensity is one of the most important variables of any type of exercise because if you run a long distance but you’re only running at a ‘feel-good’ pace, then, chances are, you’re not benefiting your body in any way.

Moreover, it can lead to injuries such as increased inflammation, slower recovery time, even the breaking down of muscle tissue.

Focus, instead, on how minutes of running/walking you get through. You can give yourself little challenges to increase the time which is an easy way to track your progress and see how far you’ve gotten.

2. Running too fast
There will be times when you just want to get the running over and done with. While other times you’ll feel that running at high speeds is your only option in order to get the most out of your workout. But either way, you’ll only wear yourself out quickly, and you’ll come to dread running.

What you should do is listen to your body. If it’s telling you to slow down, then that’s what you should do. You could even just walk briskly for a week or two until you’re ready for more. Experts suggest you begin with 15 seconds of jogging for every 1 minute of walking. Then, slowly increase the ratio as you become stronger.

3. Watching the clock
Nothing can be as boring as constantly watching the clock as you workout. A good way to bust the boredom is to take your run outside. Even if you can’t run in the park or on an exciting  path in the woods, you can always take to the streets around your neighborhood. There are also apps you can use to find out popular routes in your area, like DailyMile, Strava, and MapMyRun.

4. Wearing uncomfortable gear
What you wear has a strong impact on your run. If you wear too much or too little, or if your shoes aren’t comfortable, that turns the run into agony instead of being fun and exciting. Here are some tips to picking the right type of clothes for your run:

• There’s no breaking-in period for running shoes. They should be comfortable as soon you try them on in the store. Pick shoes where there’s a ½ inch between your longest toe and the shoe’s end to room for your toes to rest comfortably. Try to go shoe-shopping at the end of the day; that’s when your foot size is at its maximum.
• The best fabric for runners is Thinsulate, DryFit, Thermax, CoolMax, or polypropolene. These will keep sweat away from your body and your skin dry. Avoid cotton touching your skin because it can make you chafe as you run. Plus, cotton stays wet on your skin which will make you feel uncomfortable, and can even make you sick in the cold months.
• To make sure you don’t overdress during winter, add 15°F to the temperature outside because that’s how much warmer you’ll be once you start running.
• Wear a reflective vest if you run early in the morning or late at night.
• If it’s raining, wear a light waterproof raincoat with a hood to protect your head.

5. Doing the same thing over and over
Your body adapts very quickly. So if you repeat the same workout routine, intensity, time, etc. your body becomes more adept at performing and you don’t gain any of the benefits. In fact, your body learns not to exert as much effort as before and you don’t lose as many calories. This is known as a ‘steady state’.

To break out of this rut, boost the intensity of your workouts. You can do this by increasing the speed of your run and lowering the time. For example, run 2 minutes at a speed of 6 or 7 (on a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the highest speed). Another variation is to put on ankle weights during your run to increase the intensity and make your muscles work even harder.

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