Top Running Mistakes You Must Avoid At All Costs


When you’re taking up any sport, it’s crucial to understand some of the pitfalls that you need to avoid, and running is no different. If you ignore the dangers associated with a sport, you’re liable to injure yourself, possibly permanently. With that in mind, let’s look at the top running mistakes that you must avoid at all costs.

The top running mistakes include: failing to warm up/cool down, getting carried away, ignoring warning signs, and poorly selected gear. If you set yourself up to run with achievable goals, good footwear, and a healthy respect for your limits, you’re much more likely to succeed.

1: Failure To Warm Up

When you just want to get out there and get running, a warm-up can seem like a waste of time. It slows you down, reduces the amount of time you can spend running, and is a bit of a nuisance. You might think about skipping it, but you really shouldn’t, even once you are an experienced athlete.

Giving your muscles an opportunity to stretch gently before you make them work hard is key to preventing injury and soreness and can make your run more enjoyable overall. Do some dynamic stretching that gets the muscles moving and warm, and then hit the track.

You should also finish a run with gentle exercise to reduce post-workout soreness.

Related: What Types Of Stretches Should Runners Perform Before Running?

2: Overdoing It

It’s very easy to get over-enthusiastic, set yourself unrealistic goals, and throw yourself into running with everything you have – and it’s also easy to end up with injuries as a result of this behavior.

You should make a plan with realistic goals that take into account your current fitness levels and the amount of time that you can commit on a regular basis. These goals need to be tailored to you, not based on the achievements of others.

As well as reducing the chances of injuring yourself, this will make you much more likely to stick to running in the long-term, because you’ll have goals to work toward, goals you’ve met, and a running schedule that suits your lifestyle.

Related: Are You Overtraining? Signs that may indicate You’re Overtraining?

3: Keeping Things The Same

If you don’t switch things up a bit from time to time, you’ll soon find you lack the motivation to run. Taking the same route week after week, at the same time, in the same gear, with the same music, will leave you bored to death of your routine.

It’s much better to switch it up and change things around so that you run in new places, try different approaches, or even get a running partner. Try listening to podcasts while you run, or take a totally different route to your usual one. This will help you stay engaged.

4: No Hard Or Easy Runs

Tying in with the above idea, if every run follows the same standard, neither pushing yourself nor giving yourself a break, you’ll be missing out on some major benefits. Changing your workout to suit your physical needs that day and to “mix things up a bit” can make you feel more motivated.

If you follow a hard run-up with a few easy ones, you’re more likely to feel engaged with your running journey and proud of your achievements.

Try to do some faster and some slower runs to take advantage of these different kinds of exercise. For a more detailed post on running easy and hard check out: what every runner should know about 80/20 running!

Related: Why Is Running So Hard? 35 Tips To Make Your Runs Easier!

5: Bad Footwear

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that your footwear makes a massive difference when you’re running. You need at least one pair of very comfortable running shoes that support your feet fully. You should buy these from a specialty store so they can advise you on what you need.

It is often a good idea to have more than one pair of running shoes. You can then swap if necessary to account for soreness or imbalance.

Your shoes also need replacing around every three hundred miles, so keep a rough count of how far you’ve run in them, and make sure you buy yourself a new pair when they are no longer right for your feet.

6: Not Focusing On Breathing

Good breathing rhythm is key to running well; it regulates your movements and brings your whole body into sync, and it also ensures you can run for longer periods of time.

You do not want to be panting while you’re running; this is usually a sign you have poor breathing form or you’re working too hard. Instead, focus on breathing deeply from your belly, and count the rhythm of your breaths.

7: Setting Unrealistic Goals

Making your goals unachievable is a sure way to experience burnout in any sport, and running is no exception to this. It might seem a great idea to set targets that you’ve really got to work for, but if your goal is too impossible, you simply won’t want to do it, no matter how determined you were when you set it.

Instead, try to choose smaller, more frequent goals that you can achieve. These will keep you on track far better than the big, over-enthusiastic goals can do.

Related: 8 Tips To Help New Runners Run Faster Without Injury

8: Not Cross-Training

Combining running with other forms of exercise helps to keep you fit and balanced. It reduces the chances of you suffering from repetitive strain injuries and gives you the opportunity to work out different muscle groups.

It’s important to focus on the core as well as other parts of the body; this makes you a better runner overall. You don’t have to cross-train to run, but doing so offers lots of advantages and gives your body a break from the stress associated with running.

Related: What Are The Best Forms Of Crosstraining For Runners?

Related: Can Running Give You Abs?

9: Starting Too Fast

Many people, especially if they are timing their runs, set off too fast and burn up the energy they need for later in the run. If you are constantly trying to beat your time, it’s obvious why this would be tempting, but you need to avoid doing it.

Starting off fast makes you much more likely to struggle later, and no matter how good you feel when you get going, the crash will come at some point, and then all your hard work will feel like a waste.

It’s much better to take a slow and steady approach and finish your run feeling great about your time than it is to watch your time progressively worsen because you wasted all your strength and adrenaline at the start of the run.

Related: 12 Health Benefits Of Running You Shouldn’t Ignore!

10: Ignoring Pain

This is a tricky one to balance, because to some degree, you do have to put aside discomfort in order to be a good runner. If you stopped as soon as your legs began to feel warm, you wouldn’t get very far.

However, many runners translate this to “don’t stop for anything,” and this is a dangerous mentality to take. It can lead to serious injuries because people ignore their needs and the warnings their bodies are giving them.

Related: 10 Tips To Keep Running When You Feel Like Stopping

Listening to your body is crucial, whether that means stopping a run early, or changing your schedule to respect how you feel. Instead of being rigid and deciding that you must complete a six-mile run even when you’re going down with the flu, be practical and flexible, and ensure running stays enjoyable.

This will reduce your chance of injury and make you a better athlete overall.

Related: 22 Running Tips For Absolute Beginners!

11: Not cooling Down

Your body needs a chance to move gradually from an active state to a static/sedentary state. Don’t skip the easiest part of the workout. Your muscles and mind will both thank you later for partaking in a 5-minute cooldown routine.

Related: How To Properly Cool Down In 3 Easy Steps!


Avoid these common errors to make sure that you get the best possible experience out of running. Remember that the right gear, regular breaks, and a thoughtful, varied running routine are the keys to success.

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Coach Scott's Credentials:
  • Published Author
  • RRCA Certified Running Coach (Level 2)
  • RRCA Certified Youth Running Coach
  • NASM CPT (Certified Personal Trainer).
  • NASM CNC (Certified Nutrition Coach)
  • NASM WLS (Weight Loss Specialist)
  • ACE SFC (Stretching and Flexibility Coach)
  • ACE GFI (Group Fitness Instructor)
He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 22nd half marathon race. 

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Top Running Mistakes You Must Avoid At All Costs

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