With the warm weather, many people are beginning a new exercise or running program. As with any new exercise program, it is recommended that beginners consult with their physician before starting. In this article I will discuss some common running mistakes that many beginning runners make.

1. WEARING THE WRONG SHOES: Wearing old running shoes or wearing the wrong type of running shoes for your foot and running style can lead to running injuries. Avoid this by going to a running specialist, where your running style and foot type can be evaluated by a professional. When it is determined that you’re an overpronator, underpronator, or neutral runner, shoe recommendations can be made for you. Once you get the right pair of running shoes, make sure you replace them every 300-350 miles because the loss of cushioning can lead to injuries. Your shoes will last longer when you allow them to decompress and dry out between workouts.

2. DOING TOO MUCH, TOO SOON: Many beginning runners make the mistake of doing too much mileage, too fast, too soon. More is not better when it comes to running. As a result, they often start to develop common overuse running injuries, such as shin splints, runner’s knee, or ITB syndrome. You should be more conservative than you think you need to be with how often, how long, and how much you run, especially early on in your development. If you’re new to running or are coming off a long break, start with walking first, and then progress into a run/walk program.

3. OVERSTRIDING: One of the most common injury-causing running form mistakes is overstriding, or landing heel first with your foot well ahead of your body’s center of gravity. A longer stride does not improve speed or running efficiency. Overstriding wastes energy since it means you’re braking with each foot strike. You should not lunge forward with your feet. Focus on landing mid-sole, with your foot directly under your body with every step. A short, low arm swing is the key to keeping your stride short and close to the ground.

4. RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL ON HILLS: When running downhill, some people have a tendency to lean way too far forward, overstride, and run out of control. The best way to run downhill is to lean forward slightly and take short, quick strides. Don’t lean back and try to brake yourself. Try to keep your shoulders just slightly in front of you and your hips under you. Although it’s tempting to overstride, avoid taking huge leaping steps to reduce the pounding on your legs.

5. BAD UPPER BODY FORM: Some beginners swing their arms side-to-side or have a tendency to hold their hands way up by their chest. You’ll actually get more tired by holding your arms that way and you’ll start to feel tightness and tension in your shoulders and neck. Try to keep your hands at waist level, right about where they might lightly brush your hip. Your arms should be at a 90 degree angle, with your elbows at your sides. Keep your posture straight and erect. Your head should be up, your back straight, and shoulders level. When you’re tired at the end of your run, it’s common to slump over a little, which can lead to neck, shoulder, and lower-back pain. When you feel yourself slouching, poke your chest out.

6. NOT HYDRATING PROPERLY: Many runners underestimate how much fluid they lose during runs and don’t drink enough because they’re worried about side aches. As a result, they suffer from dehydration, which can be detrimental to performance and health. Runners need to pay attention to what and how much they’re drinking before, during, and after exercise.

7. WEARING THE WRONG CLOTHES: Some runners wear the wrong type or too much or too little clothing for the weather conditions, leaving them uncomfortable and at risk for heat-related or cold weather-related illnesses. Wearing the right type of fabrics is essential. This will wick the sweat away from your body, keeping you dry. It’s very important to make sure you don’t wear cotton for this layer because once it gets wet, you’ll stay wet, which can be uncomfortable in warmer weather and dangerous in cold weather. In the winter, make sure that you don’t overdress. In the warmer weather, stick to loose, light-colored clothes.

8. OVERTRAINING: Some runners who are training for specific races or certain goals run too hard, run too many miles, and don’t allow for proper recovery time. They assume that running every day will help them get fitter and faster. Overtraining is the leading cause of injury and burnout for runners. You should increase your mileage gradually. Try to give yourself periodic “rest weeks.” After a hard run, take a day off. Rest days are important for your recovery and performance. Add some cross-training activities to your schedule.

9. NOT RUNNING THE CORRECT PACE: When it comes to running long distance races, one of the biggest mistakes that beginners make is going out too fast in the early part of the race. Most runners have ran ahead of pace in the beginning of a race, only to crash and burn during the final miles. The best way to avoid the temptation of going out too fast is deliberately run your first mile slower than you plan to run the final one. Make sure you’re in the correct starting position. Don’t start yourself with faster runners because you’ll most likely try to keep up with them. Start your race at a comfortable pace and make sure you check your watch at the first mile marker. If you’re ahead of your anticipated pace, slow down. It’s not too late to make pace corrections after just one mile.

10. NOT FUELING PROPERLY: Many beginning runners underestimate the importance of nutrition. What and when you eat before, during, and after your runs has a huge effect on your performance and recovery. Replenish energy as quickly as possible after a workout. If you eat soon after your workout, you can minimize muscle stiffness and soreness. A good rule of thumb for post-workout food is a ratio of 1 gram of protein to 3 grams of carbs. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a fruit and yogurt smoothie, and chocolate milk are examples of good post-run snacks. Don’t follow a low-carb diet when training. You need a certain amount of carbohydrates in your diet because they’re a runner’s most important source of fuel.