Common Running Mistakes

Learn what you're doing wrong and how to avoid those errors.


By Megan Harrington


Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran runner, mistakes are bound to happen. Before you lace up and head out for your next run, double check to make sure you’re not committing these common errors.

Mistake #1

You don’t plan rest days. Are you only taking a break from running when you’re feeling absolutely exhausted, injured, or sick? If so, your running might suffer.

How to Fix it: Instead of only resting when you’re in pain or burnt out, prioritize and plan rest days in advance. Each week should have at least one absolute day of rest from running, preferably from all vigorous exercise. Depending on your goals and conditioning, you may need multiple days off from running.

Mistake #2

You’re doing too much, too soon. Maybe you just started running or you’re getting back into shape, either way, it’s easy to fall into the trap of piling on the mileage and workouts.

How to Fix it: Some runners swear by the 10% rule, meaning you should only increase your mileage by 10% each week. So, if you ran 20 miles in total last week, run no more than 22 miles this week. Depending on your running history and injury background, you might be able to add a little more or a little less, but the 10% rule is a good guideline.

And when it comes to speed workouts, ease into things gradually. Work on building up your endurance before you add in fast running.

Mistake #3

You’re always running the same pace. Are you running the same speed for easy runs, long runs, and races? If so, you may not be getting the most out of your training.

How to Fix it: Make your easy days truly easy and your hard days hard. The variation in pace will allow your body to be stressed or to recover, depending on the day. On easy days, you should be able to converse in short sentences and on hard days, you should only be able to say a word or two. When you have a faster run on the schedule, shoot for a difficulty level of 7 or 8 on a scale of 1-10.

Mistake #4

You don’t remember the last time you bought new gear. Stretched out sports bras and worn down treads can make running uncomfortable.

How to Fix it: If you want to feel your best, aim to replace running shoes and sports bras at regular intervals. You should get new shoes if you notice worn down soles or are experiencing aches and pains. A good rule of thumb is to start thinking about new shoes after you’ve run 500 miles in them. Sports bras should be replaced about every year or when they stop being supportive.

Mistake #5

You’re ignoring aches and pains. When training, mild soreness is to be expected, but if you’re running through nagging pain, it’s time to take a step back.

How to Fix it: Whether it’s a chronically sore calf or a tight hamstring, a trip to the doctor or physical therapist might be in order. If you nip an injury in the bud, you’ll avoid bigger problems (and more missed runs) down the road.

Mistake #6

You’re skimping on sleep. Whether you’re hitting the road early in the morning or late at night (or even both), you may sacrifice sleep to fit in training.

How to Fix it: If you run with the sunrise, try setting an alarm at night as a reminder to go to bed. Gradually move your bedtime a bit earlier each day until you're logging a solid 7-8 hours of sleep. If you’re a nighttime runner, try to leave enough time after your run to unwind before you hit the hay. Running too close to bedtime might make it hard to drift off.

Mistake #7

You’re eating too little (or too much).

How to Fix it: If you’re feeling weak and losing weight, you may not be consuming enough calories to keep up with your training. Conversely, a 3 mile run doesn’t exactly give you license to devour a whole cake. Pay attention to how you’re feeling and monitor your weight weekly. If you’re gaining or losing weight, you may need to adjust your diet accordingly.

If you find yourself making one of these common running mistakes, just follow our advice and you’ll be back on track in no time.

Happy running!

Megan is a writer, RRCA certified running coach, and new mom living and training in rural upstate New York. She competed in DIII track and cross-country at Wesleyan University and now focuses on the half-marathon and marathon distance.

Main Photo Credit & Second Photo Credit: lzf/; Third Photo Credit: Halfpoint/; Fourth Photo Credit: Lyudmila Mikhailovskaya/