Utah is a fairly active state. Residents like to take advantage of the abundant natural beauty right in their backyard, which means most of us love to spend weekends getting in some intense physical activity. While you may believe your already-active lifestyle will translate well into running, you’re only partially correct. Of course, the more in shape you are when you begin to run, the better your early runs will be. However, there are a few rookie mistakes specific to the sport that all new runners should look to avoid. Here are the top four.
- Pushing yourself too hard. This is a huge one for Utah runners. If you’re like most people, you look forward to getting outside and moving your body. However, you need to give your body time to adjust to this form of exercise. You might feel as though you could run a 5:30 mile, but reaching for that time without proper training will almost certainly lead to injury. Additionally, shin splints and runner’s knee are widely experienced injuries that occur when individuals run too frequently. Be sure to take at least one rest day each week, and increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10%–at least in the beginning.
- Not getting supportive shoes. Running puts a lot of strain on your lower extremities. The best way to prevent injury? Getting a proper pair of running shoes. Have your feet professionally measured to see which size and width work best for you, then talk to the sales associate about the amount of cushion and support you’ll need to get where you want to be.
- Over-striding and a lack of proper form. New runners are prone to over-striding. In essence, this is when an individual pushes their stride to an unhealthy limit. Large strides will not allow you to run faster. Avoid lunging forward with your feet and instead focus on how your foot lands—ideally on the mid-sole of every step. Paying attention to the way you land will prevent over-striding injuries.
- Not drinking enough water. Lots of Utahns hike, which means that a lot of us are used to carrying daypacks with a few bottles of water. Unfortunately, running with a big, bulk pack can cause some problems, but you still need to get enough water into your system to sustain a healthy run. Hydrate one hour before by consuming between 16 and 24oz of water. Look into portable hydration systems, such as arm bands, or run in parks with ample water fountains.
While long-time Utah residents are prone to mistakes, this list goes double for people visiting the state from out of town. Whether you’re just visiting for the natural beauty or for endurance training, don’t underestimate the effect of even moderate altitude, and especially when visiting the Wasatch Front and/or Uinta Mountains.