12 bad running habits – and how to break them

 Man disgusted by smell of running shoe.
Man disgusted by smell of running shoe.

It’s human nature to pick up bad habits – and this is as true of running as it is of activities such as driving a car. We often want to make things feel easier or simpler and that means we look for ways to cut corners or avoid a task that we perceive to be too much hassle.

But bad running habits can cause long-term issues, from injuries and niggles to kit that wears out more  quickly or becomes unusable.

Here we take a look at some of the more common bad running habits and suggest ways to combat them.

sore knee
sore knee

Running too much and too soon

It’s wise to follow a SMART running plan or a training programme, rather than going out and simply running. Yes, running for running’s sake can feel good for mental health but if you run without focus or a goal, you might end up becoming demotivated or fatigued. Worse still, running without focus or goals can lead to injury.

Ignoring conditioning

Runners who only run and do not pay attention to stretching, flexibility and strength training often end up with injuries. If you only run, your body has to deal with the repetitive motion and the impact of many miles.

It’s well worth creating a good habit of a balanced programme of training that includes running, recovery days, such as doing a yoga session or cross training, as well as strength training.

runner fatigue
runner fatigue

Ignoring pain

Many runners will push on through the pain of a sore muscle or tight hip flexors and hope that it will mend itself. This rarely happens and so it’s important to pay attention to the body when it is crying for help.

Pain happens for a reason and the sooner you deal with the issue, the better. It’s usually a good idea to seek expert opinion if you have pain while running. For example, a podiatrist for foot issues or a sport massage therapist or a physio for general physical niggles and aches.

Letting your posture slip

Poor running posture might include over or under-striding, or running bent forwards at the hips. This can easily lead to poor performance through lack of efficiency of the body and lungs.

It’s too easy to slip into the bad habit of a poor running posture and sometimes it takes a friend – or a coach – to remind you that good posture can lead to better running.

The best running posture is one that allows your body’s muscles to perform most efficiently to propel you forwards, so you are properly engaging muscles such as the abs, glutes and hamstrings.

Generally, a more upright position, rather than hunched over, and one that has a good head, arm and leg position, as well as the right hip angle and foot strike, will be better for running performance.

runner stretching
runner stretching

Poor fuelling and refuelling

Another bad habit of runners is being lazy about what they eat and drink during and after a run. Eating and drinking properly while running will aid performance. It’s also important to properly recover after a run and that includes consuming food or drinks that are high in carbs, as well as protein.

Not getting enough sleep

Sleep is when the body and mind properly rest and this is a great bonus for runners. Better sleep patterns are known to aid a runner’s performance. You should try to get into healthy habits with your sleep, keeping regular hours of sleep and avoiding too much caffeine and alcohol.

Sticking to the same old routes

One habit that many runners fall into is running the same routes. Not only can this lead to boredom and lack of motivation but it also means you will be more likely to get injuries cause by repetitive movements.

Try new routes to improve the interest of your running and alternate between road running and trail running. It can be beneficial to do a variety of running on different surfaces and in different places.

runner putting on sunscreen
runner putting on sunscreen

Forgetting to dry running shoes

After a wet or muddy run, it's a good idea to properly dry out and clean running shoes. It's a bad habit to leave them to fester in a cold place while wet. You will end up with very smelly footwear and the dirt and bacteria can lead to a degradation in the material of the footwear.

Being lazy about new running footwear

Another bad habit of runners is continuing to wear their running footwear when it has become too worn. It's important to pay attention to when you need new running shoes and to avoid being lazy about replacing them. Running in worn or ill-fitting footwear may lead to injuries.

Letting gear get stinky

No one is saying you need to smell sweet on every run but it is a good idea to give running clothes a good wash regularly. Some running clothes especially those made with synthetic fabrics, can end up being very whiffy due to sweat.

Choosing merino layers will help to combat the worst of the odour, but it is also a good idea to deal with stinky kit properly so you do not end up with clothes you simply can't wear anymore due to the smell.

Not caring for waterproof jackets

This is another bad habit of some runners. Waterproof running jackets work best if they are kept clean. You don't need to wash them too frequently but, equally, a waterproof jacket that has been worn and not washed in a good quality washing solution, will fail. This includes waterproof running trousers, too.

Forgetting to use sunscreen

Runners are often exposed to the harmful UV rays of the sun. This is true in winter, as well as summer. Break the bad habit of overlooking sunscreen by creating a good habit of ensuring you use some kind of protection for your skin. Choose the right sunscreen for running.