If you’re doing it wrong, then what’s the point of running?

By Ea Francisco

In hindsight, running looks pretty simple. There doesn’t seem to be much technically to it, but you can make the most mistakes in the simplest of activities. You can even be a pro but still make the most obvious mistakes. Check out these common running mistakes and see if you’re guilty doing any of them.

Bad Upper Body Form

It may seem like your legs are the most important part of running, but proper form from the waist up is significant, too. A lot of people have really tense positions, which can make runs tiring and difficult. Some people swing their arms around that makes them slouch while others raise their arms so high up their chest they put strain on the neck and shoulders. The proper way to do it is to be relaxed enough so you can breath efficiently. Your elbows should be at your side, forming a 90-degree angle with your arm, and only lightly brushing your hips.

Running Without a Plan

One mistake not a lot of people realize is running without a plan. Before you get started, figure out what your goal is, whether it’s just maintaining health or training for a race. Running mindlessly will work for a while, but eventually you’ll hit a wall and will know what to do with your happy feet. If you plan on finishing marathons or half marathons, build mileage with long runs. Intervals help build efficiency and fatigue resistance. Tempo runs help with pacing. Having goals helps map out workouts and lets you know how effective your training is.

Obsessing over Pace

While monitoring pace is one way to make sure you’re achieving your fitness goals, don’t focus too much on pace. You can have a GPS watch to track your pacing, but don’t be too reliant on it. Even if your goal is to run faster, you should run at a pace that feels good for you. Getting to the pace that you want requires a lot of time, so don’t let your gadget dictate your workout.

Letting the Hills Control You

When you’re going downhill, there’s the tendency to speed up and let gravity aid you, but that’s just asking for injury. You have to take control of the hill because otherwise, you end up doing all kinds of mistakes like overstriding. What you should do is make sure your feet aren’t out of control and making you lean back. Instead, lean forward slightly and take small strides. Large steps while going downhill can really put a lot of pressure on your feet.