1) Stretching before you run.
Most people walk out the door and start running while others bounce and hold stretching positions. The truth is that muscles have an elastic plastic reaction. Heat them and they become more pliable. Stretch them while cold and you may injure the muscle or only stretch the connective tissue. Best case for your workouts is to jog or walk for 5 minutes to increase circulation, bloodflow to the working muscles, and body temperature. Then perform “dynamic stretching” which is MOVING through the patterns you will be doing during your workout. Then hit the trail and move it!1 2
2) Skipping your stretch after you run.
Second most common mistake is to finish the run and shower. Your body needs time to recover, lower heart rate and return muscles to a relaxed state that permits correct alignment and reduced muscle tension. Static stretching after your workout will return the “length tension” relationship to the muscles for better alignment, lower the heart rate and blood pressure slowly like a dimming switch on a light, and give you time to cool down the body’s temperature. Failing to stretch might result in poor alignment, tight muscles and injury.3
3) Avoiding your workouts.
A common concern I hear is “I have no time to workout”. Health has to be your first priority. We know that 1 in 3 women will die of a cardiovascular disease, so take control of4 your health to be clear of becoming just another statistic. Fitting in as little as ten minutes a day of exercise can help. Intensity is key for the time constrained. Ten minute workouts and getting in 3-5 ten minute workouts a day do add up. So don’t be afraid to move and find the time for you.5 6
4) Reading on the treadmill.
Although some exercise is better than nothing, put your best foot forward and listen to that book. Reading on the treadmill not only compromises your posture but can decrease your intensity. If you only have a limited amount of time, use it wisely. Stay engaged in your workout and breathe consciously in the moment.7
5) Doing the same old thing.
I am happy you have found the time to exercise but doing the same patterns over and over again can damage the body and reduce the caloric output. Our bodies become extremely efficient in activities we have repeated for years, so you will not be burning the same amount of calories as you did a few years ago doing the same 45 minute cardio. 8Worse, when we skip cross training, our muscles can “wear out the joints” by continually adding force in only one direction on the joint. 9Balance your workouts by moving in all planes of motion, forward, backward and rotationally.
1 Stretching: From Science to Practice Journal article by Duane Knudson; JOPERD—The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, Vol. 69, 1998.
2 (Noonan et al., American Journal of Sports Medicine 21: 517-22, 1993; Draper & Ricard, Journal of Athletic Training 30: 304-7, 1995),
3 (Rosenbaum & Hennig, Journal of Sports Science 13: 481-90, 1995; Kokkonen et al., Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 69: 411-5, 1998; Avela et al., Journal of Applied Physiology 86: 1283-91, 1999; Fowles et al., Journal of Applied Physiology 89: 1179-88, 2000; Nelson et al., Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 72: 68-70, 2001),
5 John M. Jakicic; Carena Winters; Wei Lang; Rena R. Wing
Effects of Intermittent Exercise and Use of Home Exercise Equipment on Adherence, Weight Loss, and Fitness in Overweight Women: A Randomized Trial
JAMA, Oct 1999; 282: 1554 – 1560.
6 Intensity and Amount of Physical Activity in Relation to Insulin Sensitivity: The Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study
JAMA, Mar 1998; 279: 669 – 674.
7 Energy Expenditure with Indoor Exercise Machines: Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 275(18), pp. 1424-1427, 1996).