Breaking Bad Running Habits: The Magic Formula for Runners

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Let’s get real for a moment – running isn’t just about lacing up those sneakers and hitting the pavement. Nope, it’s a journey filled with highs, lows, and a whole bunch of learning curves. And boy, oh boy, have I had my fair share of hiccups along the way.

Picture this: me, a wide-eyed running enthusiast, charging through the streets, feeling like a total boss. But little did I know, I was also collecting some sneaky little monsters called bad habits. Yep, they crept up on me like a ninja in the night, sabotaging my progress, and leaving me frustrated and injured.

But hey, I’ve come a long way since then, thanks to the wisdom of fellow runners and some awesome coaches. Together, we’ve waged war on these pesky habits, and let me tell you, it’s been a game-changer.

Now, I won’t pretend to be the perfect runner – oh no, far from it. But I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that have turned my running game around. And today, my friends, I’m sharing those gems with you!

Ready for the ride? Let’s dive into the top five running habits that we’re ditching, and the fantastic alternatives that’ll have you running stronger, faster, and happier. Buckle up, because this journey is about to get epic! Let’s do this!

Bad Habit I – Overdoing It

Oh boy, have I been guilty of this one! Picture me, the overenthusiastic runner, charging through life like a marathon with no finish line. I thought more running meant more gains – oh, how wrong I was! Overdoing it is like trying to bake a cake with too much sugar – disaster awaits!

You see, it’s great to challenge ourselves, to push those boundaries, and feel that runner’s high. But, my friends, there’s a fine line between pushing yourself and pushing yourself off a cliff! Overtraining is the devil in disguise, ready to wreak havoc on your precious body.

I learned this lesson the hard way – chronic soreness, injuries popping up like whack-a-mole, and my immune system waving the white flag in surrender. Moodiness? Oh yes, I could give Oscar-worthy performances!

And trust me, you don’t want to be on that overtraining list of horrors. It’s a path to nowhere, and I’m talking quicksand kind of nowhere. Your body needs rest, just like you need a lazy Sunday on the couch binge-watching your favorite show..

The Solution

Now that we know the perils of overdoing it, let’s talk about the antidote – the solution to this madness. We’ve got a toolkit full of techniques to keep overtraining at bay and let our bodies dance to the rhythm of our running dreams!

First off, let’s all embrace the sacred art of rest days. Yep, you heard me right – rest days are your best friends. After a hard run, treat yourself to a day of pure relaxation. You’ve earned it! Your body needs time to rebuild those muscles and recharge those batteries, so don’t skimp on rest.

Oh, and here’s a secret – recovery weeks! Like a mini-vacation for your legs, these magical weeks reduce your mileage by 40 to 60 percent every fourth or fifth week. It’s like giving your muscles a spa day – they come back stronger and happier!

But wait, we’re not done yet. Cross-training is the secret weapon of the smart runner. Swap those running shoes for some biking, swimming, yoga, or even a leisurely stroll. It’s like giving your legs a vacation while keeping your fitness game on point. Win-win, right?

Now, here’s a golden rule – the 10 percent rule. Never, and I repeat, never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent from one week to the next. It’s like nurturing a delicate flower – let your body adapt and grow at its own pace.

Last but not least, my fellow runners, the best advice of all – listen to your body. It’s like having your personal running guru whispering in your ear. Elevated heart rate, fatigue, persistent soreness – these are the red flags. Don’t ignore them; they’re your body’s way of saying, “Hey, I need a break!” Trust me, running through pain is like running into a brick wall – it won’t end well.

Bad Habit II –Bad Form

Let’s talk about something that might not be the most exciting topic, but it’s crucial for our running success – form, form, form! Yes, I know, it’s not as fun as that runner’s high, but trust me, it’s just as important.

Picture this – you’re out there, pounding the pavement, feeling like you’re on top of the world. But hold up, have you ever wondered if your running form is top-notch? Well, if it’s not, it could be holding you back, big time!

Now, don’t get me wrong – our bodies are made to run, but that doesn’t mean we all automatically run like gazelles. Bad form is like a sneaky little thief, stealing our performance, and we don’t even know it!

But fear not, my running pals, there’s hope! By mastering the art of proper form, you’re giving yourself a one-way ticket to a smoother, more enjoyable run. Say goodbye to those nagging muscle soreness days, and hello to a reduced risk of injuries. It’s like running heaven!

Here’s a little secret – when it comes to running, quality trumps quantity any day. So, let’s shift our focus from mindlessly logging miles to perfecting our form. Trust me, your body will thank you, and your running will reach new heights.

Oh, and one more thing – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek the guidance of seasoned runners or even a running coach. They’ve been there, done that, and are more than happy to share their wisdom.

The Solution

If you want to unleash your inner running superhero, these universal guidelines are your golden ticket to success. Let’s break it down, shall we?

First up, the upper body – keep it in check! Stand tall and proud, with a slight forward lean. No slouching allowed! Channel that graceful energy, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Next, let’s talk flow – the secret ingredient to smooth running. Your elbows are your trusty sidekicks, so keep ’em moving forward and backward, in harmony with your lower body. Imagine you’re dancing with the rhythm of your stride. It’s like a beautiful ballet on the run!

Now, here’s a biggie – relaxation! Don’t tense up like a startled deer. Stay loose and carefree, especially in your face, shoulders, and hands. We want to run like the wind, not like we’re running away from it!

And here’s a pro tip – when in doubt, seek help! No shame in asking for guidance. Schedule a date with a professional coach or join a class to fine-tune your form and learn the right techniques. Trust me, it’s worth every second and every penny.

For more on proper form, check the following sources.

Bad Habit III – Refueling Badly

You heard it right, fellow runners – refueling is a game-changer! Don’t let your hard work go to waste by neglecting your body’s needs. It’s time to get smart about what and when we eat, and I’m here to spill the beans on the magic formula.

Picture this: you’ve just finished a glorious run, and your body is in prime mode to absorb all those precious nutrients. It’s like a sponge, soaking up every bit of goodness you provide. That’s why the post-run refuel is crucial for your performance and recovery.

So, what’s the secret recipe for refueling like a pro? It’s simple, really. Carbs and protein are your running BFFs. They team up to replenish your glycogen stores and repair those hardworking muscles.

Don’t skimp on the carbs – they are your body’s energy source, and you need them to power through those runs like a superhero. Think whole grains, fruits, and veggies – they’re the real MVPs!

But let’s not forget about our buddy protein – the muscle-building ninja. It helps repair and rebuild those muscles that took a beating during your run. Lean meats, eggs, and plant-based protein sources are your go-to options.

Timing is everything! Aim to refuel within 30 minutes to an hour after your run – that’s when your body is most receptive to the nutrient party. It’s like a celebration for your muscles, and you’re the host!

The Solution

First things first – let’s measure it! No, not your shoe size, but your calorie needs. You’re a unique individual with specific running goals, and your body deserves the right amount of fuel. Use a trusty calorie calculator to get an estimate based on your activity level. It’s like finding the perfect shoe fit, but for your nutrition!

Now, picture this – you’ve just conquered a tough run, and your body is yearning for replenishment. Don’t leave it hanging! Grab a post-run snack that’s high in carbs and moderate in protein. It’s like giving your body a high-five for a job well done. Need some ideas? How about a delightful banana and peanut butter combo or some mouthwatering Greek yogurt with honey?

But the refueling party doesn’t end there! When it’s mealtime, aim for a balanced plate. Complex carbs, like whole grains and veggies, will be your running fuel. Lean proteins, like chicken or tofu, are the muscle-supporting heroes. And don’t forget about those healthy fats – they’re like the cheerleaders that keep you going strong!

Bad Habit IV –Not Getting Enough Sleep

Oh, sleep – the magical elixir for runners and humans alike! We’ve all been there, trying to squeeze in that early morning run, only to sacrifice precious sleep hours. But let me tell you, my fellow runners, skimping on sleep is like trying to run a marathon on one leg – it just won’t work!

Imagine this – you drag yourself out of bed after a night of tossing and turning, and your body feels like it’s been hit by a freight train. Your eyes are barely open, and your mood? Well, let’s just say grumpy is an understatement! Sleep deprivation is like a villain that messes with our alertness and leaves us feeling like zombies on a run.

But here’s the plot twist – proper sleep is what our muscles need to recover and repair! When you give your body the rest it deserves, you’ll wake up feeling like a well-oiled machine, ready to conquer the world (and the track) with a smile on your face.

You see, sleep is more than just shutting our eyes and drifting off to dreamland. It’s a crucial time when our bodies release growth hormones, repair tissues, and consolidate memories. So, skimping on sleep is like robbing your muscles of their superhero recovery time. And trust me, you won’t be running at full capacity – it’s like trying to run a race with a flat tire!

The Solution

You got it, sleep seekers! Now that we’ve realized the superpower of sleep, let’s dive into the solution – how to get those precious Zzz’s and wake up feeling like a well-rested superhero!

  • Step one – keep track! Just like we log our miles and workouts, let’s log our sleep time too. Grab that trusty workout diary and jot down when you hit the hay and when you rise and shine. Look for patterns and see how much sleep your body craves – we’re all unique, after all!
  • Step two – find your sleep range! Studies have shown that most of us need between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Think of it as your magical sleep zone – the time your body needs to recharge and recover fully. So, figure out what your sweet spot is and aim for it!
  • Step three – embrace the early bird life! Now, I know some of us are night owls and that’s okay, but for runners, there’s something magical about being an early bird. The saying holds true – the early bird gets the worm, or in our case, a fabulous morning run! Try hitting the sack a bit earlier, and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.

But hey, I get it – sometimes life throws curveballs, and getting enough sleep feels like a mission impossible. We all have those nights where Netflix and chilling just takes over. But here’s the thing – let’s aim for consistency! On those days when you know sleep might be a bit scarce, make up for it on other nights. Create a sleep routine that works for you, and your body will thank you with boundless energy on your runs.

Bad Habit V – Skipping Stretching

I get it, you’re all pumped up after that fantastic run, and the last thing you want to do is spend extra time on stretching, right? But hear me out – this little post-run ritual is like magic for your body!

Now, we all know that doing static stretches before a run isn’t the way to go – it can actually do more harm than good. But when it comes to post-run, oh boy, stretching becomes your best friend!

So why is post-run stretching so important? Well, my running comrades, it’s not just about the feel-good factor (though that’s a bonus!). When you stretch after your run, you’re doing your body a massive favor – here’s why:

Flexibility for the win! Post-run stretching improves your flexibility, making you more agile and nimble. It can also help improve your range of motion. Those stretches will give you the freedom to move like never before.

What’s more?

Stretching is like a little zen session for your muscles. It helps relieve stress and tension, leaving you feeling oh-so-relaxed.

But wait, there’s more! Stretching can level up your running game – yes, really! When your muscles are nice and flexible, your performance soars. You’ll be able to reach new heights (or should I say lengths?) in your runs.

The Solution

Make stretching a part of your routine: Just like you lace up your shoes before a run, make post-run stretching a non-negotiable part of your training plan. It’s all about consistency, folks!

Hold it, hold it: When you’re stretching, don’t rush it. Give each muscle some love and attention by holding the stretch for at least 30 to 45 seconds. This gives the blood a chance to flow through every nook and cranny, leaving your muscles feeling oh-so-happy.

Find your groove: Stretching routines come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Explore different stretching routines to find the one that clicks with you. My blog has a treasure trove of options to keep things fresh and exciting.

Remember, stretching isn’t just a “nice-to-have” – it’s a must-have! So, next time you wrap up that invigorating run, make sure to spend those extra minutes stretching it out. Your body will thank you, your performance will thank you, and your running journey will reach new heights of awesomeness

Here are a few of my favorite routines.


Here you have it. The above are some of the most common bad habits that afflict many runners.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section if you have any suggestions or questions.

In the meantime thank you for reading my post.

Keep Running Strong

David D.

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