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10 Bad Runner Habits (and How to Break Them)

1.Running too much too soon. Coming back from an injury? Now's the time to take things slowly and stay healthy. Follow the standard rule of upping your mileage by only 10 percent each week.

2.Refueling badly. After hard runs, grab a high-carb snack, then a meal with carbs and protein to rebuild muscle.

3.Forgoing SPF. Up to 20 minutes of sun exposure a day can be good for you, but you need sunscreen on runs longer than that (even when it's overcast).

4.Ignoring your core. Participants who did core exercises four times a week for six weeks ran a 5K 30 seconds faster than those who didn't. Here are a few of basic core exercises to get you started. These exercises can be performed daily, but begin with every other day to give your muscles recovery time. Begin with just a few repetitions and increase the number gradually. Planks and the Superman Pose can be held for 20 to 30 seconds initially and then gradually extend the time.

The Basic Plank - Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat. Gradually increase the number of repetitions and the length of time you hold the pose.

The Side Plank - Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat. Gradually increase repetitions and time.

The Superman Pose - Lie face down. Raise one arm off the ground and hold for 20-30 seconds. Release and raise the other arm. Then move to your legs; hold one leg at a time off the ground. Then, try holding an alternate leg and arm off the ground at the same time. Then, try both arms up at one time and then both legs at one time. The most advanced version is holding both arms and legs off the ground at one time; hence the name Superman Pose. Hold each of these poses for 20 to 30 seconds, relax, and repeat.

Abdominal Crunches - Lie on your back, knees bent and bring your chest towards your knees. Keep your shoulders back and chin up. Repeat.

Abdominal Crunches with a Twist and/or Bicycle Legs - Do the abdominal crunches as stated above but include a Twist to work the oblique muscles. Keep knees bent, feet on the ground. Bring shoulder to opposite knee for a twisting motion. Another version is the bicycle, which is knees bent, feet off the ground and bring opposite should to knee at the same time, alternating legs to elbows.

5.Starting a race too fast. Hold your horses! Not holding back early in a race can ruin your PR hopes. Consider using a GPS watch so you'll know your pace—and be able to adjust it—before the one-mile mark.

6.Being your own doctor. Runners tend to be hyperaware of their bodies, self-medicating with ice or ibuprofen to treat aches and pains. But minor injuries could turn into serious ones. Instead, see a doctor sooner rather than later. If the pain has lingered for three days, schedule an appointment.

7.Skipping stretching. It's okay to nix stretching before a run—in fact, static stretching when your muscles are cold is a no-no—but loosening your muscles post-run can help prevent injury.

8.Not getting enough sleep. Studies show logging too few hours of sleep can impair your running while compromising recovery, immunity, and mental sharpness. Because everyone requires different amounts of sleep, log your sleep time in your training journal and look for patterns specific to you. Once you figure out what works for you, shoot for that number—and try these tips to get even better sleep—as often as possible.

9.You never rest. Overtraining can lead to a host of problems, from injury and slower times to illness and a loss of motivation. Every training program should have a rest day plus two to three easy-effort days per week to balance tougher workout days. It's okay to cross train, but reward yourself with a day of total rest to give your muscles much-needed rebuilding and recovery time.

10.Fixing it all. There's plenty of advice on how to become a better runner, but try to focus on what's manageable. Remember: You likely started running to feel better, not to become stressed.

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Source: Runners World (www.runnersworld.com)

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