17 Beginner Runner Mistakes to Avoid


I reluctantly started running in 2009 at the age of 35. I never liked running. In fact, I had managed to avoid running as much as possible my entire life. I always thought runners were crazy. Why on earth would I volunteer to torture myself with an activity that is utterly exhausting when there are so many other things I could do for exercise that are actually fun?

I’ll save the long story about how I got into running for another article, but suffice it to say that I was mentally ready for something new and challenging. I had to wrap my mind around the idea that I was going to do this running thing no matter what. Once my mind was made up, the rest was much easier. 

I’ve learned a lot about running over these past 8 years. I’ve taken a great class on running form, had excellent personal training from an online program I recommend, read a ton on the subject, and practiced a lot. I’ve probably run 3,000 miles and raced in 2 marathons, a 1/2 marathon, a list of 5k’s, and many triathlons including 2 at half Ironman distance. I’m no professional by far, and many people have far greater credentials than my humble run resume, but I bet this list can still help you avoid some of my mistakes.


Fortunately, I was running to prepare for triathlon the first few years so I didn’t have much problem incorporating other forms of training besides running. And since I had great counsel and resources for cross-training at my disposal, this honestly hasn’t been a huge issue for me. However, I do know that marathon training is exhausting and the thought of cross-training on top of the running load sounds horrible. I wasn’t awesome at it for my first marathon, and I paid for it dearly. Take my advice here: run less, cross train more. You will like running more, your body will thank you, and your performance will improve.


It is a great temptation to plop down on the couch and relax after a hard run. I learned the hard way that the stiffness and soreness that comes with vegetating on the couch, or sitting in my office chair to work is much worse than the 5-10 minutes invested in doing a proper cool down. I’ve learned to keep the blood flowing by walking, gentle stretching, and foam rolling after a hard run. It’s really helped my recovery!


Definitely do not eat something new before a race. However, I believe that trying new foods before a training run is essential to dialing in your personal nutritional needs to perform your best. Sometimes that means your runs will be awful because your guts to do not agree with you, but that’s all part of learning the art of running. You must listen to your body. Take notes on what works and what doesn’t. I recommend avoiding anything really heavy before a run and I prefer real food options vs. lab created chemical concoctions labeled to be performance fuel. Unless your run is longer than an hour, you really don’t need to eat anything.


A key ingredient to the perfect recipe for injury is being too ambitious. A rule of thumb is to avoid more than a 10% increase to your mileage or time per week in run training. The truth is that it takes time to get into run shape, so be patient with the process. If you are targeting a race event, I recommend following a training plan suited to your goals and fitness level. Not every canned training plan on the internet will work for you. I know a guy who would love to help you with your personal training plan. (wink, wink)


Dude, you have to take rest days. Rest days are training. There is nothing macho about running every day, or doing any strenuous activity every day. It’s foolish. Overtraining will eventually catch up with you either by exhaustion, decreased performance, or injury. Settle down and consider rest day as a training day.


I had no idea there was such a thing as running form. Everyone knows how to run, don’t they? Turns out that even though I played sports my whole life, I didn’t know how to run efficiently until I took the Good Form Running class. While everyone runs a bit differently, there are some key principles you should practice to help you avoid injury and improve your efficiency. Cross training to strengthen & stretch your hips, glutes, and hamstrings will also help with your form.


When I first started running, I tried to PR [run a personal record] every time I stepped out the door. I learned the hard way that this is another key ingredient in the recipe for injury. I’ve since adopted a run plan with just 3 focused runs a week, and only one of them is focused on speed.


I had IT Band syndrome pretty bad the first few years of running because I didn’t do enough hip strengthening. If you want to make running a miserable experience, try running with constant pain in your legs/ knees. I’m pretty sure this is why many people quit running or say they can’t run. Many pains in the knees, shins, feet, etc. are from muscle weakness that can be fixed with proper strength training. Don’t skip it.


Runners can get emotionally tied to their favorite shoes. It happened to me. Sometimes you have to relegate them to everyday shoes, then to mowing shoes. Do yourself a favor and get new shoes more often than you need to. Then you can rotate them in your training plan so they all last longer. I’m always on the lookout for a great shoe sale (link to and have scored a couple pair at less than $40 with shipping. Like a particular shoe? Buy two pair. Remember Lieutenant Dan says, “take good care of your feet.” You can’t run anywhere with busted wheels.


A follow up to my advice earlier about listening to your body, you need to learn the difference between injury pain and just tired pain. If you have an injury pain, running through it will only make it worse. Yeah, your training plan may derail for a while, but you’ll be back at it much faster if you rest & recover instead of worsening your injury with overuse. Just recently, I forced myself to stop in the middle of an “important” sprint set because I tweaked my hamstring. I knew that a pulled hammy would mean weeks of rest and it would keep me from racing in a couple weeks. Missing a couple workouts to let it rest turned out to be way better than “pushing through the pain.”


If you plan to run longer than an 60-90 minutes at a time, you will need to take some kind of fuel during the run. Knowing what works takes practice. See advice in #3. In my first marathon, I made the mistake of taking all the goodies offered at the aid stations instead of sticking to what I used throughout training. The result was a bonk and a very upset stomach. Yuck.


Another ingredient to the recipe for injury is doing what everyone else seems to be doing. Trust me, not EVERYONE is following the latest trends. (think toe-shoes or minimalist shoes for example) Many have learned the hard way that the latest thing isn’t necessarily the best for you. Sometimes the saying, “If it ain’t broke, then don’t try to fix it,” is the best advice.


I just took a big drink of water, lol. Just like food/ fuel in running, hydrating takes practice. If you are well hydrated before you start, you probably won’t need anything if your run is less than 60 minutes. For longer runs, you need to carry water or strategically place water bottles on your course. Being dehydrated in your run can be dangerous to your health. A rule of thumb I follow is to have about 1 bottle of fluid (24 oz) per hour. There are tons of options for hydrating drinks during long runs. My advice is to try different ones to see what works best for you. And know that the most popular brands advertised as electrolyte drinks are filled with chemical additives, artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, and lots of sugar, which are not good for you. I prefer all natural and “clean” foods and supplements. Generation UCAN and Performance Hydrate are my favorite for during running. It’s also really important to drink a lot when you are done. I follow up a long run workout with a scoop of Performance Recover in water to help my muscles repair more quickly from the work.


This might be way too obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Getting lost and being far from home or your car is not cool. Take the time to sort out your route before you start. And even though an “out & back” route isn’t as cool as a loop, the chances of getting lost are greatly reduced.


This one goes along with #7. Recovery runs should be done at an easy, moderate pace. My biggest mistake in my early years of running was doing too many fast workouts and letting individual runs turn into mini races themselves. Now I make sure that one of my 3 focused run workouts each week is at easy, moderate pace.


Body Glide is your friend. So is proper running gear. Please do not wear a cotton shirt for a long sweaty run. Bloody nipples are not fun. After you experience chafing once, you will remember where to use the cream.


If you must run in the dark, please remember to wear reflective gear at minimum. A head lamp comes in handy too if you are really into the night run thing. I carry my phone when I’m going away from my neighborhood route. I also like to wear my Road ID so if I get run over hopefully someone will still know who I am and call my wife.

So there you have it. 17 mistakes you can avoid because you took the time to read this article. Happy running!

Run/ Ride With Purpose

2017 Great Cycle Challenge – Pedaling to Kick Cancer’s Butt!


We did it! Angie, Brandon, and I met our goal to pedal 100 miles in June to raise awareness for kids cancer research. Thanks to generous sponsors like my employer, family, and friends we CRUSHED our initial goal to raise $500 and finished the month with over $1,132 raised for this worthy cause!

Couple of notes I wanted to share with you about this challenge:
1. We committed to do this as a family and it was AWESOME! There is something about riding bikes together that is just totally fun. We had to make special plans & effort to get out in the midst of our busy summer schedule. Brandon didn’t even get out of school until June 14! We saw great benefits to seeing our goal through to the end and had a great time doing it together.


2. Exploring our surroundings on bike is the best. We cruised new neighborhoods in our area, visited our favorite Toledo Metroparks and even rode the brand new mountain bike trail at Oak Openings. That was my favorite! Can you believe Angie did this?!? (You gotta hear this video to get the full effect, lol!)

3. It’s not easy to ride this far. Poor Angie strained her quad pretty bad and had to miss a fair bit of the riding. She was really bummed about that. Brandon & I pressed on without her to meet our goal. It was the most he’d ridden in a month by far!
4. Cancer sucks. As hard as it is to keep pedaling sometimes – that 22 mile ride we did together in the blazing heat was a doozy – it is nothing compared to what these poor kids have to go through for their treatments. Thinking of them is what kept us going.


5. Doing healthy activities like riding bikes feels really good. Doing healthy activities as a family is super fun. Doing healthy activities together in order to help others is AWESOME! Having a plan to follow, a goal to reach, and a special reason to do it are all great ways to keep motivated too.

6. How could I forget about our 8 seconds of fame?!? Because we were able to reach a fundraising milestone early in the month, we had our photo featured on a Times Square billboard! How cool is that?


5 Reasons Your Running Isn’t Improving


Just like healthy and sustainable weight loss there’s no secret formula when it comes to running faster or longer. However, there are a handful of simple things you can do to improve your running and they all add up. Luckily, it’s less complicated than you think.

While there are myriad ways to tweak your running for improvement, most of them fit into five categories: supplementary strength work, running volume, consistency, variation and non-running activities. While there is overlap among each of these categories, it’s best to address all five in some capacity to get the most out of your training.

Here are five common mishaps that can keep you from realizing your running potential:


Runners are a frequently injured bunch. Some studies show injury rates for runners as high as 6065% annually. Running consistently is more than half the battle, but to be consistent, you need to prevent injuries by supplementing running with strength and core work

Running is a demanding and repetitive sport, and it can be hard on your body if you don’t take the time to strengthen the muscles that support you. As you progress and start to get faster, there’s a tendency for your aerobic fitness to outpace your structural fitness. That means you’re heart and lungs may be ready for more work than your strength can handle, which can result in injury.

Since many of us are largely sedentary outside of our workouts, our bodies aren’t always prepared to handle the stress of running. Fortunately, even a small amount of regular strength training improves our structural fitness and allows our bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles to support us and stay healthy while running.

Simple Solution: Perform 5 minutes of active warm up before each run.


Runners who tend to get injured the most are the ones who stop and start often, or take frequent weeks or even months off. They are constantly in a cycle of trying to rebuild, which puts them at a greater risk for injury. If there is any magic bullet to running, it’s that running consistently will help you improve.

Simple Solution: Stay consistent with how many days you run each week, even when you’re not training for something specific. It’s all too easy to get off track when you start skipping runs on a regular basis.


Inconsistency will thwart even the best intentions and can be your worst enemy when it comes to improving your running. Consistency, on the other hand, is your best friend. Running is cumulative over months and years of training, and consistency is what allows you to weave together a sustainable running career.

Inconsistency can crop up in several areas — from mileage and number of runs per week to speed workouts. Sometimes it’s due to an unavoidable overload in other areas of your life, but a lot of the time it’s simply a result of losing focus or motivation, or not following a quality training plan.

Stay consistent by focusing on the little things that motivate you to get out on a regular basis, whether it’s a goal race, fundraising and training for a cause, catching up with a friend or just enjoying the energy that comes from starting your day with a run.

Simple Solution: Find a plan that works for you, and stick with it! A coach will provide the most personalized schedules, but there are plenty of great resources and training plans available to keep you on track.


First consistency, now variation? Yes, you need them both. Although this may sound contradictory, the key is knowing when to apply each principle. Here are some areas of running where you want variation:

  • Types of runs: Easy, moderate and hard running all have their place. If you want to keep improving, you don’t want to run the same pace and distance every day. My marathon training plan incorporated each type in just three focused runs per week.
  • Running surface: Many of us spend a lot of time on the road, but the constant pounding can be tough on your body. Vary the surface you run on each week, and include trails and softer surfaces. Your feet and legs will thank you.
  • Shoes: It’s ideal to rotate among 2–3 types of shoes each week. This is yet another way to minimize the repetitive nature of running. You may want to try a lighter, more minimal shoe for speed sessions and a more supportive shoe for longer or recovery runs.

Simple Solution: Make each run have a purpose. When your run is supposed to be easy, don’t be tempted to push hard. And when you have a key workout, give it your all. Avoid constantly staying in that “too-hard-to-be-easy-but-too-easy-to-be-hard” zone that provides minimal benefit.


The life of an elite runner is set up to provide the greatest possibility for improvement and success. They often run twice daily, get 8-plus hours of sleep along with a midday nap, have regular massages and bodywork — and spend hours on core and strength sessions in addition to their running. But that schedule is impossible for 99.9% of us.

We can’t replicate their schedules, but we can certainly incorporate some of their habits into our own training. Here are several things that may be affecting your ability to improve:

  • Get enough sleep: This is your body’s prime time for repair and recovery. If you’re training hard, you aren’t going to recover well if you don’t get enough rest. Sometimes I’ll take some Beachbody Performance Recharge before bed to help me sleep and repair my sore muscles. It really helps!
  • Pay attention to your nutrition: Simply focus on eating more real, whole foods. If you put your energy toward adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet and minimizing sugar and processed foods, you’ll have a fantastic “whole-food” diet. This becomes increasingly important as your mileage builds. You know my go-to resource is 90/10 Nutrition. Learn how to clean up your diet without starving, counting calories or points, or taking some chemical concoction.
  • Limit life stress: Build a schedule that works with your life. Try to plan your training and races in a way that works with your current schedule and reduces stress. When major life events happen, let running be an outlet rather than an added stress. For me, running can be a “mental health break” as well as a great workout.
  • Keep up with body maintenance: Maybe you can’t get a massage every week like the elites do, but you can certainly book one on occasion and keep up with self-maintenance, like foam rolling, at home.

Simple Solution: Don’t try to change too many things at once. Make simple, sustainable changes, like getting to bed 15 minutes earlier each week or adding more vegetables to one meal each day. It’s all about Baby Steps!

Don’t let any of these reasons keep you from running your best. If you’re looking to improve, addressing these options is a great place to start.

Special thanks to Jason Fitzgerald and the mapmyrun blog for doing the heavy lifting on this article.


A Eulogy For Sneakers?


OK, so forever I’ve said that I’m not a shoe person. And I’m really not. I own less than 10 pair of shoes total. Seems silly to me to have so many shoes. No offense to all the shoe hoarders out there.

HOWEVER, I must admit that I had a hard time letting these 3 guys go. Each pair has a story…lots of stories really. And I kinda grew attached to each pair in their own special way.

Is that weird?

Not that you care, but here is the eulogy
for each.
Red Sauconys O how you loved my feet! So many miles we ran together in the summer of 2015 while training for 1/2 Ironman and moving my family across the state. If not for the blowout on the side and toe and the destroyed sock liner, I could wear you forever. You are my favorite shoes of recent history, the bright red color clashed perfectly with everything I wore. I’m saving the Lock Laces though, so you will be remembered by them.
Dear Scott T2 green machines with your Aero Foam sole that was exceedingly light and cushy for a VERY long time. You helped me through my first 1/2 Ironman back in 2014 and have since been my indoor home workout shoes of choice. You feel like slippers on my feet. If not for the rubber out sole being completely worn off, our relationship could have lasted even longer.
Dear black Adidas with Winterizer liner, you are by far the oldest of this group. I remember picking you out at the store when my son was just a tot. You last helped me train for the spring marathon in 2013 as we logged hard miles in the snow during the winter months in MI. Now that this winter is over, and my feet seem to have grown over recent years, you no longer fit comfortably. It’s been a wonderful 8 years.

Did you really read all that? Then you understand the connection we can have with our special shoes! What are your favorite shoes?


Ready to Workout? First Things First


Make the most of your workouts by doing these simple things before you start.

Mind Your Mindset – If you are like me, exercise is a healthy release & distraction from the demands of daily life. Prepare your mind for the “mental health break” by switching your focus off the daily demands. Think about things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Think about how good it feels to do something healthy for yourself, think about how good it feels when the workout is done – that glorious natural high that gets you through the rest of the day.

Workout with a Purpose – If you are following a specific training plan, do the workout! If you have goals you are trying to reach, pursue them vigorously. This is where you recall your WHY. Why am I exercising? Why is it important to me? At the same time, not every workout can be your best, or fastest, or strongest. Remember good form and the techniques you need for your particular exercise. Get good at the skills & techniques before trying to lift more, go faster, do more reps, etc. to avoid injury.

Budget Your Time – Sometimes work, circumstances, or just life gets in the way of your scheduled workout time, or forces you to cut it short. Some exercise is better than none. Take advantage of the time you have. However, if you are routinely cutting your workout short, then you likely are not budgeting your time effectively. Make the necessary adjustments to your day to maximize your workout time. Make it an appointment in your calendar that can’t be interrupted but for emergency.

Feed the Machine – Preparing for your workout includes having quality calories and hydration in your system. For especially long or intense workouts, this preparation needs to start well ahead of your workout appointment.

Muscle Activation – Don’t forget to warm up. Don’t do static stretching before your run, for example. Instead, begin slow and controlled with movements similar to what your workout will be. These movements will help the brain and muscles communicate better and prepare your body for the work ahead.

That may feel like a lot of work before your workout, but it should really only take a few minutes. Mental preparation is important. Get maximum results from your workout time with these simple preparation steps.