3 Common Mistakes We See In Recreational Runners!

June 5, 2019

Do you run for health and fitness but often end up with niggles or worse injured?  Do you have a love hate relationship to exercise with lots of starts and stops in training? This is an important article that could make the world of difference to you.

Did you know that the recreational runner has more injuries sustained per 1000 hours of training when compared to more experienced runners?  (Videbeck S et al 2015)

The causes of all overuse injuries could be classified as training errors and thus could be preventable. (Hreljac 2005)

If the recreational runner is left to continue making these errors in training will we be left with an increasingly unhealthy population as even those that are attempting to live a healthy life are plagued by injury and subsequent inactivity?

In an attempt to interrupt this pattern and certainly the trend in our Toowoomba region towards being the record holder for poor health it is on us to try to keep our community moving.

I do not know about you, but for me with 63.3% of our local adult community being overweight or obese it really is time to try and stop the progression.

If you are as committed as I am to keeping yourself and our community active then read on to find out the 3 common mistakes to avoid so that we can reduce the risks of running related injuries.

  1. To Much Too Quickly

The human psyche is an interesting thing and unfortunately when we get motivated to make a change we get “REALLY “motivated. Often this means instead of applying a well measured patient approach to increasing our activity, we sign up for an event to motivate ourselves and suddenly go from being relatively inactive to running 5kms 5 days in a row because it surely can’t be that hard! Can it? While your body may cope with this for a while. Lurking in the shadows is the very high possibility of injury because we have not gone through the patient process of priming, allowing our body to adapt to repetitively hitting the ground with increased force. As a result we start to break down.

So as a general rule of thumb you should increase your volume slowly. Using the old 10% model can be a good way to go if you are already a regular runner. While this model has been replaced now by more complex models taking more variables into consideration for the regular runner this is the easiest rule to apply that does not require complex spreadsheets to calculate. When using the 10% model you do not increase your volume by any more then 10% of the total km’s for the week prior. For example if last week I ran 4 x 5km days = 20Km total, the next week I would run no more then 22km. I would then not increase this volume again until my legs felt comfortable with the increased volume. This may take several weeks.

If you are a beginner runner the most important thing to consider is getting your body used to impact so as a starting point. Walk/running 3 times per week for 2-3 Km’s will start to get your legs and feet to adapt to the concept of running. I would not change this until you feel comfortable with this volume for at least 3-4 weeks before adding any additional Km’s. When you are ready to increase your training volume rather than increasing the distance a good way to increase running volume is to add another day. For instance increase to 4 days per week of 2-3 km’s. Again I would continue this volume for another 3-4 weeks of comfortable running.

  1. Too Much intensity.

Unfortunately this is a trap we as recreational runners can all fall into easily where the majority of our runs we spend the majority of the time in the middle to high range of intensity. There are lots of ways to measure how intense a run is, with two of the more common ways being a Heart rate Monitor (HRM) or rated perceived exertion (RPE). Rated Perceived Exertion is where you give yourself a rating based on how hard you ran e.g. you may say you are going to do today’s training run at 60 % of your, what you consider to be your, maximum effort possible. Most of us these days wear a heart rate monitor of some description. With the explosion of activity trackers and smart watches this technology has become ever more popular but how many of us actually know how to use/read/ interpret it effectively. Essentially your heart rate can give a scale for your level of exertion relative to your maximum Heart rate. On a very rudimentary scale Maximum heart rate (MHR) is 220 minus your age.

Subsequently the intensity zones are then broken up as follows where you calculate your Maximum heart rate and calculate the various percentages to calculate which zone you are aiming for.

  1. Easy/ Recovery run – 60-70% of MHR so a 40 year old this would be 108-126 bpm at this intensity I should be able to hold a full conversation with the person I am running with
  2. Endurance base Training – 70-80% of MHR for a 40 yo 126-144 at this pace you should be able to speak in one sentence at a time.
  3. Aerobic capacity – 80-90% MHR for a 40 yo 144-162. At this pace you can still say individual words
  4. Aerobic threshold 90-98% 162- 176 at this pace you are giving it your all
  5. Aerobic max 98%+ so for a 40 yo this is 176 and above in this bracket you are absolutely cooked and can often feel weak dizzy or nausea after running in this zone.

When you are a beginner runner trying to build a base most of us should start with the majority of our running in the Endurance base zone. However this model is known as the Threshold model of running and if maintained over a long period of time can increase our risk of running related injuries.


Alternatively as our exercise age increases (years of continuous running) we should shift out of the threshold model into a polarizing model for our training. The problem with sitting in the threshold model for too long means that your easy runs are too hard and your hard runs are too easy. This occurs because you have wiped yourself out with your “easy’ run. I would have to say that most recreational runners tend to drift into this model therefore feeling like they are forever plateaued or worse having constant interruptions with injury. With the arrival of recreational events such as park run and the various available fun runs we have become all too obsessed with chasing pace week in week out instead of chasing running time on our feet.

Instead adopting the polarizing training model means that we should spend the majority of our running time in the easy/recovery time with higher intensity bursts built in around the easy runs therefore improving our overall performance and make running fun again.

  1. Stopping altogether when injury occurs.

One of the most prominent things that has come out of all the most recent studies is that inactivity in the event of injury leads to longer recovery times and in fact will reduce how well you recover.

What we know to be true is that when you are injured you need to find a way to keep moving. This can be done by either decreasing the intensity or the volume of the training with the aim to lower it in such a way that your pain is also lowered. For example if you are running 10 km and you are getting persistent knee pain that you would rate as being is an 8 out of 10 or more then reduce your distance until your pain is no more then a 2-3 out of ten. At this point seeking some medical advice about how to treat or strengthen the underlying problem so that you can then slowly increase your volume again is suggested.

Alternatively if you cannot reduce your pain by changing your intensity or volume then think about doing a different activity such as walking, riding or swimming. I recently discussed this with long distance Olympic runner, Jessica Trengove who found sometimes this may take a little bit of creativity to be able to do this and still achieve your goals. 6 weeks out from the Rio Olympics she suffered a stress fracture to her foot which meant she could not run so she had to replace her running volume with using an elliptical and a rower to make it to the start line ready to go. 

This is where the wisdom of your trusted health professional can come in handy. We are working with these types of challenges day in and day out and are not only committed to helping you achieve your short term goals but also in looking out for you that you are also able to maintain a happy healthy lifestyle well into the future.

If you have made any of these mistakes and are wondering what is next for you or not sure how to take that next step then you will be pleased to know we have developed a Runner’s Review Assessment which can be conducted by one of our podiatrists.


In this assessment we will look at

  • Your running history and current running load.
  • Your injury history and current injury risk
  • Your running footwear and make recommendations for improvement if needed.
  • We will assess your muscle strength and joint movement to highlight areas that need stretching and strengthening.
  • We will look at your current running form including cadence foot strike and posture and based on your history make recommendations for improvement where necessary.
  • Finally we will leave you with a treatment plan and treatment options where recommended or a review plan if everything checks out “A ok” for you.

If you would like to have a “Running Review” then follow the link below for more information and to book your appointment. Just remember when you get to the comments section type the words “running review.”


Alternatively give us a call on 46462016 and we will get you sorted.

In the mean time happy running