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The biggest mistakes Atlanta runners make (and how to avoid them)

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you're bound to make a few mistakes while running. But not to worry. Atlanta based-trainer Janet Hamilton is pointing out the five most common slipups and what you can do to avoid them.

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Focusing too much on pace and speed

Runners who are looking to increase their speed, especially those training for races, run too fast too soon and too often, said Hamilton, who is also the CEO of runningstrong.com. This method pushes the body to the maximum, she said, which can result in greater risk of injuries.

Instead, Hamilton advises folks to build endurance first and then speed. Create a workout schedule based on your personal fitness goal and level, where you run at maximum effort on some days and at an easier pace on other days. 

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Underestimating the amount of time it takes to train

“People are busy,” the clinical exercise physiologist said, “but I think it’s important to respect the amount of time it takes to train.” She said that even if an event is 12 weeks away, that is not very long to prepare in terms of physiology.

Hamilton recommends that individuals give themselves ample time to train or reach their goal and to also factor in inevitable life interruptions such as an illness, event or emergencies.

Increasing mileage or intensity too soon

Hamilton said runners sometimes run too many miles or add high intensity training to their workouts before their bodies are ready. This greatly increases the chances of injury.

“Build your foundation first with nice easy, conversational, don’t-beat-yourself up kind of running,” she recommended.

Retreating to the treadmills

Runners will often turn to treadmills, particularly during summer months, to avoid the climate. Hamilton said climate has a huge impact on building endurance, and not working up a tolerance can have a negative effect on performance.

Instead, she said it's best to avoid running inside as much as possible. “Don’t shy away from the weather,” she said. “I tell people unless the weather is dangerous you’re better off getting out there.”

When the summer heat sets in, she emphasized the importance of taking more fluids, slowing down, and running outside.

Running the same distance every day

Though running too much too soon can lead to injury, running the same distance every day can hinder your growth.

Increase your weekly mileage gradually to avoid a stagnant regimen, Hamilton said, but allow yourself the luxury of walk breaks at certain points in the run. “Don’t increase your mileage more than 10 percent a week,” she cautioned.

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