1. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Somewhere out there, someone will always be better at something than you, but it doesn’t mean that you should not acknowledge your own efforts and accomplishments. Whether you run a kilometre in four minutes or ten minutes, a kilometre is a kilometre.

2. Don’t ever say “I am not a runner”.

Most people make this claim when they feel embarrassed about their pace, or the lack of participation in races. None of it matters. If you like running, and you run, you are a runner. If you don’t like running, but you still run, you are also a runner.

3. Don’t skimp on sleep.

You need between six to eight hours per day – more if you are training hard. The best athletes take afternoon naps. Running a sleep debt not only compromises your performance, it is also very bad for your health.

4. Remember the “rest day” and keep it holy.

The body needs rest days to rebuild from the stress of training. You get stronger and your running improves not from the act of running, but from recovery. This is called hormesis. To remain physically active on rest days, cross-train with other sports or exercises. Do some yoga. Swim. Walk the dog. Save the running for tomorrow.

5. Honor your muscles and your “aches and pains” and do not push through an injury.

It may be stubbornness, idiocy or denial, but many runners try to play the hero by running through their pain. A small problem becomes a big problem, and before you know it, you’re in the doctor’s office, being told that you have to take the next six months off. Runners are not invincible. Respect your body’s cues; sometimes, your body is smarter than you.

young male runner suffering from leg cramp on the track in the stadium

6. Don’t forget to hydrate.

Carry some water with you, or run Keep up the fluids before, during and after your runs. If you are feeling thirsty, you are probably dehydrated. If your pee is dark yellow in colour, you are most definitely dehydrated.

7. Don’t commit the sin of wearing cotton, especially on race day.

Chafing hurts, and the combination of cotton plus sweat is the worst culprit for chafing. Unless you wish to suffer nipple bleed that make look like you’ve been shot through the chest twice, invest in some lightweight running shirts with wicking fabrics and spare yourself, and everyone else, the pain.

8. Don’t ignore your shoes. Get yourself properly fitted and check for signs of wear.

A good pair of shoes will help you maintain proper running form, prevent injuries and make your running experience pleasurable. Rotate between pairs if possible, and get new ones when they are worn out.

running shoes and water

9. Don’t get stuck in a rut.

The fastest way to lose interest and motivation is to do the same thing again and again. It’s also the surest way to stall your progress. Explore new routes, and vary your running by mixing elevation, distance and pace. It will keep things interesting and help you improve.

10. Don’t covet your neighbour’s medals.

Since when was running about ribbons and pieces of plastic or metal? Just because someone else has a rack of medals doesn’t mean he/she is a better runner than you. Races these days hand out medals simply for participating. If you really want to feel rewarded for your running efforts, set a goal and treat yourself to something once you’ve reached it.

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