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We’re totally impressed: You were up and at 'em this morning to pound the pavement (or treadmill) at the crack of dawn. But these five common running mistakes could be sabotaging your workout. Here, how to nip them in the bud. 

RELATED: The Best Time of Day to Run, According to Science

running mistakes form

You’re Forgetting to Check Your Form

We get it. You’re hard-pressed for time and doing everything you can to squeeze your workout into your already busy day. But if you’re not relaxed while you’re running, you could be doing your body more harm than good. The goal: to keep your shoulders down and your face looking straight ahead—versus at the ground—so you’re not tensing your frame. (A good trick to keep your upper body in check: lift and lower your shoulders at each mile marker, an easy cue to relax.)

running mistakes stretching

...Or to Stretch After You Work Out

Pre-run stretching can up your endurance, researchers at Florida State University have found, but post-run stretching is just as valuable. Otherwise, lactic acid can build up in your muscles and cause soreness and fatigue. In fact, something as simple as stretching out hamstrings and quads for five minutes after you run can keep your blood circulating so your leg muscles recover faster. Good deal.

running mistakes downhill

You’re Only Challenging Yourself to Run Uphill

You’d be surprised—running downhill is actually just as tough as any uphill climb. Here’s why: You’re actually overworking (and overextending) a totally different group of muscles as they try to temper your pace and speed. If you’re a regular runner, try to strengthen these muscles by expanding your running route to incorporate gradual downhills versus steep declines.

RELATED: 9 Things Science Says All Runners Think About When They Run

running mistakes msn

...And You Tend to Pound the Pavement Heel First

As you run, it makes sense that your heel would hit the pavement first. But you really should be aiming to land mid-foot—a fix that’s as simple as shortening the length of your stride—if you want to avoid injuries like shin splints or worse. (Ouch.)

running mistakes apple watch

Your Focus is On Distance (Not Time)

GPS makes it a cinch to record the mileage—and exact route—of all of your runs. But measuring how long you run instead of the mileage can actually be a better measure of your endurance and physical shape. For example, it’s the difference between a 30-minute run and a three-mile one. Keeping tabs on the clock makes it easier to perfect and improve your pace versus overworking (and possibly injuring) your body just to hit a distance goal. 

RELATED: 6 Treadmill Mistakes You Might Be Making

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