What Not to Do Before a Run? 10 Mistakes Every Runner Has Encountered

What Not to Do Before a Run? 10 Mistakes Every Runner Has Encountered

Running is a great sport, and when the stars align, one can fully enjoy it. But it’s worse when everything is not quite ideal and you feel some discomfort. Maybe you have eaten badly, you don’t have the right clothes, or some other inconvenience. Therefore, in today’s article we will focus on the most common errors before a run that can make this activity unpleasant. If you can avoid all of these points, you’ll see that you’ll enjoy your run to the max and maybe even beat your personal record.

10 common errors you may make before running 

1. Not eating

Do you get up in the morning and go for a run right away? For some people it’s a routine, for others an unimaginable situation. Each person is different, and so they handle this situation differently. However, people who are more sensitive in this area may have significant problems when running in the morning. After an overnight fast, the body’s carbohydrate supply, especially liver glycogen, is limited. And if you had an early evening workout the day before followed by a low-carb dinner, you probably have less muscle glycogen as well. If that’s the case, then you have a limited amount of energy left for your morning workout, and it’s quite possible you won’t give as intense a running performance. Emotionally, running will probably be more challenging for you as well.

Some people may also experience a drop in physiological blood sugar levels due to this, a condition also known as hypoglycaemia. This is manifested, for example, by sweating, tiredness, dizziness, light-headedness, hunger, body tingling, palpitations, paleness or weakness. For such cases, it is ideal to carry, for example, an energy gel to replenish the body with the necessary sugar and help reverse the unpleasant condition. But if you don’t mind fasting, feel free to continue. However, we would also recommend that you adapt your last evening meal of the day before your morning run and load up on a larger portion of carbohydrates. You’ll see that you’ll have much more energy for a workout. [1-2]

You can learn more about fasted workouts in our article Does a Morning Cardio Workout Burn More Fat? 

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2. Overeating

The opposite of an empty stomach is when you overdo it with food. It is probably clear to everyone that it is not ideal to have beef stew with eight dumplings and then go for a run. After eating, the body starts to concentrate blood into the digestive system to help it process the food. When you run, however, you need this blood to be more in your muscles so that you can perform at your best. Not to mention that soon after eating, you feel more clumsy, feel heavier and often have a harder time breathing. This manifests itself, for example, by a twinge in the side, faster breathing and other unpleasantries.

Therefore, note to yourself how long it takes you to go for a run after a meal. Some people feel like they haven’t eaten anything an hour after finishing their meal. Another person may need up to three hours to digest a meal. Likewise, it makes a difference if you have a smaller portion of porridge or a big load of eggs before your run. So listen to your body and prefer faster digesting foods before your run. If you still feel a bit sick to your stomach, wait rather than struggle during your run.

And if you’ve had a proper lunch and want to go for a run right away to better digest it, again, you probably won’t enjoy the activity and will more likely be miserable. So it’s better to wait a bit and then go for a longer walk. You can also get a good workout. Read more about it in our article How to Lose Weight Quickly by Walking?

errors before the run - overeating

3. Trying new foods before an important run

Have you planned your first half-marathon for this afternoon or do you have an important race coming up? In such a situation, it is ideal to stick to your usual eating pattern as much as possible. Sure, you can increase your carbohydrate intake the day before, for example, to build up a higher amount of stored energy. However, it’s not optimal to try new foods or combinations you don’t normally consume before a run.

Just because watermelon with yoghurt and nuts suits your friend doesn’t mean it’s the perfect pre-race meal for you. An unusual food combination, coupled with race jitters and a clenched stomach, could wreak havoc on your digestive tract. Instead of having a great individual run or race experience, you could spend the day on the couch with nausea or other digestive problems. So, better to go for your tried-and-true foods that make you feel good, and save the new treats as a post-run reward.

If you want to get the most out of your running, you shouldn’t miss our article on the 11 Best Supplements for Running, Cycling and Other Endurance Sports.

4. Underestimating hydration

In addition to the ideal pre-workout meal, you should not underestimate optimal hydration. This is crucial for the performance itself. Already with a loss of 2% of water from your total body weight, you may start to feel the first signs of dehydration. What do we mean by this?

  • For an average 80 kg man, a 2% weight loss of water would be approximately 1.6 litres.
  • For an average 60 kg woman, a 2% weight loss of water would be approximately 1.2 litres.

Considering that during an hour of physical activity a person can lose approximately 0.3-2.4 litres of sweat per hour, depending on intensity and other factors, fluid replenishment is of utmost importance. According to ACSM (The American College of Sports Medicine) recommendations, an athlete should drink approximately 5-7 ml of water or isotonic beverage per kilogram of body weight (BW) four hours prior to exercise. [2]

  • For an average 80 kg man, this is about 400-560 ml.
  • For an average 60 kg woman, this is about 300-420 ml.

Other sources then work with a more universal recommendation – drink 500 ml of fluids two hours before exercise. So try it out for yourself to see what works best for you so you don’t feel thirsty immediately after starting your run. Equally, though, try to avoid drinking a litre of water just before your run. Aside from nausea, you’d probably experience a pretty queasy stomach during the activity, which could have a negative impact on your performance. [3]

If you have an important race coming up, think about hydrating the day before. And if you have a longer route, try to keep up your fluid intake during the run. Different ion supply drinks can help you with this, as they also replenish essential electrolytes. However, you can also take these after exercising, perhaps in the form of handy tablets.

In addition to hydration in relation to sport, think about your overall drinking habits. Every day you should drink at least 30-45 ml of fluid per kilogram of BW. If you don’t drink enough, you could experience other problems such as water retention in addition to thirst and fatigue. Read more about it in our article  How to Get Rid of Water Weight and Reduce Water Retention.

If you want to learn more about the importance of drinking, you shouldn’t miss our article How Insufficient Water Intake Affects Your Health?

5. Not preparing the body for the strain

Before you go skiing, you prepare your skis and have the edges sharpened. Before cycling, you lubricate the chain and pump up the tyres. Your body needs its own preparation before you can perform. It doesn’t need any sharpening, lubrication or other complicated processes. It just needs to be gently woken up and prepared for getting up off the couch and doing more intense activity.

The so-called running alphabet can work well for runners. This is a set of elements, such as the old familiar front kick and stumble, that are useful to incorporate before a run. It’s great for getting stiff legs moving after a day, improving coordination, footwork and increasing the likelihood of avoiding injury. Similarly, it’s a good idea to include exercises before your run to help stretch your joints and prepare your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems for the challenge. You’ll find that running will feel more enjoyable for you afterwards.

errors before the run - you don't warm up

6. Choosing wrong outfit

Do you stick your hand out the window before you run, tell yourself it’s pretty cold, and dress accordingly? That’s probably not the best way to choose your outfit. Especially if you’re going to be doing a more intense run. It makes a difference how your body perceives temperature at rest or when you’re moving. To make sure you’re always dressed just right, we have a simple tip for you. Check the current temperature outside and dress as if it were about 10 °C warmer. Don’t worry, you won’t be cold. To give you an idea, we’ve also got some specific examples of how to dress for certain temperatures.

  • For temperatures above 25 °C, the motto: “The less, the better.” Women can get by with shorts and a sports bra or T-shirt. Men can run in shorts only, which will give them an extra tan and trigger the production of vitamin D in the body.
  • If it is between 5 and 10°C, it is ideal to wear a thin sporty headband, a functional long or short sleeve shirt, a warmer hoodie, leggings (they can be fleece-lined), socks (if your feet are cold, wear warmer ones, in cold weather always choose ones that cover your ankles).
  • During freezing temperatures of around -10°C, it is ideal to wear a hat, a neck warmer, a thin functional long sleeve t-shirt (which absorbs sweat and keeps you warm), a warm hoodie  (which keeps you warm and maintains temperature), a thin jacket (which doesn’t let in wind or moisture), warm leggings, thin functional socks (e.g. with merino wool), warm socks and light sports gloves. When running in the snow, you should wear shoes with non-slip soles.

You can read more about optimal running clothes and other practical tips in our article How to Start Running? A Simple Guide for Beginners.

errors before running - you plan a route that does not take into account your current condition

7. Planning a route that does not take into account your current condition

Do you have a 15 km run planned for today, but you feel tired, have a headache and no energy? Don’t be afraid to be a little more flexible and adapt your run. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you get nauseous on the run and still have 5 km to go home. If that’s the case, change your plan and just do a few kilometres around your home, so you’ll be able to return home whenever you like.

However, the situation can also be reversed. If you’re looking forward to a short recovery run at a slow pace, but you feel like a good sprint, go for it! Listen to your body and maybe you’ll get a new PR out of it. However, keep in mind that recovery is important too, and pushing yourself to the max every day is not ideal for anyone. And if you want some tips on how to boost recovery effectively, you shouldn’t miss our article How to Support Regeneration with a Massage Gun and Other Accessories?

8. Forgetting to go to the toilet before your run

Does this point seem trivial to you? Any athlete who has ever forgotten to visit the toilet before a run will surely confirm its importance. The feeling that you need to go to the toilet but you have nowhere to go can make any run quite unpleasant. Instead of focusing on the run, you just count down the kilometres until you get home. At worst, you’re just searching for a place to do the deed with deadly sweat on your forehead. But once you’ve experienced this unpleasant situation, you’re sure to never forget to use the bathroom again.

9. Wearing brand-new shoes for the run

Have you bought a new pair of shoes and can’t wait to finally run in them? Then slow down a little. It would be a big mistake to go out in them on your usual route. It could cause blisters and abrasions, as well as pain in other parts of your feet. An even bigger mistake would be to save a new pair of shoes for a race or other important run. No athlete should make that mistake.

If you had one pair of shoes that you were used to running in, it’s a good idea to get used to the new ones gradually. The ideal is to try walking in them for at least an hour at home first. If they don’t fit, you can usually return the shoes. Once they pass this initial test, it’s time to go for a shorter walk in them. This is the best way to see if the shoe fits you well when out in the field. Then try them for shorter and then longer runs. Your body will gradually get used to the new pair of shoes and you’ll be sure to avoid any discomfort.

10. Forgetting to charge your phone, watch or headphones

Today’s time favours modern technology. It is almost a rule that runners go out with a smartwatch, a phone that measures their distance or wireless headphones. So you definitely don’t want to experience a situation where you slip on your running shoes and discover that one of your tech buddies has run out of juice. The minutes it takes to charge your devices to go for a run seem endless.

Sure, you can run without them. But if you pace better with motivational music or look forward to listening to your favourite podcast all day while you exercise, it’s annoying. Just like when you’re about to run a new PR and your phone runs out of battery with an app that measures your time and distance. If you can, check at least an hour before your planned run that you have all your tech gadgets ready for your next run.

errors before running - forgetting to charge your phone, watch or headphones

What should you remember?

There are quite a few errors you can make before a run. And most of them can make your sporting activity quite unpleasant. So try to keep an eye on your diet, hydration, dress and shoes, listen to your body and don’t forget to charge your favourite technological aids. If you can keep everything in check, you’ll be able to fully enjoy every run.

Do you have a friend who constantly complains about something while running? Share our article and help them avoid common mistakes before a run.


[1] Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/low-blood-sugar-hypoglycaemia/

[2] Bernaciková, M., Masarykova univerzita, & Fakulta sportovních studií. – Regenerace a výživa ve sportu

[3] V A Convertino et al. – American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9303999/

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