5 things you should never do before a run 

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As runners, we often focus on the main running session itself, and rarely think about the things we should and should never do before a run. 

For a lot of runners, every mile counts and time that takes your attention away from pounding the pavement is time lost.

However, the time spent before and after a run is equally as important in helping you to achieve your running goals.

A successful race is as much about the preparation as it is the actual running of the race.

Here are some things that you should avoid ahead of a run, and what you should do instead.

things you should never do before a run

Static stretching before a run

This is one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to warming up before a run. 

Don’t get me wrong, stretching is important before a run to get you physically prepared for your run, but it shouldn’t be static. 

A static stretch is when you hold a stretch for between 10-30 seconds. 

This type of stretching involves stretching your muscles to the point where you feel slight discomfort when holding that position.

Static stretching is best performed on warm muscles, ideally after your run, so during the cool down.

What to do instead:

Focus on dynamic stretches instead in your warm up. 

Dynamic stretching, sometimes called movement stretching, moves your limbs to lengthen muscles to the end of their range of motion.

This type of stretching is different from static stretching in that it isn’t about holding a stretch, but rather taking your body through ranges of motion.

These ranges of motion will better prepare your body for your run.

According to a recent study, “dynamic stretching is superior to static stretching due to the closer similarity to movements that occur during subsequent exercises”.

Leg swings, forward lunges, squats, arm swings, inchworms and high knees are all good examples of dynamic stretches.

Eating a big meal before a run

Food is fuel. Although it can be hard to know what to eat before a run.

Many runners know that carbohydrates are a runner’s best friend. They are essential fuel for those long runs. 

However, eating a carb-rich meal too soon before your run is a recipe for a sluggish, uncomfortable run.

Likewise, eating the wrong types of foods also spells danger. 

Your stomach needs enough time after a meal to digest food. 

Your digestive tract needs roughly 2 to 3 hours to properly digest food.

Any large meals eaten within 2 to 3 hours of your run will likely stick around during your run, meaning stomach cramps and nausea.

What to do instead:

Eat large meals at least 2 to 3 hours ahead of your run. 

So if you’re an evening runner, it’s probably best to save your evening meal for when you get back from your run.

Ensure any snacks you eat within that 2 to 3 hour window are small and easily digestible. 

Avoid any foods high in fibre as these are harder to digest. Also avoid any spicy foods as these can play havoc with your stomach during your run.

things you should never do before a run

Not drinking enough water

Water is essential to keep you hydrated and replace the fluids lost during your run. 

Dehydration, the result of not drinking enough water, can negatively impact your training. 

Headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps and even blurred vision are the symptoms of dehydration. 

The best way to tell if you’re dehydrated is to check the colour of your urine. If it has a yellowy-brown colour and smells, it’s a sign that you need to be drinking more water. 

What to do instead:

Drink enough water before your run, but don’t overdo it. There’s nothing worse than water sloshing around in your stomach while you run. 

Aim to drink about 16 ounces of water (about half a litre) at least an hour before your long run. 

Then immediately prior to your run, aim to drink about 6 to 8 ounces (about a quarter of a litre) before you begin your run.

If you’re running an extra long distance, like a marathon or ultra-marathon, than you may want to invest in a hydration pack.

Running a race in new shoes

There’s nothing more exciting than a new pair of running shoes. The temptation to wear them for your hard run as soon as you get them is real.

Until they’ve been worn in, even the best running shoe can cause blisters and pain. 

What to do instead:

Take some time to break in your new running shoes. Try them out on some short, easy runs and stop as soon as you start to feel a blister rearing its ugly head.

You could even wear them around the house while you do housework, or use them to walk to the shops in. 

The goal is to wear them enough so they feel comfortable on your next long run. 

things you should never do before a run

Doubting yourself before a run

Running is a mental game as much as it is physical. 

The tendency for a lot of runners is to doubt themselves or compare themselves to someone else. 

The truth is, having doubts and putting yourself down because you may not be seeing the progress you want can kill your race routine as well as your confidence.

What to do instead:

Start your race routine with positive thinking. This will mentally prepare you for the race ahead, and will help to get rid of negative thoughts.

Think about all the hard work and effort you have put into your training plan to get you where you are today. 

Visualise yourself completing the race. Where your mind goes, the body will follow.

Caroline Geoghegan

Caroline Geoghegan (aka Run With Caroline) helps people become faster and stronger runners. She started her blog in 2018 to share her passion for running. Caroline is a UK Athletics qualified Run Leader and Run Coach and NASM qualified Personal Trainer.

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