5 Common mistakes when starting a running program

So for those of you who decided your New Year’s Resolution was going to be ‘Get fitter’ or ‘Start some regular exercise’ or maybe to ‘Run a half marathon’, then this blog is for you! By this stage you’ve probably got a few runs under your belt and maybe you’re starting to realise it’s not as easy as you had hoped!

This blog is going to run you through the 5 biggest mistakes people make when trying to start a new running program and hopefully give you a few tips to help you make it to your 2018 goal, whatever that might be! There’s a good chance that by this stage in the year you’re getting a bit of an idea of what I’m talking about here.




 Number 1: You’ve started with too much too early!

So here you are in February, you’ve done a few runs a week and you’re starting to feel tired…. The body is feeling tight and rundown,  you’ve got a couple of small niggles which are starting to prevent you from running as far or maybe you just can’t be bothered anymore.

The biggest mistake people make when starting a run program is too many km’s too early and instead of getting fitter, you’re getting an injury! Most running injuries occur through training error e.g building up quicker than your body can tolerate or running too much with poor biomechanics!

Everybody is different and your run schedule depends on a few things… most importantly how much exercise you were doing beforehand! If you were doing next to nothing then you’ve gotta take it slow. This might mean 2 short runs in the first week around the 2-3km mark. Even if you feel good at this stage, stick to the schedule and wait until the next week to build on this. Don’t get over excited and belt out 4 runs in the first week close to your max distance.

Did you know a regular marathon training schedule is around 16 weeks? That’s 16 weeks of regular running on top of a BASELINE fitness of regular 10km runs prior to even starting this schedule. If this seems like a lot, that’s because it is and is a reflection on the time you should be giving to hitting a goal such as a half marathon or marathon to avoid giving up after 6 weeks because you’ve got an overuse injury!


 Number 2: You’ve given no thought to your Shoes!

Now I’m sure you’ve heard it before, your shoes can make a huge difference! Does that mean you need to go out and buy a new pair just to go running in..? Not necessarily. Does that mean you need to go and get your foot assessed and placed in the perfect shoe for your foot..? Not really. Everyone has their own style. Chances are you have heard of the term ‘overpronator’ or maybe you’ve been told your ‘feet are flat’ or maybe that you run on your toes. The question is do these things really matter, and the answer is no. You might have the flattest feet in the world but your biomechanics allow for this and for whatever reason you don’t get any injuries.

These are the three things I recommend when looking for shoes prior to starting a running program (if you’re looking to buy newbies) or if your shoes already fit this category then keep what you’ve got.   

  1. Make sure they’re comfortable
    • You’re going to be spending a bit of time in these shoes so make sure when you put them on, they feel right. Don’t be sucked in to going for a shoe which tells you it has ‘good arch support’ or ‘cushioned sole’ if it doesn’t feel right on your foot.
  2. Aim for a lighter shoe
    • Keep it simple. You obviously don’t want extra weight on your feet. Opt for something on the lighter side which still feels like it’s giving you adequate support.
  3. Don’t make big changes from your usual shoe
    • The body likes what it’s used to! Don’t make huge changes. If you’ve used runners which have worked in the past then stick to what you know and what your body knows!

In saying all this, your choice of shoe is important and can have huge effects on your running. So don’t just get into a program without giving them any thought at all!


 Number 3: You’re not changing up the variables…

What variables? If I want to get better at running then I just go out and run right?

Wrong. Do you know why it’s so hard to break habit? Because the body hates change. And when it comes to running, doing what your body hates is the best way to get better! Don’t go out and do the same thing over and over because your body will love this and won’t adapt and will struggle to improve. Change it up!

Change up your pace/load/intensity: try a short quick run and a long slow run during your weekly program

Change up your routes: road running, trail running, hill runs, flat runs, suburban runs, country runs… the options are endless

Change up the type of training: introduce some cross training, the best thing you can do is add in some strength/circuit training into your program. The best runners in the world will be strength training at least 2 x a week.



Here is an example of a program you could possibly try for one of your training weeks.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Strength and Conditioning (Circuit) Short quick run/speed work Rest Long, slow run Strength and conditioning (gym work focused on lower limb muscles) Rest Middle distance run


  Number 4: You haven’t got a rest schedule

This is probably the least thought about part of your running program and also one of the most important. One of the biggest errors you can make is not allowing the body to rest and recuperate post training. Without adequate rest your runs will become harder, your performance will diminish and it will become mentally harder to get out and train… all signs of overtraining.

So what to do? How much rest do I need? The best thing you can do is plan your weekly runs (and further) to ensure this is achieved and make sure you stick to it! This may involve a recovery week every 4-6 weeks which involves NO running. Ensure you’re incorporating adequate cool down and stretch time post training runs and most importantly adequate sleep.

When your program first begins, your first couple of weeks might look like this…


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Short quick run/speed work Rest Rest Strength and Conditioning Rest Middle distance run Rest


It’s also important to consider the other components of your life… your social, work and family life should also be factored into your program. If Monday is usually a long day at work for you, then this might be one of your rest days.

Don’t underestimate how important good rest and sleep is and look for the signs of overtraining. These can include:

  • Decreased performance
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Extended muscle soreness
  • Personality changes, loss of concentration




Number 5: You’ve got niggles and you’re not getting them looked at

Last but not least tip number 5. Niggles. Otherwise known as something that is a persistent annoyance or discomfort and these are precursors to INJURIES.  As physiotherapists we always recommend an assessment prior to starting any significant change in training program to ensure your body is ready to handle this change. For running this might involve looking at your gait, assessing your stabilising muscles and talking about your program, your shoes and your goals.

Whether it’s some slight low back pain, shin pain, knee pain or foot pain the best thing you can do prior to starting a running program is to get these niggles looked at, because as your mileage increases chances are they’re only going to get worse!

Consider this… 1km = roughly 1,300 steps when walking so maybe reduce this a bit for running steps… lets say 1,100 steps. If you run 10km, that’s 11,000 steps. A half marathon is 23,210 steps and a marathon is 46,420 steps! So, for example, your hip muscles are compensating for your foot which rolls in every time it lands and are having to work extra hard to control this. For a marathon that is over 46,000 times that this muscle is doing a job it doesn’t want to do. Chances are you’re going to end up with a sore hip. The fact of the matter is that running is a repetitive sport and is thus prone to repetitive strain injuries. Get the little niggles looked at early and prevent them from becoming full blown injuries which keep you sidelined for weeks instead of days.




If you have any questions about your running program or want an assessment prior to starting a program then book in a session with one of our physiotherapists today!

Is it true that my headache could be coming from my neck?

As Physio’s we often have patients complaining of neck issues such as stiffness or pain which they believe is accompanied by some sort of ache or tension around their head or face…. So is it true that some types of headaches are actually caused by some dysfunction in the neck?

It seems to be more common knowledge now that yes your neck can be the source of your headache, so in this blog we’ll explore neck related headaches and how likely it is that your headache is one of these!

We’ll also give you some tips for treatment and some things you can try at home to help ease your pain!

Remember if you’re concerned about your pain or have experienced your pain for a few consecutive days make sure you consult your Physio or GP!





What is it?

Cervicogenic headache is a syndrome characterised by pain around the head or face that is referred from a source in the neck. Often this pain is referred from the soft tissue or bony structures.

The prevalence of this type of headache in the general population is only around 2-4%. They are most common around the age of 40 and are 4 times more likely in females than males. They can also affect quality of life to the same extent as migraines! The most common factors related to these headaches are mental stress and poor neck position (posture, weak or tight muscles).


The mechanism of this pain is thought to arise from a crossover of information from the nerves supplying the neck and those that supply the head and face. This occurs with a convergence between the sensory fibres from the upper cervical nerve roots and trigeminal nerve fibres.  This basically means that although the source of pain is a joint, muscle or ligament in the neck, your body is PERCEIVING the pain in the head or face!


How do I know if my headache is coming from an issue in my neck?

The features of cervicogenic headaches can be similar to that of other headache disorders such as tension type or migraine. So how do we determine if the source of pain is from the neck?

The following criteria are more likely associated with cervicogenic type headaches but it is important to remember that you may be suffering from more than one type of headache at any given time.



Cervicogenic headache signs/symptoms:

  • Head pain is aggravated by neck movement or poor neck postures
  • Head pain is exacerbated by external pressure over the upper cervical/occipital region
  • Reduced neck movement
  • Neck/shoulder/arm pain on the same side as the headache
  • One sided head or face pain without change of sides
  • Intermittent attacks of pain lasting hours to days
  • Moderate to severe pain intensity that is non-throbbing






To successfully treat cervicogenic headaches your physiotherapist will perform a complete assessment to determine the source of the pain and whether there may be a secondary source.  It is relatively common to suffer these headaches along with other non-specific neck pain as well as other headache types.

Successful treatment often involves the combination of pharmacologic and physical/manual therapy. Studies support the use of therapeutic exercise along with soft tissue therapy in the short term treatment of this condition as well as good results in the long term prevention and control of headaches.


How can a physiotherapist help with my headaches??

  • Mobilisation and manipulation aimed at restoring the range of motion in cervical spine joints particularly in the upper joints
  • Soft tissue techniques to alleviate tight musculature or release responsive muscles
  • Dry needling
  • Targeted exercise program aimed at restoring range of motion, stretching tight musculature, improving strength
  • Pilates
  • Posture correction
  • Ergonomic assessment


What can I do myself to help decrease my pain?

  • Avoid prolonged positions eg sitting at work
  • Maintain good posture in standing and sitting
  • Maintain adequate strength and flexibility in the shoulder and neck region
  • Self-release upper back/neck muscles
  • Try to manage mental stress   


So where to from here? Do your symptoms appear similar to what we’ve talked about in this blog? Maybe your headaches are actually coming from a neck issue instead of just a chronic headache which seems to keep coming back. Instead of reaching for the pain killer next time, try Physio!

Solving the Problem of Chronic Ankle Instability

17/5/2017, James Coller. PPS Physiotherapy, Physiotherapist

Have you ever rolled your ankle?

Do you have feelings of chronic instability?

Have you rolled your ankle more than once over the past couple of years?

Most of you would answer yes to one if not all of the above questions! So why are these types of injuries so common and why is it common to repeatedly sprain the same ankle in a relatively short period of time.

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10 Things Physio’s wish you would and would not do

20/3/17, Kimberley Cochrane (Bach of Physiotherapy, First Class Hons)

Physio’s are kind and caring people and we love to see our patients getting better.  At the end of the day, it’s why we chose a career in physiotherapy. However, we occasionally get frustrated too! We have put together a list of our top 10 things we would really love you to know that will help you get better much quicker or prevent injuries occurring in the first place.

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Health Tip – Nutrition

In people who are or have been underweight their bone health may suffer as a consequence. This can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis and stress fractures. On the other hand, during recovery from injury, adequate energy supply is required to ensure tissue repair can occur as quickly as possible.  Energy supply is also an important consideration for sports participation to ensure the best possible performance is achieved.Read More