Tips for a Hybrid Athlete: 5 Mistakes New Runners Make (and How to Avoid Them)

Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with renowned run coach, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and Certified Personal Trainer Dr. Katherine Campbell. A rising star in the running community, Dr. Campbell has helped countless athletes improve their running performance while minimizing the risk of injuries.

The conversation centered around the common pitfalls that beginners often encounter in their running journey, especially those who are moving from weightlifting into a running-heavy regimen.

Dr. Campbell was kind enough to share insightful tips and strategies to help new runners and hybrid athletes navigate these challenges and build a solid foundation for their running regimen.

Let’s dive into her expert advice to understand and avoid these typical mistakes.

Mistake #1: Run easy runs too fast

Running easy gives your body the ability to let your soft tissue structures, like your muscles and tendons, recover while also still building endurance. Each “easy” or “recovery” run is meant to build an aerobic base and is NOT meant to be fast. Make sure to run at a 3/10 effort in order to build endurance but also keep your body healthy! 

Mistake #2: Running too much too soon

Probably one of the biggest mistakes runners make that lead to injury is this one! It can be so exciting to commit to running a race or trying to get into the sport of running, but if you start by running 5-6 days a week when you usually run 0, you will get hurt.

Don’t go from zero to 100. Injuries usually happen when we run more than our body can handle, start with 3 short easy runs a week and space them out every other day. The common rule of thumb in running is to increase weekly mileage by 10% every week except on recovery weeks, where you lower the mileage.

Mistake #3: Avoiding strength training

Whether you want to Boston Qualify or you want to just run healthy, you SHOULD be strength training. As a coach, I personally don’t work with athletes who are not willing to strength train. It is recommended to strength train at least 2 days per week in order to avoid losing muscle, but there should be certain points in the year that your goal should be to BUILD strength.

Improving strength will make you faster and create a more resilient body to handle the demands of running. Every time you run, your body has to be able to absorb 2-3x its body weight. Add +15 miles into the mix, and it leaves a lot of room for the body to not be able to withstand those forces if you don’t strength train. Focus on single-leg stability, but also getting stronger with traditional compound lifts. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy, but be smart!

Hybrid athletes understand that strength training is critical to their performance. They know that it will not only make them faster but also prevent injuries and help them build endurance. It’s important to incorporate both running and strength training into your weekly routine, even if you have a busy schedule. Don’t overlook the importance of balancing both forms of exercise for optimal physical fitness.

Mistake #4: Ignoring all the other variables 

Being a better runner doesn’t always mean running. Whether you want to get faster or avoid injury, you NEED to be smart about what you’re doing the rest of your day. Don’t take your sleep, nutrition, hydration, and stress levels for granted. To be able to perform at your very best, you need to feel your very best, and all of these variables come into play!

In order to stay healthy and energized as you increase mileage, you may need to increase the amount of sleep, calories, carbs, and time stretching each day. It’s important to listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

Make sure you are getting enough rest and sleep each night, aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep. Proper nutrition is also key – fueling your body with nutrient-dense foods will provide the necessary energy for both running and strength training. Don’t forget to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially before and after workouts.

Mistake #5: Build in an off-season

An off-season does not mean weakness! Running will have moments where you need to be mentally tough, but a good, structured, PERIODIZED program should incorporate building in an off-season. Don’t be scared of building in an off-season, it helps avoid burnout, decreases injury risk, and can actually make you faster if you actually focus on the right things at this time such as strength and power. 

These five mistakes are common among runners of all levels, but being aware of them and making the necessary adjustments can lead to significant improvements in your performance and overall physical fitness.

To become a proficient runner, we must look beyond the simple act of running. By avoiding these common mistakes, we ensure a more balanced, sustainable, and effective approach to running and overall physical fitness to run stronger, faster, and, most importantly, healthier.

Thank you to Dr. Katherine Campbell for her expertise and insights on these common mistakes in running. For regular tips to run happier, healthier, and stronger, follow @runwithkat_dpt on Instagram and listen to her weekly podcast, The RunWithKat Show, where she interviews running experts AND inspirational runners. If interested in contacting Dr. Campbell about her coaching services, visit to get started.

Remember, knowledge is power, so continue to educate yourself and listen to your body as you embark on your running journey. Keep challenging yourself, but also remember to rest and recover properly for optimal results.

Happy running!

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