So you’ve decided to run! YAY, that’s the first step. Now if you’re a complete beginner, there are a variety of frequently asked questions you won’t even realise you needed to consider yet!
Don’t worry it’s not as confusing as it looks, all of my suggestions/answers are things I tried and what works for me. As you gain more experience you may adapt or find your own answers, everybody is different, so do whatever is best for you.
How often should I run?
In the beginning around 2-3 times a week is appropriate (or less if you’re struggling) with rest days and strength training, some training programs increase to 4 days per week. Listen to your body and be ready to adjust depending on how you find things, flexibility is key when you start out.
Should I take water?
The suggestion is, that you shouldn’t need to hydrate while running, if the session is under 50 – 60 mins (unless it’s hot out) BUT when I started I took water out with me regardless because I found I needed it, until I got a base level of fitness. Listen to your body and yourself.
What shoes should I wear?
Shoes are important and the rule I live by is, the more you run, the better your shoes should be (I guarantee a marathon runner is investing in some pretty decent footwear). As a beginner cheap shoes will do because you won’t be doing much mileage, or spending long on your feet BUT as soon as you are running regularly it is really time to commit to a decent pair of trainers. They can be expensive so in the meantime whilst you’re saving up there are a couple things to consider:
- No Velcro – it has too much give and not a lot of support and the stickiness wares away really quick
- No flat soles – I’m talking the “skateboarding shoes” style, they have no flexibility in the sole and is terrible for your ankles. You’re also not getting any P.B’s wearing those.
- Support – You want to find as much support in the shoes as you can for the budget you are using, at the end of the day they are helping to protect your whole body ( they are helping absorb the impact each time you strike the ground which affects your muscles, ligaments and joints)
- Cushioning – for those who have a base level of fitness (but are still beginner runners) you should look into some decent cushioning OR some inserts for your trainers because cheaper shoes wear down pretty quick inside which leads to more blisters and generally very achy feet.
Check out my Running Shoe Review Series to see what I think of the shoes I have tried.
Should I listen to music?
So here’s the thing…
I am a heavy breather (it’s a nose thing) and the sound of my own panting really winds me up (It happens regardless of pace) so I have always listened to music and had headphones.
On the other hand I know plenty of runners who prefer to focus on their surroundings so it is a matter of preference.
Some studies show that you focus more on your form making you more efficient and therefore improving your pace, which may be true for some people but for me I get more enjoyment from listening to music
*Note: Wearing headphones and having loud music can be a safety issue is you are sharing your running route with cars/horses or on trails etc. so make sure you don’t have the music up too loud (Eugh! I sound like my mother) *
I’ve done a more in depth post about this aptly called: Should I run with music?
What is a recovery run?
As the name suggests these are runs that help you recover from a high stress run from the day or two before, this could be because you did a long run or sprints or you’ve been adding a bit of hill training into your program. It is done at an easy conversational pace (chill out, take it easy).
So a recovery run is (in my opinion) as much for your mental recovery as your physical recovery. This is because to do a high intensity workout (such as hills, long runs or sprints) requires you to push your body further to improve, which requires you mentally pushing yourself to keep going and keep enduring. So a recovery run for me is a short run at a conversational pace (sometimes even slower) that lets me enjoy running and recover mentally and leaves me remembering why I enjoy running rather than the memory of the exhausting runs.
There are also suggestions that the extra blood flow improves muscle recovery – I’m not sure that is true but I have found that a recovery run definitely helps me loosen up if my muscles are feeling stiff.
Can I run if I’m overweight?
First things first! Check with your doctor. Running is a great way to lose weight and get into an exercise program BUT being overweight makes you a higher risk to developing joint problems when starting new regimes – I got terrible shins splints because my small frame was not equipped to deal with the excess weight impact on my joints.
But the short answer is yes, overweight people can run
Is it ok to run slow?
As a complete beginner you shouldn’t worry about your speed, you should attempt to improve your conditioning and time spent on your feet, everyone has their own pace. As you progress, injecting speed workouts into your training program by doing tempo runs and fartlek is a good way to vary your program and training. Just try not to start out too fast.
What is walk/running?
It is a type of intervals that can help beginners ease into a running program – I talk more specifically about the benefits of this type of training here…
What should I wear?
Anything… but you want to bare a few things in mind;
- Anything you wear will fade over time (and after sweat and several washes) so if it isn’t running specific be prepared to ruin it.
- Try to avoid tight clothing that might chaff
- Shorts can cause chaffing
- Dress for the weather – if it’s cold make sure you wear appropriate clothing because you might feel warm running but the chances are you’ll catch a cold if you don’t wrap up enough.
Checkout the Running kit essentials for a more in depth look.
Is there an app for that?
Runkeeper – An exercise app that tracks running and other workout types, keep an eye out for my review on Runkeeper.
Strava – A tracking app more commonly known and used for cycling but also has a running option
Nike + – This is a running community app that is also tracks your running, – I will also be reviewing this app too
Smashrun – This is a motivational and statistical platform, check out my review to find out more about it.
When can I call myself a runner?
There are so many answers to this question and in my opinion if you run regularly then you are a runner, regardless of pace or the reason you run 🙂 (some describe it as the distance you run or the events you take part in)
How do I reduce the risk of Injury?
Any new training program can cause stress on the body so beginners should make sure to do extra conditioning and strength exercises (both dynamic and static) such as lunges, squats or calf raises etc. in order to reduce the risk of injury from the sudden increase in activity.
Another way to ensure that weaknesses don’t arrive from new running programs is to cross train by doing another type of exercise that works different muscles. Some examples of cross training that compliment running are;
- Elliptical machine
Dry mouth – To combat your throat feeling dry/sticky try chewing gum whilst running. Mint gum can also help clear your sinuses if running with a cold.
Waterproof headphones – Sweat can degrade headphones quicker than normal (I went through a pair during a half marathon and then they weren’t usable anymore) so investing in waterproof headphones because they have a bit more protection.
Over ear headphones – For me they are a better fit and stay on during the running “jiggle”
The Beginner Runner Series has everything related to running you might need, from app and trainer reviews to workouts and things to consider!
For Tips and advice about running in the dark you should see my in-depth post: The Do’s and Don’t of Running in the Dark
or advice on winter running see my post: Tips for Running In The Winter