Running 101 - Running for Beginners All Your Questions Answered
When it comes to running there is so much information to take in. If you're new to the sport how can you figure out what's what? What to wear, eat and drink, what gadgets are worth your money and what you don't need to waste your time with.
What are the best shoes to wear / Is "x" brand the best brand of shoes?
Shoes. The gateway into the running community. And I cannot tell you how often people seem me - look down at my feet and ask "Are those the best brand/type of running shoe?"
There is no best brand and there is no best model. Every person has a different stride and will ultimately have a different preference to what brand is best. The BEST thing you can do is high tail it to your local specialty run store. All my Baltimore friends know how much I love Charm City Run every one of their staff is trained to asses your stride and help you chose the shoe that works best for you!
What pace should I be running? And how do I know if I'm breathing correctly?
These two go hand in hand. Running too fast is the number one reason I see new runners get discouraged and stop running. This one can be tricky - especially the way we're all plugged into our headphones and can't seem to run without jamming tunes in our ears. You might think your upbeat playlist is keeping you motivated but could it actually be causing you to run — too fast?
If you're new to running you probably start your run by taking off in a burst of excitement. You run for about two minutes before you are gasping for breath and clutching that side stitch. It's one of those things that takes practice to improve but girl - SLOW DOWN.
When you run - your body needs to take in oxygen to create energy so that you can keep moving. When you hear people use the term "aerobic" exercise that's what they're talking about. A process within the body that needs oxygen to convert carbs to energy. If you run too fast your body doesn't have enough time to take in oxygen, and create energy. This is what leaves you gasping for air. Your body literally cannot get enough air to create energy.
If you're having issues with breathing - slow down. You'll know when you find your ideal pace because you'll be able to breath relatively normally. Any easy rule of thumb is the talk test. When you're at the ideal pace you should be able to carry on a converstaion with someone running next to you - instead of only being able to squeeze out a few works between gasps for air.
How do I work my way up to running from a run walk?
If you're currently doing a combination of run / walk the first thing to take care of is getting on some kind of structure. For example run for 3 minutes walk for 1 minute, and repeat this ratio for the total distance or time you are currently comfortably with.
If you aren't tied down by any race goals or specific dates, and increasing the amount of time in your run segment would be a great goal. Each week increase your running interval by 30 seconds. They key here is to keep your distance the same week after week.
If you're motivated by completing a race of a certain distance - building up your total time /distance would be the main goal. Keep your run/walk ratio the same but each week increase your runs by 2-5 minutes in length. This will help build up your endurance. Once you've gotten comfortable with the total time/distance you can start increasing your run segment.
No matter what your goal is — or which method you choose it's important to be patient and know that it takes time to work your way up to a certain speed or distance. Remember not to rush progress. Being a lifelong runner is more important than over doing it for a short term goal and ending up injured.
Can we just be real here also? There should be no shame around doing a run/walk - anyone who is going to judge you for not "exclusively running" is an A*hole elitist runner - not the type of person I want to hang out with. I trained for and completed my first two half marathons almost exclusively with a run/walk and managed some pretty decent times for both.
What should I eat before I run? After? During?
Again, since each person is so different this is going to take a lot of trial and error. It will depend on your body's preferences and will take a hearty slice of self awareness.
Most professionals will advise some kind of easy to digest carb about an hour before a run 60 minutes or longer. Shorter distances don't require you to fuel up as much, and the intensity of the exercise is also going to determine how much food you really want in your stomach. For me personally - fasted cardio works really well but I know plenty of people for whom this doesn't work at all.
During your run? Fueling up for a run is vastly over promoted in my opinion. If your run is under 60 minutes and you've fueled up before hand you're probably good to go without carrying anything with you while you workout. The wide world of gu's, gels, beans, and other assorted sugary intra-run supplements sure is enticing — but if you're just starting out running you can likely go without.
After your run is less confusing - because most experts will agree that another easy to digest carb with some protein is best to help your body get started on muscle repair and recovery. Now this I can get on board with. However don't go overboard here either. The average runner burns about 100 calories a mile — so don't negate all that hard work with 500 calories of "I earned it" food. Instead grab a post-run banana or toast with nut butter.
Best app for tracking my miles?
I personally use a Garmin GPS watch to track the miles in every run - but back in the day I would pre-map out my runs with MapMyRun and then keep a notebook of my miles. MapMyRun is still a great option, although these days you can download the app right to your phone and let it track your route while you run. Another great app is RunKeeper.
Do I need to buy a GPS watch/fancy fuel belt/expensive clothes?
No. Probably not. And only if you have the budget for it. While I totally get that fancy new things can be super motivating at first - once the newness wears off what is going to keep you going? Instead I like to use new things as a somewhat "reward system" to help me achieve my goals.
If you really want to buy that new GPS watch [I get it - they are gorgeous!] set a goal for yourself like training for and completing your first 5k race and if you meet your goal than #treatyoself.
I also love using gear and acessories as motivation instead of food - because I like to break this idea that you have to "earn" food or "treats" as a reward for running. Running should be a fun experience. If you don't enjoy it find another type of fitness - there are plenty of things to choose from!
I really want to run a half/full marathon! How much time do I need to train?
A typical training program for a half marathon is 12-14 weeks and a full marathon 18-20 weeks. But don't think you can jump in from 0 to 26.2 A marathon is a serious time commitment as well as a serious physical toll on your body. Running a race of any distance is a great goal — check out this post to see if you're ready to tackle 26.2
I've heard runners should also be strength training - how do I get started with this?
Check out this post for all the details on strength training for runners. Or get your hands on my Strength Training for Beginner's guide. It has almost everyting you need to get started
If you're looking for help with your training or to accomplish your fitness goals - let's chat! I'd love to hear more about your running and/or fitness goals and see where