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So you want to start running

ThickMcRunFastThickMcRunFast Member Posts: 22,511 Member Member Posts: 22,511 Member
I see questions about how to get started running pretty much daily here, so I thought I’d put together a bunch of information, all in one place. This will be general, and I’m sure that pretty much every point made here could be argued about on some level, but for beginners, this will all remain true. This is information to get you started and help you avoid injury. Sure, your friend/boss/SO/cat may have done it a different way and not ended up hurt, but we’re playing the law of averages here.

This is to get someone started. If you want to know what to do when you actually get to your race – check here: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/279198-running-tip-so-you-are-about-to-do-your-first-race

So:
How do I start?

This will depend on some things. What your base level of fitness is, whether or not you do cardio, etc. There are a few ways you can really break into it 1) a structured program like Couch to 5k. This will start you running intervals, a few minutes on, a few minutes off, with the goal of having you run an entire 5k (3.1 miles). 2) Go out and jog for 10 minutes. Was that easy? Was it difficult? Could you do it again tomorrow? If its no problem, C25K might be too elementary for you. The key is to go slow. If you can’t carry on a conversation while running, you are going too fast (more on that below). A lot of new runners think running means sprinting. Sprinting shouldn’t be in your vocabulary for the first few months.

How should I progress?

The advice often given is that you should not increase your total mileage by more than 10% each week. Some will argue more is fine, some will say less is better. Erring on the side of caution, do not try to do too much too soon. You want to gradually build up your cardiovascular system (as well as musculature) to handle the load. Just like you wouldn’t walk into a gym and try to bench press 200 lbs on your first day, you shouldn’t try to go out and run 10 miles your first week.

I would suggest that if your overall goal is to run a marathon, you should not jump straight into that training program. Build a base first. Run a 5k; then train for and run a 10k. Run a half. A marathon training program will be 16-18 weeks, and that will assume a base of at least 25 miles/week. It is far better to get those shorter distances in first. You will learn a lot about race day, be less likely to injure yourself, and more likely to enjoy the experience. You should not be in a rush to do any of this.

I’m so slow…how do I get faster?

More miles

but this guy at crossfit said..

MORE MILES!

Haha, seriously, as a beginner, the best way to get faster is to develop your cardio system.
The science behind it (greatly abridged and generalized): There are 3 types of muscle fibers involved in running: Slow twitch (endurance), fast twitch glycolytic, and fast twitch oxidative (explosiveness). At lower intensities, all three fibers are developed. Slow twitch muscle starts being developed at around 60% VO2max (VO2max is your maximum oxygen consumption, we can also think of it as perceived effort, though that is not entirely correct). Fast twitch glycolytic kicks in around 70%, and fast twitch oxidative around 75%. So, if you run at 80% max effort, you can develop all three. This is how you can get faster without running faster. This is also why runners will tell you to run at a pace where you can carry on a conversation – that is theoretically a pace in the 70-80% VO2max zone. Now, MAXIMUM fast twitch development happens at higher levels (85-100+%), which is why more advanced runners will add in tempo runs and interval work (it also helps with your lactic acid threshold, but that's another post). However, to decrease the risk of injury until you have a good base built up, long slow miles are key.

I don’t think I’m built to be a runner

Are you human? Then you are built to be a runner. You may not enjoy running, and that’s fine. Running may not fit into your fitness/aesthetic goals. That’s cool too. You may have an injury that precludes you from running, and if so that sucks and I’m sorry. But from a physiological standpoint, running is your jam. It’s your hunting strategy. Its how we survived as a species. You’re built to be a runner. Your Achilles tendon says so.

more info:
http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041115/full/news041115-9.html
http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_running_man_revisited/P2/

My shin hurts, am I going to die? (common runner injuries)

For new runners, the most common sources of injuries will be ‘too much, too fast, too soon’. Go slow, be patient. Avoid injury.
That being said, you are starting a form of exercise, and that will result in some muscle soreness. Aches and pains can be greatly reduced by doing some sort of self-myofascial release, also known as ‘workin’ it with the foam roller’, followed by stretching. A foam roller is a very wise investment.

RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and ibuprofen is also good to reduce inflammation. I will often freeze a full water bottle, and roll my arch out with it if I am getting sore feet.

Running surface can somewhat affect how you feel. Dirt is softer than asphalt, which is softer than concrete. I’ve run inside through linoleum hallways during the winter. That was a ticket to shin-splint town.

It is important that you learn to recognize the difference between “this hurts” and “I am hurt”. Is your pain sudden and acute? Is there swelling? If so, stop and re-evaluate. If you just feel uncomfortable because you haven’t run in 2 years: suck it up, buttercup.

Some issues people are likely to experience if you do too much too soon:
-shin splints
-plantar fasciitis (the dreaded PF- to be avoided at all costs)
-IT band/Patellofemeral issues (also known as “runners knee”)

read more about common injuries and how to treat them: http://www.runnersworld.com/health/big-7-body-breakdowns?page=single

There is another extremely common source of pain for a new runner: Shoes.

Shoes

Do you need actual, real, fitted running shoes?

Well, do you want to run?

Seriously, if this is something you want to do multiple times a week for the foreseeable future, you should consider investing in good running shoes. If you only want to jog a few miles every now and then, do you need them? Well, its up to you. I don’t think it would cause your feet to fall off, but honestly, most aches and pains can be fixed with the right shoe.

How do you get the right shoe? You go to a reputable running store, and you have a gait analysis done. You try on many, many shoes. You run around in them. You will know when you find the right one. They will not need to be broken in (unless you are transitioning from a traditional shoe to a minimalist-style).

I’ve heard of those minimalist shoes, they are the best, right?

It depends. They can be good, they can be bad, depending on you. I have had points in my career where they worked very well, and points where they gave me tendonitis. You can dig up studies that say they are great, and studies that say they are an overblown fad. It really is up to your running style. If they feel great, go for it. If they feel bad, don’t force yourself into them because your mom/brother/coworker/thatguyatthegym told you it was best.

Are they expensive?

Yes. No way around that. You can expect to pay $100+ for a good pair of running shoes. Most stores do not charge for gait analysis, so if you are really strapped for cash, you can get it done, then buy online. However, if they spend the time analyzing you, its good form to at least buy your first pair from the store. Often you can get last year’s model/colors online for cheap, and there aren’t usually huge changes in design (though sometimes there are, so if you go this route, be careful and do some research). I look at it this way: Shoes are expensive, but not as expensive as physical therapy.

I don’t have a running store around me, is Foot Locker OK?

No. Drive to a running store. If all else fails, you can try something like Runner’s World’s online shoe finder, but nothing will beat the experience of trying on the shoes yourself and having a trained person watch you move. Plus, I tried the shoe finder, just to see if it would match, and it has not once given me the shoe I actually run in. Take that how you will.

Mechanics

As a beginner, there’s not much you should have to worry about with your stride and gait. Most fixes in this category are for advanced runners trying to cut a few seconds off their mile or minutes off their marathon. That being said, here are some things to keep in mind:

-Your foot should hit right under or just in front of your body. If it is hitting way out in front of you, you are over-striding.
-Your arms should move forward, and not swing across your body. This will keep you from torque-ing out your back, and make it easier to breathe.
-Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. If your biceps hurt after a run, you are tensing your upper body too much.
-Foot strike: This refers to which part of your foot physically makes contact with the ground first. Heel, midfoot, or forefoot. are your options. Forefoot striking is very ‘in’ right now, but quite honestly, strike is only one part of the equation. Are you a heel striker? You don’t have to go out of your way to fix this if you aren’t having pain. Some people heel strike. It’s OK. There is no need to overhaul your gait if it works for you. In fact, some people will have higher impact with a forefoot strike, and low impact with a heel strike, depending on their overall mechanics.

If you want to read more about foot strike – start here: http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/facts-foot-strike

Cross training

Any basic running plan will have you out there at least 3 times a week. It is vitally important that you cross train in addition to running. What does this mean? For some, it’s a lower impact form of cardio – like biking or swimming, that will work other parts of the body while giving their running muscles a rest. I prefer strength/resistance training to more cardio.

Runners often have weak glutes (compounded by tight hip flexors). Working a few days on strength moves such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and hip thrusters/glute bridges can do wonders for your leg and core strength. It is important not to over-do this. Doing both a progressive running program, and a progressive heavy lifting program at the same time would be challenging for an advanced runner, and would lead to overtraining for a beginner. Often one has to be prioritized over the other. If you are training for a marathon, backing off to bodyweight strength training is probably a wise move. How to schedule your runs and cross training is up to you, but I would advise against putting squat/deadlift day right after or before your long run.

What do I wear?

Strike this word from your clothing vocabulary: Cotton. Replace it with this: Wicking. Something that moves moisture away from your skin and dries easily is your friend. You don’t want your clothes to weigh 10lbs more at the end of a run than they do at the start. Good socks are a wise decision. I like Balega. Others will have strong opinions. Do you have strong opinions about socks? Congrats, you are a runner. Body Glide will help prevent chafing. Apply it liberally. It won't ruin clothes the way Vaseline will.

Ladies – our running shorts will have built-in underwear that is made of wicking fabric. You do not need to wear other underwear. I couldn’t imagine running in grandma panties, or with a thong up in my business. Also, a note about sports bras – get a good one. Larger busted women: I feel your pain, but I promise you, there is a bra out there for you. You do not have to resort to wearing two. I have found success with both Moving Comfort and Under Armour. Both make bras in actual cup sizes.

Gents – compression shirts and body glide will prevent nipple catastrophe.

Nutrition

Obviously, this is going to depend a lot on your personal goals. However, if you want to run, and run well, you need to fuel yourself properly. But here are some general guidelines

Protein – 1g per pound lean mass. You will see this everywhere. Running will cause you to get micro-tears in your muscles. Your body will respond by repairing these tears, and by building more muscle (you do not get better from running, you get better from recovering from running- though running is a prerequisite). Dietary protein is required for this. Does this mean you need to immediately slam down a protein drink after a 3 mile run or your body will devour itself? No, just make sure to get enough throughout the day.

Fuel during runs - If you are getting proper nutrition in your everyday life, you do not need to bring extra fuel with you on runs of up to 20 miles. There are a few exceptions to this: 1) If you are planning on using gels/chews/beans during a race, you should see how your system reacts to them in training. 2) If you are training for something like a ultramarathon, where you will need to teach your body to consume solid food while running (but for beginners, we don’t really need to discuss ultras). I use powergels in my races, but I want them to be a boost, not something I depend on, so I won’t use them during training runs. Of course, after 10 years of distance running, I already know how my body reacts to them. For a 5 or 10k, no extra nutrition should be needed. If you’re packing a picnic lunch with you for your 5 mile run, you’re doing it wrong.

Hydration - also personal. People will argue about this a lot. Some people can go 20 miles entirely fasted, no food or water. I hate going more than 4 miles without water. It’s important to pay attention to how you feel. If you are thirsty, you are drinking water too late. If you are dizzy, experiencing nausea and headaches, getting muscle cramps, etc, you may need to adjust your water intake. It is better to err on the side of hydration, rather than dehydration. However, too much water is also a bad thing. Fuel belts, handheld bottles, and Hyrdation Packs are good ways to carry water with you while doing long runs in heat. I also don’t use Gatorade or any other sports drink. For under an hour run, you don’t really need it anyway. If you are planning on doing a race, and want to use a sports drink, check and see which one they offer, then train with that.

http://www.runnersworld.com/drinks-hydration/8-hydration-myths-busted
http://www.runnersworld.com/drinks-hydration/need-refill?page=single

So, with that massive amount of information, happy running! Others can feel free to chime in with anything I missed. And remember, if you want to argue a point, chances are I already agree with whatever caveat you are bringing up, but this is for a general, beginner audience.
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Replies

  • _HeartsOnFire__HeartsOnFire_ Member Posts: 5,362 Member Member Posts: 5,362 Member
    Brilliant!
  • ILiftHeavyAcrylicsILiftHeavyAcrylics Member Posts: 27,964 Member Member Posts: 27,964 Member
  • LoraF83LoraF83 Member Posts: 15,778 Member Member Posts: 15,778 Member
    This is why you are my personal running guru whom I annoy with all of my questions. :flowerforyou: :drinker:
  • 3dogsrunning3dogsrunning Member Posts: 27,179 Member Member Posts: 27,179 Member
    So much love (ignoring the crossfit jab, haha) :heart:

    Seriously so much great advice rolled into one. I love that you gave different options for starting out. C25K is a great program but its not the be all end all/ only place to start. And the running shoe thing - thank you. I'd love to go minimalist, I just can't. For a lot of people it is a very good thing, but not for everyone. I gave up and will continue to run in what keeps me injury free. That said, corrective shoes are not the answer for everyone either. They can cause more problems if they are not what you need. But that all goes back to your main point. :drinker:

    Again, thanks for this. I will be linking it in the future for others.
    You rock.
  • ChristinaOrtiz23ChristinaOrtiz23 Member Posts: 2,107 Member Member Posts: 2,107 Member
    love this!!! thanks!!!
  • ThickMcRunFastThickMcRunFast Member Posts: 22,511 Member Member Posts: 22,511 Member
    So much love (ignoring the crossfit jab :heart: )

    Seriously so much great advice rolled into one. I love that you gave different options for starting out. C25K is a great program but its not the be all end all/ only place to start. And the running shoe thing - thank you. I'd love to go minimalist, I just can't. For a lot of people it is a very good thing, but not for everyone. I gave up and will continue to run in what keeps me injury free. That said, corrective shoes are not the answer for everyone either. They can cause more problems if they are not what you need. But that all goes back to your main point. :drinker:

    Again, thanks for this. I will be linking it in the future for others.
    You rock.
    Ha, thought of you with the crossfit line :laugh:

    Just to clarify: Not hating on crossfit - bad advice can come from anywhere
  • hananah89hananah89 Member Posts: 702 Member Member Posts: 702 Member
    definitely have been a lot of running questions lately. bumping for them! This needs to be pinned somewhere.
  • JoRockaJoRocka Member Posts: 17,583 Member Member Posts: 17,583 Member
    why is running such a thing?

    puts on shoes- goes out side... runs.

    Why are we over thinking EVERYTHING. it's running.

    that being said- great post/write up.
  • AspireToTriAspireToTri Member Posts: 5 Member Member Posts: 5 Member
    Awesome post. Just recently started training for my first Tri, and my running experience is limited to one 5k. Really useful.:drinker:
  • fattybumclairefattybumclaire Member Posts: 91 Member Member Posts: 91 Member
    Thank you - I have gotten to the stage where I really must buy a decent sports bra lol. Into my 10th week of running and I might just keep it up ;)
  • LoraF83LoraF83 Member Posts: 15,778 Member Member Posts: 15,778 Member
    why is running such a thing?

    puts on shoes- goes out side... runs.

    Why are we over thinking EVERYTHING. it's running.

    that being said- great post/write up.

    Why is lifting such a thing?

    Pick something heavy up. Put it down.

    And yet so many people offer advice on that topic and suggest programs and ways to do it.


    Huh.


    :huh:
  • _chiaroscuro_chiaroscuro Member Posts: 1,386 Member Member Posts: 1,386 Member
    I love this post. I wish I had taken time to educate myself like this when training for my first half. I did too much too fast, got runner's knee, ran the event injured and ended up in PT for months. Hopefully this will spare someone all that mess. Thanks for posting!
  • cnl91_Wcnl91_W Member Posts: 89 Member Member Posts: 89 Member
    Amazing information! Thanks for sharing!!
  • heronhheronh Member, Premium Posts: 529 Member Member, Premium Posts: 529 Member
    I have a question.. I've been running for about a year now and doing other workouts.
    My endurance has improved but my time just doesn't seem to be improving.
    Cardiovascularly speaking, I'm still very weak. I blame that on me smoking from age 13-30. Yes I started young sigh.
    My heartrate is high when I'm just trying to maintain pace (175bpm and climbing) I have to slow down a lot to get my heartrate down.
    Any suggestions or words of wisdom?
  • scottyg70scottyg70 Member Posts: 389 Member Member Posts: 389 Member
    Outstanding! Thanks for taking the time to post this! Mad respect!
  • 4legsRbetterthan24legsRbetterthan2 Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter Posts: 19,106 MFP Moderator Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter Posts: 19,106 MFP Moderator
    man where was this 2 years ago, I coulda avioded alot of fun with shin splints.....
  • JoRockaJoRocka Member Posts: 17,583 Member Member Posts: 17,583 Member
    why is running such a thing?

    puts on shoes- goes out side... runs.

    Why are we over thinking EVERYTHING. it's running.

    that being said- great post/write up.

    Why is lifting such a thing?

    Pick something heavy up. Put it down.

    And yet so many people offer advice on that topic and suggest programs and ways to do it.


    Huh.


    :huh:


    no i ask the same thing on that too... when I see them my first thought is "pick up the thing" put down the thing.. but to the same effect- there are many ways to do that- there aren't many ways to run other than to get out there and do it.

    I'm not really trying to be an *kitten*- but asking for programming is different than asking about doing the thing LOL. programming is different to me than just lifting- or just running.

    But no- I ask that as well when I see people ask about how do I weight lift- my first thought is "pick it up the thing- and then put it down" LOL
  • DYELBDYELB Member Posts: 7,407 Member Member Posts: 7,407 Member
    why is running such a thing?

    puts on shoes- goes out side... runs.

    Why are we over thinking EVERYTHING. it's running.

    that being said- great post/write up.

    Why is lifting such a thing?

    Pick something heavy up. Put it down.

    And yet so many people offer advice on that topic and suggest programs and ways to do it.


    Huh.


    :huh:


    no i ask the same thing on that too... when I see them my first thought is "pick up the thing" put down the thing.. but to the same effect- there are many ways to do that- there aren't many ways to run other than to get out there and do it.

    I'm not really trying to be an *kitten*- but asking for programming is different than asking about doing the thing LOL. programming is different to me than just lifting- or just running.

    But no- I ask that as well when I see people ask about how do I weight lift- my first thought is "pick it up the thing- and then put it down" LOL

    No one cares.
  • LoraF83LoraF83 Member Posts: 15,778 Member Member Posts: 15,778 Member
    why is running such a thing?

    puts on shoes- goes out side... runs.

    Why are we over thinking EVERYTHING. it's running.

    that being said- great post/write up.

    Why is lifting such a thing?

    Pick something heavy up. Put it down.

    And yet so many people offer advice on that topic and suggest programs and ways to do it.


    Huh.


    :huh:


    no i ask the same thing on that too... when I see them my first thought is "pick up the thing" put down the thing.. but to the same effect- there are many ways to do that- there aren't many ways to run other than to get out there and do it.

    I'm not really trying to be an *kitten*- but asking for programming is different than asking about doing the thing LOL. programming is different to me than just lifting- or just running.

    But no- I ask that as well when I see people ask about how do I weight lift- my first thought is "pick it up the thing- and then put it down" LOL

    That may be your first thought, but you usually don't hesitate to offer lots of detailed advice about lifting/muscle gains/etc.

    http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/1217522-building-muscle

    To you, running may not be a big deal. You may think "just do it." Well, ok, good for you. For a lot of other people, they need a little help. I started running when I was still 215lbs. I could have used all of this advice. I would have really benefitted from it. Does that make me a bad MFPer? I doubt it.
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