11 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Start Running
When I first started running I was all out but I didn’t know how to do some things. Running should be simple and yet there were questions to ask yourself when you start running that I could not answer. I wanted to run, I wanted to enjoy it so I simply wanted to know:
1. What to wear?
Wear whatever is comfortable and makes you feel comfortable outside or in the gym (if you run on treadmill at home, then anything goes). So, it’s a light top and shorts in the summer, and you need to layer up outside in the winter – leggings, base layer and a long-sleeve top or two. A cap and gloves will help as well. Light running jacket? Why not. I only wear basketball gear, big colourful tops and shorts. At times I may look like a budgie but, boy, is that gear comfortable! (If you wish to explore this topic further check my in-depth articles on best running clothes and running accessories).
2. How much should I spend on running shoes?
They are the most important part of your kit so it’s not about how much to spend, it is about finding the shoes that will fit. I made a big mistake by buying ‘black’ shoes to match my black outfit and ended up with something that hurt my knee.
Brands and high prices do not mean that the shoes will fit. In the first few weeks or the first month of your running experience you can wear your old shoes but after that first period it’s a good idea to visit a specialist shop that offers gait analysis. That way you should walk out with your perfect pair of shoes!
3.When and where should I run?
You should run whenever and wherever you can, feel or like running. Indoors (treadmill at home or gym) or the great outdoors. No rules, only your rules. Try it all and pick what suits you. If you don’t like hot summer sun, run earlier in the day and stick to the shade. If you don’t like rain, run when it stops. If being cold isn’t your thing, put an extra layer on or run indoors. Not a morning person? Run later.
4. What should I eat before the run?
Not much, in any case. When I run first thing in the morning the before-the-run menu normally consists of either a toast/butter/jam, or a banana (or maybe a boiled egg) with a cup of green tea or a half glass of juice or water. That will be more than enough for short runs of up to 5K-10K. One thing for sure, you do not want to run right after having eaten a big meal. You just don’t. Your stomach would make sure that you remember that run forever, for all the wrong reasons. When I run later in the day I make sure that I eat my meal at least an hour or two before the run.
5. What about drinking during the run?
You may drink during the run but it’s all about proper hydration on the day before, where you should drink at least a couple of litres of water. Once you get to the long runs, the rules will change, but in the beginning your body through regular hydration stores enough water for short distances.
The lack of proper hydration is likely to make you dehydrated and you may experience light-headedness, fatigue, maybe even headaches. Your run will definitely not be an enjoyable one. Just drink that water, please!
Sadly, beer does not qualify. Alcohol (definitely) and coffee and tea (probably, depending on your daily intake) are likely to dehydrate you even more if you drink them out of moderation.
6. How fast should I run when i first start to run?
As slow as possible. Fast running in the beginning will increase a risk of injuries, slow running will minimise it. Slow running will also build up your stamina and cardio system. Slow is good, nothing wrong with the slow.
Top marathon runners spend big chunks of their training running slow, and those guys should know.
So how slow is slow then? Try as slow as moonwalk, then slow down a bit. If people walk faster than you run, you’re onto something good.
Your body will naturally develop the ability to go faster as it gets stronger.
7. Should I listen to any music when running?
Again, it’s your rules. Music, podcasts, radio, anything you want. Or run ‘naked’, without any of that stuff. However, if you run on the pavements like me, you must make sure that you are aware of the surroundings, especially when crossing roads. We all tend to get lost in music, and getting lost in the middle of a busy junction is a pretty bad call.
8. How often should I be running – are there special rules for when you start running?
Try three times per week with at least one day of rest between the runs. You MUST rest up between the runs, regardless of how good you are feeling and how keen you are to go out again. It’s one of those rules that aren’t negotiable.
If you run three times every week, the moment will come when your body will be comfortable with running on consecutive days, but for now stick to your rest days.
Some of us take a year of running or even longer to be able to run back-on-back days and some need less time to reach that stage. You will know, the body will tell you.
9. What is better, running alone or in a group?
I have no idea. What’s better, what do you think? I personally prefer running alone. Nothing wrong with groups or running clubs though. Try and find out what works best for you.
10. Do I need to stretch up before and after the run?
It is very beneficial if you do. Your body will like it. We are all different and we all prefer different exercises and there are loads of them. I got most of mine through my physio but there are very good running sites and forums such as my favourite, Health Unlocked. I pop there daily to get my fix of news and opinion.
11. What should I be doing during non-running days?
You can write poetry but you can also work on your body core strength. The stronger you get and the more active your muscles become, the lower the risk of fatigue and injuries.
There are many things that you can do at home, from planks to push ups, from sit ups to squats. Everyone likes squats. There is nothing that your thighs and lungs would enjoy more than a fast cluster of squats.
There is also never enough of stretching. Stretch everywhere you can. At work? Even at work, especially if your main workout is working at your computer. I try to commit to an hour of stretching every day.
Remember that it’s normal to feel discomfort when working on some stretches. It will often feel hard and laborious because you are pushing your muscles, tendons and bones where they normally wouldn’t go. That will get easier in time. However, if you feel pain, stop immediately. Pain is not good.
I hope that sharing my story, and what I have learned along this journey, will inspire you to get started and to keep going. To keep striving and being the best you can be. In running and in life.
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