15 Frequent Running Questions Every New Runner May Ask

by | 26 Sep 2020 | New runners

On the surface running is very simple. Basic equipment, simple movements, loads of benefits. And then we begin to discover one thing after another and, naturally, start asking questions. At times there could be plenty of them.

Like a child facing a new situation, a new runner will discover many layers of fun and will need answers. So which are some of the most frequently asked running questions then?

Can I burn many calories running?

You will definitely burn calories, but how many will always depend on the length and intensity of your run.

Short runs do not burn more than a few hundred calories whereas the very long slow runs will burn a few thousand, at least.

In the beginning you will not be able to go out and run for three hours though, so patience through time and training is required. You will get there if calorie burning is your target.

What stretch is good before running? And after?

Dynamic stretching where you will implement high kicks and lunges is the thing to do before the run. That will warm you up and kick off your cardio rate.

Static stretching where you hold a position for a period of time is not a good idea for cold muscles, and they don’t not like it. Use static stretching when you finish the run and the muscles are warm and flexible.

Will I build muscle through running?

Not as much as you would in the gym, and not as fast either. You will definitely tone up and define your legs and waist but it will take some time.

Hill running and sprints will help! If you’re after the Hulk-like torso look, running will not help but you can work on your musculature on your rest days, at home or in the gym.

strong muscles and body conditioning are important for running

Photo by Evan Wise on Unsplash

Should I run if my legs feel heavy and sore?

‘Heavy’ or sore legs are a common issue in beginner runners. When you first join a gym your whole body will hurt and running is no different. Some old forgotten muscles are being forced to wake up.

Unless your legs (or knees) really hurt, you should simply lace up and go. It will get easier. However, if discomfort or pain won’t go away, stop what you’re doing and rest up.

If the pain is still there days later or worse, weeks, you should get a physio to take a look if in doubt.

Is it ok to run on consecutive days?

New runners must take it easy in the beginning. This is not optional. Give your body time to relax after every run, you should take at least a day off. As you get stronger after, say, six months or up to a year or so (we are all different, some take more, some take less time to adapt), the body will be able to take you through consecutive days of running – but never push it too far, even pros know when to stop.

Does running get easier?

Of course. Your lungs will get stronger, you’ll bring more air into your body, oxygen will flow through your bloodstream and into the muscles. Some old distances will become a norm and you will feel more relaxed and comfortable.

Just hang in there, it will happen. Believe in yourself.

What is cross-training?

Sometimes when runners don’t run, they cycle or swim or lift weights, for example. You would be using some muscles that aren’t used when running and will develop an overall body strength and fitness. Very useful business. And you will be constantly keeping fit. What’s not to like?

But do mind your rest days as well. Your body needs to repair in order to prepare and perform, so go easy on yourself and avoid the risk of overtraining.

swimming is great exercise complimentary to running

What clothes should I wear?

The best shoes that are perfect for your feet and some comfortable socks, shorts and top. That’s all you need in the beginning. Be comfortable, is all that’s required.

As you go along and develop your own penchant for the haute couture of running you can experiment with loads of different stuff, but comfort is and will remain the top priority.

Of course, different weather will ask for different running clothes so less is more when it’s hot, and more is better and required when it gets chilly or wet.

How fast should I run?

In the beginning you should be able to run at conversational speed. You should be able to converse with your running partner or, in case of some who are more adventurous, sing to the bemused onlookers.

In other words, slow is your fast when you start.

Remember those long forgotten muscles? Yep, they need some tender care, so go easy on them. Fast may take you to running injuries, and hurting your knee or ankle (two of many possible bad scenarios) should be off the menu at all cost.

As you get stronger and develop your body some more, you will naturally go faster. For now though, slow.

What should I eat? Can I run empty?

For short runs go simple, your running food should be basic and effective. Boiled egg, or banana, or toast with jam, some tea, or water, or some juice.

But whatever you do, don’t run on full stomach, like, ever. If you don’t trust me, try and see what happens. Actually, no, don’t even try. Empty stomach is fine if you are well hydrated and the run won’t be long or hard. Short jogging sessions on an empty stomach shouldn’t hurt you. If you’re feeling weak, or dizzy, or nauseous, stop and walk home.

On other hand, if you break into big times and become an elite pro, the game will change and your dietician will figure out what’s best for you.

How should I breathe?

Through the nose or through the mouth (well, that was really clever). The key is to get as much oxygen into the body as possible so the mouth would be my preferred choice. If you run hard and fast you may not draw enough air through your nose.

Remember, if you have difficulties breathing, slow down first. That’s often the reason why we struggle in the beginning. Go back to our old friend, Conversational Running Pace.

Should I have a training plan?

You don’t have to, but it helps if you do. It will give you direction, time frame, tangible target and continuous guide.

Whether you’re a total beginner or an advanced runner training for un ultra, it’s important to know what you’re doing, when and how. Good training plan can be incredibly helpful.

Of course, if your plan is to jog happily three times per week in the park, then no other plan is needed.

Can I run with a cold?

It’s either ‘above or below the neck’. If you have a mild cold with a blocked nose, you’ll be fine to run. If you have fever or chest pain with some bad coughs, stay in, look after yourself and get better.

Outdoor or treadmill?

For as long as you’re running, it doesn’t really matter. Some prefer outdoors for its fresh air and picturesque scenery with wonderful sunsets, chirpy birds and stunning forests thrown in the mix.

Then again, in the middle of the winter in busy urban areas of big cities that could be a different proposition. That’s why some people choose to stay in and run on a treadmill, watch the TV while running or enjoy any other modern tech addition to accompany their workout.

Both options are good, the choice is yours. You may want to combine either option and run throughout the year in comfort. Running outside can be more physically demanding, given the terrain and the elements, and indoors can be more manageable.

Try both, see what you like & enjoy!

I am so slow, how can I get fast?

By taking your time, getting stronger and fitter, training intelligently and using various types of training runs. Joining a local running club and following a particular program could also help.

Also, ‘fast’ is very relative. Some runners never run 5K under 30 minutes but are quite happy with their own comfortable time. I am very chuffed to be able to run 5K in around 25 minutes at the tender age of 56 but I know a runner, a year younger than me, who can do it in 19 minutes.

But hey, if you put it all in perspective and realise that the world record stands at 12.35.36, ‘fast’ suddenly gets another meaning. Hence I simply believe that we should get as fast as we can within our own limits and be very proud with what we can achieve. After all, we are all different but equally special.

Asking questions is always important. Nobody knows it all. Even the seasoned hands will stop and ask a question at some stage. The more we ask, the more we find out and learn about running. The quicker we cover the basics the faster we move onto another stage. Every running path will have something that will surprise us and we’ll have to ask other experienced runners for their opinions. That is the beauty of running. Simple yet subtle.

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