Beginner's Corner Training

August 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Beginner’s Corner: Newbie Questions Asked and Answered

I have never run before, but want to start running. What do I need to do first?

Make a firm commitment this week to begin a walking and running program. Don’t waffle or put it off. Commit to walking or running several times a week. At least four times a week. Set a goal of walking or running a 5-K race (3.1 miles) by the end of the winter. There are several good, beginner-friendly events in Austin and San Antonio during the fall and winter.

What do I need to do to get started?

If you haven’t run at all, start your beginning running program by walking. Try to walk continuously for at least 20 minutes. If that’s too much, try 10 minutes. Once you can walk for 30 minutes without stopping, try running slowly for 2-3 minutes at a time. If that’s too much, go for a minute. After the running portion, continue walking for another 10 minutes and try running again for 3-5 minutes. Work up to where you can run and walk continuously for 30-40 minutes without taking a break. Speed doesn’t matter. As you get fitter, you’ll be able to reduce the walking and increase the running. Do this four or five times a week. If you’re consistent, you will progress quickly and within 4-6 weeks, you should be able to run for 20-30 minutes without stopping.

Should I go see a doctor first before I start running?

Not necessarily. If you’re healthy and don’t have a history of coronary disease, it probably isn’t necessary. But the US Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has formulated the following criteria to determine whether you should see a doctor before beginning any exercise program. If any of these apply to you, consult a doctor before beginning a walking or running program.

1. You are 60 years or older and have not been exercising regularly.

2. You have a family history of heart disease.

3. You have had a heart attack or some form of heart trouble.

4. You often feel faint or experience breathlessness when climbing stairs.

5. You have high blood pressure. You experience pains in the chest, shoulder or arms.

6. You have an existing medical condition that might need special attention when exercising (asthma, diabetes etc.).

I’m overweight and want to lose weight. Should I begin a diet when I started running?

Absolutely not. Walking or running will burn calories quickly and raise your metabolic rate. Your body will need proper nutrition and hydration for running or walking. If you go on a diet and restrict your caloric intake when starting your exercise program, you may not have enough energy to complete your walk or run. Rather than dieting, you may want to reduce your intake of less healthy, fatty foods and increase your consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods.

What do I need to get going?

Not much. One of the beauties of running is its simplicity. If you’re walking or running, merely wear some loose fitting, comfortable clothes and a good pair of running shoes.

Are tennis or basketball shoes OK for running?

Nope. You will need to buy a good pair of running shoes. Tennis shoes or shoes made for aerobics, basketball or volleyball won’t do. Neither will cross-trainers. You need to buy shoes specifically made for running. Running shoes offer the best cushioning, support and durability of any athletic shoe and if you buy the proper pair, it will go a long way to protecting your legs and feet from injury. Again, you need to wear running shoes. If there’s any doubt whether your shoes are running shoes or not, take your current pair to a good running store (not a sporting goods store) and have an expert check out your shoes. If they aren’t suited for running, get fitted for a proper pair.

How much should I spend on running shoes?

Expect to pay between $100 and $130 for a good pair of running shoes. You can spend less, but you will sacrifice cushioning, durability and support if you do. To get properly fitted in the proper pair of shoes for you, go to a store which specializes in nothing but running shoes. There you’ll find salespeople who are trained to fit you in the best shoe for you. This is critically important to safe and healthy running.

If I wear a sweatshirt and pants to sweat more, will that help me lose weight?

It will not. Actually, the effect will be just the opposite. Wearing heavy clothes will make you sweat more, but you will heat up so much, it will reduce the length of time you can walk or run. The time you spend exercising will help you lose weight; not the water you lose when you sweat.

Will running hurt?

Hurt no, but it will be uncomfortable at first. You will be undertaking a completely new aerobic activity and you’ll be using muscles in different ways so some discomfort is normal. You’ll also be working your cardiovascular system harder than if you have been sedentary. But this is a good thing. It will take a few weeks to allow your body to adapt to the new activity. If there is some pain—whether muscular, skeletal or in your breathing—stop running and allow it to pass. Try it again the next day and if the pain returns, you should check with a medical professional.

Is running outside better than on a treadmill?

Yes and no. They are different experiences. Running on a treadmill is safe and you’re protected from the elements, but the treadmill pulls the ground (the tread) underneath you and since there’s no wind, it is easier than running outside. Plus, running on a treadmill is boring. You should do at least some of your runs outdoors in the elements. Seek out trails or parks.

When I run outside, where should I go?

Your first priority should be safety, but secondly you want to run someplace that you can enjoy. Try to find a place to run outdoors that you enjoy. The greater the enjoyment you get out of your runs, the more likely you will be to continue with running and eventually, improve. Ask around. Runners in your town all know the best places to run. There are many great options in Central Texas, regardless of where you live.

Should I breathe through my nose or my mouth?

Both. But mainly through your mouth which will allow you to suck in more oxygen than if you breathe just through your nose.

I’m always out of breath. What am I doing wrong?

You’re probably running too fast. Running will cause you to breathe harder than you’re accustomed to which is a good thing. As you become better conditioned, the huffing and puffing will decrease. If you are out of breath and/or can’t carry on a conversation while running, slow down. You should be able to chat with your running partners. If you can’t, you’re going too fast.

I get these side stitches. Why?

Side stickers or stitches are normally a cramp of the diaphragm (the muscle just below your lungs) This is very common among beginning runners for several reasons. Often, the abdomen muscles aren’t strong enough to support the jostling of the diaphragm which running causes. As you get stronger and fitter, the stitches usually disappear. Another reason you might have stitches is you’re running too fast. Slow down. If stitches occur, breathe deeply and push the air out of your abdomen. This tends to stretch the diaphragm and lessen the stitch.

Wish

About Wish

Bob “Wish” Wischnia has more than 30 years of running industry experience across publishing, retail, web, and race organization. An Arizona State University alum, Wischnia has been a runner virtually his entire life, still competing in track and road race competitions. And in the free time he’s not pounding the pavement? He’s swimming, cycling, and catching days on the green.

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