Seven common questions people ask when they start running

Decided you want to start running? Here are seven common questions people ask – and their answers.

So, you’ve made the decision that you want to start running, but you have not idea how to start. Here are answers to the questions that all new runners have.

1) What do I wear?

Clothes wise, it’s really all about being comfortable when you first start out, but as you run more and more, you will certainly want to think about getting some ‘proper gear’. Clothes that wick away sweat from the body is ideal.

A decent running bra for ladies is also a must. You don’t need to spend a fortune – there’s something for every budget. There’s no doubt, that when you invest in some running gear, it really does motivate you. Look like a runner – feel like a runner – be a runner!

2) What trainers should I get?

We often get asked about the what trainers to wear when running. “Which are the BEST trainers to wear”. This often relates to the make but, in fact, the make of the trainer is pretty irrelevant.  

Your trainers should be a comfortable fit, with plenty of room at the toes. Often runners doing more mile opt to go up a half size, and sometimes even a full size if they are doing a high number of miles in one go. 

If you’re just starting out, this shouldn’t be a issue just yet… but it’s a good idea to go to a running specialist shop who will look at your gait, your foot strike and advice on the best fitting trainers to support your feet.  

This is particularly helpful if you under-pronate or over-pronate as you run. Your trainers will have extra support to ensure you strike the ground neutrally. You won’t necessarily get the right fit with the cool Nikes on special offer, so it pays to go to a specialist fitter. 

3) How fast and how far should I run?

Running can be incredibly challenging – especially when you first start off. Using the run/walk method is the easiest way to build endurance without creating extra stress on your joints.

Use a timer on your watch or phone to create timed sections for running and walking ie; one minute of each. With each run, you can try increasing the run sections and decreasing the walking parts. 

4) How can I keep up motivation up?

You don’t want to go ‘all out’ so you are put off the prospect of running forever. It will be challenging at first, but remember to keep the pace at a manageable rate. You should be able to talk  in full sentences. If not – slow down. Most importantly, remember to breathe! Through you nose and out through your mouth.

When you finish, cool down by jogging or walking for a few minutes, finishing up with some gentle stretching. This will help your muscles and stop them from getting tight. 

Think consistency over intensity with your runs. Plan out a schedule to make your running a regular habit.

5) What’s the correct way to run?

It’s not until you see lots of runners together (ie: London Marathon) that you realise that everyone runs a little differently. There are things you can do to improve your running form and improve your experience – like conserve energy, improve your pace, run further and reduce your risk of injury.

Running can put a lot of strain on your body. This can lead to injuries that will linger. Knee and ankle injuries can happen if you are not running correctly. You may also experience shin splints or achilles tendon strain. Knowing what to look for and how to take preventative measures is an important part of running.

Things to consider are: 

  • Upright posture – head lifted, back long and tall, shoulders level but relaxed, pelvis neutral.
  • Shoulder placement – be mindful that they don’t hunch over as you become tired.
  • Arms – back and forth in a natural movement with a 90 degree bend at the elbow.
  • Hands – keep them relaxed. Don’t clench them.
  • Feet – monitor how they meet the ground. This is called your footstrike. You might land on your heel, middle of your foot or your heel. You may experience problems, depending on how you run. Toe runners may experience tight calves, whereas heel strikers can lead to over-striding. 

6) What should I eat and drink?

As you start to get into your ‘stride’ you will begin to think more about what to eat before and after your runs. First off, it’s important to drink before, during and after your runs. 

Eating habits can make or break a run. The best thing to eat before heading out (if you need to eat) is something light that’s high in carbohydrates but low in fat and protein. Do this around 90-120 minutes before your run. A lot of this is trial and error, some runners can eat a lot sooner, around 30-60 minutes before but some find this too uncomfortable. 

If you’re running more than 90 minutes, you will need to take some fuel out on your run with you such as energy gels and chews, sports bars or sweets.

After your run, try and eat something rich in carbs and protein within 30-90 minutes. 

7) Does running get easier?

We often see posts in our Facebook Community Group of people asking if running gets easier and even enjoyable!  Does that initial feeling of wanting to call 999 after just 1km subside?

The answer is YES!  If you’ve never run before, of course, your body will find the whole process a bit of an ordeal – especially if you’re also new to exercise. But stick with it! We’ve read so many stories where runners found the start of their journey to be challenging, but were then so glad they kept to their plan. They got stronger and found motivation in their distance increase or time decreasing. 

Remember, you put three times your body weight through your joints when you run. If you bolt out the gate, you may pay for it with an unwanted injury. 

Our very own Start Running – Stay Running Community Groupon Facebook is full of new runners just like you. Our ethos is to celebrate every run – from mile 1 through to 26 (and beyond). You will find inspiration and motivation to help keep you going.   

So, are you ready to run?

Linda Meek is the co-founder of Start Running – Stay Running, a Facebook Group and VIP Membership for people who are taking up running but don’t have the information to hand to help them do it safely.

Photo by Fil Mazzarino