The running season is now beginning. People across the country are signing up to park runs, fell runs, 10ks, marathons and the increasingly popular OCR (obstacle course race) events.
You and your family may already be keen runners or may have wanted to start running for a while, so this week we’re going to look at the ten most commonly asked questions to help you feel more confident with your running shoes on.
1.I’ve never run before, is it too late?
It’s never too late to get your trainers on and get moving more. However, if you haven’t run before and aren’t already active, it’s best to start small. Apps like Couch to 5K are a great way to get your body used to running in a safe and sustainable way.
While it’s tempting to get out the door and start sprinting, you’ll be able to run for longer, stay injury free and enjoy yourself more if you start adding 60 second runs to your regular walks and gradually increase the time you spend running. If you struggle with mobility or knee/hip/ankle injuries, try walking each day rather than running.
2.I don’t have any fancy kit. Does that mean I can’t run?
When you first start running you don’t need anything more than a pair of trainers and some comfortable, easy to move in clothing (like an old t-shirt and some leggings or sweat pants).
As you start to run more, it is worth investing in a pair of new trainers, as they will support you and help you stay injury free. Visit a specialist running shop or a sports shop that does gait analysis to find the right pair of shoes for you.
If you take up running as a hobby it’s worth getting some running specific clothing that wick moisture away from the skin – many supermarkets now have their own reasonably priced ranges. Women and teenage girls may need a good, supportive sports bra to run comfortably.
3.How fast should I run?
When you first start out it’s best to run at an ‘easy’ pace – but this is different for everyone! The best way to determine this is if you can hold a conversation whilst still running – this means being able to give complete answers when you’re running, not just a yes or no!
4.How do I breathe when running?
Breathing for running is much like breathing when you’re doing any sports. Use both your nose and your mouth to breathe in, then your mouth to breathe out fully. If you find yourself struggling for breath, slow your pace down a little.
5.What should I eat when I’m running?
You should try not to run just after eating as it can give you a stitch or cramp, but running on empty can cause you to fatigue. The best time to eat is 1.5-2 hours before running; eat something high in carbohydrates and low in fat, protein and fibre. A slice of wholemeal toast and peanut butter, hummus and pitta bread or a banana and glass of milk are all good snacks. Very rich, fatty and fibre filled foods may cause tummy upsets when you run, as may drinking coffee.
6.Do I need to run every day?
Some people like to run every day as part of their exercise regime, however if you’re just starting out it’s a good idea to give your body some time off between each run. This will help with your recovery and protect you against injury. If you start to train seriously for a longer run like a 10k, then you’ll need to build rest days into your training plan.
7.What should I drink when running?
You need to hydrate before, during and after your runs. Hydration is good, but don’t over hydrate – or you’ll need to stop and pee when running! Drink 500-750ml/a pint to a pint and a half of water an hour before you run and go to the loo if you need to.
Drink another small glass before you run, then drink from a water bottle as you need to. You’ll need to drink more in hot weather or if you’re running longer/faster. Make sure you continue to drink after you stop.
You don’t need to drink sports drinks, which are often full of sugar, when running – unless you’re running a long race (like a half marathon) and need to replace the carbohydrates you’re using.
8.Do I have to run outside?
No! You can run wherever and whenever suits you. Many people don’t like running outside, especially in the winter when it’s cold, wet and dark. Run where you feel safe and happy – for some people that’s the park, others it’s on a treadmill at the gym.
9.Can I run a 5k?
Yes! A 5k is a good aim for a beginner to work towards. Many gyms and parks have their own races for all abilities and ages. Having a goal to focus on means you’ll be more likely to keep up your running, and will help you to improve steadily.
10.Can I run with my kids?
Yes of course! Running as a family is a good way to keep everyone healthy. It also helps keep you motivated and adds a little friendly competition into the mix. Just make sure you keep at the same pace and are supportive (not critical) of what they’re doing. Kids get dehydrated quickly in hot weather, so keep an eye on them. If you’re all different abilities, why not join a running club or run on adjacent treadmills at the gym? If you live in an area where there is a local park run these are very family friendly and welcome new participants of all levels.