How fast should I run? How will it feel? What should I eat? Could I do a race? Trying a new activity like running can bring a certain level of anxiety. But relax! Running is a great activity for anyone to try, regardless of age or fitness level. We answer your questions — and tell you how to get started.
How do I get started on a running plan?
First, plan your schedule so that you’re sure to set aside time to devote to your new running routine. You can reap fitness rewards with just 30 minutes a day, three to five times per week.
When you start running, don’t plan to go too far or too fast right away — doing so is the number-one cause of injury among runners. Start by running for 20 minutes at a time, three times per week. Gradually increase the amount of time you’re running and the number of days you run, but do not increase either until you feel comfortable completing your current level of training. If 20 minutes is too much, don’t be afraid to take walking breaks. Perhaps begin by running for 4 minutes and walking for 1 minute, until you complete the 20 minutes. As you get stronger, begin eliminating the walk breaks.
When you’re a beginner, it’s not necessary to worry about how many miles you are running. Focus on the number of minutes instead. Gradually you’ll begin to cover more ground in the same amount of time, and that’s when you’ll want to increase the duration of your workout.
What equipment do I need?
One advantage of the sport of running is that so little gear is required. But the most important investment runners should make is in a good pair of running shoes — not cross-training, walking, or tennis shoes. Running shoes are best purchased at specialty running stores, where employees can recommend models based on your ability and goals. Many will also watch you run, to make sure the shoes you buy complement the way your foot strikes the ground.
You should also have a quality, well-fitted sports bra, preferably made of wicking material to keep you cooler and drier. A digital sports watch is also helpful. As you advance in your running and set new goals, a heart-rate monitor is nice to have, to make sure you keep your effort level where it should be.
How sore should I expect to get?
Your legs will be sore in the beginning, but if you keep up the routine, the leg soreness will subside relatively quickly. If you feel acute pain anywhere, stop running for a few days and let your legs recover, to prevent injuries. Shin splints are the most common injury, usually incurred when you overdo your training or wear improper shoes. Be aware of the difference between being tired and being injured, and make sure you’re not encouraging overuse injuries.