New to Running?

Should you see a Doctor?

Ideally, everyone who takes up running should check with a doctor that they are not going to put themselves in danger. For many runners this is unnecessary. There are some guidelines below about whether you need to see a doctor.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute have formulated the following guidelines. According to these guidelines, anyone who conforms to one or more of the eight criteria below should consult a doctor before beginning an exercise programme:

  1. You are over age 60 and not accustomed to vigorous exercise.
  2. You have a family history of premature coronary heart disease (under 55 years of age).
  3. You frequently have pains or pressure in the left or mid chest area, left neck,shoulder or arm (as distinct from the “stitch”) during or immediately after exercise.
  4. You often feel faint or have spells of severe dizziness, or you experience extreme breathlessness after mild exertion.
  5. Your doctor has said that your blood pressure is too high and is not under control, or you do not know that it is normal.
  6. Your doctor has said that you have heart trouble, that you have a heart murmur, or that you have had a heart attack.
  7. Your doctor has said that you have bone or joint problems, such as arthritis.
  8. You have a medical condition that might need special attention in an exercise program (for example, insulin dependent diabetes).

Use your common sense; and if you are in doubt, go to your doctor.

How do I get started?

Start walking for an amount of time that feels comfortable – anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Once you can walk for 30 minutes easily, try introducing one to two-minute running intervals into your walking. As time goes on, make the running intervals longer, until you are running for 30 minutes straight.

Is it normal to feel pain during running?

Some discomfort is normal as you add distance and intensity to your training but real pain isn’t normal. If something feels so bad that you have to run with a limp or otherwise alter your stride, you’re probably injured. Stop running immediately and take a few days off. If you are not sure, try walking for a minute or two to see if the discomfort disappears. If it doesn’t disappear, consult your GP.

Do I have to wear running shoes, or are other trainers fine?

Running doesn’t require much investment in gear and accessories, but you must have a good pair of running shoes. Unlike all-round trainers, running shoes are designed to allow your foot to strike the ground properly, reducing the amount of shock that travels up your leg. They are also made to fit your foot snugly, which reduces the slipping and sliding that can lead to blisters.

What’s the difference between running on a treadmill and running outside?

A treadmill ‘pulls’ the ground underneath your feet and you don’t meet any wind resistance which makes running somewhat easier. Many treadmills are padded, making them a good option if you’re carrying a few extra pounds or are injury-prone and want to decrease impact. To better simulate the effort of outdoor running, you can always set your treadmill at an incline.

Where should I run?

You can run anywhere that is safe and enjoyable. The best running routes are scenic, well-lit, and free of traffic. They’re also soft: choose trails or smooth grass rather than roads. Think of running as a way to explore new territory. Use your watch to gauge your distance, and set out on a new adventure each time you run. Talk to other runners about the routes they run. The more varied your routes, the easier running will feel.

I always feel out of breath when I run. Is something wrong?

Running causes you to breathe harder than usual, so some amount of huffing and puffing is normal. Most of that out-of-breath feeling diminishes as you become fitter. Concentrate on breathing from deep down in your belly, and if you have to, slow down or take walking breaks. If the breathlessness persists, ask your doctor about the possibility that you may have asthma.

I often suffer from a stitch when I run. Will these ever go away?

Side stitches are common among beginners because the abdomen is not used to the jostling that running causes. Most runners find that stitches go away as fitness increases. Also, don’t eat any solid foods in the hour before you run. When you get a stitch, breathe deeply, concentrating on pushing all of the air out of your abdomen. This will stretch out your diaphragm muscle (just below your lungs); this is usually where a cramp occurs.

Should I breathe through my nose or my mouth?

Probably the latter, this will allow you to get as much oxygen as possible to your working muscles. However, some runners breathe through their noses during training runs. They believe that this keeps them more relaxed. Do what works best for you.

First Steps

This is a ten-week training schedule designed to get you from running for a bus to running 20 minutes non-stop. At this stage it is important that you concentrate on your running time and not the distance ran (this will come later). You should complete three sessions a week before moving on. Walk or jog slowly for 10 minutes before your run and afterwards walk for five minutes to cool down. Stretch gently for another five minutes and allow at least a day between runs.

Beginner’s 10 week training schedule.
Week Times in Minutes Total Running Time
1 Run 1-1-2-2-1-1 with a 2 min walk in between each run 8 mins
2 Run 1-1-2-3-2-1 with a 2 min walk in between 10 mins
3 Run 1-2-3-3-2-1 with a 2 min walk in between 12 mins
4 Run 2-5-5-3 with a 1½ walk in between 15 mins
5 Run 2-5-8-3 with a 1 min walk in between 18 mins
6 Run 2-3-10-3 with a 1 min walk in between 18 mins
7 Run 4-12-4 with a 1 min walk in between 20 mins
8 Run 3-14-3 with a 1 min walk in between 20 mins
9 Run 2-16-2 with a 1 min walk in between 20 mins
10 Run 20 non-stop 20 mins

You should complete three of these sessions each week. Walk or jog slowly for 10 minutes before your run and afterwards walk for five minutes to cool down, stretch gently for another five minutes and allow at least a day between runs.

Next Steps

If you find that running 20 minutes non-stop is well within your abilities – Congratulations. It’s time to join the main body of our running club on training nights. The club has people with the necessary experience to guide and help structure your training or prepare you for your first race. Whatever you’re level of fitness you should be able to complete one of our schedules by setting aside about three hours a week for ten weeks. In ten weeks you’ll feel fitter, more energised and you will be comfortable to run three or four times a week. Running will become part of your routine.

The answer to this one depends upon your own goals. Many people join a running club to maintain their fitness and to enjoy the social aspects with other similar minded people who enjoy racing and training frequently.

However it’s your choice as to how you progress. Don’t forget that running is a sport and it is important that you enjoy yourself, have fun and feel good!

You need to enjoy the running experience if you want to continue and succeed at it. But this can take time you need to be patient. At first running does not give you the ‘wow’ factor feeling and you will ask yourself “why am I doing this it hurts”? Eventually though, you realise the gain will be greater than the pain and you will have a real sense of achievement.

Additional Resources

Check out the Links page. You may find some useful advice and articles on starting running, improving performance, health and fitness. Some might just make for a little interesting reading.

Best of Luck!