17 Answers to Common Running Questions Asked by Beginners

1. I’ve got a new pair of shoes and I’m ready to start running.  What’s next?

Every runner starts at a different point so it’s difficult to tell people that they need to be doing x miles at y pace.  Instead most beginning runners strive to run for 30 minutes straight.  Some people start by walking 30 minutes and then build, but for other people this is a bit easier.

Check out our Recommended Running Times for Beginners guide and get yourself on a reliable running schedule.

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2. How do I avoid foot pain when I run?

You need to have quality running shoes that are the RIGHT fit for your feet. IF you don’t have the right running shoes, or you have the wrong running shoes for your type of foot, you could end up with foot pain, including something nasty like Plantar Fasciitis.

3. What’s better, running outdoors or on a treadmill?

While running is running and it’s always good just to know you’re getting some exercise in, treadmills actually pull the ground beneath your feet.  This, in addition to the fact that you don’t have to face the wind resistance of the great outdoors, makes running on a treadmill a bit easier than running outside.  You can create more of a challenge on a treadmill by increasing the incline though, and oftentimes running on a treadmill makes for a more padded running experience that eliminates some of the pounding.

4. Do you recommend trail running?

Trail running is excellent for many runners because it provides a softer surface that lessens impact.  Expect to run a little slower as a result, but trail runs are excellent for not only the scenery, but for getting in shape as well.

5. Everybody talks about warm ups and cool downs.  What does this mean?

Warm ups and cool downs are meant to help you loosen up and stay injury free.  They’re meant to help you transition from a rested state to the demands of actually running, and the two should bookend your training.  Warming up and cooling down take about 5-10 minutes each and it’s as simple as jogging or walking for a few minutes so your body doesn’t feel any shock.  Make sure to incorporate stretching into your cool down so your body stays loose for your next run.

6. I’ve heard so many different theories on when I should stretch.  What’s the real deal?

Studies have shown that stretching before running can actually be detrimental to athletes.  Stretching afterwards is always beneficial though, so make sure and set aside some time to stretch after your run.

7. What part of my foot should land on the ground when I run?

You should land on your mid-sole while running, and your footsteps should be light.  One of the most common mistakes of beginning runners is overstriding.  This forces them to land on their heels which results in an increased amount of pounding, wasting energy, and more injuries.  If you land on your heel you’re probably overstriding, so think about letting your feet land underneath you (instead of reaching out) so that you land on your midfoot.

8. How do I know if I’m running correctly?

Running should feel natural and efficient.  See our guide to proper running form for specifics.  The earlier you learn to run correctly the less time you’ll spend breaking bad habits.

9. Is there a breathing technique I should be using when I run?

You should let air enter through your nose and mouth while running in order to allow yourself maximum oxygen intake.  Try to take three steps for every inhale and then let air out through your mouth for about two footsteps.  Focus on long, deep breaths from deep down in your your diaphram (belly).  Your breathing should be comfortable when running, and if you find that you’re extremely out of breath for distance runs, slow down a bit.

10. I keep getting side stitches when I run. What can I do to get rid of these painful cramps?

Side stitches are common in beginning runners because they’re not used to the demand of running and can’t get enough oxygen.  If you feel your diaphram start to cramp during runs, alter your breathing pattern.  Inhale quickly from your diaphram so you can gather a lot of air.  Also, warm up well (especially in the cold) and avoid eating right before running.

11. I’ve been training for almost two weeks now and runs are still really hard.  When will running get easier?

Running takes time and you have to be patient with your development.  Just like you didn’t learn to read in two weeks, running also takes consistent practice.  Don’t worry about your pace in the beginning and make sure that you’re not too out of breath while running.  Increase your mileage and running time slowly so that your body can adjust and slowly but surely, you’ll see change.  Just be patient, it will come.

12. How fast should I be running?

The best beginner programs always focus on time as opposed to distance because when you’re first getting started how far you run in a certain amount of time isn’t important.  Run at a speed that allows you to carry on a conversation.  If you’re too out of breath to talk you’re going too fast.

13. I got into running to lose weight but I’m in my second week of the program and I’m not losing.  What’s wrong?

Running is a great way to lose weight but you can’t always expect immediate results.  For starters, some people eat more because they think they’ve earned it.  See our guide to a good runner’s diet to see if you’re eating the right foods.  Also, remember that muscle weighs more than fat.  You may be shedding fat but gaining muscle, which means you might not weigh less on the scale but you pants may fit better.

ALSO READ:  Last Minute Tips for Running a Successful Race That Boost Your Performace

14. Can I run in my sneakers or do I need to get running specific shoes?

If you’re serious about running long distances and improving your chances of staying injury free you’ll thank yourself for investing in a pair of real running shoes.  Check out our running shoe guide to figure out the best way to find the right shoes for you.

15. I have Plantar Fasciitis. Can I still run?

Tentatively, yes, provided you stretch your feet and you find a pair of running shoes that do NOT aggravate the condition (see out 2015 Guide to Plantar Fasciitis Shoes and our Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis article). Keep in mind though you are going to have to play it by ear. By NO MEANS are we guaranteeing that you can still run while having PF.

You may have to cut back on your running times to give your feet a chance to heal properly, however. You may also need to try different running shoe brands and models till you find the right one. If your running activities make your plantar fasciitis worse, however (even with good plantar fasciitis shoes), you may have to give you your running activities completely until your condition heals.

16. I feel like even though I know the weather I’m always too hot or too cold during my runs.  How do I know what to wear?

The general rule of thumb is to dress as if it were ten degrees warmer than it really is.  This will keep you warm but also prevent you from feeling too hot once you get going.  Check online or at your local running store for weather specific gear, as it is extremely helpful for extreme weather conditions.

17. I want to get in shape fast.  Should I run everyday?

As much as you want to improve as quickly as possible, days off are actually extremely important for all runners.  Taking one or two days off every week decreases your chance of developing an overuse injury.  Days off also lower your chance of getting burnt out, so be patient with the process and remember that the best things come in time.


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