Kick-start Your Running Career

May 11, 2016 | By Shannan Ponton

The warmer weather, along with the recent buzz of the wonderful running events around Australia, like City 2 Surf, should serve to remind us all, of the excitement and benefits associated with running.  Functional, high intensity training and weights are definitely on trend, but the importance of balancing your exercise regime with some good old fashioned, cardiovascular endurance activity should never be overlooked.

Getting started can be quite daunting, so I’ve outlined below a few of the common running related questions I receive from clients.

How do I get started?

You shouldn’t expect to be running a marathon in your first few weeks – take it slow and be realistic. Start with some interval cardio sessions that incorporate a mix of both walking and jogging. As you get fitter make your running intervals longer. Start with 30 sec on 30 sec recover, then 45 sec on, 15 sec off. Progress to 2 min run 30 sec recover. Soon you’ll be jogging and piece by piece increasing your endurance, until you ARE ready for that marathon!

Should running hurt?

As with any new exercise, some discomfort is normal at the outset, particularly with running when you are adding distance and intensity to your training. Having said this, running shouldn’t cause any serious pain or discomfort. If you’re not sure about the pain, try walking for a minute or two to see if the discomfort disappears. If it stays seek professional diagnosis from a sports Dr or Physio. A little niggle can become debilitating rapidly

What should I wear?

Unlike many team sports, running doesn’t require much investment in terms of gear and accessories, but you do need to invest in a quality pair of running shoes. You know I love my Asics, Kayano or GT 3000 are my preferred choice for running.  Running shoes are designed to help your foot strike the ground properly, reducing the amount of shock that travels up your leg. They’re also made to fit your foot snugly, which reduces slipping and sliding that can lead to blisters. Compression tights help muscles recover and, I find, do a great job of keeping my legs warm on a cold, early morning run.

My Heart Rate Monitor is also an essential training companion for me. I hate not having the hard copy data of my run to asses and critique post event. I’ve found Suunto to be the most accurate and reliable.

Should I breathe through my nose or my mouth?

Both. It’s normal and natural to breathe through your nose and mouth at the same time. Keep your mouth slightly open, and relax your jaw muscles.

What should I eat before a run?

This will vary from person to person. Many people find that running first thing in the morning on an empty stomach most comfortable, while for others who wake up hungry, find that some light carbs like, oats, fruit or multi-grain toast is an essential pre run habit. What’s important is to listen to your body and take note of how it feels and responds to food. If you’re running for more than 40 mins or at a HR > 140 you will need carbs to optimize performance.

How is running on a treadmill different from running outside?

Running outdoors is definitely more challenging than running on a treadmill. You’re exposed to the elements and presented with varied terrain and gradients.
A treadmill “pulls” the ground underneath your feet, and you don’t face any wind resistance, both of which make running easier as you don’t have to propel yourself forward and up. Many treadmills are padded which means they are gentler on your joints and an easier option if you are carrying extra weight. For an inside run which better resembles running outdoors continually vary your incline and speed.

How do I prevent getting a side stitch when I run?

Stitches are common among beginners because your abdomen is not used to the jostling that running causes. Most runners find that stitches go away as fitness increases. When you get a stitch, breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. It may also help to walk for a few breaths until the stitch subsides. Supplementation with magnesium has been found to be beneficial.

What can I do inside the gym to help my running?

Cross training is essential. Try cardio machines like X-trainer, rower and bikes to take away the impact in your training. A sound strength base developed from resistance training will always assist good running. Always maintain good flexibility and range of movement through stretching, yoga and range of movement exercises.