Running 101

Welcome all to the world of running! We hope you come to love it as much as many of us do.

New to running? Here are the answers to some common questions we get from new runners.

What do I need to buy to start running?

There is lots of great gear available. However, the only thing you really need to start running is a pair of running shoes.

Do I really need to buy running shoes? Can’t I use my old cross trainers?

Yes, you really need running shoes. Running is a high impact sport and modern running shoes are designed to absorb that impact and prevent injury. The right pair of running shoes will go a long way to preventing injury. Once your running shoes are a year old or you have walked or run 800 km in them they should be retired. Use them to mow the lawn after a few years of running you will have gardening shoes for every day of the week!

Which running shoes should I buy?

The kind of shoes you need depends on the shape of your feet and the way you walk and run. What works for one person may not work for another. Our best advice is go into your local running store and talk get them to help you find the right shoes.

In the world of COVID-19 if you can’t go into a store your best bet is probably a neutral shoe. If you will be running mostly on roads get a road shoe. If you are running on trails get a trail shoe. If you are between sizes go for the bigger one as running tends to make your feet swell a little. Avoid racing shoes as they have less support and avoid “zero drop” shoes as they don’t work for all runners. Bushtukah has a large selection of running shoes for online purchase. But it is better to drop by the store to get some expert help.

What should I wear?

Dress in light comfortable clothing. Layers are good because you can take a layer off if you get too warm and put it back on if the temperature drops or the wind picks up.

In general when you set out for a run you should feel a little under-dressed. Once you get moving you will soon warm up.

Although cotton is wonderful it is not very good for running. When you sweat, the sweat is absorbed by the cotton, so you end up wet and sticky and once you stop running you get cold. Cotton clothing is also more likely to cause chaffing. Modern synthetic running gear is designed to pull moisture away from your skin keeping you dry. You don’t have to dump all your cotton T-shirts right away, but a synthetic shirt that wicks away moisture and a pair of shorts or running tights is a good investment in running gear.

For female runners, a good running bra is also a good investment. Again there are lots of them out there and what works for one runner may not work for another.

A jacket can also be useful. Wear something that is breathable and avoid anything that is waterproof. If it keeps water out it will also keep moisture in and you will be all hot and sweaty again. There are waterproof/breathable jackets available but unless you are doing long runs in really wet weather you don’t need to buy one yet.

Where is the best place to run? 

The great thing about running is that you can do it almost anywhere, mix it up, try roads and trails and explore. Running is a great way to discover places both new and old. Runners are faster than walkers and everyone is entitled to get some fresh air so give the walkers some space when you pass.

What should I eat and drink before I go for a run?

Don’t eat a big heavy meal before you go for a run. The human body adapts to the situation. If you are running your body will use its resources to make your arms and legs move, it will not use precious resources to digest food that it can deal with later. So that steak you had for dinner will not help you run it will just sit there and make your run more challenging. A light snack 30 minutes before your run such as half a bagel, some fruit or yogurt is perfect.

Staying well hydrated throughout the day will help to keep you hydrated on the run. Drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before you run works well.

What about drinking during my run?

For an easy run of less than 30 minutes you can probably get away without carrying water unless it’s a particularly hot day.

For longer or more strenuous runs water is a must. The basic problem with running with water is that water is heavy and hard to carry. Luckily there are several different options available on the market for solving this problem each has advantages and disadvantages so you need to find a system that works for you. Alternatively, you can plan your run so that you pass the same point a few times and stash a water bottle under a tree. Unfortunately water fountains are few and far between in Ottawa.

How much should I drink on the run?

This is a hot topic of conversation in the scientific and running community. When Marathons first became popular no one was drinking on the run. Then we were all told that we should drink, drink, drink even if we were not thirsty. A new theory is gaining popularity and I think it has a lot of merit. Drink if and when you are thirsty.

What about Sports drinks and gels?

Sports drinks are useful and even necessary once you start running longer distances but if you are training for your first 5 k you don’t need them. Sports drinks can be energy drinks or electrolyte drinks. Energy drinks provide runners with water, energy (the first ingredient in Gatorade mix is sugar and the second is dextrose which is also a sugar) and electrolytes (Sodium and Potassium). Electrolyte drinks such as Nuun provide electrolytes without the calories. These are a good option for before during and after a run particularly in hot weather.

Gels or chews provide everything except the water (gels MUST be taken with water).

If you are running to lose weight keep in mind that one cup of Gatorade contains 65 calories. A very basic rule of thumb for running is that one mile (1.6 km) burns 100 calories (this is a VERY rough calculation) so if you drink a 750ml bottle of Gatorade before your run the first 3 km will be used to burn off the Gatorade!

Should I stretch before my run?

Stretching is a key factor for preventing injuries and you definitely need to include stretching in your running plan but muscles stretch better when they are warm so you will get much more benefit from stretching after your run. If you are going to do speed work or run a race you should stretch beforehand but if you are going for an easy run as long as you start slowly you do not need to stretch. The best time to stretch is after your run. If you can’t stretch after your run do it at home, do it at work, or do it anywhere. Any stretching is better than no stretching at all.

What about Heart Rate?

If you have a pre-existing heart condition or concerns then you should definitely use a heart rate monitor. There are general rules of thumb which can be used to calculate what range your heart rate should be in while training and most higher end heart rate monitors and GPS units with heart rate will actually do the math for you BUT if you want to be really actuate you need to have your maximum heart rate tested by a professional.

If there are no health concerns an easier way to measure how hard you are working is perceived rate of exertion. Which estimates how hard your heart is working based on how you feel. If you are doing LSD (Long Slow Distance) or an easy run you should be able to hold a conversation with another runner as you go.

What should my goal be?

If you have never run the distance you are aiming for before your goal for your first race, if you plan to race, should be to finish upright and smiling. Don’t set a time goal for a new distance, remember that just finishing or even just getting out there is a huge achievement!

Be proud!

Bonus Question:

How long is that Marathon?

Non-runners ask this question a lot and all runners know the answer.

ALL MARATHONS ARE 42.2 KM (26.2 MILES). THEY HAVE TO BE THAT DISTANCE TO BE CALLED A MARATHON. Now you know the answer so you too are a runner.

Why is it 26.2? There is a story behind that…but you will have to read the next set of tips to learn that!

Published by judyapiel

Runner, triathlete and coach. Owner of RunK2J, Community Events at Bushtukah. Always looking for a new travel adventure.

2 thoughts on “Running 101

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