Newbie Runners: Answers to Your FAQs

*Editor's Note: this article was taken from Runner's World

How do I get started?

Start walking for a length of time that feels comfortable—anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Once you can walk for 30 minutes easily, sprinkle one to two minute running sessions into your walking. As time goes on, make the running sessions longer, until you're running for 30 minutes straight. For more running tips, visit our Web site at runnersworld.com and click on "Getting Started" on the left-hand side of the home page.

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 some part of your body feels so bad that you have to run with a limp or otherwise alter your stride, you have a problem. Stop running immediately, and take a few days off. If you're not sure about the pain, try walking for a minute or two to see if the discomfort disappears.

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

Running doesn't require much investment in gear and accessories, but you have to have a good pair of running shoes. Unlike sneakers, 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 the slipping and sliding that can lead to blisters. Visit a specialty running store to find the right shoe for you.

What's the difference between running on a treadmill and running outdoors?

A treadmill "pulls" the ground underneath your feet, and you don't face any wind resistance, both of which make 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 a 1 percent incline.

Where should I run?

You can run anywhere that's safe and enjoyable. The best running routes are scenic, well-lit, free of traffic, and well-populated. Think of running as a way to explore new territory. Use your watch to gauge your distance, and set out on a new adventure on each run. Ask other runners about the best local routes.

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

Yes, you're probably trying to run too fast. Relax. Slow down. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is to run too fast. Concentrate on breathing from deep down in your belly, and if you have to, take walking breaks.

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

Side 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. Also, don't eat any solid foods during 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), which is usually where a cramp occurs.

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.

Should I be doing anything in the gym to build my fitness?

Working on stretching and flexibility is always helpful, especially to prevent injuries. Men's Health Personal Trainer has a Weight Training for Runners program as well as experts who can answer any questions you may have.

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