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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Q & A Running for Beginners

I mentioned last week that I signed up for a running group.  Yeah, you read that correctly.  When picking activities for exercise running would normally be the last thing on my list but an opportunity arose and it was just too good to pass up.

Coming in mid June, a new Fleet Feet Sports will be opening in the East Village.  As part of their opening celebrations they are offering the opportunity to participate in their No Boundaries 5K program for FREE (normally a $50 charge).  As part of the program, I get access to coaching, group runs, special discounts, apparel, etc. For FREE!  Did I say it was free?  I had a few friends who were interested so….LET'S DO THIS!

So because I don't know too much about running and I hardly ever have anything to offer my running readers I thought it was time to do a little research.  It just so happens that my personal training friend, Izzi is an amazing runner with lots of experience.  She's my go-to-gal for all things running.

Izzi was nice enough to answer a few of the more common questions I had (and I think most beginning runners would have) about running.

If you don't mind first sharing a little bit about yourself
I ran cross country and track at Western Illinois University.  Ran IMT Des Moines marathon and half marathon, Grandma's marathon, Drake half marathon, Dam to Dam, Great River Bridge Race, The Bix, HyVee Tri and any other race, adventure race, and triathlon I can get my hands on.  I am also part of the DSM Triathlon Club.

Ok so let's say "my friend" *cough, cough* is curious about running. Is it better to start with run/walk intervals and go for a longer time or just run as long as you can or neither?
That totally depends on where this said "friend" is starting from. Is said friend sedentary? Or are they pretty active? Let's say that "your friend" is decently active however, doesn't do a whole lot of running. We will want that person to ease into it. Muscles can accommodate to change in activity much faster than ligaments and tendons can, therefore we want to ease into things to avoid injury and possible set backs. That being said, this person will probably want to start with intervals. For example, they can start out running two minutes and walking one minute for 20 minutes. These intervals can be adjusted as this person advances. Eventually this person could build up to where they do not need to walk. This is the point where they should focus on going for distance and adding more time.

When it comes to lifting, training the same body part back to back days isn't usually recommended. Is the same true for running? 
Yes, this is absolutely the same for running. Can beginners run on consecutive days? This would depend on the skill level. Number one rule: Ease Into It! If our friend is feeling pretty great after yesterday's run and their legs feel good today then yes, by all means, go for it! Running consecutive days in a row will not be detrimental to any runner. However, if their legs feel heavy, tired or more fatigued then usual then take a break from running that day.

What is one (or a few) of the more common mistakes you see beginning runners make? 
Form. Form. Form. I cringe when I see someone running in a way that will injure them and/or make them less efficient. Most people don't even realize it! If you're starting out, please have someone who is educated in running assess your form. Old habits die hard :)

Generally speaking, is there a way to become a faster runner? 
Practice! Also, find what motivates you. I enjoy running in good company.

Do you have any specific strength training moves you use to help your running? 
Squats. Lower weight, higher reps.

Do you have any additional advice for beginning runners?
Remember you are competing against YOURSELF and no one else. Go with the flow and enjoy the run!

Any recommendations for what to eat before/after a run? (FYI, Izzi has a bachelors in dietetics) 
Before: A protein and carbohydrate source. The timing, type and the amount is something you will have to decide. Some runners can eat a meal 20 minutes before a run and are fine. Some need to eat 2 hours before a run. You will have to play around with different foods and find out what works best for you. Don't wait until race day to do so. On race day, I personally like half a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter about 90 minutes before and will eat a a small amount of simple carbohydrate (banana, GU) about 20-30 minutes before the race. Don't forget to drink plenty of water. Running will make you sweat and you will need to compensate for the extra fluid loss.

After: Remember to drink up (water that is) to replace any fluid loss. For longer bouts of running, 60 minutes or longer, you will want to drink a sports drink like Gatorade. You will find a lot of runners like chocolate milk after a long run. Chocolate milk has a great ratio of protein and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will help replace those depleted glycogen stores. Protein will help repair any broken down muscle.

A big thank you goes out to Izzi for answering all of these questions!  I'm sure I'll be back for more!

Now it's your turn:  What advice would you give to "my friend" who is just beginning to run?


  1. Beginner runner here Annie..thanks for the tips :)

  2. This was great!! I'd agree with what Izzi said, I would also say, be patient. When I started running, I HATED it, it took well over a month of consistent running for me to start enjoying it. Oh...and get professionally fit for a pair of running shoes, it can make or break your experience!

  3. Great advice for sure! Definitely be patient but also remember that there are mental blocks you have to run through too. I've been running for 14 years and it wasn't until about four years ago I pushed through a mental block that had me believe I couldn't run for more than 3 miles at a time. Awesome post for sure!

  4. Hey lady!! Liebster Blog Award waiting for ya ;) Thanks for all your support last week with my post!!

  5. Whoo hoo!! So excited you are going to try out running!!! Be patient, it will be hard, it will suck, but the more you do it, the better you get at it.

  6. Yay for trying out running! You might not like it at first...I know I didn't really. It took me about a month to really get into it. But there will be a day when mid-run you forget how hard it is and start to really enjoy it! I now need my runs as a stress reliever and feel so relaxed after finishing a few miles. You will love it!

  7. East village as in NYC? I had no idea we were so close to each other! (I"m in NJ). So exciting you're joining a running group! I think you'll love it. I'm kinda interested in that 5k training plan...haha My goal is to get faster at 5ks this year, and perhaps run my best time in a fall half marathon. We'll see!