So, for one reason or another you have decided to start running. Whether you are brand new to running, or have decided to pick it back up again this guide will help you get started with minimal discomfort.
If nothing else, get yourself a good pair of running shoes. Running shoes are designed specifically for forward motion. Cross-trainers are designed for just that, cross-training. If at all possible, locate a running specialty store near you that will get you properly fit for a pair of shoes that will make your runs more enjoyable and lower your risk of injury.
Not all running shoes are the same. You’ll get what you pay for. Cost is generally correlated to cushion and/or technology built into the shoe. Find yourself a $60 pair of running shoes and they won’t last but maybe a 100 miles. Not only that, but the cushion isn’t “solid”, there are air pockets in the cushion which means it will break down unevenly. Get yourself a pair of $120-160 shoes that are properly fitted for you at a specialty store and you’ll get 300-500 miles out of them before they need to be replaced. Also, since you are paying more, they are a higher quality. The cushion is nice and solid without air pockets. When the cushion does finally start to break down it will break down evenly.
Your running shoes will generally be a half size to a full size larger than what you may be wearing currently. You are going to want a full thumbs nail width from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe. When you run, your feet will slide forward and you want to allow enough space so that your toes aren’t constantly bumping up against the end of the shoe. Inadequate space can cause toenail bruising and in some cases the loss of a toenail. You also want a little bit of room to allow for some swelling that the impact of running can cause.
Cotton is rotten! When it comes to socks as well as any other running apparel, avoid cotton. Cotton is nice and breathable and great for absorbency. Which is great when you are wearing it and not sweating. The absorbency of cotton also makes it great for towels. But when you’re running and your feet start to sweat the last thing you’re going to want is your sock absorbing that moisture and retaining it. A damp sock will cause friction, blisters and discomfort. Find yourself a few good quality pairs of non-cotton running socks.
Just like socks, when it comes to apparel, avoid cotton. Look for non-cotton performance/active moisture-wicking options. This will be much better at managing sweat, pulling it away from your skin, and making it more comfortable to run in. This is especially important during the winter months when running in sweaty wet clothing can make you feel colder.
Just like shoes, running apparel/active apparel is made for the specific movements of the sport you’re using it for. Running shorts are generally shorter to allow more freedom for your legs to move. Shirts are going to be a little more flow-y so as not to restrict any arm movement.
Belts, Bottles, and Vests
At some point you are going to feel the need to stay hydrated during your runs. Whether it’s because your runs have started to get longer, or it’s due to heat and humidity. Carrying fluid with you will help keep your mouth and throat from getting dry.
Handheld water bottles are great for short distances. They come in a variety of sizes. I’ve seen them as small as 10oz and as large as 24oz. The one thing you’ll want to ask yourself is, can you tolerate holding something in your hand for the length of your run? You’ll also want to keep in mind that a 16oz bottle of water is the equivalent to carrying a 1lb weight in your hand. However, with that in mind, handheld bottles are designed so that they are easy, comfortable and effortless to carry.
Belts that carry flasks are ideal for even longer runs. I’ve used them for half marathons so that I have something to sip on in between any aid stations that the race provides. But they are are also great for training runs when you have no aid stations to rely on. You’ll discover a variety of options and fluid capacity. You’ll find them with 1 bottle, 2 bottles, 4 bottles, and most of them with zipper pouches to carry keys, id, and some nutrition options. Hydration belts have come a long way with belts and clips that minimize any bouncing.
Hydration vests are my favorite. I got to the point where I felt like I was carrying to much around my waist and needed to move the weight from my waist up to my shoulders. Vests will come with or without flasks that will fit in the front pockets or with bladders that sit in the back of the vest. I’ve seen 1L, 1.5L and 2L bladder options. Even with a full 2L bladder, carrying it on your back feels pretty natural. You’ll find all sorts of options. So it’s important to know what all you plan on carrying with you to know how many pockets you’ll need and what size they’ll need to be, and whether you’ll need flasks and/or a bladder.
I have one vest that carries one flask in the back, with enough pockets to carry my phone, keys, chapstick and a couple gels. I like to use this one for any run up to a half marathon. And then I have a larger vest that holds a 2L bladder and a flask, with pockets to carry my phone, keys, chapstick and a couple gels. The larger vest I’ll use for my marathons and ultra’s.
At some point you may experience chafing. This can happen either from not wearing the right clothing or just some skin on skin friction. Women will often experience this between their thighs when running in shorts, or their sides just under their armpits when wearing tank tops. Men may experience nipple chafing which can get so bad they bleed.
There are a number of anti-chafe products available. My favorite would be the Sport Shield for Her. It goes on smooth and stays on. Some other popular options are Body Glide and Squirrels Nut Butter. All three of these options come in a stick similar to a stick of deodorant. Body Glide and Squirrels Nut Butter is more like a solid stick, while the Sport Shield is a roll on. You apply it to the area that is likely to chafe prior to your run. If you have a tendency to get blisters on your feet you can use these products on your feet as well. It will work wonders.
Another option, particularly for men are NipGuard nipple protectors. If you experience any nipple chafing you may want to give these a try. They are designed to stay in place even when sweating.
I could go on, but I’ll save it for another post. I’m sure this gave you enough to think on for now. Check back for more beginning to run posts.
Comment below if you have a specific question about getting started or if you feel I may have forgotten something that could be helpful to others.