So you want to start running, eh?

I've had a few conversations lately with people that are interested in getting into running. So, with that in mind, I figured now was as good a time as any to write about the subject. I've been running since 1984 and I've tried a lot of different things. I've seen a lot of fads come and go.  Here is some general advice for the novice runner.

1) Go to a runners shoe store and get fitted for running shoes by an actual professional. I love Famous Footware as much as the next person, but you'll never see me buy my running shoes there. A runners shoe store will be staffed by adult running enthusiasts with years of running experience. People with a keen understanding of what runners go through while training. A good, experienced salesperson will suggest a few different shoes based off of your weight, your foot width, the arches of your feet, your striking pattern and your goals. The sales person will make sure that the shoes you buy are the correct size as well. Believe it or not many people wear shoes that simply don't fit correctly. That might be ok while walking, but it can be absolutely disastrous while running. If you don't know of any runners shoe stores in your area, do a google search for something like "runners shoe stores" in whatever area you are in.

Before that first run, I want you to think about this. If you were outside and running barefoot on the sidewalk, how would you run? Would you run by driving your heels into the pavement? Absolutely not. That would hurt - your body would tell you that was wrong. Remember that when running in running shoes. Just because your brand new running shoes have 3 inches of padding in the heels does not mean you are supposed to run on your heels. Instead, land on the balls of your feet...just like when you were a kid, playing outside, running barefoot on the sidewalk. That's how humans are supposed to run.

2) Buy running clothes. Trust me. Today's running clothes are modern miracles of manufacturing. They are made to fit runners properly (this means NO chafing), in addition to keeping you warm in the winter & cool in the summer. Plus many of the fabrics are bacteria resistant which keeps the smell at bay. Any discussion about running clothes must include running socks. Unlike the white socks that come in packs of 12 from the local department store, running socks are made to not have any uncomfortable seams. As an added bonus, running socks are often blister resistant. When you are running, you should not notice your socks. If you find yourself getting blisters anyway, you can cover the problem area(s) with Vasoline before putting your socks on. That should help keep the blisters from getting worse or from happening in the first place.

3) Drink plenty of water!! If you find yourself getting indigestion while running, try eating 1 or 2 Tums about 10 minutes before you run. If you do eat Tums before you run, be sure to rinse your mouth out with water. Otherwise the residue from the Tums will dry your mouth out.  Running with dry mouth is not fun.

4) If you run at night, do not wear headphones. If you run in isolated areas, do not wear headphones. If you run on busy city streets, do not wear headphones. Wearing headphones at night, wearing headphones in isolated areas & wearing headphones on busy city streets is a dangerous practice which can make you vulnerable to being attacked or run over. Being hit by a bus is probably not the best way to end a run. Be safe.

5) Stretching. Stretching is one of those subjects that runners feel very strongly about. Some say you must stretch. Some say you don't need to stretch. I say stretch if you need to and don't sweat it if you don't. Here's why:

When I first started running back in High School I stretched before and after every run. I suffered from a very bad case of shin splints and it was always the same old story - stretch more. The shin splints never went away during those early running years. A few years after high school I joined the Marines and a funny thing happened - we didn't stretch before & after every run. I noticed that my shins didn't hurt like they used to. A few years later, I talked to a Marine that was a complete beast of a runner. We talked about stretching and he said something that made a lot of sense: If stretching causes you pain when you run, but not stretching doesn't cause you pain...why stretch? From that point on, I pretty much stopped stretching before runs. That was back in 1995. Funny thing - I have not had shin splints since and that's even with taking almost 2 years off. In addition to that, I very rarely stretch after runs as well.

The point I'm trying to make is that we are all different. What works for one runner might not work for another. Some people are naturally more flexible than others. Let me try and put it in perspective: If it hurts when you're doing something (i.e. stretching before running) - stop doing it. If it hurts when you are not doing something (i.e. stretching before running) - start doing it. It's ok to experiment as long as you take things slow when doing so. Some food for thought - humans have been running since the dawn of man and for at least 90% of that time without active, sports based stretching.

Do a google search for "study about not stretching before running" to see some interesting articles on the subject.

Feel free to comment below or ask any questions that you might have.

Thanks and keep running!


  1. Love it. I needed to hear this a year ago and I still need to hear it. Need to work on 3 and 5. Also I need to work on breathing :). Great post Tom!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! I was thinking about adding a section about breathing, but I was concerned about making the post too long.

    I will say this about breathing - the key is to develop a rhythm. Your inhales and exhales should be smooth and even. I'll write an in-depth post about that soon.

    Thanks for the kind words and the comment :)

  3. I agree with all those points! For sedentary people, I've also recommend the Couch-to-5K. It's a great way to gradually get from sitting on your ass 24/7 to running 30 minutes without stopping:

  4. Hey Jordan, thanks for the link! That's a good idea.


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