- Common Questions
- What can I read in my free time to learn more about running?
- What shoes do I buy?
- I’ve never run before, what do I do?
- Does anyone else run at night / without music / indoors / after eating a snack?
- How do I get faster?
- How much will the heat affect my running performance?
- Can I run on an empty stomach?
- I am experiencing a serious medical problem, what should I do?
- What is a "good" time?
- I have a 2 mile / 1.5 mile / 1.25 mile / 3km PT test for the army / navy / police / etc.
- Which GPS watch should I buy? What is the best running app? What is better, watch or app?
- What headphones do you recommend for running?
- Frequent restroom visits caused by running?
- What should I eat?
- I just ran ________. Now What?
- How many rest days should I take?
- How do I fix my form/footstrike?
- How do I deal with shin splints?
- How do I successfully run in the heat/cold/rain?
- How do I get the correct bra/prevent bra chafing?
- How do I deal with shin splints?
What can I read in my free time to learn more about running?
- Daniels' Running Formula by Jack Daniels
- Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger.
- Faster Road Racing by Pete Pfitizinger.
- 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald
- Hansons Marathon Method
- Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald
- User compiled list of some great running books
What shoes do I buy?
Running shoes are fitted very specifically to take into account factors such as gait, pronation, weight, and running surface. For these reasons it is generally useless to ask r/running what shoes you ought to buy, and instead we recommend that you visit a speciality running shop where they can assess these factors before recommending a shoe. It’s also best to try the shoes on and run around a little bit before you actually buy them!
The following sites can give some suggestions if you can’t make it to a running shop:
Road Runner Sports has a shoe recommender online based on terrain, arch height, and foot pronation. It shows you shoes that are a good fit for you. It is always a good idea to go to a store and try on the shoes before buying them.
Mizuno has their own analyzer which is more detailed and gives step by step video instruction on how to answer the questions. It will also show you which type of shoes you should get.
Runners World has a shoe finder app. You can find shoes similar to ones you already own, or find shoes based on your running characteristics. They also have an extensive review database.
Also, here's a good post describing choosing a shoe.
And another describing shoe types and features.
I’ve never run before, what do I do?
Start off running fairly short distances a few times a week, and run very slowly at first so that you are not breathless. Over several weeks increase the distance. Couch to 5K is a structured program which works, and has its own subreddit! For more tips, read further down this page.
Does anyone else run at night / without music / indoors / after eating a snack?
If you are asking if anyone else does what you are doing, the answer is almost always going to be a yes. Please search the subreddit for similar questions, and if you do post about this, please encourage a discussion to avoid a thread of yes and no answers.
How do I get faster?
There are many factors that affect your speed, and you can spend many hours reading about this subject. The basic principles tend to be the same regardless of which specific distance you are training for. Things to consider include:
Base Building: Safely and steadily improving your mileage is often the first thing to consider. You can read more about this here, here, and here Ensuring you have a solid foundation of plenty of miles should help you to avoid injury as you prepare for a race.
Quality: Once you are established in your running it is a good idea to incorporate some form of quality, whether that is hill sprints, intervals, or tempo runs. What sort of quality to include will depend on your goals. Read more here.
Lifestyle: Make sure you are getting a proper diet, are sufficiently hydrated, and get enough sleep. If you are under or overweight then addressing this may also help with your speed. Make sure that you are managing any medical conditions (e.g. asthma) appropriately and that you remain vigilant against any new injuries.
A good place to start would be this introduction by /u/HDRgument. It gives information on the main physiological factors affecting running performance, the training used to target those factors, and how to gradually build your training.
If you are ready to take your running to the next level and want to understand more about the principles behind training and getting faster, Daniels' Running Formula is a good read.
How much will the heat affect my running performance?
While everyone responds to heat differently, high temps affect every runner to an extent. Click HERE to use the temperature calculator and get a better idea of just how much time the heat might add to your finishing time. Please note that this calculator is based on more elite performances and you should take into account the effect of humidity on your pace as well. While not entirely accurate for everyone, it's a good start to determining your paces.
Can I run on an empty stomach?
Another related point: should i eat anything while running?
I am experiencing a serious medical problem, what should I do?
Questions about serious and/or undiagnosed medical problems are generally not appropriate here. Instead you should seek advice from a doctor. The Injuries section further down has some more information, but should only be used to inform and advise, NOT to diagnose. Try to use a little common sense: if you are having symptoms of a heart attack then you should be calling an ambulance, not posting on reddit!
What is a "good" time?
You can work out your age-graded performance for a race using an age-grade calculator. This gives a grade based on the world records for distance, age, and sex. Loosely, over 60% is local class, over 70% is competitive in a region, over 80% is competitive nationally, and over 90% is world class.
The IAAF Scoring Tables are also a good measure of performance. These use data from performances at several levels rather than just percent world record, which helps control for outlier world records and abnormal distributions.
Running a Boston Marathon qualifying (BQ) time is a common target for American marathon runners. For 18-34 year-old men, that is under 3:00, and for women it is under 3:30.
Races usually make their results public on their race website. You can check them to work out where you would have placed. For example, parkrun is a weekly 5k event held in hundreds of parks across the world, and the latest results for the largest parkrun are at: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/bushy/results/latestresults/. The results of British races and some major international races are on the RunBritain site.
I have a 2 mile / 1.5 mile / 1.25 mile / 3km PT test for the army / navy / police / etc.
and the test is in a weeks time
- You're not going to improve physically over that period, but you may be able to do better by improving your pacing. Don't try and do a lot of running now; it will just tire you out. Do a few practice runs for your target distance, push hard, and time yourself. If you can, run on the course that you'll be tested on. Rest well for the few days before the test.
- On the day of the test, do a gentle jog as a warm up for about ten minutes beforehand. Work out the pace you need beforehand, and try to start off at that pace and hold it or speed up (negative splits), rather than going out too fast and slowing down. If you're on a track, mentally break it down into laps, and focus on doing each lap well. If you're close to the time you need, adrenaline will help you reach it. Good luck!
and the test is in a few months time
- The more time you've got the better, but you can make significant improvements over several months. Run more, at least three times a week and preferably more. Most of your runs should be long slow runs at an easy pace, so you feel you can hold a conversation while you're running. Include one run a week of a set of 400m or 800m intervals at faster than your target pace, with rests between each interval. Include an occasional run at your goal pace to assess your performance.
This is a common topic on /r/running. Here are some relevant threads:
Which GPS watch should I buy? What is the best running app? What is better, watch or app?
These questions come up a lot and there are hundreds of threads about watches and apps. Start by using the search box. Also check out DC Rainmaker which has detailed comprehensive information about every running gadget, and best buy recommendations.
What headphones do you recommend for running?
This is a very frequently asked question. Try a search and you will likely find a recent thread full of tips.
Frequent restroom visits caused by running?
Running seems to force even the best of us to visit the occasional restroom. It happens to professionals and amateurs alike. Check out this article for tips on how to prevent the runners trots. Also click HERE to watch a PBS video about this phenomenon. A lot of what works best for you is trial and error. So if you find something that works for you, let us know if the Daily Q&A thread.
What should I eat?
What you eat before, during, and after your run can make running more enjoyable. Different things work for different people, so a little trial and error works best here. If you find something you like, or something that works for you, please share it in our Tuesday Nutrition Thread. Here's a good article for beginners who have no idea about what to eat.
Before a run?
Eating before a run can help to stave off hunger and give you a little boost to your blood sugar levels. To find your optimal timing window, try eating a medium sized snack 90 minutes before your next run (see the last section of this article for what constitutes a medium sized snack). If your stomach handles it well, try moving the same snack forward 15-20 minutes. Likewise, if you experience stomach issues, push back the timing of your snack 15-20 minutes. Keep moving forward or backward 15-20 minutes per run until you find the closest time you can eat before you start experiencing stomach or cramping issues. Now you have a concrete number for how close to your run you can eat, which is the first step in determining your optimal pre-run meal or snack. This is important because, in general, the harder you have to run, the further back your snack should be from this time threshold. Likewise, the larger the meal or snack, the further you’ll have to push back from your closest pre-run eating time.
During a run?
There are many options to use as fuel during a run. GU, Honeystinger, Cliff, Nuun, Tailwind, etc. If you don't like processed foods, you can even try dried dates, or plain honey. You will probably have to try several things to determine which works best for you. Most people don't need fuel for runs less than 90 minutes long.
After a run?
Proper fueling after a run helps promote recovery. During excercise, your body breaks down muscle fibers and with proper post run fueling, you can help your body repair those fibers faster. Post run, you should eat something as quickly as possible with a 4:1 carb to protein ratio. Chocolate milk is highly regarded as the ultimate post run fuel because it usually has the 4:1 ratio, and it is delicious.
I just ran ________. Now What?
The options are endless! Did you just finish your first 5k? You can choose to work on speed or distance. Did you finish your first 50k? You can choose to work on speed or distance. There are no rules that dictate what you should do next. Figure out what your long term goals are, and work your way to those.
How many rest days should I take?
This number varies for everyone. Some people run everyday. Some people run once a week. It all depends on what your body can handle. For a good starting point, please check out the Running Order of Operations.
How do I fix my form/footstrike?
The canonical bad running form looks something like this: slow cadence, long leaps, landing on a straight leg, ahead of your body, hands in front of your chest, upper body bent forward (slouching). What happens here is that the entire body weight, plus a good portion of the forward momentum you have, is jammed straight into the ground, and because the knee is straight and the hip muscles don't engage properly, the impact force ends up hitting the bones and joints, all the way from the feet up into the hips and lower back, and even up the spine to the neck and head. Bones and joints are not built for this, so you will get in trouble with this. Now, typically this kind of running form combines with a pronounced heel strike; that's because it is essentially a grotesquely scaled-out walking gait: you basically just lengthen your walking stride, add a bit of push-off to turn your steps into leaps, and that's it. Forcing a forefoot strike will not change any of that; it might even make things worse, because one, you will be inclined to "reach out" with your toes, making the overstriding worse, and two, hitting the ground this way with the foot in an overextended position doesn't help at all, it'll just hurt the ankle joint more.
The proper solution is to forget about footstrike entirely, and instead work on a better overall gait. That means:
- Short, quick, light steps, even (especially!) at slow paces.
- "Run tall": keep your head upright (imagine a string pulling your head up, like with a puppet), eyes on the horizon.
- Relax, especially feet, ankles, arms, shoulders.
- Bend the knees.
- Keep your feet behind your body.
- Use gravity to move forward: just slightly pushing the hips forward and down will have you effortlessly accelerate while staying completely relaxed. Practice this in the form of strides.
- If in doubt, bend the knees more.
If you do all this right, you cannot possibly overstride, and rather than jamming impact forces into your knees and even losing a lot of energy by braking with every step, you will use your muscles and tendons to dynamically cushion the impact. It's very likely that adjusting your form like this eventually leads to a forefoot strike, but if it doesn't, don't sweat it - as long as your steps are light and dynamic, it doesn't matter at all.
How do I deal with shin splints?
Check this section in the Injury section of the wiki.