February 02, 2004

ask spofi: Anyone here run? I need to know a few things. [more inside]

posted by jasonspaceman to navel gazing at 07:15 PM - 13 comments

What's a good regimen to start off with? What should I look for in a running shoe? Anything else I should know before hitting the pavement? Oh and it was supposed to be ask spofi ... but you already knew that.

posted by jasonspaceman at 07:16 PM on February 02, 2004

Hi. Believe it or not I really _AM_ a trainer. Questions I'd have for you jspace: Where are you running? Outdoors, indoors, uphill? Are you in a high altitude spot? Can you maintain a regiment regardless of weather? Do you belong to a gym with a track? With treadmills? Are you running to improve your health, your endurance, for weight loss, to increase speed, strengthen your heart, add density to bones, bored, what? Can you supplement running with alternate forms of cardio? Do you like to play tennis, basketball, etc? Will you be playing those games while you undertake this new hobby of running? Can you schedule your runs so that you've had at least an hour to digest whatever you've eaten previously? How much time per week can you reasonably schedule? Do you have any specific goals you're looking to reach? What are your limits that you're beginning with? Have you had problems with finding the right shoe size in the past? Do you seem to have one foot larger than the other? Are issues of style especially important to you? MOST IMPORTANTLY: what's your medical history? When was your last checkup? Any history of heart disease in your family? Knee, hip, ankle, toe injuries over the years? Do you smoke? If so, how much? Any medications? Blood sugar? Blood pressure? Arrhythmia? Are you obese? I know it's a lot, but these are some good questions to start with. I would be happy to shoot the shit with you on this, but I would also highly recommend speaking with (NUMBER ONE) a doctor and possibly a personal trainer. Of course, the latter really depends on your goals and what kind of incentive works for you. [I do six or seven mile runs between two and five times a week depending on how frisky I get, so there's your disclaimer as to my own (hardly regimental).] training.

posted by forksclovetofu at 08:04 PM on February 02, 2004

I would be running outdoors and we (as in my wife and I) plan on purchasing a treadmill for when it is either too rainy or snowy. Reasons for running, all of the above for me. I just have started doing other forms of cardio ... following various cardio DVDs with 3 pound weights. I also plan on playing a little summer league basketball, or pick-up whenever I can. Depending on we get our next house, I will put a hoop. If we get a house with enough land, I might lay out a half court. Yes, I am basketball freak and I am looking to coach again sometime in the future. As far as goals, I have none other than I would like to someday compete in a 5k or 10k race and finish it. I have a good medical history: low blood pressure, no medications, good vitals, vegan diet, don't smoke, no recent injuries. Just went to a doctor today (leftover swollen lymph gland in my ear from a cold). He's well aware of my diet and my intentions of getting to where I was when I was in college. At the moment, I weigh 185 at 5'9". My goal weight is 160 by the end of May. As for shoes, I much prefer comfort over style. Right now I have a pair of cross trainers, which suit me ok, but would like a pair just for running. I also plan on start biking once the weather breaks. I'm just very lazy and want to get into a routine to improve my body and heath. Is that enough info?

posted by jasonspaceman at 09:17 PM on February 02, 2004

Yep. Following essay to be taken with two grains of salt and with the understanding that I've never met you and that your initial PAR Q looks clean: Shoe-wise, if you're comfortable with the crosstrainers you're wearing and you don't have any past history of arch or ankle support problems, getting another pair either identical to what you have or a comfortable good fitting pair of tennis shoes sounds reasonable. Like I tell my clients, you don't need racing wheels on a Volkswagen; as long as what you're wearing is entirely functional and isn't giving you any serious grief, you should be fine. Ankle/knee braces and insoles can be helpful and are good pre-emptive strikes for anything you think could become a problem. I wouldn't discount the idea that having a pair of shoes for a specific activity can be helpful psychologically as well as physically. You want something that's comfortable but that also makes you FEEL comfortable, so don't skimp... but don't go getting those Homer Simpson Assassins either. DO get a nice pair of socks tho. And DO replace those shoes about once every five/six months (or as needed) if you put a lot of track work in. Also DO go get a heart rate monitor and read up on them. They cost something like forty bucks and are REALLY helpful in helping you understand, pace and monitor what your body is and is capable of doing. Training is not a static activity. You'll progress and after each four to six week mesocycle, you'll want to reevaluate the frequency, intensity and time of your workouts to reflect the changes you're going through. Trust and respect what your body is telling you. Whenever you're going to start a cardio workout, give yourself three to five minutes of warmup motion: light jogging or the like to get your heart prepared for the workout it has coming. This shouldn't be anything that leaves you especially winded. As a good rule of thumb, the majority of your cardio workouts should probably follow the "talk test": you should be able to speak clearly while you're running; no gasping for breath for twenty minutes straight. If you want to kick out the stops for the last few minutes of the run, that's understandable; otherwise, try not to kill yourself. Make sure to END your run with three to five minutes of cool down to let your pulse rate equalize. Try to stay light on your feet. One of the biggest problem I have with people that start cardio training to lose weight is that they pound the pavement, screw up their ankles and I lose them for a week or two while they heal. Incidentally, if this does happen to you, DON'T GIVE UP. Get your body right first, of course, but then alternate running with biking, stair stepping, swimming or the elliptical trainer. Really, this is a good idea even when you're NOT injured, so that you're not constrained by one movement that "feels right" to the exclusion of all others. Mix it up; it's good for you. Keep an eye on your stride. Are your feet falling heel-toe, directly in front of the knee? Try to keep your movements simple, light, consistent and in a straight ahead line. Turning your knee or ankle out too extremely when you run can cause weakness or pain in the joints. You don't have to be anal about this, but it's a good thing to self evaluate while you're moving and see where you can economize and streamline. That's all best done with a coach who can tell you how to improve; just wanted to mention. If you're going to train on a treadmill and weight loss is your primary goal, try playing with the incline moreso than the speed. You'd be surprised what a three percent grade can do to your heart rate. Increasing the grade rather than the speed also decreases the likelihood of impact injury. It's NOT the best thing for speed training, but nevermind... we're getting a little too far ahead of ourselves. For a beginner, three or four times a week running is a good place to start. More may be too taxing, less is unlikely to have much impact. Make three days a week your minimum and throw in that fourth if you're feeling cocky, restless or just want to push a little harder. Also remember that there are excellent sports equivalents. If you play pickup ball or just shoot around for an hour and a half, you can probably cross off one of your days... or make that your fourth day. Don't let it stop being fun. "Running", by the by, is a relative term; we'll be using your heartrate as our guide. In terms of intensity (all else being equal, your milage may vary, I haven't met you and don't have any definite sense of your health, wouldn't swear to it on a stack of bibles, don't sue me, BUT) between 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate is where you'll be expending aerobic (read: optimally efficient for weight loss) energy. Explore your limitations; your numbers may not jibe and you'll have to recalculate. That's common. You're looking for a ballpark figure; don't expect exact specifics unless you're really refining. One way to approach would be maintaining 65% of your max HR for the duration of the run on day one, day two at 70%, day three at 80%. Or you could pyramid the run: 10-15 minutes at 60, 10-15 at 70, 10-15 at 80. Or you could try some fartlek training, in moderation. Regardless, let your heart rate and your RPE be your guide. Which brings us to time: between thirty and forty five minutes is entirely reasonable for a beginner. Again, explore what feels like your limits and then test them accordingly. Bear in mind that these are not "written in stone decrees"; variation and flexibility will help you psychologically and physically. There's a TON of positive ways to approach cardio training. Fetishizing equipment or anything more than the most basic and common sense advice is nonsensical. The most important thing is that you set yourself reasonable goals for your program and then follow them through. Make sure yours is a program you can GENUINELY stick to, that won't overtax you to the point where you're unable to continue and that you ENJOY. Setting personal goals may help. I've seen people lose twenty-five pounds in three months; but if I were you I'd let the weight loss be less of a carrot. Try to set smaller day-by-day goals: adding two minutes or a half a mile to a run that you couldn't do last week. If you find that you enjoy long runs, you may have a new goal to set in terms of endurance. If you like fast runs, you may try to start beating your own personal bests for a mile or half-hour distance. Whatever keeps you moving; you'll find that the big stuff takes care of itself. A good motivational tool would be a solid set of "before" pictures. Get your wife to take pics of you stripped down to skivvies (and please don't post them) once a week. SEEING the changes you'll go through may push you forward. The best news is that if you put in that time with no serious alteration in your diet, you will almost _certainly_ see changes... which reminds me that we haven't even TALKED about diet, but it's late and I have a client tomorrow that's paying me, so you get short shrift. Lastly, FWIW, as long as you're running in an area where wearing headphones isn't dangerous, music can be a great motivator. I got an Ipod just for running and it's been the best trainer I could ask for. Dial up the Rocky Theme and show em the eye of the tiger. That should do you for a month. Congratulations on deciding to make a change. Keep us all posted!

posted by forksclovetofu at 11:03 PM on February 02, 2004

I get terrible shin splints when I run for the first time in a long time. So bad that I can barely walk for a week. Any ideas/specific stretches?

posted by msacheson at 11:17 PM on February 02, 2004

Shin splints are generally indicative of a weakness in the tibialis anterior, the muscle along the shins. You need to strengthen there and increase your flexibility. Stretches, pathology and strengthening suggestions are over here. In my experience, yoga helped me there quite a bit, 'specially child's/down dog poses. Hey, anybody wanna hire me yet?

posted by forksclovetofu at 11:33 PM on February 02, 2004

As a former college football player with bad knees I swim, it's great cardio, and it's easy on the joints, just some food for thought.

posted by jbou at 11:48 PM on February 02, 2004

I hate shin splints! I can't believe you mentioned yoga... And no, i don't have any advice, nor do i have any experience...other than i tried to run or jog a few times and found it utterly boring. I can't just run for no reason. I have to be going somewhere. Maybe you have experienced this? If so, my advice is play football...its all running and sprinting, but you are competing so you hardly notice it.

posted by StarFucker at 12:41 AM on February 03, 2004

Wait, i just gave advice...

posted by StarFucker at 12:42 AM on February 03, 2004

For once I'd agree with the Fucker. I hated running and it bored me silly, but I never notice how much running I'm doing playing football because there's the game to focus on. Forks is right too, Fartlek running is great training if you have the discipline for it. Finally, if you have cross-trainers then you could do worse than to actually do some cross-training at a gym. I spent 6 months doing it twice a week (along with football and cycling) and have never been fitter, stronger or in better physical shape. It has the added advantage that it only takes 20ish minutes to get an excellent workout. Good luck with the running.

posted by squealy at 08:30 AM on February 03, 2004

I used to have a real problem with shin splints while playing football. A buddy of mine noticed I was running a lot on the inside of my feet (which isn't natural for me) while defending, so I began paying attention to it and the shin splints disappeared. Not sure if this is scientifically supportable, but it worked for me. My 2 cents as always.

posted by trox at 09:20 AM on February 03, 2004

I also have begun to run, but have literally no arches. There's some pain when I run, particularly in my knee and hip. I've been told that orthodics are my only answer. How true is this? Maybe inserts that I should try out?

posted by rebeuthl at 11:45 AM on February 03, 2004

#### me I'm off for a run!

posted by Fat Buddha at 12:19 PM on February 05, 2004

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