Running Tips and Advice Wanted | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

August 27, 2012

Running Tips and Advice Wanted

I've made it quite plain on this blog that as a child I had no athletic inclinations whatsoever. 



I tried running, despite what my years of wheezing and leg cramps from previous attempts told me (which was, "Don't. Please. For the love of all things sacred and holy. Don't put us through that.")   I'd had many false starts at an exercise regime, making only a few feet of headway before petering out. From an early age, I had asthmatic reactions to physical activity, which hindered me. But it was hard to watch my athletic friends literally run circles around me, finding success in ways I could not.

Starting in college, I felt more motivated to "get things moving." I pushed myself, despite the discomfort. I found that if I was committed and didn't push too hard too fast, I was able to gain a little more endurance each time I ran. Each run enabled me to run a bit further. Once I'd worked up my lungs, I didn't wheeze anymore. Soon I was able to run 1-2 miles without having a heart attack. I also went on to add weight training (nothing formal, just learning from books).

Having kids waylaid me a bit. I took a long time off during my first pregnancy and post-partum. It was hard to get started again, but toward the end of Chica's first year, I was running more steadily. I had started jogging regularly again when I found I was pregnant with Bug, and I was set back again for another 18 months.

Last summer, when Bug was about 7 months, I started working out again at my local YMCA. I decided to train for my first 5k, which I completed last September.  Despite my plans to continue running, I stopped working out when our membership ended. 

It was a bad idea.  

We reactivated our membership, and I've been working on my running again. My goal is to be ready for the same 5k I did last year. This time, I've given myself more time to train. I slowly started jogging again about 7 weeks ago. It was difficult at first!  But I committed to running 3 times a week, and each day got a little easier. I got a little faster. And I finally broke a 10 minute mile (actually, I've worked my way down to under 9 minutes)!  

I still consider myself a new runner, and an untrained one at that.  I have a few questions that have been bouncing around my head, and I'm sure other novice runners would benefit from some advice from seasoned runners. Here are a few to get started:

What is the best clothing for running? 

I typically run in athletic shorts and a t-shirt. I know I need new shoes. Is it best to wear running shorts? A certain fabric? What are the best brands?


I know there are a lot of opinions about running shoes: brands, "barefoot" shoes versus traditional running shoes. I also know that everyone is different, therefore their running shoe needs are unique. What is your philosophy on how to take care of your feet? What brands/shoes do you recommend?

Best way to train?

If a person is starting from scratch, where does one begin? I started with the Couch 2 5k app last summer. This summer I just started running with the goal of 1.5 miles, and added distance every week. Is it best to start with distance? Time? What is more imporant: how far you run? Or your bodies ability to recover?

How to handle cramps, side stitches, shin splints and other running ailments?

I occasionally get side stitches/cramps, and I do my best to focus my breathing and run through them. Sometimes that is not enough. Is there good advice out there on how to handle physical ailments that crop up while you are running? Time tested remedies?


I hate hills. Although my endurance is getting better, hills sometimes still kick my butt. How should a new runner get through an incline? Do you go slow? Do you power up and get through it? Should you change your breathing or stride?

How to take it farther.

So I've completed a 5k, and I hope to complete my second in the next 2 weeks. I don't know if I want to ever put myself through the torture of a marathon, but perhaps a 10k? How do I make running a regular part of my life? How do I continue to challenge my body so I don't hit plateaus?


So hit us with it. Leave a comment below. Give us your best running advice, whether you answer some of the questions above (please?) or throw out some good words of running encouragement in other areas. I would love any and every bit of advice you have. I know there are other novice runners (or people who want to start running) who will find your advice invaluable.If I get some good tips, I will write a follow-up!


  1. Good GRIEF that is a lot of questions.

    If you are running under a 10-min mile, then you don't need MY help! LOL. But I'll take a stab at it.

    Shoes - everyone is different. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you do have trouble, try minimal shoes, or maybe something with more support. it's trial and error, I think.

    I like to wear moisture-wicking clothing. Athleta and Under Armour are my faves.

    When running hills, I try to run as upright as possible, and I try to power through. Once I get to the top, I try NOT to walk, although it is so tempting. I try to slow my gait and recover while still jogging.

    I was actually advised to run MORE, not less, and it helped a lot. I think I built endurance faster that way, and had less pain. 5x a week minimum is ideal, but I'm not doing that anymore. It is hard to maintain.

    Most of all, have fun. Don't pressure yourself to the point that you dread getting out there. ENJOY!

  2. I had always HATED running, but started about 5 months ago because I wanted to try something challlenging for me. I swear it is the one thing I have done for weight loss that finally took off those last 5 pounds of baby weight (2.5 years later). After the 3rd month, I started really craving running. So my advice is to just start doing it and stick with it a few months to see where it takes you. I'm training for a half marathon now, and currently am at about a 5 mile run on my long runs. I have a lot of hills near me, and I always seem to slow down just so I make it hrough. And I feel like it's important that you don't walk at the top. There are times when I have walked a few minutes to lower my heart rate- and I've been told that is totally acceptable.
    I have been told by runner friends that Hal Higdon's progras are good, so. I've been using that for half marathon training. Google it!
    As for shoes, I got a pair of saucony triumphs for mother's day , and have seen an amazing difference between them and my old Nikes. I used to have horrible back pain and now I rarely have pain from running. The higher price tag was totally worth it for me! If you go to a specialized running store or good sports store, they should be ableto help you choose a good fit for you- saucony, mizuno, and brooks are known for being great running shoes.
    Good luck to you and those getting started!

  3. You want to trash all your cotton t-shirts....they make you too hot when running. Bottoms are personal preference. I hate running shorts. they seem to ride up in the middle so I get tight spandex shorts to run in but it is whatever you are comfortable with. Getting wicking shirts (target, walmart have them on sale a lot).
    Shoes are trial and error. I tend to lean towards New Balance and the lightest they make.
    Stitches in your side usually mean that you are not drinking enough water the day before.
    Shin splints usually mean that you are doing too many miles too fast.
    I've been running for 2.5 years and still have not gotten below a 10 min mile so that is awesome.
    Hills SUCK. Just try to power through them and know if you have many hills, you might not be able to do as many miles as you want. If you have to walk, catch your breathe but continue to run when you can.
    Add miles slowly. Like I've said, I have been running for 2.5 years (did the couch to 5K to start). I run many 5Ks in the fall/spring but I am running my first 10K in November (the Bridge Run across the Ben Franklin Bridge). It took me that long to be able to do it...I chickened out of the Broad Street run in May. It doesn't take everyone that long to add miles but for me it did. If you can find a running partner, life is some much easier.

  4. My friend is self-publishing a new book for beginning runners (and runners who want to take it further) - - she did a 1000 mile year (!) and the book is culled from that experience. She's an awesome writer and felt that running helped her become more creative. Check it out :)

  5. Ditch the cotton tees for sure and get some technical fabrics. Dry fit, moisture wicking, etc. I'm a Nike fan.
    Go to a running store for shoes. Have them watch you run and fit you properly. Probably the most important thing you should do. Be ready to drop some dough, but know your body is worth it.
    Speed versus distance depends on your goals and how much thought you want to put into training. Simplest would be work up to 3-4 miles and then focus on improving your time. You can get very specific with key workouts, long runs, tempo runs, speed work, etc. but I wouldn't overwhelm yourself from the start.
    Hills. Just maintain. Don't speed up, and don't slow down. Stay strong and maintain your pace.


Hey! Share a thought or two - I'd love to hear from you! ~ Steph

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