All Your Running Questions Answered, Part 1

Men's Fitness
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I’m new to running. Can I just get out there and run?

Joe Mountain says: ‘Everyone knows how to run, so yes. But don’t try to run a half marathon in your second week. Start with short times and distances and listen to how your body feels. If you’re not experiencing pain but feel as if you’ve exerted yourself at the end of a run, that’s a good sign.’

How should I warm up?

Nick Morgan says: ‘Do a five-minute jog to raise your heart rate and core temperature. Gradually build up the intensity of your run, stopping every 30 seconds to do some dynamic stretches [controlled movements that gently and gradually take the muscles to the limit of their range of motion], such as knee raises and leg swings. Static stretching [gradual lengthening of a muscle at rest] tends to be for increasing flexibility and is best done at the end of or outside of training.’

Can I run in any trainers?

Martin Exley says: ‘No. To avoid injury and stay comfortable, you need shoes that suit your running style or gait. Go to a specialist running shop where they can set you up with the right pair. Take your old trainers, as well as any corrective devices you wear, and tell the assistant about any running-related injuries you’ve suffered. They should ask you about what kind of running you’ll be doing and analyse your gait by watching you run.’

Should I join a running club?

Joe Mountain says: ‘Joining a club is a good way of meeting new runners and progressing quickly because you get pulled along by faster people. It also helps you with consistency because you’ll feel some sense of obligation to turn up to sessions, so you’ll be running more regularly than you might if you were training alone. Most clubs cater for all levels of runner, so don’t think you have to be elite to get something out of joining one.’

How many times a week should I run?

Nick Morgan says: ‘When you start running, two to three runs a week will get you fit. As you improve, that will only be enough to maintain your fitness levels, so you’ll need to run four or five times a week. Don’t do more than that because you need at least two days off a week to allow your body to recover and adapt.’

What’s the difference between running on a treadmill and running on roads?

Steve Halsall says: ‘Running on a treadmill seems slightly easier because you’re just lifting your bodyweight up rather than going forwards. Adding a one or two per cent incline to a treadmill run will give you a physical demand similar to that you’d get running outdoors. Road running makes your ankles move laterally, while treadmills work in a linear way, so they’re good for people starting out or coming back from injury.’

Do I need to drink during a run?

Nik Wendon-Daniels says: ‘If you’re running at intensity for more than half an hour, you need to drink water during the run. Aim to drink about 250ml every 20 minutes. Weigh yourself before and after a run. If you lose more than two per cent of your body weight you risk hampering your performance.’

Should I use a heart rate monitor?

Nick Morgan says: ‘They’re good for understanding how hard you’re working and for getting immediate feedback about the quality of your training session. Just make sure you know what that information means, so you can use it to its full potential.’

To get faster, should I increase stride length or turnover?

Steve Cram says: ‘Both will help, but don’t try to increase your stride length by changing your running action. Instead, aim to increase your flexibility in your hamstrings and quads, which will add length. Gentle downhill running will increase leg speed because it encourages you to move quicker. Also, do intervals where you consciously increase your cadence.’

Should I stretch after a run?

James Moore says: ‘When muscles fatigue they tend to shorten, which can put stress on your joints and tendons. Do hip, quad, glute, hamstring and calf stretches to counteract that and speed recovery. Hold each stretch for up to 30 seconds.’ For a lower-body running stretch routine visit

Our running experts

Steve Cram is the former 1,500m world record holder. He won silver at the 1984 Olympics and gold at the 1983 World Championships. He now works as an athletics pundit for the BBC.

Trail running

Rob Hope is the reigning British fell running champion and has competed four times at the World Mountain Running Championships.

Injury prevention

James Moore is a clinical physiotherapist at the English Institute of Sport and UK Athletics. He works with athletes including Mo Farah and Christian Malcolm.

Running Kit

Martin Exley is the head technical expert at Brooks UK ( He is a Level Two athletics coach and has been running competitively for 25 years.

Personal training

Steve Halsall is director of Personal Evolution and has been a personal trainer for 15 years. A specialist in sports conditioning, he has a 100m person best of 11.01 seconds.

Sports science

Nick Morgan is a sports scientist at the Lucozade Sport Science Academy and has worked with UK Athletics.


Nik Wendon-Daniels is a dietician and director of The Dietitians Clinic (

Running community

Joe Mountain is co-founder of running social networking website Last year he ran 14 marathons, including the 243km Marathon des Sables.

Coach Staff

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