Advice for the First Time Runner: Start with Your Feet
Posted by Jenn F. on Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
For some reason, I tend to assume a lot of you readers are already runners. I think it’s my own bias: years of running have warped my mind. These days I imagine the world is made up of runners and non-runners, and never the twain shall meet. This is, of course, ridiculous. There are probably thousands of novice runners hitting the streets every day with excitement and hope in their hearts. We all have to start sometime, right? So today’s post is for you: the newbie! Welcome to the wonderful world of running for pleasure, health, vitality, and energy. It may not always feel great (there’s nothing quite so painful as mile 5 when you’ve only ever run 3) but it’s always rewarding. The feeling of accomplishment I have after a particularly challenging run is what I live for. It keeps me going. It makes me feel strong, capable, and great about myself. You’ve made a choice to do something that can be incredibly healthy for your body and mind, congratulations! Now here’s how to do it safely.
Unlike many sports that require all sorts of accoutrements – from shoulder pads to mouthguards to awkward gloves – running requires very little. Just put on some comfortable clothes and some running shoes and you’re good to go. As you might expect, it’s the shoes that make all the difference, especially when you’re first starting out.
If you’ve never run further than from your car to the supermarket in a rain storm, that first run will bring a boatload of new sensations to your body. Your calves will burn, your quads will ache, your chest will heave, and your feet will probably hurt, at least a little. But how much they hurt and whether or not you do lasting injury is up to your shoes. This is not a time to skimp on equipment. You may save a few dollars, but good running shoes aren’t going to put you in bankruptcy (while steep medical bills might!) Visit a sporting goods store and ask for an employee’s help or, if you have any pre-existing foot issues, ask your podiatrist. Depending on your feet and gait, you may need extra lateral support, cushioning, or even orthotics designed to correct a pronation or stabilize your step. Replace your shoes whenever they stop feeling good on your feet.
Try on lots of different models before making a final decision. The shoe should feel completely comfortable: no pinching or pressure whatsoever. Remember, you’re going to be running in these, so any discomfort will be amplified tenfold.
Steer clear of the “barefoot” running shoes. These shoes probably aren’t going to offer you enough support. You risk injury, and if you injure yourself on your first run, you’re not likely to feel excited about a second.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.