Hello, general advice/tips please

Hi, I'm new here and not only new to running but new to exercise in general. I warn you this first post may be a bit of a blog but I want to get some opinions on if I am pushing too hard or not enough and if my intended goals are realistic or not.

I'm a 36 year old male who hasn't exercised or played active sports in 15 years or so. I'm not overweight, I've never smoked and I only drink occasionally. My diet is very average, not horrendous but not healthy either if that makes sense. I'm not at all fit but I think it's a reasonable base to start from.

A few weeks back I started noticing a fair few old friends on Facebook posting about doing 10k runs, half marathons and even 1 training for a marathon. Seeing as most of these people are the last people I ever expected to be doing this it really inspired me to get off the sofa. My dream goal is to run a marathon in the next 18-24 months, just for the achievement if I am honest.

So I spoke to a mate who is regular runner and the next day I went out and bought a pair of running shoes. Nothing fancy because I didn't want to waste too much money on something I may get bored of or hate. They are just a pair of Adidas Litestrike Adiprene and will do for now.

So anyway that was nearly 4 weeks ago and I think I am getting the bug.

So first time out I planned on running 1 mile as fast as I felt I could, no warm up, no cool down, no stretching after all it was only a little mile... Yes I'm an idiot. I did it in 9:06, so no records broken. I ran flat out, no walking. I was exhausted, but to be honest I was pretty pleased with myself. Next day I was a little stiff, the day after that I could hardly move!

By the third day the stiffness had pretty much gone, so I looked up some stretches, got what was maybe bad advice and I stretched before and after the run. I ran 2k/1.26 miles but that had bits of walking in there, it was much harder than the first run. My first mile was 8:32 though which was better in general. Again though I felt pretty good and because of the stretching I had virtually no soreness in the following days. I did suffer side stitches quite a lot on this run though so I had a bit of a nosey around the web and read up on breathing properly etc.

2 days later, 1.7 miles, a little slower mile speed of 8:47, no stitches and this time I took some water with me, not to replace fluids or anything just because I noticed my mouth got very sticky and horrible when running and there's no way I was going to be spitting on the streets, it was just to refresh my mouth and it helped.


  • Another 2 days and this time 2 miles, 8:52 first , 9:48 second. By the second mile I was taking 5-10 second walk breaks every .25 of a mile. This was when I thought I was pushing too far too soon. But I didn't feel horrific at the end, stitches still under control due to breathing better, stretches helping to keep soreness at bay. My calves were a bit sore for a day or too but not too bad. I did feel that I'd hit a wall though at 2 miles.

    This time 6 days passed, I just couldn't get out due to work, Easter and my wife working a few late shifts (we have 2 young children). So I set out to run and managed all of 1 mile before I felt I couldn't go any further. I did it in 8:48 but I felt terrible. I was slowing to walk in places, terrible stitches, just awful. Soreness wasn't a real issue, aches calves but a little deep heat helped.

    3 more days passed, this was yesterday. I had intended to run sooner but a mixture of bad weather and late shifts for the wife got in the way. So i went off out on a run with no particular distance in mind. I'd decided not to worry about timings and to purposely lower my pace. I wanted to enjoy the run and not push it. So I pace myself nicely and run a mile. As I reach that mile marker I slowed to a walk for 10 seconds then decided I'll carry on another half mile and see how I feel. The 1.5 mile comes and goes and I'm feeling pretty good, not tired, steady heart rate or at least it felt like that, and I feel like it wouldn't be pushing it to finish at 2 miles. So a quick swig of water and a 10 second walk and I carry on. I get to 2 miles and still I feel damn good, not tired, not sore, not gasping for breath, no stitches. I put it down to running at a better pace rather than slogging it for all it's worth. At this point I decided 1 more mile is no effort at all and decide I may as well run a little over so I'll do 5K. I did it, 5K, relatively easy and I really don't think I pushed it. I felt I could of pushed and done 1-2 miles more but I had the wife at home waiting to make dinner so that really would of been pushing it! The total time for my unplanned 5k was 29:12, 3.18 miles. I don't know if that's respectable or not but I was extremely pleased with myself. Minimal aching calves today, that's te only side effect of yesterday's run. I actually thoroughly enjoyed this run, no complaints.

    So, I read a bit more and my next run, tomorrow, I'm not stretching before, I'm planning a 5 minute warmup walk, then run (probably 2 miles) then a 5 min cool down walk followed by my usual stretches. Is this a better way of approaching it?

    Also am I doing too much too soon? I am just lucky I've not picked up an injury or would I be okay at these distances for now?

    I have goal of managing to run, not race, 10 miles by the end of summer. Is that a lot to expect?
  • Cheeze439,

    Being 36 and having two young kids myself, I felt compelled to reply!!!

    6 years ago I was in a similar boat to you - although I wasn't inactive, I was totally new to running and a mate at work suggested a group of us did the local half marathon. So, I started training and much of what you describe above is what I experienced at the time. 6 years on I totally have the running bug, and have done numerous half marathons and my second full marathon is in 6 weeks.

    So, first things first.......your body probably won't thank you much for pushing yourself so hard so early. Running places significant stresses on your body, as well as your cardiovascular system. As such I would solely concentrate on time on your feet as opposed to measured distance. Personally I would initally run a pace that is totally comfortable - if it feels too slow, that's fine. You will increase injury risk by going faster than this - your body is not trained for this yet. Walking breaks are important too - running consistently for 30 mins should be your first goal, but take regular walking breaks initially.

    Based on what you've said above, I would suggest running comfortably for 5 minutes, and then walking for 3 minutes. Repeat this until you are up to 30 mins in total. Over a few weeks you can increase your running time and reduce your walk time. Soon enough (and providing the pace is comfortable), you'll be running for 30 mins. After this you can start to think about getting faster and going longer.

    Good luck!


  • Thanks Mannfred.

     To be honest I may of been a little hard on myself when I described my fitness. Yes I'm not what anyone would call fit but I work as a manager for a tile company and several times per week I end up helping with unloading packs of tiles of up to 30kg off pallets or loading up customers cars. In the case of our deliveries I get stuck in and that's a couple of hours of heavy lifting, coupled with being on my feet for 12 hours a day. Before this job I worked in pub/restaurant management and that was 12-15 hour days of brisk walking around the bar/restaurant. I actually wore a pedometer once in that job just out of curiosity and was clocked up about 5 miles thoughout a shift. Obviously it's not proper exercise but they say it all helps.

     My first few runs my heart was pounding heavily and uncomfortably which is one of the things that made me realise I was pushing too hard and running too fast. My last couple of runs I've lowered the pace and feel very comfortable, around 10 mins per mile. I can't yet run more than 8-10 mins anyway without having to walk and I walk until my heart rate and breathing slows, usually 30 seconds to a minute.

    It's not quite what you recommended but I will take on board your suggestions and try that out too. I do now aim at 30 mins regardless of distance, it just so happened that the first time I did that I did 5k (with short walks in there).  I'd love to run 30 mins with no walking but I've some way to go yet. I also don't run everyday yet, every 2-3 seems to work best for me. The only soreness I get is my calves, but that's not too uncomfortable as long as I take rest days inbetween. From what I've read it could be my running style and having the wrong running shoes. I'm going to visit one of the running specialist stores and get my style properly assessed so I can get a more suitable shoe. From what I can work out myself I don't land on my heel, I land almost flat on my mid foot and roll and push off with my inner front foot. I'll see what they say.

     The hard bit is done now, and that was working out if I would enjoy and stick to it and I do. It's only 4 weeks but I can feel a difference in my fitness, albeit a slight difference lol.

    Next thing to master is eating, not for training or weight loss, just more sensible and to suit my new hobby. I'm actually eating breakfast now (cereals) something that I haven't done in 20 odd years apart from a sly bacon sandwich now and then. I'm finding my appetite is increased, I always ate small meals and didn't always finish them.

    On the whole, this is looking to be one of the best things I've done.

    I'm running again Thursday and I'll try your suggestions and see how I get on, I do want to get a least a bit tired though and that looks a bit too easy,  the running at 5 mins seems about right with what I do now, the walking though I'm closer to 1 minute rather than 3. I'll increase that bit next trip out.

  • Good to hear you have the motivation to carry on - so many people don't and it's a shame. Running is fantastic for so many reasons. Since I started running 6 years ago I've shed over 20 pounds and now get into clothes that would have been spray on a few years ago! I use running as a way to get out of the house and chill out - the longer runs give me thinking time, and with 2 kids you know you don't get much of that!

    Keep up with the easy approach - you'll start to build a base level of fitness over the next few months and you'll surprise yourself how your fitness improves. You mentioned a marathon within 18-24 months.......I would say that's possible, but get a couple of 10k races under your belt first - possibly around September time. If you still like it then that's a good sign - but slowly does it first.........literally.

    One more thing - the more seriously you run, the more reason to consider nutrition. For now, make sure you compliment your increased training with increased carborhydrate intake. Rice, potatoes, pasta, but in moderate portions. Drink more water too - 2 litres a day, especially as it gets warmer. Fuel your body right, and you train better!

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