Advice for new runner on hard surface

Hi Guys,

Sorry to ask simple questions but i didn't know where else to ask, so i came here.

I've recently started running. I'm a previous footballer/general sportsman but have limited time to play my preferred sports these days. So i opted to take up running recently to keep me in decent shape.

I run later at night now due to work and family commitments so it has to be hard surface running for me. The lights show me the way image

I have previously disliked running but found it quite enjoyable recently. The weather has probably helped. Running on a cool evening down quiet roads has been really enjoyable.

Anyway, i wanted to get some advice on two things:

1) General all round advice on running on hard surfaces:
Is it ok to run on hard surfaces all the time?
Is it normal to get that sort of lower back of the leg/achilles/calf pain when first starting out?
Will decent footwear improve things for me?

The pain in the legs is the only thing that stops me at the minute. I'm pleased my fitness is able to take me further but stuck about the pain.

2) Footwear
It appears to me that my footwear is clearly not great for running. I'm just using a cheap pair i happened to have had for the last few years. Will getting a decent pair help with the cushioing on hard surfaces? What pair to choose? I've seen so much about sometimes getting the wrong shoe and it all being a disaster. Getting it right seems so tricky. I don't know how i run and how that translates to a pair of shoes. I wouldn't know if my instep or heel arch were high/low/left/right image

I'm more than prepared to get a new pair. I just don't know which ones.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

P.S any tips on good ipod sleeve things? Running with it in my pocket is doing my head in.


  • Go to a branch of Sweatshop or a 'proper' runners shop.  One of their advisors will watch you run, normally on a treadmill, then determine a range of shoes that will be appropriate for your running style.  Sweatshop offer a 30 day return policy, so if the shoes don't work out for you, take them back and they'll sort out another pair.  My missus has had to do this and they are very good about it.

    Some soreness is to be expected.  I suggest you back your speed/ mileage down a bit and build it up more slowly.  Discomfort should ease off after a few weeks.  If you feel sore in the day(s) after a run, I would consider delaying the next run, or at least reducing the distance.

    For your purposes, road running is fine.  If you were looking to run long distances, or to be running when you're old, off road is less demanding on the body.  Other things to consider might be one of the running clinics or the barefoot style.  I'm looking into the latter, since I've been getting knee problems and have become convinced that a different running style will reduce strain on my body.


  • Thanks for the advice. Really useful.

    I was contemplating going to a 'proper' shop. Looks like there is a Sweatshop in Reading, Berkshire which isn't too far from where i live.

    The pain is annoying as i can tell my fitness is increasing which is great. I want to go longer but can't because of the pain.

    I saw some stuff on barefoot running and couldn't believe my eyes. Surely not?

  • Well, if you just dump your shoes, the injuries go up not down.  Part of the theory (there's loads of it) is that we land on our heels because shoes disguise how bad this is, but if we run barefoot it feels so terrible (it does) that we land more towards the front.  My takeaway is that I want to land better and softer, but I'm not sure I like the sound of ditching my shoes altogether.

    Don't increase your distance until you've sorted out the pain issue.  Some parts of your body adapt quicker to the strains of running, so your body will tell you that you're ready before you are.  Once you feel ok, you'll be able to increase your distance very quickly.



  • Nicely cushioned shoes to start with. Yes you will get some new sensations, sorenss, aches, pains etc. As others have said, take it easy and this should disappear. A good warm up, warm down,down, stretch and rub down helps.

    On hard surfaces try to land gently, imagine it's ice and you could break through it. I started by stomping away on a treadmill, they have a lot of shock absorbing built in, when I started running on grass, I felt a bit battered and when I changed to tarmac I had to seriously revise my attitude to hammering away at the landscape.


  • You might eventually want to add in a bit of running on more uneven ground, as it helps strengthen your ankle and various stabilising muscles that probably aren't getting used much at the moment.

    The thing about 'barefoot running' is that you can take a few characteristics of that style to help lower the impact forces on your body. Try the following:

    - Your feet should be hitting the ground underneath your centre of mass. Don't overstride.

    - Land with your knee slightly bent to allow your body to absorb the shock more effectively.

    - Try as much as possible to allow your feet to drop using only gravity. There's the tendency to drive down with every step in order to push yourself forwards.

    Re: something to hold your iPod. I gave up after a while and got a cheapo Sansa Clip that's perfect for exercising. The build-quality isn't too bad.
  • cj dold wrote (see)

    Nicely cushioned shoes to start with.


    Not necessarily - I started with (gait analysed, shop recommended) cushioned shoes and wore them for months, then had a whale of a time transitioning and re-building distances as my running form changed. My wife started running more recently, started with barefoot shoes and has not had a bit of the bother I went through. She also seems to have sidestepped the knee pain problems I got with cushioned shoes - since switching to barefoot I've not had a peep from my knee, though on the one occasion I used the old shoes (barefoots were wet), the knee pain came back again. Not saying that's the same for everyone, just my experience.

  • Thanks for the further advice people. Really helpful.

    Managed another run the other day, still in the old trainers. The pain is still the thing stopping me going further. I'm just hoping it eases off the more i get used to it.

    Planning a trip to sweatshop soon, maybe even tomorrow, so looking forward to the gait test.

    I started to think it was my style of running too. But i'm definitely not overstretching. If anything i'm almost too upright. Last run i did i tried to tweak it a bit but that's harder than it seems. Changing runing style isn't easy image

    Wish i could carry on but the pain stops me at the moment.

    Plan is to keep running, hopefully wear the muscles in a bit. Also, get the new trainers then see where i am after that. With a bit of luck those two might just click and i'll be able to shake off the pain.

    Really loving running at night, especially on these warm nights. Just the peace you get from treading the streets alone is great.

  • Saw the guys at Sweatshop.

    Recommended the following shoes.

    Asics 2170

    Asics 1170

    Mizuno Waver Rider.

    I now haven't got a clue on which one.

    I liked the 2170 but at £100 that's a lot for a new starter.

    The 1170's felt a bit light.

    The Mizuno felt a little top heavy with most cushion at the back.

    I started to think maybe to look at the older model of the 2170 to see if its cheaper. What's the difference between the 2160 and 2170.

    Any ideas or advice?

  • The 1170's are fine. Don't worry too much about how light they feel. I opt for shoes as light as I can find. I hate great big clumpy shoes. As you've never run in the 2170's then the 2160's will do fine. Look at a few websites to see what they say.

    As for pain, it's generally there for a reason. Go see a fizzy and get them to have a look. It may be summat or nothing. I have to say that running on a hard surface is going to be grim. Off road is much more forgiving.

    How much do you run? Your current distances and paces and how many times a week. Running to far too fast on untrained legs will hurt. esp on hard surfaces.

  • Managed to find some 2170's cheaper than most of the others, which seemed a bit silly but there you go. So they are on there way to me. Should get them in the next few days.

    Went out last night in the old shoes still and struggled through nearly 3 miles. Still the same pain. Really beginning to worry if the shoes will get rid of the annoying pain?

    The big question now is how to build up to longer distances? At present i'm doing 10 minutes on the cross trainer as a warm up, covering a distance of 3km. Then out for a 1.5 mile jog.

    But still the same pain. It's annoying. Just an ache around the sort of lower calf area. I am running on a pretty steep hilly surface during the route.

    Would love to build up to longer distances but i guess patience is the key?

  • Re. the pain: make sure you stretch properly after each run - look up calf stretches  (e.g. the one where you lean against a wall, put one leg back, heel to the ground, press your heel down) and make sure you do the bent-knee version  as well as the straight-leg version as they work on different muscles. Next, buy some baby oil (Boots does some that's not too scented) and massage your calves every evening and every morning, all the way from just above your Achilles tendon to the back of your knee.

    Also: it sounds like you took the Sweatshop advice then went online to buy from somewhere else. If you think they did a good job of advising you, it might be nice to buy something from them... 

  • I did buy the trainers from them in the end. Wanted £100 in store. £64.99 on the website. No question what i was going to do.

    Looking forward to giving them a go.

  • James, Debra's advice is very sound, also if it was me I would switch to running on grass for a while and do not increase the volume or intensity until you have resolved the pain issues, you could put yourself out for months that way. Training when it's dark shouldn't mean you have to run on roads - is there some softer surface available? As long as you're careful to watch where you are going it should be ok (dense forests a bit inadvisable though!).

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