Novice Runner —— Help!

Okay I’m a running novice. Actually I consider myself to be a fitness novice. I’m starting at zero. It’s been 12 years since I was a gym bunny. In the good old days I was in there 4 times a week, 1.5 hours cardio minimum a session.  I hauled weights and did yoga. I was focused.

I lived and breathed the gym but one pregnancy/child birth and 12 years of a desk based job leaves me basically a fitness novice once again. Over the last twelve months I’ve been trying to find the fitness ‘thing’ for me.

My lovely brother bought me a static bike which became a clothes hanger in less than a month. I took up swimming at the local pool but stopped because it was too cold and too scummy. I bought Insanity and got to week 3 by which time my left knee was screaming and I loathed the lovely Tania and all the ‘woo yeahs!’

But I’ve always wanted to learn how to run again.

Again. Yes again. As a school kid I ran for my schools. I ran third leg 4 x 100m, 4 x 400m and cross country.

I enjoyed the cross country. The head space. The alone time. The knowing the machinery of me.

So this week I just got up and ran.

I just completed my week 1 run 2 of C25K.

I’ve been reading lots of blogs and running guides and found lots of information and some really good advice.

I’ve learnt the following things that I’m going to put into practice straight away:-

  • Pay more attention to my stretching
  • Buy a foam roller and learn how to use it effectively
  • Use my stationary bike on my rest days
  • Run slower
  • Have my form evaluated
  • Check my shoes
  • Support the knee


These first two runs have been about running and I haven’t give thought to much else. I kind of stretched afterwards but not properly. That has to change.

If anyone can direct me to a good programme of stretching I’d be very appreciative.

Foam Roller

I read about foam rollers only yesterday. People were talking about how they helped with shin splints (what the hell is a shin splint?) and stretching. It seems from all I’ve read that it would be a wise investment. I’m not sure how it’s meant to be used but I’m sure I’ll figure that out!

Stationary Bike

I read this on my ‘my fitness pal’ home page;

For both your shins and your knees, try something like a stationary bike (not the recumbent kind) It’s low impact and is excellent for strengthening the small stabilizer muscles in the legs and for strengthening the muscles around the knee. You knees are like boxes held together with ligaments and muscles. If you have bony damage, you’re probably stuck with it for a while, but keeping the soft tissue conditioned can relive symptoms.

Does this sound right? I think so.

Run Slower

I’m running at about a 10:20 minute mile and walking at a 14 minute mile. I need to slow down a little and avoid injuries by building up slowly.

Form evaluation

Okay so I gave this very little thought at all. I read something on a few blogs about posture but just ran. I cast my mind back to cross country runs in my school days and remember thinking and feeling how various parts of my body moved and felt before, during and after the run.  I was quite in tune with how it worked and it did feel like a machine when running (if that makes any sense at all).

I’m not sure who to turn to for this form evaluation. Should it be a trainer at the gym? Another more experienced runner?

Shoe Fitting

I never gave this any thought at all. I just went into Nike and tried on several pairs of running shoes, walked around the store and chose the ones that felt most comfortable. No one offered to assist me in my choice and I never thought to ask for advice.

Can anyone tell me the better stores to go to in central London for shoe fitting?

I was told that Asics are the better shoe for running as they can take more of a pounding, better impact absorption.  I know absolutely nothing about quality running shoes.

Even so I was quite shocked to see some of the footwear in the gym last night. The lady two machines along was running in a pair of converse all stars and a gent in a pair of torn trainers which were extremely flat. The ultimate was the man who ran past me this morning in a pair of slip on crocs while pounding the pavement.

Knee support

I have an issue with my left knee. There’s a kind of pulling at the back of the knee with a little pain. I can put weight on the leg but sometimes it seems if a push the knee backwards too far there is a weird jab of pain at the front.

I am overweight and know that this maybe putting a strain on my knees hence swopping from pavements to the treadmill after my first run. I feel an immediate improvement. Much less pain in the left and no pain in the right.

I’ve also noticed that wearing my heels is a bit of a chore (sad times!) as my calves seem a little restricted and my left knee does not like the tipping forward incline. Do you think the calf thing may come back to not stretching it out properly after a run?


Well lots of things to think about and lots of questions. I really want to stick with running and to do that I have to address each thing so that I stay fit and healthy. That way I won’t give up.

When I was 18 years old my father died of cancer after a yearlong battle. During his final weeks he was cared for at St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, London. They were kind and caring and made those painful last weeks as comfortable as possible for him and for us.

For the last 20 years I have dreamt of running a charity run and raising money for St. Joseph’s. I’m going to hold this as my goal when the going gets tough.



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