You’re seriously starting to consider becoming a runner. Wearing luminous sports tops and flashy trainers, these pavement pounders seem to be everywhere.
If you want to get in on some of the action and start running, it’s wise to know exactly what you’re in for during the first few weeks.
Like anything in life, there are some brilliant reasons to starting a running habit but there also some things that can be painful about taking up the sport, especially during the early phase running beginners go through.
In this article, we look at 15 things that happen when you start running. Afterwards, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect so you can start running with confidence.
Why start running in the first place?
Good question. Before we look at WHAT happens when you start running, let’s look at the reasons WHY people even bother to start running. It’s handy to have a few key reasons clearly in mind behind your initial effort as a running beginner.
Some things on the list of things that happen when you start running can be painful and unpleasant i.e. sore muscles, feeling out of breathe. Therefore, It’s crucial you have a few strong reasons ‘why’ you want to run otherwise you will just quit when things start to get difficult.
1. Get in shape
The most common reason for people starting running is to get in shape. Running improves aerobic fitness, builds muscle, core strength, endurance and also burns a lot of calories (roughly 80-100 per mile of running).
Therefore, lots of people who have traditionally neglected exercise – including severely overweight adults who make up 28% the UK population – turn to running as a little to no barrier entry sport. The important thing is to not only use running as a means of getting into shape from being unfit and unhealthy, but also using it to stayin shape once you become fit and healthy.
2. Improve mental health
According to mental health charity ‘Mind‘, 1 in 6 people in England report experiencing a common health problem like depression or anxiety in any given week. That’s a high number of people who are miserable, down and not in a good state of mind and ultimately likely to have a lower quality of life. Not good.
Did you know that running can make you happier? When you exercise, your brain releases feel-good chemicals. Amongst those chemicals are dopamine and serotonin, which are associated with happiness and pleasure. Running improves your mood by changing biochemistry in the brain, a scientifically proven fact.
It’s ironic that we often dread going for a run when going for a run can do wonders for our mood and contribute to better overall mental health. Whilst the first few moments of running may be difficult, the brain starts releasing feel-good neurotransmitters and you’ll feel better before you know it.
The best thing is that the good mood you get from running lasts many hours after the run finishes, so you can be a happier person in your everyday life.
3. Make new friends
According to The Independent, approximately nine million people in the UK say that they often feel lonely, with many struggling to make lasting, social connections with others. This is an alarming statistic which I believe can be combatted by running.
Lots of people think running to be a solo sport. After all, it’s not a team sport (unless doing a relay) and the majority of runners you may have seen on the streets tend to be on their own. However, this is not the case; there’s tonnes of opportunities to make new friends as a runner.
Running clubs – Most towns and cities in the UK, America, throughout Europe and the rest of the world have a number of running clubs you can join for little to no money. These are clubs which usually meet on a weekly basis and train together.
Training could include dynamic stretching, hill runs, long runs, fartlek training and may include track work. Joining these clubs is a perfect opportunity to meet new people; runners like yourself who want to make friends and up their running game at the same time.
For more information on running clubs, check out the following blog post:
Parkrun – One of my favourite things about running is attending parkrun each week. Parkrun is a free, timed weekly 5K, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people each week around the UK & the rest of the world.
Parkrun events are set up by individuals within the local community for the local community. By attending, you get the chance to meet individuals from your local community and make lasting connections which could last for life.
For more information on parkrun, check out the following post:
Running groups – Less intense than running clubs, running groups are geared more towards the social side but still incorporate a chilled run. They tend to include individuals in the local community who use running as a means of socialising and to stay in shape in a laid-back environment; a true win-win. Groups might meet once or twice a week and jog at a relaxed pace whilst conversing about the weeks events.
Running groups can be found and joined via Facebook, adverts in running shop windows, signed advertising in your local area and so on. For beginner runners, running groups might be better than running clubs because they tend to be more chilled and less focused on trying to push yourself (which could risk injury as a beginner).
Without further ado, here’s 15 things that happen when you start running
1. Your muscles will be sore
When you start running, you’ll undoubtedly get sore muscles. Stiffness, pain, discomfort and general soreness are all symptoms you are likely to experience. It’s even common for people to have difficulty getting up and down stairs the day after their very first run.
Ask any friends who run and they will tell you all about this fun experience they will have gone through in their early running days. It’s just part and parcel of being a beginner runner!
Why does this happen? When you first start running, the muscle tissue in your legs is being pushed beyond what it’s used to. If you’re new to running and don’t do much exercise, your legs will probably be used to light walking and climbing stairs. Not a big deal. However, running is an entirely different ball game and put’s much bigger stress on your leg which causes small tears in the muscle fibres.
Using protein, the body repairs these damaged muscle fibres so they are stronger and more durable for the next run. Overtime, the leg muscles will have adapted to the physical stresses of running and you won’t experience as much – if any pain – after each run.
I have been running every single day of 2019 (it’s currently 31st May) and now rarely experience sore leg muscles because my body has adapted to the demands of running on such a frequent basis.
It’s important to note that no runner, no matter how experienced or well-trained, can expect to be totally soreness free. As a rule of thumb, you should always expect muscle soreness if you’ve trained or competed at an intense level or have ran a longer distance than what you’re used to.
2. You start eating more
Running is a highly aerobic sport which gets the body moving and the heart rate up. Needless to say, running burns a lot of calories. Unless you plan on looking like a twig, these lost calories need to be replaced by eating more food than you usually do.
After each run, you’re likely to get hunger pangs which may send you rushing to the fridge or food cupboard. But, wait! Don’t be tempted to eat a load of junk food and start shoving pizza, biscuits, fried chicken, kebab and sweets down your throat. This would be counter-productive as it will probably mean you eat more calories than you burned, and you will be consuming unhealthy, unreliable fuel-sources.
Instead, feed your increased appetite with healthier food options. As a rule of thumb, eat healthy carbs before a run (vegetables, bananas, seeds, nuts, whole grains) and consume healthy fats and protein after the run (eggs, white meat, fish, beans and nuts).
Be aware that you may need to stock up on more food when doing your weekly food shop and don’t be tempted to eat a load of rubbish. If you think you won’t be able to resist temptation to eat unhealthily after you start running, remove the temptation all together and don’t write junk food on your shopping list. It’s harsh, but it works!
3. You’ll start sleeping better
Running is said to make you fall asleep easier and improve the quality of your overall sleep. If you suffer from insomnia or just want to improve the quality of your sleep, starting to run might be just what you need.
A recent study of 51 young people discovered that those who ran regularly had found it easier to fall asleep, didn’t wake up during the night and reported feeling well rested & alert upon waking. These amazing sleep benefits were gained by running five days a week at a moderate pace i.e. 8-10 minute miles.
4. You might get blisters
Blisters. A word which sounds as disgusting as they look. A blister is a small pocket of fluid within the upper layers of the skin, typically caused by forceful rubbing (friction). This fluid cushions the tissue underneath, protecting it from further damage and allowing it to heal.
It’s common for beginner runners to experience blisters. Either their feet are simply not used to the friction caused by the running motion or their running shoes do not fit properly.
If after two weeks the blister isn’t getting any better and your feet still hurt whilst you run (and possibly more blisters have now formed) it could be possible your shoes do not fit your foot shape. In this instance, it’s worth getting a gait analysis at a running store and purchasing shoes which match your exact size and foot style. A store assistant will be able ton help with this.
5. You lose wardrobe space
If you don’t run in proper running clothing, you won’t have a fun time. Therefore, being a runner means you’ll need to purchase a range of running clothing to wear whilst you work out. Naturally, this means you’ll lose wardrobe space and your running gear takes up more space as you get more over time!
When starting out it’s a good idea to have at least 2 of each of the following items:
- Sports T-Shirt
– Men recommendation / Women recommendation
- Long Sleeved compression top
– Men recommendation / Women recommendation
- Running shorts
– Men recommendation / Women recommendation
- Running leggings
– Men recommendation / Women recommendation
You might also want to get a decent running jacket to wear during wet, windy and cold runs.
For more information about running jackets, check out the following articles:
It’s a good idea to have at least 2 of each of the above clothing items when starting out. Having 2 of each item means you can wash one set after a run and have another clean set to run in the next day during the washing process. When the original set is clean & dry, place the now dirty set in the wash and repeat., alternating between the two.
Besides the fact it doesn’t smell nice, it isn’t hygienic to wear a set of running clothes for consecutive runs as sweat builds up and dries in your clothes. Not nice.
When you start running, you’ll need some proper clothing to match so be prepared to lose some wardrobe space!
6. You develop a love affair with running shoes
Shoes are one of runners favourite topics of discussion. The amount of time I have spoken to fellow runners about different shoes during my time as a runner is pretty outstanding, and for good reason.
Not only are running shoes stylistic, comfortable and light, they are also an important investment for your health (yes, you read that right). If running shoes tick all these boxes, what’s not to like about them?
Running shoes are specially designed for the running motion. Differing to everyday shoes for work and leisure, running shoes have unique features for the demands of the sport.
What are some of the unique features of running shoes?
- Cushioning – Protects your legs and ankles because each step a runner takes impacts the ground with three times the normal body weight. This is twice the amount of impact when walking.
- Taller heels – Reduces the shock from each strike of the foot on the ground, helping to reduce injuries such as Achilles Tendonitis
- Flexibility – The shoes are designed to bend around the foot as it runs, making the running motion as comfortable as possible. Many running shoes flex most at the arch or midfoot but others flex most at the forefoot.
A good rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 400 – 500 miles because the cushioning becomes worn out and your legs will start absorbing more impact from the ground. Therefore, every now and then you’ll have the opportunity to shop around and try new running shoes when your old ones wear out.
For more information on running shoes, check out the following post
7. You’ll have more energy
When you start running regularly, your energy levels will quickly go up and you’ll feel more alert for longer.
When you run regularly, blood flow increases around the body and cardiovascular health and general fitness improves. This means more blood and oxygen get to the organs (importantly the brain) and as a result you feel more energised than usual.
If you’re somebody who feels sluggish or needs lots of energy to deal with demanding days, becoming a runner might be just the thing to give you the energy you need.
Having more energy means being more focused
Something I found particularly useful about my newfound energy as a beginner runner was my ability to stay laser beam focused on tasks for longer periods of time. This means blocking out distractions like mobile phones, the TV and other barriers to progress, and just getting on with the task at hand. The result was I got more quality work done in less time.
My piano playing got noticeably better, I read and retained information from books easier and I began performing better at work. Just think about all the amazing results you could gain from having more laser beam focus after starting a running regime. Give it a try and find out.
8. You’ll re-learn the meaning of the word ‘sweat’
Running is one of the most intense aerobic exercises there is which means means there will be sweating. Lots and lots of sweating.
As your body gets hot whilst you run, it attempts to cool down by sweating. You’ll sweat from your head, your armpits, stomach, back, legs, feet and everywhere else you can think of.
Sweating might seem grim to most newbie runners but the body keeps us damp so we don’t overheat and encounter health issues like heat stroke or fainting. As you already know, we sweat much more in hot temperatures as we are more prone to overheating during these times. Being damp through sweating is just a part of running I’m afraid.
Even if you don’t mind being damp whilst you run, more moisture means an increased likelihood of chafing and blisters. Therefore, investing in sweat wicking clothing (socks, tops, underwear etc) is essential. Thankfully, most sports clothing is designed with moisture wicking in mind so won’t typically need to go out of your way to source special clothing.
Tip: Always remember how sweaty you are before touching anybody else after a run. The last thing you want is to shake somebody’s hand or to give somebody a hug only for all of your fresh sweat to be left on them. Keep it in mind!
9. You will start taking pictures of your watch, shoes and yourself
Us runners love a good bit of social media, which is why we tend to upload pictures of our GPS running watch, running shoes and even of ourselves after a run online whenever we can. As a new runner, it won’t be long before you start to do this too.
I post a picture after my run practically every day via my personal Instagram running account @craiggoesrunning
Why do runners upload pictures like this?
A picture of your Garmin, immediately after your run, will display how far you’ve gone. Posting a picture of this screen (along with pictures of your cool new shoes) to social media informs friends and family you’re making a positive change in your life. You’ve ‘officially’ become somebody who runs. A runner.
Another great reason behind runners posting pictures of their watch, shoes and exhausted selfies online is the fabulous running community. Us runners are a friendly bunch and love encouraging other runners wherever we can.
For more information on GPS Running Watches, check out the following blog posts:
10. You will get sudden urges to run
I had this when I started running. After the initial ‘difficult’ period ends of doing the first 5 runs, you begin to get used to running and quickly fall in love with the sport. You’ll soon find yourself wishing you were running a lot more.
You may be on a bus and see a runner on the side of the road, quietly wishing it were you enjoying the freedom of pounding the pavement too. Maybe you’re halfway through a long day of working in a seated office and long for your post work run.
Whatever your circumstances, you’ll be thinking about running a lot more in your day to day life. You have been warned!
11. You’ll learn running language
When I started running, I had no idea what a friend meant when he said he was going to add fartlek and tempo workouts into his regime to get a new PR. Now, I know that runners use lots of specific words and abbreviations to communicate with one another.
To get you started, here’s a few running abbreviations courtesy of yuriinahurry.com:
- PB – Personal Best. The fastest time you achieve running a set distance, like a 5 or 10K.
- DNF – Did Not Finish. Occurs when you start a timed running event, like a marathon, and pull out due to injury or being unable to handle the distance.
- AT: Anaerobic Threshold. The phase between aerobic and anaerobic running.
- C25K – Couch to 5K. A common beginner’s running program.
- CR – Course Record. The fastest recorded time on a specific running course.
- DNS – Did Not Start, is listed in race results when a racer signed up for a race but didn’t start it; and DNQ:
- DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Muscle soreness that occurs a day or two after an intense workout or long run.
- FKT – Fastest Know Time. The fastest known times for a given trail or route.
- GPS – Global Positioning System. A satellite navigation system that provides location and time information. A common feature in most running watches to record distance, pace a time during runs.
- HR – Heart Rate. The number of contractions of the heart that occur in a single minute.
- HRM – Heart Rate Monitor. A personal monitoring device that measures heart rate.
12. You might get sore nipples
‘Jogger’s nipple’ is a common condition for runners (usually men). It happens when the nipples are rubbed and chafed against clothing during physical activity. Ouch.
Symptoms include irritation, redness, soreness and dryness. In the worse cases of long-term irritation, the nipple may crack and bleed. Ew.
Runners nipple is more likely to occur in the winter than in summer because nipples are more prominent and harder, making it easy to rub against your running top. This all this nipple doom and gloom, you might be put off running. Well don’t be! There is a way to prevent jogger’s nipple.
The solution? Use a nipple patch (such as NipEaze) or apply some lubricant (such as Vaseline). Keeping the nipple protected or lubricated with a protective coating can protect nipples from chafing, leading to a more comfortable running experience.
13. You will save money
Believe it or not, running can help you save money. Being a low-cost sport, all you really need to run is a pair of running trainers, a top and some shorts, and you’re away. You can run wherever you like, whenever you like, without having to worry about paying any money.
Unlike gyms and swimming pools where you pay a monthly subscription fee or pay each time you use them; you can run without having to pay a fee.
Another money saving benefit runner find is not drinking alcohol in the evenings to be fresh and ready for a race or training the next day. This is something that helped me save tonnes of cash each month because I used to go out on Fridays and spend lots on alcohol.
However, I now do parkrun early on Saturday morning so only drink water, cordial or soft drinks, which are either free or extremely low cost. I now have more money to spend on more important things than alcohol on a night out (running gear most probably!)
14. Your heart will get healthier
Research shows that running regularly (4-5 times a week) contributes towards excellent heart health by increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and reducing bad cholesterol (LDL). Also, running can help regulate healthy blood pressure and improve cardiac functioning.
As a result, you will be much less likely to encounter heart related diseases and developing blood clots. Runners may live longer than those who does not exercise and neglect their heart health.
Starting a running regime really does have life changing benefits for you and your heart so be sure to lace up and get going!
15. You will have higher self esteem
If you struggle with low self-esteem, running might be exactly what you need. Self-esteem is how you view yourself. You either love yourself or you don’t. You’re either proud of yourself of you’re not. You either feel good about yourself or you don’t.
Dan Peña, American billionaire, argues that self-esteem is the foundation for high performance in life so it’s vital we have a good opinion of ourselves.
By running, you immediately feel better about yourself for several reasons. You lose weight, gain a toned & healthy figure, have proof of doing something positive for yourself and set new personal bests in training & in races.
If you struggle with self-esteem, expect to think better of yourself once you start running.
There you have it. 15 things that happen when you start running, all from my personal experience. If you’ve found this article useful, please share it with anyone it might be of use to.
Now you know what to expect, what are you waiting for? Start running today. Just do it!