Marathon Blog

New Runner Q&A

Getting Started with a Training Program

If you’re just beginning a new running program, you likely have a lot of questions about training, aches and pains, and other running experiences. From all kinds of discomfort during training runs to dealing with woodsy critters, our first installment of New Runner Questions is sure to provide answers to make your training program as fun and effective as it can be.


Q: I have recently started running after eating breakfast, but I’m getting nauseous. I don’t really want to go without eating. What should I do?

A: It is a good idea to eat something before you run, especially as a beginner. Beginners have a higher dependence on their food for supplying muscle glycogen for their runs. Try eating 2-3 hours before running rather than right before. You can also experiment with lighter amounts of food. Your best bet is a light meal/snack of simple carbohydrates that are relatively low in fiber (think half bagel, toast, etc.). At the same time (2-3 hours before), take in about 17-20 oz. of water. Right before you head out, drink 10-12 oz. of water (sip some of that before you run and bring the rest with you for the early part of the run, if you can tolerate it). Then eat the rest of your typical breakfast (or other meal) after your run. Don’t forget to rehydrate after the run.


Q: I have been increasing my mileage and I am getting painful chafing from my clothing. I otherwise like my outfit but the chafing is getting worse.

A: For chafing you already have, try a healing ointment such as Aquaphor. To prevent chafing going forward, try an anti-chafe balm such as Body Glide. Apply this to any areas where your clothing rubs against your body (or you have body parts against body parts). Common areas include: inner thighs, inside of upper arms, bra lines/seams for women, nipple area for men, etc. Apply before every run but especially for your longer runs. It washes off very well in the shower afterward.


Q: I have started following a beginner training program that I found online (Hal Higdon). I have started getting blisters and hot spots on my feet. What should I do?

A: Since you are following a good training program, your ramp-up of work is probably pretty reasonable. First, make sure you have a good pair of properly fitting running shoes. If you are uncertain, go to one of the local running stores (Dick Pond, Road Runner Sports, Naperville Running Company) and make sure you have quality, well-fitting shoes. Next, take a look at your socks. I personally prefer double layer socks (Wrightsock is the brand I wear) as they are virtually blister proof. Body Glide or a similar anti-chafing product applied to the toes and other hot spots can help prevent blisters as well. For blisters you already have, if they aren’t serious (no broken skin), Compeed or similar blister cushions provide great relief. If you have developed more serious blisters with broken skin and/or infection, seek medical attention.


Q: I have been working on increasing my mileage and I am getting out of breath. What should I do?

A: First of all, make sure you warm up thoroughly before your runs as going out too fast too soon can often cause you to feel out of breath. As you increase your mileage, chances are you will need to slow your pace in order to avoid getting out of breath. Check your speed/pacing and make sure you are not trying to go too fast. If it is hot and humid, you will need to slow your pace even more. When you feel out of breath, try focusing on your exhalations rather than trying to inhale. Your body will inhale naturally if you focus on blowing out the old, stale air. If you try all of these things and still feel out of breath, or if you feel as though you can’t catch your breath, check with your doctor for medical advice.


Q: I want to run outside on the trails but I am afraid of ticks. What can I do?

A: The CDC offers great advice on avoiding ticks. In addition, here are my own tick tips for runners:

  • Wear light clothing (so you can spot ticks) but not white clothing (ticks are attracted to white).
  • Wear bug repellent. The CDC website offers some natural options if you are not interested in wearing chemical sprays while running.
  • Run on paved trails or crushed gravel rather than dirt trails. If you must walk through mowed grass, pick up your feet rather than shuffling.
  • Avoid running underneath trees. Ticks can drop onto you from trees as you are running. If you feel something small hit you from above, make sure you brush it away. I have often gotten them this way.
  • Make sure your socks are tight to your body. Some types of socks (like roll-down anklet socks) provide a reservoir for ticks to fall into between the sock and your ankle.
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations to check your clothing and your body. Follow their checklist, look at your feet and between your toes and then shower right away. Also, be sure to shake out your running shoes and keep them outside.

Look for our Q-and-A later this summer on keeping your running program strong as race day gets closer.

Laurie Lasseter
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness