Should I be doing anything in the gym to build my fitness?
Working on stretching and flexibility is always helpful, especially to prevent injuries. Try yoga and pilates - both great foundations for strength, toning and muscle repair.
How do I prevent getting a side stitch when I run?
Side stitches are common among beginners because your abdomen is not used to the jostling that running causes. Most runners find that stitches go away as fitness increases. Also, don't eat any solid foods during the hour before you run. When you get a stitch, breathe deeply, concentrating on pushing all of the air out of your abdomen. This will stretch out your diaphragm muscle (just below your lungs), which is usually where a cramp occurs.
Where should I run?
You can run anywhere that's safe and enjoyable. The best running routes are scenic, well lit, free of traffic and well populated.
Think of running as a way to explore new territory. Use your watch to gauge your distance and set out on a new adventure on each run. Ask other runners about the best local routes.
How do I get started?
Start walking for a length of time that feels comfortable - anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Once you can walk for 30 minutes easily, sprinkle one- to two-minute running sessions into your walking. As time goes on, make the running sessions longer, until you're running for 30 minutes straight.
Should I breathe through my nose or my mouth?
Both. It's normal and natural to breathe through your nose and mouth at the same time. Keep your mouth slightly open, and relax your jaw muscles.
How is running on a treadmill different from outdoor runs?
A treadmill "pulls" the ground underneath your feet, and you don't face any wind resistance, both of which make running somewhat easier.
Many treadmills are padded, making them a good option if you're carrying a few extra kilos or are injury-prone and want to decrease impact.
To better simulate the effort of outdoor running, you can always set your treadmill at a one-per cent incline.
Is it normal if running hurts?
Some discomfort is normal as you add distance and intensity to your training. But real pain isn't normal.
If some part of your body feels so bad that you have to run with a limp or otherwise alter your stride, you have a problem. Stop running immediately, and take a few days off. If you're not sure about the pain, try walking for a minute or two to see if the discomfort disappears.
(Article originally published in Runner's World South Africa)