Questions/Answers from Clinic 1

The panelists (Ralph, Ashley, and me) took turns answering questions from Tuesday’s attendees at the first Learn to Run clinic of the year. Here’s a recap of the questions asked and our responses, with a few bits of bonus info.

What’s a specialty running store?

As a part-time running store employee, I easily forget that not everyone happens to know what this specialty type of business is… so what is it? A running store is usually a local shop staffed by people who REALLY like running and helping anyone from beginners to experienced athletes. These folks are experts at helping customers find the best shoes, inserts, apparel, essentials, etc. for their level of running and/or walking. You can find a pair of sneakers anywhere, but even as someone in Tuesday’s clinic audience noted, there’s something awesomely satisfying about getting fit for a quality pair of running shoes. If you’re interested in finding one, take a look at this comprehensive list of specialty running stores in Minnesota.

Is it OK to train on a treadmill for an outdoor race?

Sure, but there are a few things to consider. First, consider the weather and temperature. Typically, the climate is controlled wherever a treadmill is located (i.e. indoors). As much as we’d like to choose the weather, the weather is gonna do what it wants. The Minnesota State Capitol Run@Work Day 5K in mid-September has seen some nice days in the past, but that could still mean a variation in temps, wind, sunshine, etc. Another thing to consider are hills, especially if your upcoming race is the Run@Work Day 5K—known for its inclusion of hills. Try working out with an incline on the treadmill and if you have access to a really nice treadmill that allows for a decline, give that a shot as well to practice downhill running.

Trying out running and/or walking indoors on a treadmill is a great place to start (i.e. comfort factor), and a treadmill allows for setting specific speeds, adjusting inclines/declines, and controlled temps. Just remember all those factors are quite variable outdoors, and the sidewalk/trail/running path will not move under feet like a treadmill belt will.

For more info on treadmill workouts, check out this Get Fit Guy post on getting the most out of your treadmill workout.

If I’m not running on a treadmill, how do I control my pace?

The nice thing about a treadmill is you can set your desired pace. Heading outside takes a little more…creativity to hit that desired pace. You could try running by feel (i.e. an easy run is decided by whether or not you could hold a conversation and a harder run could be determined by not being able to say more than simple one word answers).

Another option is to grab a basic digital watch and run a route where you know the distance to compare your total time with the total distance. Less math is involved if you purchase a GPS watch, which will provide you with pace, distance, time and on the fancier end, total step count, heartrate, and programmable workouts.

Another high tech, but lower cost, option is to download an app on your smartphone, if you have one. Try searching “interval timer” or “Couch to 5K” to find a variety of apps that will help you monitor your pace or beep/ding/alert you to your preset walk/run intervals.

Ultimately, consider what your goal is, i.e. is it to finish in a particular time or to simply finish the race? Both are fantastic goals—just be sure you know which is yours.

What are some good running trails in the area?

The Twin Cities are a great place to run! The lakes (e.g. Calhoun, Isles, Harriet, Phalen, Como, or approximately 9,995 other options) provide a nice path to run on and beautiful scenery to view. Check out this Minneapolis Running post for additional suggestions on the best places to run in the Cities.

Other resources for route suggestions are MapMyRun or joining a local running group (see: or your local running store) to show you around town.

How do I run? Is one foot strike or running form better than the other?

A ‘controversial’ topic all on its own, many ponder these same questions regarding how one’s body and feet should move while running. Let’s say you want to be as thorough as possible in getting started or improving your running–then yes, there are specific ways to become a more efficient runner. There’s the pose method, chi running, Good Form Running, and even The Perfect Form. Check out one of these suggested form types and even better, add in a day or two of strength training (with or without weights, depending on access to equipment and your current fitness level) to make sure your body is in good shape to withstand the impact of running.

Ideally, your stride will utilize a quick cadence (180 steps per minute), strong muscles, and no heel-striking.

Please feel free to post a comment with additional questions! We’ll address them directly or in a future blog post.


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