Get me running please.
November 12, 2011 3:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm 30 lb overweight because of depression. I want to start running. Tell me what running shoes I need, what running Apps.

I need help to do this. I want the endorphins, and I want to get out of this. I take my meds, but they make me fat, so I want to lose the weight and also stop feeling sorry for myself all day.
I have no running shoes.
I have an iphone and earbuds (and I hate them because they fall off of my silly shaped ears)

Running shoes, armband (DIY ideas also welcome), earphones, Apps, books, websites... etc.
posted by buck:fuller to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
I think the running shoes recommendation is best left to a local (non-chain!) shoe store. They'll be infinitely more helpful in guiding your shoe purchase than anyone here.

I like RunKeeper on Android, but I've heard good things about the iPhone version, too.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:42 PM on November 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

I run with some $8-$10 squishy earbuds from, I think, Skull Candy. They're cheap and they break after a while, but meh, they're going to get icky anyway. And I've had 'em last like a year.

It is worthwhile getting some good shoes. Do you live in a decently sized metropolitan area? There should be a store somewhere that will help you determine what kind of gait you have. A quick google turned up this page which is accurate. It's not complicated or anything, just get your foot slightly damp and walk normally across a brown paper bag, then look at your footprints.

You don't need to (and shouldn't) spend a lot of money on shoes. Just so long as they fit comfortably and are made for your gait, you'll be good.

I use an ipod shuffle instead of my phone for running music, but plenty of people use their phones.

The big thing is that the accouterments of running are by far the least important part. Just get out, find a place you like, and start running. Go for as long as you can, then walk, then jog again, etc.

I think this is a good idea, btw, regular aerobic exercise really helps with mood, in my experience.
posted by kavasa at 3:43 PM on November 12, 2011

How you run is very important in preventing injury. Here's a great recent NYTimes article on running technique; watch the video at the beginning of the article for some good examples of how to run to minimize knee and ankle stress.

As for could spend a lot of money on fancy shoes, but you don't need to. Get some New Balance, or Saucony's, just as long as they're relatively well-matched to your gait (find a good running shoe store and find someone who either is a runner or seems to know what "gait" means and ask them to watch you run/walk so they can figure out which direction to point you in).

But more important than anything else, as with so many kinds of exercise, is good form! Practice what that video above shows and you'll be well on your way.

Also: it will be difficult at first to run for extended periods of time. Start out by walking five minutes, running one, and do that for a week or two. Take it slow to give you body (small stabilizer muscles, for instance) time to get up to speed. Then four minutes walking, two running, and so on like that, taking it easy, till you're running for ten-fifteen minutes at a time. Then slowly increase your times. Be patient and keep at it! Good luck!
posted by clockzero at 3:50 PM on November 12, 2011 [8 favorites]

For shoes, I look for cheap Nike's (or perhaps other name brands), perhaps around $30-40 if you can find them on sale (e.g. Sears, JC Penney). I have wide feet, so I look for something wide if possible. I can usually tell immediately if shoes are uncomfortable; don't buy them until they feel right. In terms of other things, I actually enjoy running without any accessories... I like running as exploring the neighborhood, or just seeing the outdoors. Extra entertainment isn't really required.

On the actual running part, I warm up just a little bit (no stretching, apparently stretching cold muscles is bad), start slow, run for ~40 min and then stretch (stretching plenty afterwards is important for me) and walk for 15min. For the first week or so (try running every couple days), your legs will be in constant pain. Going down stairs will become an ordeal. But then your body will get used to it and it will only be a little painful while you're going.
posted by pjenks at 3:51 PM on November 12, 2011

Don't overthink accessories. Start running now. As you begin, you'll know what you need. But don't delay starting because you think you don't have all the props you might need.

I can't recommend the couch to 5k system more. This is the app I used, it's great.

Good luck.
posted by gertzedek at 3:51 PM on November 12, 2011 [8 favorites]

3rding the rec to go to a non-chain shoe store - preferably one that caters to athletic shoes or even just running - and asking for their help. I did this for my first pair of running shoes because I had the fun combo of not knowing anything about what I was doing, I was 30, and I had (have) bad knees. The shoes weren't cheap but they're great, and I learned what I need to look for in future pairs of shoes based on my needs and the weird things my feet do.

Also, since you mention depression (and sound frustrated in your post) you may need motivation to keep running when you're starting out (also like me). I really like the Running Mate 5k 101 podcasts (Facebook page & community here). This will help you start running at a manageable pace, as well as minimizing your risk of injury or strain, and the encouraging voice at intervals as you run is really helpful. I'm personally not a huge fan of their music, but with an iphone you can use an app that overlays his voice/the intervals over your own music.
posted by AthenaPolias at 3:51 PM on November 12, 2011

Perhaps you should try steady vigorous walking for a few weeks before you leap into running if you're really out of shape. Have you ever run before? And all you people running with your thingies in your ears make me nervous, how do you hear approaching cars or bikes?
posted by mareli at 4:03 PM on November 12, 2011

I used couch25k, some cheap Adidas and a $20 pair of those inner-ear earbuds to successfully start running. I went from struggling to run a solid 90 seconds to going for 30 minutes after work every day really quickly.

I now also run use Blood Bros (previously) as my running soundtrack because it's almost perfect for 5 minutes warmup, 30 minutes of running or walking/running and 5 minutes of cooldown. But your mileage for that last bit may vary depending on your love of 80's movie/montage music.
posted by Muttoneer at 4:11 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

It really is worth every cent to get fitted at a store that specializes in running shoes. The wrong style or size can hurt to run in. Your running shoe size might even be different from your street shoe size. (When I first took up running, I bought a pair of shoes at DSW that looked like good running shoes, and fit well in the store, but hurt like crazy after running two blocks. I would have actually saved money if I'd just gone to the specialty running store first.) Once you buy that first pair, you can always bargain-hunt for subsequent pairs.

Will you be running outside, or on a treadmill or indoor track? Winter is coming, and if you live somewhere with cold winters and you're planning on running outside you'll need an inclement weather plan. You can get cold-weather gear and special treads for your shoes and all that, but I personally don't run outside if there's snow or ice on the ground - I go to the gym or do some sort of alternate workout.

The thing about running, or any sort of hard exercise, is that it will absolutely suck for months... and then, one day, you'll realize you kinda look forward to it. For the habit to take hold, you have to get through several weeks of that suckiness and not talk yourself out of it. It might help if you have a running buddy or someone to check in with.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:12 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I had a great shoe-buying experience at the New Balance store when I needed some tennis (actually tennis, not the generic term) shoes. There are also a couple of local stores that cater specifically to runners. One of them even has this fancy video camera system that lets them watch you run on a treadmill for a bit so they can find shoes to match any under/over-pronation or whatever.

Ecco also makes some great running shoes, but they're more expensive and not much better.
posted by wierdo at 4:26 PM on November 12, 2011

The most important thing you need is the determination to run. It's going to really suck for a while, but if you start small, and keep at it, you'll be running a few miles before you know it.

Don't believe you can run. Know you can. Use whatever you have to, no matter how seemingly strange, to get yourself to keep running. Sometimes I half-joke to myself that I'm an ultra-marathoner (I'm not at -all-), so a couple miles should be no big deal. Sometimes I imagine some nature mumbo-jumbo, like running with a pack of wolves, or wild horses. Sometimes I have to tell myself "Puh-LEAZE. Some Native American tribes could run down deer. Human beings are meant to run." Use _whatever_ you need.
posted by DisreputableDog at 4:35 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Headphones: I recommend these Sennheiser Sport ones.

Couch to 5k is a good start, there are lots of apps, or do a google search.

I'll go against the other advise and say pay extra for shoes if you need them. Go to a proper running store and make sure they watch you walk, and determine if you need more cushioning. If you're overweight, I'd say this is more important. Maybe you can save money on the next pair.

Training for an upcoming race is good motivation.

You'll constantly be coming up with excuses not to run (weather, you're tired, hungry, too full, etc.). Disregard these excuses - set a schedule and run whenever the schedule commands it. Even if you have to tell yourself you're only going out for a quick ten minutes, chances are you'll stay out longer. Barring a hurricane or tornado, run.

Losing weight has a lot to do with what you eat (more so than the amount of exercise you do), so eat well too. Running boosts my mood - hopefully yours too.

Good luck.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:36 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Don't worry about any of that, buy a cheap pair of shoes, and hit the pavement. That's the only thing you need to do. Worry about the rest later. All the stuff you're looking into is just procrastination.
posted by xmutex at 4:36 PM on November 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

1) Go to a store where you can actually run on a treadmill while they watch you. They will sell you some great shoes. Brand recommendations are irrelevant - it's the store that's the thing, preferably a specialist, locally run thing. And if you do want to run in just 'any old pair', bear in mind that you are far more likely to injure yourself (this is from bitter experience, sadly) - get the tool for the job, then worry about how you're going to run that far.
2) Wear headphones not earbuds. I'm a runner, and I just can't get the earbud thingies to stay in my ears. My girlfriend thinks this is because I have huge ears. This is probably true, but, nevertheless, if you're having the same problem, get headphones that go over the top of your head. Possible bonus: If I see a big hill coming up, I like to take the headphones off around my neck, swear a lot, then run up it - a high tempo beat + big fat hill = a lot of pain ;-)
posted by BigCalm at 4:40 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you are looking to lose weight in addition to getting fit, try trimming the carbs from your diet --ditching sodas, pasta, and other junk starches and sugary foods--for protein and vegetables. You can start with small adjustments and work up to a more formal plan if you're not getting the results you want. Running has many wonderful side effects, but dramatic weight loss usually isn't one of them if you don't monitor your food intake. Your appetite will increase to compensate for the calories burned. I lost 30 lbs with zero exercise (a fact that I'm not proud of, hah) but it showed me just how important what you put into your mouth is compared to how much you're working out. Good luck with your plan!
posted by sunnychef88 at 5:04 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Running store is good advice. Getting cheap Nikes at Macy's is not.

I use a Garmin 305 rather than an app.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:14 PM on November 12, 2011

I recommend some over-ear earbuds. I got some of these specifically for running and it has made a world of difference.
posted by corn_bread at 6:12 PM on November 12, 2011

You would probably like Daily Mile. It helps keep track of your running but it also doubles as a social network that helps keep you motivated when running! A lot of people on there are also super experienced runners and can usually answer any question you may have.

Please do go to a running store and get fitted for a new pair of shoes. Yes, this takes a little bit more effort than snagging the cheapest shoes you can find, but it will be worth it. Spending $100+ on a nice pair of fitted shoes can also guilt you a little bit every time you make an excuse not to go running.
posted by astapasta24 at 6:15 PM on November 12, 2011

A few years back, I was almost completely sedentary and at least 20 pounds heavier than I am now. Over the course of about 2 years, I built up from being able to run less than a quarter-mile to running a full marathon shortly before my 40th birthday. (Probably too soon, but hey…). I now run half-marathons on a regular basis for fun and challenge.

Here's what got me going in the early stages:

1. Nerd up. I used the Nike+ system but just about anything that lets you log your distance, time, and pace so that you can measure and objectively observe your week-to-week and even day-to-day improvements will help fire you up. It really adds game theory to the mix.

2. Pace yourself. Anecdotally, the Couch-to-5k program is a huge success because it is a measured plan that is reasonable for just about anyone who's healthy enough to fit through the door frame without buttering their hips first, and it's highly accessible because it's so popular—and vice versa. But whether it's C2-5K or some other plan, anything that allows you to make gradual incremental improvements over your first several weeks should do the trick. Don't get frustrated if you can't run very far at first—no one can. That's OK.

3. I've tried many different kinds of music solutions. For me, an iPod shuffle works well. I use SnugBudds earbuds—they're in-canal buds that don't fall out, or about $30—but I've also seen a company that makes, for about the same price, quasi-custom-molded forms for iPod native buds that fit your ear personally.

4. Shoes. At the beginning, you won't be running far enough to really matter so long as they're reasonable running shoes, unless you're got a pretty unusual stride. But once you get to the point where you're running more than three miles at a go, you'll want to visit a local running store with experts on staff who can help fit you. Don't know which store to go to? Ask a runner near you.

5. Consider getting coached. If budget permits, it ought to be possible to find someone in your area who can advise you as to form and training plans. If the budget doesn't allow, look for opportunities to run with a buddy near you.

6. Have fun! Many people run alone, as I did at the start, but it can be a great social outlet as well. I've found a local group that runs in my neighborhood on a regular basis, with different distances, speeds, and abilities represented. Some of my good running friends bring home the hardware at all the local races; others linger near the back of the pack on the group runs; most of us will gather socially even when there's no running to be done. And it's really fun to go to a race and have literally dozens of friends running with you. Check to see if there's a running group in your area. Many are promoted by local running stores and even some by local bars. Also, there are multiple online forums and other resources to help you find runners near you.

Hopefully, you'll fall in love with running. It's a great way to keep active, and all you need are feet and room to run. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any specific questions or want more detailed information.
posted by mikewas at 7:24 PM on November 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

The gear is not going to make you work out. Decent shoes are good to have, yes. But the rest... the iphone, armband, earphones, Apps, books, websites... are all pretty irrelevant to what you are trying to accomplish.

I would recommend one thing: a GOAL. A tangible something, in the future for you to shoot for. I'd recommend a local race, 5K 10K... whatever suits. Sign up for the event, and set your sights on it.

I recently completed a sprint triathlon. I started from ground zero back in February. A real key for me was telling myself it was not so important what I did (eg walk, run, swim 3 laps... ) but to keep progressing. Slow and steady. It worked. I went from being unable to run more than 100 yards, or swim 4 lengths to being able to swim 500 yards, then bike 12 miles, then run 3 miles. I believe the key was taking it slow - never pushing so hard I burned out. Telling myself 2 workouts a week... then 3 etc. Also, track your progress. Helps a lot to realize when you are succeeding.

You can do it, but a goal to aim for will make it much easier. Otherwise, it's just day after day workouts... and hard to keep your motivation going.

Best of luck! I hope you succeed.
posted by ecorrocio at 7:24 PM on November 12, 2011

These earbuds with hooks work great for me. I use the C25K app for my ipod touch. Music makes it so much easier, and podcasts help too. I don't wear expensive running shoes, I'm a New Balance on-sale person. I'm of the opinion that you'll grow in to the higher end stuff as you get further along. It did take me a while to find the brand of shoe that was most comfortable, I can't wear Nike shoes at all.
posted by raisingsand at 7:55 PM on November 12, 2011

Don't worry about any of that, buy a cheap pair of shoes, and hit the pavement.

This! When I started running, I knew I'd be prone to put off actually getting out on the road with any number of gear-related excuses. I bought a pair of running shorts, threw on a t-shirt and a pair of Chuck Taylors and ran down the road until I had to stop and walk. Then I did it again. Then I did it again.

Then I did it again. I haven't looked back!
posted by sudama at 9:48 PM on November 12, 2011

Way to go on starting running!

Thirding sundama's suggestion. I started running with some old sneakers and an iphone. I decided that if I kept it up for a week, I'd treat myself to some new shoes.

I used this Couch to 5k app. I hadn't run since high school but now I've finished Couch to 5k and am moving on to the 10k.

One suggestion is to have a support group. It really helps to have someone congratulate you for finishing a running session. Feel free to memail me if you want my support.
posted by xmts at 11:27 PM on November 12, 2011

1) Shoes - echo the suggestion that you go to a local shop and ask them to help fit you for shoes. (Also, keep in mind that your fight can swell while running, so you might want to go up .5 or 1 size.)

2) Headphones - I use the Sennheiser PMX80 headphones. What they lack in awesomeness (e.g., they sort of rub against my glasses) they make up for in being cheap. Assume that your running headphones will die (sweat, rain, washing machine mishaps) so you'll probably wind up buying at least a pair a year. These Sennheisers have outlasted many stock iPod buds and a decent pair of Beats buds I received for Xmas last year.

3) Gear - I don't like to run with my smartphone, primarily because it's hard to use once I finally have it affixed to my body. On the treadmill, I get by with the standard Music app. When I run outside, I use an old Garmin 305 to track the details (duration, miles, speed, etc.) and rely on an old iPod Nano (the 4th in a sequence of PMPs that have died due to sweat, rain, washing machines, etc....) for music. Depending on where you live, that $$$ might be better spent on outdoor gear so you can keep running outside during the winter.

4) Motivation & websites - I think the best way to get started is to sign up for a race (say, a 5k or 10k) and then base your running around a training program. (There are sites that will export the Higdon training programs to Google Calendar, etc., so you can have access to your workout plans on your smartphone.) This is how I got started. In the winter of 2008, I registered for a half-marathon that would be held that June. I finished it, ran a marathon that fall, and have been running ever since.

5) The social aspect - Consider running with a friend or joining a group. It's much easier to get off the couch and out the door if you know someone will be waiting for you at the park!

Have fun!
posted by subgenius at 11:14 AM on November 13, 2011

For some people, shoes, gadgets and gear are, as some have said, procrastination. You won't start until everything's perfect, which means you won't start. And so it's best to get going right off and buy what you need later -- and a bonus if you don't like it once you've tried it is you don't have a bunch of (usually expensive) junk lying around reminding you of something you SHOULD be doing that you're not. I'm that way in a lot of other pursuits.

For running, though, for me, buying the shoes were a symbol of "ok, I'm going to do this." So don't discount the power that can have.


Runkeeper for the iPhone is fantastic. I don't usually wear earbuds, but when I do they're just plain Apple earbuds. I think there's a big variation in what works for people there. I have a cheap Belkin armband made for the iPhone 3G that I shove the iPhone 4 into and it works ok. Nothing special.

I use Vibram Five Fingers shoes -- there's lots of debate of whether they're good or bad or injury-preventing or injury-causing or whatever, but they work for me. Maybe they'll work for you, maybe they won't. I haven't run in "regular" shoes in more than two years and I've finished both a half and a whole marathon in that time wearing Vibrams, so I'm happy with them.

And...that's pretty much it. Cheap shorts, cheap shirts, occasionally if it's hot out I'll take along a washcloth for sweat. Running: simple and cheap.
posted by brentajones at 12:20 PM on November 13, 2011

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