Monday Runday: New Feature! 5 Running Questions Answered

Welcome to Monday Runday! I am happy to introduce a new feature that will appear on the last Monday of each month, “Your Running Questions Answered.”

Monday Runday - running questions answered

Because this is me, Monday Runday will always include some personal running updates and photos. This week, the cross country team ran at Mt. SAC Invitational, the largest meet in the world. Alan and I had a nice trail run, plus I spent some good “doggy running” time. Stay tuned to the bottom of this post for all of that!

This is the first edition of this new feature so I am answering questions that I hear frequently from beginning runners. In the past, I have answered your embarrassing running questions and questions about losing weight to run faster. If you have a question that you would like me to answer, please email me or leave a comment and I will answer in the next edition.

5 Running Questions Answered

I want to start running but every time I try I get injured. What am I doing wrong?

A: You are probably trying to do too much too soon. If you are just starting an exercise program, it will take you a while to adapt not only to the increased cardiovascular exercise, but to the impact that running incurs. Begin with a run/walk program that will start you slowly and allow your body to adapt. The Couch to 5k program is popular, and I have a “Run a 5k” training program on my blog. Remember, you don’t have to run a race, but either program will get you running without injury.

What is the best running shoe?

A: The question should be, “what is the best running shoe for me?” There are many great running shoes available, and the one that works best will be the one that works best for you. Go to your local running store (or try the free Custom Fit Process at These running professionals will talk to you about the type of running you do, any issues that you have had, watch your running stride, and recommend the best shoe for you.

How many days a week should I run?

A: When you first start out, two or three days a week is a good goal and will get you fit. To continue to advance, you may want to add more days per week, depending on your goals. Try to give yourself two days a week off of running to recover and adapt, and don’t be afraid to take an extra day off occasionally if you’re feeling extra tired, sick, or if you have an injury.

What should I eat before I run?

A: This can be tricky. Everyone is different. While some runners can handle a moderate breakfast of toast and fruit, others will feel heavy and nauseous with the same pre-run meal. If you are running in the morning, it depends on how far you will be running. If it is just a few miles, you really don’t need anything. Sip a little water and you should be good to go. If you are running more than five miles, you will probably want to start with a light breakfast. A banana, a bowl of oatmeal, a half bagel with a little nut butter are all good choices. Experimentation may be needed to see what your stomach can handle. If you run in the afternoon, timing your lunch or afternoon snack becomes important. Try some fruit, nuts or seeds, or other light snack two to three hours before your run.

How do I get faster?

A: If you have run a race or two, feel comfortable running at your conversational pace, you can add a workout or two that will help you get faster. Try adding intervals on a track. These will improve how your body processes oxygen, increase your leg turnover and your fitness level. After warming up for 10-15 minutes, run 400 meters (one lap) at a pace that is somewhat challenging, about 7-8 on a scale of 1-10. Rest for a minute, then repeat for a total of 8-12 times. To advance, you can increase the distance (to 800 meters), or the number of intervals (12-16). Tempo runs are another way to get faster. Check here for details.

Need a little help getting started? I am an RRCA Certified Running Coach and I can create a personalized running program just for you. Check here for more information.

The Week in Running

I actually racked up close to 30 miles this week! Of course, that is only because I was off last Monday so I did my long run (from cross country practice to home). I wrote about it here.

On Friday the cross country team competed at the Mt. SAC Invitational. It is the largest cross country meet in the world, where hundreds of schools and thousands of runners compete. Last year, I was lucky to see the high school girls’ record broken by Sarah Baxter, who ran 16 minutes flat! Just imagine that, on a challenging, hilly three mile course. Amazing!

This year, my girls did some great running of their own. They finished 5th in their division three race! As far as I can remember, that is the best that any Palm Desert cross country team has done at Mt. SAC. I am so proud of them!

Mt SACBecause we had our meet on Friday, that left a whole weekend for Alan and me to enjoy. I get way beyond excited when we get a weekend off during cross country season. On Saturday, there was a Patriot Ride for our Heroes that was starting right down the street from us, plus Alan had a client in it, so we drove down to see him off on his 50 mile ride (there was also a century, plus lots of shorter distance options). They were celebrating our armed forces and had large groups of military and former military riding.

Patriot Ride

I called Alan’s client the Yellow Man. Not only we he dressed in fluorescent yellow, his bike lettering and his phone matched as well. After we saw off all the cyclists, I took the dogs for a run: Penny for two miles, Buddy for one, and the three little girls for one. A total of four for me (plus a walk with our challenged kids).

Finally, on Sunday, Alan and I took Penny and Buddy for a four mile trail run. It was a beautiful day and a great run. When we got home, I headed out and ran four more on my own. I’m happy to finally start building my mileage up in anticipation of my next half marathon (which I’ll announce soon).

Trail RunThose strange pictures in the above collage show the center of the new roundabout that they installed in the La Quinta Cove where I live. After a road closure and detour that lasted over two months, it was finally reopened last Friday. Within a few hours, someone had already crashed into the back side of it (did some major damage to the car-we saw it on a tow truck when we were coming home from Mt. SAC). According to a police officer we spoke to on Saturday morning, there had already been two crashes! It’s a shame, because even though I didn’t see the need to spend money for this roundabout, they did a nice job and it looked great. I guess roundabouts (or rotaries as they call them back east) may just be a little too complicated for California drivers.

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If you have any running questions you’d like to see answered, please leave them in the comments or email me: debbie {at}

Beyond running questions, how was your weekend? Did you do anything fun, new, or exciting?

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  1. says

    Great new feature! It’s funny but the answers to most running questions (and everything in life almost) is it depends on the person. Everybody has different speeds, tastes, wants, needs so it’s more of a trial and error thing before you find the right mix for you. I know I could not run 6 or 7 days a week. Five days is the sweet spot.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…Marvelous is…My Profile

    • says

      That is true, though for beginners it is a pretty good idea to start out slow and gradually increase your running. Another thing about beginners is that they don’t know what their needs are yet, so I am trying to guide them gently and get them to the intermediate stage before they give up :-)
      Debbie Woodruff recently posted…Monday Runday: New Feature! 5 Running Questions AnsweredMy Profile

  2. says

    Great advice for the newbies! I like that you point out how individualized it all is. So true.

    Congrats to your team at Mt. Sac. I kept seeing amazing pics and times from it this weekend. Very impressive that they scored so high!
    misszippy recently posted…Not the long run I wantedMy Profile

  3. says

    Hey, Debbie

    Thanks for the great Post & Information

    Just completed a 5k at Ft. Meade Maryland

    and getting ready for the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot with my daughter

    Jim Cantwell

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