One of my friends in the downtown runner's group wanted me to emphasize that you do not need to be a six minute per mile runner to show up on a Tuesday night. In fact, you do not need to be a runner at all. There are often a couple of walkers in the group, and more occasionally show up. And there is a wide range of running speeds. Most of us have an idea of how fast other people in the group run, so we can point you to some one to run with. If you are just beginning, there are several people who run at a very relaxed rate. The "normal" course is a six mile run, but most maps have a two and four mile loop. The number of people who run two or four miles varies, but the maps are designed so you are not alone even if you run the shorter distance. And as you progress as a runner, you can try your first long run of six miles on a Tuesday night and then increase in speed. If you want to try racing, you will find one or more of our members at most local races, and we tend to flock to a few particular races (it is always more fun at races with some familiar faces).
Mostly what I am trying to say is if you are just starting to run, and/or feel unsure about running with other people, come on aht. We will try to accommodate almost anyone.
For more information on running for beginners, try Runner's World's beginning running section.
The Rec.Running FAQ (frequently asked questions) is practically a book on running. It looks a little different than a traditional web site, but do not be alarmed. It sort of looks like a list, and the selections (which you will notice are numbered) are different parts of a large body of accumulated knowledge on running. There are answers to simple questions like what are technical fabrics for running, what is pronation or what books are available for running. This is place to look, for example, if you have questions about what to wear. On the 'Local Links' page of this website, there is a little info on the local stores where you would buy those coolmax or microfiber running shorts and at least one forth coming local commercial link (to the Shadyside Athlete's Foot).
Alhough it is less comprehensive than the Rec.Running FAQ, the American Running Association website has the latest in technical running information, and they seem to be very careful in their conclusions. If you have questions about running, this is a good place to look first.
When it comes time to buy a pair of shoes, and you want more specific information, you might look at the Runner's World Shoe section, where they summarize the two most recent shoe issues (they have a fall and spring shoe issue, usually April and September). There is good information there on what to look for to determine your needs and what to look for in shoes to meet those needs. Of course, there is similar information on the Rec. Running FAQ, the Running and Fitness site and on the Road Runner Sports site. This is a good site to check before you go buy some new shoes.
You might think that if you run, particularly if you run enough, you do not need to worry about calories and nutrition. Well, of course everyone needs to worry about nutrition, and actually because of the demands we place on our bodies, runners need to worry more about nutrition. And if you are increasing your mileage and/or running harder to train for a marathon, or because you decided you want to run with faster runners, you need to worry about getting enough calories, carbos, protein, vitamins and even fat (so I hear, though I remain unconvinced). A source for nutrition info is the Runner's World nutrition section.