I’ve been out of shape for the past few years and I’m trying to start running. The problem is every time I try, I get through about one or two weeks and stop. I have a hard time following a training plan with all the intervals. Is it just me, or is there a chance I can actually run someday? Help! Jack
Jack, I’m so happy you wrote. One, please know you aren’t alone in your struggle. And two, it doesn’t have to be so complicated or hard. The key is to make it fun and keep it simple. When you do, running becomes a habit for life.
I’m going to share a learn-to-run strategy that is so simple, I could even do it. This is how I learned and how I’ve coached newbies for years. It doesn’t involve intervals, speed, calculations, or big words.
It is based solely on your body and how it responds to running. In fact, it’s a plan that is customized to you, because it progresses when your body is ready to do so.
Are you ready?
Here we go…
Mark three months on your calendar and schedule a running workout three times per week, every other day (i.e. Monday, Wednesday, Saturday).
Commit to thirty minutes. No more, no less.
Warm up five minutes. Start every running workout with five minutes of walking to prepare your body for the demands of running. Start out at an easy effort and progress to a purposeful walking pace by the end of the five minutes.
Run and walk by your body. Alternate running until you hear your breath, and walking until you catch your breath for a total of 20 minutes. No formulas or intervals—run by your body and breath. If you’re like me, you may start out with 15 to 20 seconds of running and 2 to 3 minutes of walking until you catch your breath. No worries. That may be where your body is at fitness-wise right now. Go with it, tune into your body, and avoid pushing to go longer.
The next workout may be close to the same as well. But a few weeks down the road, that 15 seconds will grow to 30 or 45 seconds or even a minute, and the time it takes to catch your breath will drop. That’s when it starts to get fun, because you feel the difference as you go.
Stick with 20 minutes. Keep the total time of the running portion of the workout to 20 minutes until you build up to running 20 minutes total. That is, maintain the total time of the workout and allow your body time to adapt to the demands of running until you go farther. You’ll recover faster, enjoy the workout a lot more, and progress to running more efficiently. It may take you several months to run 20 minutes, but once you’re there, you’ll be able to add on more time. (25, 30, 35 minutes…)
Finish happy. Let’s face it: If it hurts, the chance of us repeating the activity again are slim to none. When you stick with a plan that is based on your body and avoid pushing for a certain time or pace, you end up finishing happy. And when you’re happy, you want to do it again and again. Running happiness leads to consistency and develops into habit.
Be the tortoise, not the hare. Keep your running effort easy – this will become habit over time. In other words, don’t try to break the world record out there, keep it easy and one step above your fastest walking pace.
Finish with a five-minute cooldown. Invest five minutes to cooling down and gradually bringing your body back to its resting state. Like the warmup, it bridges the gap between running and reality and aids in the recovery process.
Run to infinity and beyond! As the weeks go by, you’ll notice being able to run longer and cover more distance. Eventually you’ll be able to run all twenty minutes! When that day comes, give yourself a high five, and begin to progress your running time by adding five minutes to your workout every 2-3 weeks. For instance, running 25 minutes three times per week for 2-3 weeks and then progressing to 30 minutes. You can also add five minutes to one or two of the workouts per week and take your time as you progress.
Tune into your body along the way. It’s the best coach you’ll ever have.
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- An Out of Shape Slob’s Guide to Running
- Where should you run?
- Get yourself some good shoes, dummy.
- Routine is key.
- Don’t run to get high.
- How to Start Running for Beginners
- How to Start Running: Training 101
- Food, Weight Loss, and Racing
- Running Words You Need to Know
- Beginner Running Plans
- Start Running >> 8 Extremely Useful Running Tips for Beginners
- 1. Start with short running intervals
- 2. Don’t start out running too fast
- 3. Your body needs time to recover
- 4. Run easy and take short steps
- 5. Choose the right surface
- 6. Don’t get worked up about side aches
- 7. Take care of your body
- 8. Make sure to cross train
- 4-Week Intro to Running Plan
- zen habits : breathe
- First things first, gear up
- Focus on form
- Keep a few tips in the back of your mind.
- Follow this 4-week plan
- How to start running for fitness
- Step 1: Set a goal
- Step 2: Get the right gear
- Step 3: Get a coach (and wear it on your wrist)
- Step 4: Research the basics of exercise
- Step 5: Get to work!
- Step 6: Forgive yourself for not being perfect
- More Training : Beginning Runner’s Guide – 30/30 Plan
- Enter The Run/Walk Method
- Check Out The Runners Blueprint System
- The 8-Week Running Plan For Beginners
- Beginners Running tips
- The Ultimate Guide To Running For Beginners
- How to Start Running
- How To Start Running #1: Keep it realistic!
- How To Start Running #2: Set a goal.
- How To Start Running #3: Make a specific plan.
- How To Start Running #4: Choose how you’ll be held accountable!
- How To Start Running #5: Have a backup plan from the start!
- Running Form For Beginners
- A Workout to Practice Beginner Running Technique
- Drills to Practice Your Best Running Form
- Run Workouts For Beginners
- Treadmill Workout For Beginners
- Beginner Running Tips + Tricks
- How To Stretch After Your Run
- 3 Beginner Running Pacing Tips
- Beginner Running Tip #1: Know Your Tendencies
- Beginner Running Tip #2: Change Your Terrain
- Beginner Running Tip #3: Stick To A Training Plan
- How to Start Running: The Complete Beginner’s Guide
- Are You Healthy Enough?
- Running Gear/Shoes
- Eating and running
- Your First Run
- Running Basics
- Make Some Goals
- Common Mistakes to Watch Out For
- Final Thoughts
An Out of Shape Slob’s Guide to Running
After a brief yet depressing post-shower encounter with a full-length mirror half a year ago, I decided to take up running.
My encounter with the mirror came at a time when several family members and people close to me died from a myriad of reasons in a short span of time. When you experience a wave of death like that it’s impossible not to think deeply about your own mortality. It wasn’t just my sagging body, which absolutely disgusted me, but when I looked in that mirror I felt like I, at 27, had a choice to make. I can continue to be a fucking slob and ignore my health or I can do something about it.
I’ve since cut out a lot of drinking, shitty food, and other unhealthy habits. I still partake, yes, but it’s maybe five times a month rather than 95 percent of it. For me, running on a regular schedule is harder than all that. I’m no good at it, and I hate it. My pacing is all over the pace, I do it in sweatpants, and I’m a smoker so I suck air immediately. Even after I learned that it’s a bullshit way to lose weight I still have committed to go out there three times a week because it feels like exercise.
Even if it’s not the best for me, it’s at least something. I don’t have to buy a membership, I don’t have to interact with people, and every once in awhile it reminds me how good exercise can make you feel. Still though, I suck at it—but as I am a journalist, I called someone to see how I could make this easier on myself.
I rang up John Bingham, a runner who has written several books on the subject. Bingham immediately congratulated me on my decision to start to running. He told me that he started running in 1994 when he was overweight and inactive. He was depressed and tried quite a lot to get him out of his rut, he found that running was what did that for him. When I asked him why I should keep running he gave me a simple answer—one I kinda already knew myself.
“It’s always better to be active than inactive.”
OK, that makes sense, but how does one do it without being absolutely miserable?
Where should you run?
The first thing he told me is to put aside that social anxiety and find a local running store where you can learn from people who don’t suck. Here is where you find the best places to run—the internet is, obviously, a good source as well—so you’re not that weird scared person running down busy streets at 4 PM. Trails and long unbroken paths are your best bet for starting out.
Get yourself some good shoes, dummy.
At the start of this stupid journey I, being an idiot, thought that Chucks would be fine to run in and ended up hurting both my ankles at once. A double sprain obviously makes walking super painful, but it also has the added bonus of making you look goofy as fuck anytime you move—a beloved coworker even thought to make a meme out of it that pops up anytime someone writes the word “running” in our Slack.
Don’t be like me… don’t be a meme.
Routine is key.
Bingham said the timing is going to be up to whatever works for you, but if you’re running in the afternoon make sure to eat some lunch—another rookie mistake I made. The time of day isn’t important, says Bingham, but the fact that you stick to a routine.
“It doesn’t matter if you run ten miles a week or a hundred miles a week, the idea is you gotta to integrate that activity into your lifestyle,” he said. “It’s not a good idea to run 10 miles this week and not run again for three weeks. You’ve got to find a way to find that consistency, it’s gotta be important to you. Think of it like brushing your teeth.”
So scheduling is important, but let’s be honest here, if you’re reading this article you’re most likely someone who doesn’t get up early. So, while we all think of runners as these early birds we gotta understand us slobs will probably have to run in the evening. Don’t run in the afternoon especially if you live somewhere hot—another rookie mistake I made. On the weekends though, when you’ve escaped your daily grind, you can try and drag your ass outta bed and hit the road for nine or ten like a productive member of society.
Don’t run to get high.
If there was one thing that kept me going, even after I learned that running wasn’t the best way to lose weight, it was the idea of the runner’s high. The runner’s high is this mythical beast that my running friends keep telling me about—this feeling you get during a long run after you break through the wall. Well, I put this idea to Bingham and he straight-up laughed at me.
“Runner’s high is one of those mythical creatures like the Loch Ness monster,” he said. “There is, in fact, a certain physiological effect that happens as you get to the top of your aerobic threshold that people have described as a runner’s high. But to physically get to the place where you can run long enough and hard enough to get to that point, well, most people don’t ever get there.”
So, there you have it folks—run for you and to be active but don’t run to get high cause you’ll forever be chasing that dragon. Just run if you want to run. It gets easier—even for us slobs.
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This article originally appeared on VICE CA.
How to Start Running for Beginners
If you’re wondering how to start running, there are probably a million questions flying through your brain: How fast should I run? How will it feel? What should I eat? Could I do a race? Trying a new skill can bring a certain level of anxiety. But relax! Running is a great activity for anyone to try, regardless of age or fitness level. (Also, runner’s high!!)
Here’s everything you need to know about running for beginners.
How do I get started on a running plan?
First, plan your schedule so that you’re sure to set aside time to devote to your new running routine. You can reap fitness rewards with just 30 minutes a day, three to five times per week.
When you start running, don’t plan to go too far or too fast right away—doing so is the number-one cause of injury among runners. Start by running for 20 minutes at a time, three times per week. Gradually increase the amount of time you’re running and the number of days you run, but don’t increase either until you feel comfortable completing your current level of training. If 20 minutes is too much, don’t be afraid to take walking breaks. Perhaps begin by running for 4 minutes and walking for 1 minute, until you complete the 20 minutes. As you get stronger, begin eliminating the walk breaks.
When you’re a beginner, don’t worry about how many miles you’re running. Focus on the number of minutes instead. Gradually you’ll begin to cover more ground in the same amount of time, and that’s when you’ll want to increase the duration of your workout. (Following a plan like this Couch-to-5K Plan for Super Beginner Runners can help keep you accountable and help you ease in without going too hard, too fast.)
What equipment do I need?
One advantage of the sport of running is that so little gear is required. But the most important investment runners should make is in a good pair of running shoes—not cross-training, walking, or tennis shoes. Running shoes are best purchased at specialty running stores, where employees can recommend models based on your ability and goals. Many will also watch you run, to make sure the shoes you buy complement the way your foot strikes the ground.
You should also have a quality, well-fitted sports bra, preferably made of wicking material to keep you cooler and drier. A digital sports watch ( or a free running app on your phone) is also helpful. As you advance in your running and set new goals, a heart-rate monitor is nice to have, to make sure you keep your effort level where it should be.
How sore should I expect to get?
Your legs will be sore in the beginning, but if you keep up the routine, the leg soreness will subside relatively quickly. If you feel acute pain anywhere, stop running for a few days and let your legs recover, to prevent injuries. Shin splints are the most common injury, usually incurred when you overdo your training or wear improper shoes. Be aware of the difference between being tired and being injured, and make sure you’re not encouraging overuse injuries.
How to Start Running: Training 101
How fast should I be going? Should I be out of breath from the beginning?
Running will certainly feel challenging at first and you will be slightly out of breath when you start. That should eventually subside. It’s helpful to use the “talk test.” If you can hold a conversation while you’re running, you’re at a good pace. Once or twice a week, however, go for a shorter run, but complete it at a higher speed so that talking is more difficult. It will help increase your fitness level and cardiovascular strength. (See: Which Is Better: Running Longer or Faster?)
Should I run on the treadmill or outside?
Both have advantages. Treadmills are a perfect alternative when the weather is uncooperative and can be helpful in easing into new distances or paces. Adam Krajchir, head coach and program director for the New York Road Runners Foundation Team for Kids, believes that treadmills complement outside running because the cushioned surface reduces the risk of injuries that many runners get from constantly pounding their legs on pavement outside. (Here’s more about the benefits of running outside and the benefits of running on a treadmill.)
“Run, wherever you can, inside or out,” he says. “Getting into a regular routine is more important than finding a perfect solution.”
Should I avoid hills? How should I change my form if I come to a hill?
Running hills is a great way to improve leg strength and burn calories. When you run up a hill, shorten your stride and pump your arms forward. Going down a hill, let gravity do the work and give it a little help by leaning slightly forward. (Try these 3 Hill Running Workouts if you don’t know where to start.)
What are side stitches and how to I get rid of them?
Side stitches are common and are caused by a lack of oxygen in your GI muscles. To stop them, Krajchir recommends exhaling hard and long or bending over at the waist while exhaling. You can also slow down your pace until the stitch subsides. (Here are some breathing tips for beginner runners that might help.)
If side stitches become a recurring problem, Krajchir suggests avoiding solid food immediately before a workout and making sure you’re always well hydrated. (Have other weird pains? Read this: 10 Running Pains and How to Fix Them)
Food, Weight Loss, and Racing
What should I eat now that I’m running?
Good news: You don’t really need to change your overall diet unless you’re training for an endurance event like a marathon. But it’s important to not restrict carbohydrates. Get plenty of protein to rebuild muscles, and eat sensible, healthy, high-energy foods (plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains).
Danny Dreyer, author of Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running, recommends that runners experiment and find what works well for them. For those trying to lose weight, try to balance the percentage of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, with the majority of intake coming from carbohydrates, followed by equal parts fats and proteins.
When it comes to nutrition before and after a workout, you may find that you like to run on an empty stomach in the morning, or after a small snack. (More here: What to Eat Before Running) Post-run, you should take these things in consideration when deciding on a snack or meal.
Will I lose weight from running?
If it is your goal to lose weight, running is an excellent way of doing so—but it’s no magic bullet. As with any exercise program, it will help you expend more calories, which can help you lose weight, but plenty other factors (such as your diet, sleep habits, and overall lifestyle) also play an important part. (If you want to use running for weight loss, read this for more info.)
I’d like to enter a local 5k road race. Will I finish last?
Setting a goal to run a 5K (3.1 miles) race or any other distance is an excellent way to stay motivated and true to your running routine. Local races attract people of all abilities and provide a supportive and encouraging environment to complete a goal. Many people walk the entire race, while others will sprint from the beginning. If you’d rather wait until you’re sure you can run the entire distance, sign up for one that is three or four months away, and work toward the goal. (Related: 10 Things to Know Before Your First 5K)
Running Words You Need to Know
Use this glossary to follow our running plans.
- RPE 4 to 5: Easy; you can talk with little effort.
- RPE 6 to 7: Moderate; you can talk, but you’re slightly breathless.
- RPE 8 to 10: Hard; you can only speak a few words as you run.
Cross-train: Swim, bike, walk or do total-body strength training for 20 to 30 minutes. “Activities that don’t tax running muscles are ideal,” says running coach Scott Fliegelman. “If lifting, keep reps high, weights low, and make sure you’re not overly fatigued for key workouts.” (Here are 5 Cross-Training Workouts All Runners Need)
Strides: Short, fast intervals. Not a sprint, but running as fast as you can (RPE 8 or 9). Jog easy (same duration as stride) after each. (More here: Running Interval Workouts Every Runner Should Do)
Off: Rest! “Following a strenuous workout, muscles need to repair their microtears,” says Fliegelman. Twenty-four hours of R&R (or a proper active recovery day) helps.
Beginner Running Plans
Follow one of these beginner running plans to ensure you don’t run too much too fast, and to keep you accountable for a new running goal.
- Couch-to-5K Plan for Super Beginner
- Beginner 10K Running Plan
- Step-by-Step Couch-to-Half Marathon Running Plan
- By Erin Strout
Start Running >> 8 Extremely Useful Running Tips for Beginners
Are you a new runner? Have you decided to start running to improve your fitness? Before lacing up your shoes, check out these 8 extremely useful running tips for beginners from running expert Sascha Wingenfeld.
1. Start with short running intervals
Are you super-excited to start your running training? As a new runner, you shouldn’t plan on running the entire distance in one go. “Break it down into intervals and try to keep them short at the beginning. Don’t be ashamed to walk between the intervals so you can recover a little,” recommends Sascha Wingenfeld. After some time, you can start lengthening the running sections and reducing the walking: begin by alternating between 2 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking. Increase your running intervals by one minute per workout until you can run the entire distance at a stretch without having to walk.
Run the first few sessions naturally and without any expectations. Otherwise, you’re likely to lose your motivation.
2. Don’t start out running too fast
Your body has to get used to the new stresses and strains of running. Many beginners start out running too fast and pay the price for this mistake within just a few minutes. Frustration, overexertion, pain or even injuries are just some of the consequences. Therefore, start running at a moderate pace (i.e. where you can easily hold a conversation). “Even when you feel like cutting loose, you should maintain the same pace for the entire distance. Only those who give their body time to gradually get used to the new demands will have long-term success.”
3. Your body needs time to recover
Your first run went well and you want to head out again right away? Great! 🙂
But you should wait a day before attempting the next workout: your body needs to rest so it can recover from the first running session. “It must adapt to the new demands on the cardiovascular system and prepare your muscles and bones for the next run,” says Sascha. Schedule your training so you run one day and rest the next. This simple training plan can help beginners achieve the greatest training effect and avoid overuse injuries.
4. Run easy and take short steps
Running is a technically challenging sport. Many beginners don’t have the proper technique and make jogging harder than it has to be by wasting a lot of energy. Your body develops the coordination necessary to perform the complex sequence of movements with every kilometer or mile that you run. “Try to run relaxed and with good form. Short, easy steps are more effective than long, powerful strides that act as a brake, slowing your forward momentum with every footfall.”
5. Choose the right surface
Many beginners wonder what kind of surface they should be running on. “That depends on the particular workout.” As is often the case, a mix of different surfaces is the right choice:
- Running on pavement is ideal for fast running – there is very little danger of turning your ankle. “However, it’s hard on your joints because the pavement does not cushion your steps,” explains Sascha Wingenfeld. “Therefore, running on this surface is only for very light runners with good form.”
- A forest or park floor is soft and provides excellent cushioning. However, the risk of injury increases due to roots, rocks and bumps.
- A sandy surface trains your muscles and makes you lift your feet. But be careful because it’s easy to overwork your calf muscles.
- Tartan (an all-weather synthetic track surface) is springy. One drawback: it puts a lot of stress on your Achilles tendon.
- The treadmill allows you to train year round with good cushioning. “However, this type of running training requires you to alter your form because the belt moves beneath your feet.”
6. Don’t get worked up about side aches
Many people suffer from side aches when jogging. Sascha’s advice is to avoid eating anything solid about two hours before your workout and only drink in small quantities. When a side ache does strike, take a break and walk. “Breath calmly and in a relaxed rhythm. Press your hands against the side that hurts.” Don’t start running again (and then only slowly) until the pain has gone away.
7. Take care of your body
Running is a full-body workout. “Your core is the control center. Through it, your arm swing influences every movement from your hips down, including step length and cadence.” In order to run tall, you need a strong, healthy, stable core. The rest of your muscles should also be in good shape so you can run light on your feet. Plus, a well-conditioned body helps prevent overuse and compensation injuries. This applies for all the body parts involved in running. “Regular strength training leads to better running performance.”
8. Make sure to cross train
Your heart loves variety, and doing different types of sports also reduces the stress running places on your joints and spine. Plus, it keeps things from getting boring. “And this helps keep your love of running alive,” says Sascha in conclusion.
As a new runner, we hope you now feel informed and empowered to start running! And if you’ve been running for a while and have some running tips for beginners, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
4-Week Intro to Running Plan
Starting running is equal parts simple and intimidating. On the surface, all it requires is willpower and a pair of sneakers, but we all know it’s bigger than that. When I started back in 2007, I was frightened of being bad, but I laced up my kicks every single day and did some sort of jog/walk combination for about 14 minutes total. Within about a month, my running periods became longer than the walking ones. By the end of the season, I signed up for my first 5K, confident that I had made running a habit I actually enjoyed.
Fast forward more than 11 years later, I’m now a certified run coach, and my biggest tip for beginning runners is to be easy on yourself. Mastering any new skill is tough, and this is one that demands a lot of physical and mental toughness. Know it’s OK to go at your own pace, and that every single step you take forward is a step in the right direction. Now a seven-time marathoner, I would’ve never toed my first starting line if it hadn’t been for keeping my eye on the prize: a healthier, happier me.
Below, a couch-to-pavement plan designed to help you start running and stay running. Mixed with both walking and running intervals, each day totals about 30 minutes of work. Don’t focus as much on the distance as the time on your feet — and don’t be surprised if you find yourself registering for that 5K.
zen habits : breathe
By Leo Babauta
As a runner, there is almost nothing in this world that can take me to the places that running does. I find solitude in my running, I find my thoughts and my peace, I find energy and motivation, I come up with my best ideas and solve my toughest problems. Running transforms me.
I try to encourage others to run, but even if they want to do it, they don’t know how.
Today, I’m going to give you my advice (as an intermediate runner, not an expert) on how to go from sitting on the couch to being a true runner. I won’t say that it’ll be easy, especially in the beginning. But I will say that it won’t kill you (assuming you don’t have major health problems) and that it will get easier and even fun in a few short weeks.
I will start with the standard disclaimer: Before starting this program, get checked out by a doctor, especially if you have any health risks, such as heart or lung problems, major diseases, pregnancy, or the like.
If you’re fit enough to walk for 20 or 30 minutes, you should be able to do this program.
The Benefits of Running
Why should you even consider doing this program (or running at all)? Lots of reasons. Just a few to start with:
- You’ll get healthier. There are other ways to get healthy, of course, including dozens of other types of exercises. But running is one great way. If you stick to a moderate running program, I can almost guarantee that you’ll get slimmer and your heart will get stronger and your cholesterol will go down. Your diet is a big factor, of course, but more on that in the next benefit.
- You’ll eat better. When you start running — and this can take a few weeks or more — you start to realize that what you eat is fuel. And you realize that burgers and fries and soda are not the best fuel. So you start to eat cleaner fuel, and it can start to be a lifetime habit. This doesn’t always happen, but I’ve seen it happen a lot. It may take awhile before you get a really clean diet, but the desire to change starts relatively soon.
- You’ll want to quit smoking. It’s hard to keep smoking if you really get into running. Some people keep smoking while running, but I’ve seen tons of runners who quit smoking, because they know that smoking doesn’t jibe with their lifestyle. If you’re looking for a good way to quit, start with running.
- You’ll find solitude. In the hectic bustle of everyday life, many people have trouble finding time for themselves, time to think and to find peace. Running will become your oasis of peace, a time you look forward to each day.
- Races are super fun. Once you’ve been running for a month or two, you should sign up for a 5K. It’ll be a great time. The camaraderie among runners, slow and fast, young and old, is a wonderful thing. The feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line is unbeatable. And after awhile, you might try 10Ks, half marathons, maybe even a marathon. There’s nothing like doing road races.
- You’ll lower your stress levels. It beats smoking, drinking, vegging out in front of the television, almost anything else I can think of, for getting rid of the stresses of your life.
- You’ll think better. Running is the time when my mind is clearest. It’s hard to really think about things when you have the noise of the modern world around you, but when you’re alone on the road, you can’t help but think in silence.
- You’ll find the warrior within you. There is something about running that transforms you. In the beginning, it can be very difficult, and there will be times when you feel like stopping, but if you can beat that little negative voice inside you that wants to stop, you will learn that you can beat anything. Running will teach you to overcome your doubts and negativity, and that’s a gift that will take you to new heights in anything you do.
Before we start, I’d like to offer a few rules:
- Start small. This is mandatory. Many people make the mistake of starting too hard, and they get burned out or injured or discouraged within a couple of weeks. This program is designed to get you running for life, so if you have lots of enthusiasm when you start, that’s great — but you MUST rein it in and start small. That enthusiasm that you have to hold back will keep you going for much longer if you don’t spend it all the first week.
- Increase gradually. Another mandatory rule. If you don’t follow this rule, you shouldn’t follow the program. Trust me, I know how it feels like the rules of increasing gradually don’t apply to you … I made that mistake when I started out and got injured. Your mind (and even your heart and lungs) might be able to handle doing more, but your legs might not. It takes awhile for your muscles and tendons and ligaments and joints to adjust to the stress of running, and if you progress to rapidly, you’ll get injured. Increase but very gradually.
- Enjoy yourself. Very mandatory. If you don’t enjoy yourself, you’ll never stick with it. So try to have as much fun as possible. Enjoy getting fit and healthy! Enjoy burning off your fat! Enjoy the sweat! Enjoy the relaxation of burning off stress! Running should be fun, not torture.
- If you can, get a partner. This is not really a rule but a suggestion — if you can find a reliable partner, it makes it a bit easier. First, having someone to talk to while you walk (and later run) makes the time go by extremely quickly. Second, if you make an appointment to meet that person for your walk (or run), you’re more likely to stick to the appointment rather than wimp out.
The Five Steps
OK, here are the five steps to becoming a runner. There are some rough timeframes in each step, but the real rule is to increase only when you feel ready, and no sooner. If you need longer for a step, take longer. There’s no rush. But if you think you can do it sooner, I would suggest that you not.
Step 1: Start walking. Start out by walking just 3 times the first week, and four times the second. The first week, you only need to do 20-25 minutes. Increase to 25-30 minutes the second week. After this, you can graduate to the next step, or if you’d like to stay in this step for a week or two longer, that’s OK. If you stay longer, walk 4 times the third week, 30-35 minutes each time. The fourth week, stay at 4 times, but increase to 35-40 minutes.
Step 2: Start run/walking. Do this step very gradually, just a little more each time. For this step, you’ll continue to exercise 4 times a week. You want to warm up by walking for 10 minutes. Then do a very, very easy run/walk routine: jog lightly for 1 minute (or 30 seconds if that seems too hard), then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these intervals for 10-15 minutes, then do a 10-minute walking cool down. Do this step for two weeks, or longer if you like.
Step 3: Lengthen the running. Once you’re comfortable running for a minute at a time, for several intervals each time you exercise, you’re ready to start running a little longer. Continue to exercise 4 times per week. Increase your running to 1 minute 30 seconds, with an equal walking (1:30 running, 1:30 walking) for 15 minutes. Do this a couple times or more, then increase running to two minutes, with walking for 1 minute. Do this a few times or more, then increase to running 2:30, walking 30 seconds to a minute. If any of these increases feels too hard, feel free to go back a step until you’re comfortable increasing. Don’t rush it. You should stay in this step for 2-3 weeks or more.
Step 4: Follow the Rule of 9. Once you start Step 3 above, you’re basically running with short walk breaks. This can seem difficult, but it’ll get easier. Commit to doing 9 running workouts in Step 3 … after that, it’ll get easier. The first 9 running workouts can be difficult, but after that, it almost always gets better and more enjoyable. Don’t quit before the 9 running workouts! After the 9, try running with only infrequent walk breaks.
Step 5: Take your running to new levels. First of all, celebrate! You’re now a runner. You might be walking a little during your runs, but there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, feel free to keep doing walk breaks as you work on your running endurance. Some runners have been known to do a marathon with walk breaks, running 10 minutes and walking 1 minute. That’s completely fine. Eventually you probably won’t need the walk breaks, but no need to rush.
In this step, you want to continue taking your running to new levels. There are a number of ways to do this:
- Gradually increase your running until you can do 30-40 minutes of running at a time, 4 days a week. Do this increase gradually, as you should be mostly running for 15 minutes at a time by the end of Step 4 … just increase by 5 minutes each week.
- Sign up for a 5K. If you can run for 30-40 minutes, you can complete a 5K. Sign up for one (there are races almost every weekend in many places) and participate with the idea of just finishing. Have fun doing it!
- Once you have increased your running to 30-40 minutes at a time, designate one run a week as your “long run”. Try to increase this by 5 minutes each week, until you can do an hour or more. This is your endurance run, and it is a key to most running programs.
- Once you’ve got endurance, you can add some hills to your program. Add hills gradually, by finding a more hilly course, and eventually adding hill repeats — run (kind of) hard up the hill, then easy down the hill, and do 3-5 repeats.
- After hills, do a little speed workout once a week. Do intervals of a couple of minutes of medium-hard running, with a couple minutes of easy running. Make these speed workouts shorter than your normal runs — if you run for 40 minutes, do 25-30 minutes for your speed workouts. Be sure to warm up and cool down with easy running for 10 minutes.
- Tempo runs are good workouts when you’re ready. That means a 10 minute warmup, then 20 minutes or so of running somewhere between your 10K and half-marathon pace. That means going the pace you think you can race for an hour, but only doing it for 20-30 minutes.
- Run with a group, or run alone. Don’t always run alone or with a partner. Mix things up.
- Find new routes. Don’t always run the same routes. Try running on a track, in a different neighborhood, on a treadmill, on trails.
- After you’ve done a few 5Ks, sign up for a 10K. Then a half marathon. Then a marathon. But do one step at a time.
Most of all, enjoy your runs!
Ask any runner how they got started running, and they’ll make it sound so simple. And, in theory, it is: Grab a pair of sneakers, throw on some shorts, and get moving. But just like that final term paper you had to write your senior year of college, starting anything from scratch can feel super intimidating.
Here’s the thing: Running (even just a little bit) can bring you gobs of health benefits. A mere 30 minutes of running per week for three weeks can boost sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. And for those of you who have been using the “ugh, it’s hard on my knees!” excuse, you can throw that out the window. One 2016 study found that running may in fact benefit the joint, changing the biochemical environment inside the knee in ways that could help keep it working smoothly.
Still nervous? I hear you—but don’t stress. I’ve connected with some top run coaches to get you all the information you need to start (and stay!) moving. From the right gear and best-practice tips to a 4-week, beginner’s running plan, you’ll be lacing up and perfecting your “pick up the pace” workout playlist in no time.
First things first, gear up
“Wearing the right gear is one of many ways to help make your run more comfortable and less stressful,” says Becs Gentry, Peloton Tread instructor and Nike running ambassador.
The good news? Today’s gear is created with a runner’s comfort in mind, such as sweat-wicking, cooling or heating, wind protection, chafe-minimizing, blister control…the list goes on. All of these features help you get from start to finish more calm and collected.
Gentry’s biggest equipment advice for newbies? Purchase based on fit and functionality before fashion. “Look at the product closely and think about what your body does when you run,” she says. “Seams running down the back of your knee could cause chafing, since you’re constantly flexing and extending that area of your body.”
Focus on form
Just like with any sort of workout, it’s important to get the form down before going out and, say, signing up for a 5K. Running correctly is crucial for improving overall speed and reducing the risk of injury, says Karli Alvino, a coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City.
Alvino suggests that all beginner runners set up a time for an initial form assessment with a local run coach, where you can learn the basics and assure you’re prepared for successful, safe miles. But if that’s not accessible to you, consider Alvino’s form-friendly, best-practices to keep in mind when it comes to pounding pavement.
- Stand tall. This will help keep your spine aligned. That means your head, shoulders, hips, and feet all stay stacked on top of one another. “Eyes are up, chest is open, hips are centered, and feet are landing right under your center of gravity,” she says.
- Find a breathing rhythm. A common issue for beginner runners is that you may get out of breath way too quickly, making your endurance feel low. “While certain breathing rhythms do exist, just be sure to breathe, period, as you begin your journey,” she says. “Once you become a bit more advanced, you can test out different breathing rhythms.” (Try these breathing techniques for a better workout.)
- Think about follow through. You want your stride to look clean from start to finish. This starts with knee drive, or bringing your knees up toward your chest—which is a great way to keep from developing lazy legs, and ensure you don’t trip, says Alvino. Then, after your foot touches the ground, think about following through and bringing your foot toward you butt. Which not only increases speed and power, but “also reduces the possibility of injury by firing up the back side of the body, therefore taking stress off the front side,” she tells me.
Learn how this Olympic medalist completely transformed her running career:
Keep a few tips in the back of your mind.
You’re almost ready to get moving. Before you take your first stride, keep these helpful expert tips in mind:
- Don’t overshoot from the start. Running—and getting better at running—is a journey. Before you sign up for a race, start small with goals that feel manageable. “Humble progress takes time and patience,” says Gentry. “The more you enjoy the process, the more of an adventure you’ll have.”
- Squad up! Committing to a weekly session with a friend will hold you accountable to incorporating running into your routine. Even better if you can find someone that’s a tad more experienced than you—research shows that working out with a “more capable” partner can encourage you to work out for longer. “Learn from them and listen to their story, as they may have gone through similar highs and lows as you,” she says. “It can make running feel less lonely and like you are more part of the global running community.”
- Write things down. Whether it’s a super-light jog while catching up with a friend or a harder, longer-speed session, writing down your workouts is a great way to keep track of your progress. “I have journals upon journals detailing how I felt both mentally and physically, along with what was a going on in other areas of my life like sleep or nutrition,” says Gentry. “It’s even a great way to decompress after a run.”
Follow this 4-week plan
Okay, you’re ready to move. I teamed up with Nike+ Run Coach Jes Woods to create a 4-week running plan, perfect for newbies.
“In just four weeks, we’ll be introducing all the tools needed in your running toolkit: recovery, speed, strength, and endurance,” says Woods. “These will not only make you a better runner, but they will also help keep things interesting.”
Follow this beginner running plan, and scroll down to read more about Woods’ recommended goals for each week.
Week 1 goal: Just get out there and have fun!
This week, let’s get comfortable moving and making running part of your weekly routine. Running may not feel natural (or even fun) at first, so consistency is key early on. Music can make getting after it easier. We’ll incorporate it in two of your runs this week.
Day 1: Easy Run
- 10 minutes: Walking warm-up
- 5 to 8 minutes: Run at comfortable pace (easy)
- 5 minutes: Walking cool-down
Woods says: “Find comfortable pace with an emphasis on comfortable. This means it’s conversational. If you find yourself unable to sing along to your music, slow it down.”
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Speed Intervals (Fartlek)
- 10 minutes: Walking warm-up
- Repeat for three songs: Push the pace during the chorus, and walk (or easy jog) to recover during each verse
- 5 minutes: Walking cool-down
Woods says: “It’s okay to start getting breathless during these speed play surges. Unlike your easy run earlier this week, if you find yourself unable to sing along to the chorus, you’re doing it right!”
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Long Run
- 5 minutes: Walking warm-up
- 10 minutes: Continuous running, easy pace
- 5 minutes: Walking cool-down
Woods says: “This should feel like your easy run, but longer.”
Day 7: Rest
Week 2 goal: Get stronger
This week, we’re introducing a strength workout by finding your threshold pace. Threshold pace may sound daunting and super scientific, but you can get pretty close to it simply by feel and by staying in tune with your breath. It should feel like a 7 out of 10 effort, in terms of perceived exertion. Your threshold pace is the magical tipping point between aerobic (conversational) and anaerobic (breathless). If you’re still listening to music on your run, the threshold pace breath test is to find a pace where you can sing just one quick sentence of your song, then need a couple of breaths before singing another quick sentence.
Day 8: Strength Workout
- 10 minutes: Walking warm-up
- 3 times 5 minutes: Running at hard pace
- 5 minutes: Walking cool-down
Day 9: Rest
Day 10: Recovery Run
- 5 minutes: Walking warm-up
- 10 minutes: Continuous running at conversational pace (medium)
- 5 minutes: Walking cool-down
Day 11: Rest
Day 12: Rest
Day 13: Long Run
- 5 minutes: Walking warm-up
- 15 to 20 minutes: Continuous running at conversational pace (medium)
- 5 minutes: Walking cool-down
Day 14: Rest
Week 3 goal: Pick up the pace
This week, we’re working on making your fast faster. When you do this, you’ll notice all of your paces will start to get faster. For example, your easy pace will start to get faster while you’re still able to hold a conversation.
Day 15: Speed Intervals
- 5 minutes: Jogging warm-up
- 5 to 6 times: 2 minutes on (running), 2 minutes off (jogging or walking)
- 5 minutes: Jog cool-down
Woods says: “When you’re running, gradually build speed until you’re breathless. Then slow until your breathing is under control, an easy jog or walk.”
Day 16: Rest
Day 17: Recovery Run
- 5 minutes: Walking warm-up
- 15 minutes: Continuous running at conversational pace (medium)
- 5 minutes: Walking cool-down
Day 18: Rest
Day 19: Rest
Day 20: Long Run
- 5 minutes: Walking warm-up
- 15 to 20 minutes: Continuous running at conversational pace (medium)
- 5 minutes: Walking cool-down
Day 21: Recovery Run (optional)
- 5 minutes: Jogging warm-up
- 15 minutes: Continuous running at conversational pace (medium)
- 5 minutes: Walking cool-down
Week 4 goal: Go longer
Going farther isn’t just about building physical endurance, but building mental stamina as well. Now is not the time to panic. Grab a friend, find a crew, look for a local running group. Long runs are always easier (and more fun) with friends.
Day 22: Rest
Day 23: Hill Run
Woods says: “Hills are speed work in disguise. You should run the hills with the same intense effort as last week, using an easy jog or walk downhill to recover.”
Day 24: Recovery Run
- 5 minutes: Walking warm-up
- 2 x 10 minutes: Easy pace run (2-minute walk recovery in between, if needed)
- 5 minutes: Jogging cool-down
Day 25: Rest
Day 26: Rest
Day 27: Long Run
- 5 minutes: Jogging warm-up
- 20 to 30 minutes: Continuous running with your run buddy or crew (medium)
- 5 minutes: Jogging cool down
Day 28: Rest
Day 29: Rest
Day 30: Recovery Run
- 5 minutes: Jogging warm-up
- 15 minutes: Running at easy pace
And at the end of week four: “You’ve made it!” says Woods. “This is your victory lap. You now have all the tools needed to make running a seamless part of your lifestyle.””
How to start running for fitness
Stage 7 Photography/Unsplash This story is part of New Year, New You, everything you need to develop healthy habits that will last all the way through 2020 and beyond.
So, “start running” is on your list of New Year’s resolutions for 2020. As a runner and fitness trainer, I want to give you a big congrats: Running is hard, and starting to run is scary. But if you really do start running this year, you’ll be rewarded.
You’ll enjoy a lower resting heart rate, improved body composition, more ease with daily activities (like walking up stairs), more energy, improved moods, better sleep and so much more. The benefits of a running habit are seemingly endless.
If you’re looking to start running for the first time this year, or you’re looking to rekindle a good habit you fell out of, these six steps will get you from couch potato to crushing goals by year’s end or sooner.
Step 1: Set a goal
First things first: Write down your running resolution.
If a new healthy habit is going to stick, you need something to work toward. Without a goal, you’ll feel like you’re spinning your wheels as soon as the sparkly New Year motivation wears off. And once motivation dissipates, if there is no grit and discipline to take its place, your progress will pitter out.
This goal needs to be something realistic and something measurable. Ideally, it would be something you can see yourself progressing toward every day or week.
My favorite trick is to use small, incremental goals to help me reach an overarching goal. For example, when I wanted to run my first half-marathon, I set a goal to run one mile more each week. I started with three miles — a distance I knew I could run comfortably — and the next week I ran four. Then five, then six, and so forth, until 10 weeks later, I ran 13 miles without stopping.
So, set your goal. Will 2020 be the year you run your first 5K, 10k or marathon? Maybe this is the year you’ll push the boundaries of your comfort zone and tackle an obstacle course race. Or maybe, running is the vessel that will help you reach other goals, such as losing a few pounds, improving your heart health or beating diabetes.
Step 2: Get the right gear
The right gear can be the difference between a so-so run and a great one.
Now that you know what you want to achieve, support your efforts by getting the gear that will keep you safe and comfortable on the pavement, trails, treadmill or wherever else you find yourself running. As a runner, there are a few things you’ll want to take active efforts to prevent at all times: dehydration, low blood sugar and blisters.
For the former two, make sure you eat before your run and keep a water bottle handy, especially if you’ll be exercising for more than 30 minutes. I’ve been using the Nathan Speedshot Plus Handheld Flask for about a year, and it provides adequate intra-workout hydration without feeling bulky or annoying. If you plan to run on a track or on a treadmill, a regular water bottle that you can stash somewhere will do.
For blisters, you’ll definitely want to choose the right running shoes: This is not usually the place to enforce a budget, because with running shoes, skimping on quality could mean a lost toenail (speaking from personal experience, that’s not fun). You should also keep tabs on your mileage so you know when to replace your running shoes.
And then, there are a few things that can make your runs more fun and even more comfortable, but aren’t necessities for most people. A few items to consider include a good pair of headphones (bone conduction for extra safety if you’re running outside), compression knee sleeves if you have cranky joints and moisture-wicking performance clothes, as opposed to cotton, which soaks up sweat and becomes heavy.
If you plan to run on a treadmill at home, take a look at the best treadmills for 2020 to find out which one is best for you.
Read more: To The Test: Nike Joyride shoes review
Step 3: Get a coach (and wear it on your wrist)
Use a smartwatch or fitness tracker to record your runs.
One of the best ways to track your running progress is to download a running app that automatically logs your distance, pace, calories burned, elevation and other metrics. A good run-tracking app also has a selection of training plans that you can choose from based on your goals and current fitness level, as well as in-ear coaching to help pace your run and push your limits when it’s the last thing you want to do.
If you haven’t yet invested in a fitness tracker, the start of your running journey would be a good time to do so: It’s a luxury to have the most important running metrics right on your wrist, rather than whipping your phone out every few minutes.
You needn’t chuck $400 for the Apple Watch Series 5, although it’s a great choice if you use an iPhone ( $870 at Walmart ). The $200 Fitbit Versa 2 has many of the same functionalities. Many cheaper Fitbit models can serve the needs of runners, as can Garmin and Samsung smartwatches. And don’t discount the basic, $40 Xioami Mi Band 4 — it’s inexpensive, but it can track steps and your workouts.
If you need a bit more motivation than your robot coach can give you, beat boredom by downloading a fitness podcast or designing a hard-hitting playlist that will push you through the final miles.
Step 4: Research the basics of exercise
Recovery is just as important as the workout itself.
In addition to equipping yourself with gear, you should equip yourself with some critical knowledge.
Part of reaching your running goals is knowing what to do before and after your runs. For example, if you don’t warm up properly, you could put yourself at risk for a pulled muscle or a sprain. If you sashay from your run right back into your desk chair, you could end up with limited range of motion due to lack of stretching.
Workout recovery is as important as the workout itself, and the best recovery techniques vary depending on what type of workout you performed. There are loads of high-tech tools to help you recover from workouts, from the beloved Theragun (and many like it) to whole-body cryotherapy to Tom Brady’s far-infrared sleepwear brand.
Often, though, the basics do the trick. You might want to try foam rolling or heat therapy.
Also helpful: Get familiar with how delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) works and how to tell the difference between soreness and an injury.
Read more: Foam roller vs. massage gun: Which is better?
Step 5: Get to work!
Time to start crushing goals.
You’ve established your goal, stocked up on the right gear, selected your training plan and armed yourself with fitness knowledge. Now it’s time to start putting one foot in front of the other.
Sprint intervals and incline workouts can help you build speed and power, while steady-state runs primarily increase endurance. A good running plan will have a mix of both, as well as dedicated rest days.
What’s most important is to not do too much, too soon. If you’re a true beginner to running (or exercising in general), you’ll get sore — there’s just no getting around that. If you push too hard on your first workout, you may find yourself stuck on the couch for the next week. Being able to complete three or four moderate workouts per week is far better than completing one workout that prevents you from sticking to your plan.
This circles back to setting incremental goals. If you’ve never run 400 meters (a quarter-mile) without stopping, make that your first goal — and let it be enough. You may know people who can run farther than that, but that’s them, not you. Instead of feeling down that you “only ran a quarter-mile,” feel ecstatic that you just ran the farthest you’ve ever run.
Then go for a half-mile, then three-quarters and then a full mile. Find the balance between pushing yourself and not overdoing it.
And don’t forget to cross-train — running is one of the best ways to develop a strong heart, but a strong heart is of much more use if your muscles help, too! Try these 20-minute at-home workouts that are just as effective as a gym session, discover the benefits of bodyweight training and learn why there’s a place for both heavy lifting and high-volume workouts in any training plan.
Workout subscription apps can help if you’re feeling uncreative about programming your own workouts, and there are plenty of ways to work up a sweat without feeling like you’re working out — the most important thing is staying active, whatever that looks like for you.
Read more: Should you run before or after you lift weights? It depends on your goals
Step 6: Forgive yourself for not being perfect
You won’t always be able to do what you planned to do — just get back on track as soon as you can.
Garmin via Amazon
Almost without question, life will get in the way of your training plan at some point this year. And like I mentioned before, your motivation will almost undoubtedly waver. Some days you won’t have time to run. Some days you just won’t feel like it. Some days it’s pouring outside and you’d rather binge-watch Netflix while eating ice cream. All scenarios are totally normal and 100% OK — what’s critical is picking up where you left off.
To meet your New Year’s resolution, you can’t let yourself become derailed because of one day, one week or even one month that didn’t go how you planned. It’s all about doing what you can and not beating yourself up for straying a little bit.
For example, if you have a 30-minute run planned for Tuesday, but your cross-training workout from Monday really beat up your legs, go for a 30-minute walk instead — and be proud of it. Or if you meant to do an interval run today but ended up staying late at work and now it’s dark, do a quick at-home workout before dinner instead.
Every effort, no matter how small, pushes you closer and closer to your goals.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
More Training : Beginning Runner’s Guide – 30/30 Plan
Hal on his Beginning Runner’s Guide – 30/30 Plan Program
Introduction: Running continues to grow in popularity. More and more people are taking up the sport. More people are running 5K races. More are running marathons. An even larger number simply run for fitness and never go near a starting line, or win a race T-shirt.
There are many good reasons. Running is simple and inexpensive. It’s a good way to lose weight. It makes you feel good. Running is good for your health. You’ll look better and have more energy if you learn to run.
Many people ask questions about beginning to run on my online forums. They want to know how to start running. They want a training program. They want information about shoes and equipment. They worry about sore muscles.
Every runner experiences what might be described as “Start-Up” problems. Many have “Restart” problems. Former runners (who stopped, for one reason or another) want to get back to their old running routines. They too need help.
Here’s a simple 30/30 plan to get you going, featuring 30 minutes of exercise for the first 30 days. It is a routine similar to one that the late Chuck Cornett, a coach from Orange Park, Florida, used with beginning runners.
1. Walk out the door and go 15 minutes in one direction, turn around, and return 15 minutes to where you started: 30 minutes total.
2. For the first 10 minutes of your workout, it is obligatory that you walk: No running!
3. For the last 5 minutes of your workout, it is obligatory that you walk: Again, no running!
4. During the middle 15 minutes of the workout, you are free to jog or run–as long as you do so easily and do not push yourself.
5. Here’s how to run during those middle 15 minutes: Jog for 30 seconds, walk until you are recovered, jog 30 seconds again. Jog, walk. Jog, walk. Jog, walk.
6. Once comfortable jogging and walking, adapt a 30/30 pattern: jogging 30 seconds, walking 30 seconds, etc.
Follow this 30/30 pattern for 30 days. If you train continuously (every day), you can complete this stage in a month. If you train only every other day, it will take you two months, a 30/60 plan. Do what your body tells you. Everyone is different in their ability to adapt to exercise. When you’re beginning, it is better to do too little than too much.
If you continue this 30/30 routine for 30 days, you will finish the month able to cover between one and two miles walking and jogging. You are now ready to progress to the next stage of your training as a beginning runner. For the next step upward in training as a runner, check out my Novice 5K program.
Regardless of your current fitness level, you should be able to go from being a complete couch potato to being to able to run for a half an hour, without much huffing and puffing, in less than 8 weeks.
The key is to start right, go slow and keep adjusting your training approach accordingly.
There are no secrets.
And definitely no silver bullets.
And to make this happen, you also need consistency. You’d need to commit to run at least three times per week, and follow the beginner run-walk program that I’m going to share with you today.
That’s why today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite beginner running programs, an 8-week beginner running plan that’s gonna help you build enough cardio base to run for a half an hour with ease…
So are you excited? Then here we go…
But before we go into that, let me share with you the secret to getting fit without getting hurt…
Enter The Run/Walk Method
I have written extensively about the method in many of my posts. Therefore, there is no need to keep repeating stuff, sounding like a broken record in the process.
Basically, the run-walk method is a combination of a set period of running, followed by a set period of walking for recovery. The brainchild of Jeff Galloway, a legendary running guru, this method can help you build enough cardiovascular power to run straight for 30 minutes without risking injury and/or overtraining.
The walk/run is also ideal for gym rats who are fit and have exercised before (e.g. weight lifting, martial arts, swimming, etc.) but are newcomers to the sport of running.
And the other thing you need you to know before you head out the door is…
Gradual progress is the Name of the Game…
The main goal of this program is to make small, consistent steps, not giant leaps. Running is convenient and requires no technical instruction, but that does not mean that it’s easy. Your body has to adapt to the high-impact nature of running before you can up the ante. And this does not happen overnight.
If you ignore this, then you are on your own. I don’t want you to get hurt. So please whatever you do, keep these two pain-free running golden nuggets on your mind the entire time.
Check Out The Runners Blueprint System
If you haven’t started running yet, you can do so with my step-by-step process here!
My system was specially designed for beginners who either want to start running or take their training to the next level, but have little clue on how to do it.
And don’t worry, my ebook is written in a conversational, jargon-free, style. All you need to do is download it, follow the simple instructions, then start seeing results ASAP.
Here’s what it includes :
- How to quickly and easily get started running (it’s indeed is easier than you’d think!)
- How fast (or slow) should you go on your first sessions
- The exact 13 questions you need to answer before you a buy a running shoe
- The seven most common running injuries….how to deal with them before they progress into major ones!
- The quick standing stretching routine that keeps you flexible even if you’re busy as hell
- The 10-minute warm-up you must do before any session to get the most of your training
- And much, much more.
to get The Runners Blueprint System today!
The 8-Week Running Plan For Beginners
This eight-week program is designed to take you from a complete beginner to being able to run a 5K distance comfortably.
Note: if you can already run for more than a half an hour with ease, then skip this. It’s not for you. Experienced runners should up the ante by doing other forms of running, such as sprints, hill reps, or working on increasing mileage for the long run.
Week 1: Warm up by walking for 5 minutes at a brisk pace. Then alternate running for one minute at an easy pace followed by three minutes of brisk walking.
Example: Run 1-minute, walk 3-minute. Repeat the cycle 5 to 7 times. Finish off the sessions with a 5-minute easy walk. Do three sessions per week.
Week 2: Run 2-minute, walk 2-minute. Repeat six times. Do three workouts.
Week 3: Run 3-minute, walk 1-minute. Repeat five times. Do three workouts.
Week 4: Run 5-minute, walk 90-second. Repeat four times. Do three workouts.
Week 5: Run 8-minute, walk 1-minute. Repeat three times. Do three workouts.
Week 6: Run 12-minute, walk 1-minute. Repeat three times. Do three workouts.
Week 7: Run 15-minute, walk 1-minute, run another 15-minute. Do three workouts.
Week 8: Run 30-minute at an easy and controlled pace. Do TWO workouts.
This is a basic beginner plan, so feel free to adjust this program to meet your own needs and fitness level.
Beginners Running tips
The ideal beginner program consists of 3 workouts a week.
Just don’t do too much too soon. You don’t have to run on specific days; however, you shouldn’t be running two days in a row. Either take a complete rest day or opt for cross-training on recovery days.
Cross-training can be cycling, yoga, swimming, or any other exercises other than running that you enjoy.
If this beginner program is too much for you, then slow it down and repeat the workouts before cranking up the intensity.
The Conversational Running Pace
To stay on the safe side, make sure to start off all of your run-walk sessions with a proper warm-up, and finish it off with a decent cool-down. Run at an easy pace during the running intervals—that’s the equivalent of 60 to 70 percent of your heart rate.
During the running intervals, you should be able to pass the “talk test”.
Also known as “conversation pace,” this pace means that you are able to speak with your buddy while running without much trouble. If you can’t say a word without grunting, then you are doing too much.
For more beginner running advice, check some of my posts here:
The 8 Habits of Effective Runners
9 Obstacles To Running
The 4 Keys To Breathing
The Beginners Runner Guide
10 Things I wish I’d Known When I started Running.
That’s it for today.
Please make sure to take action and remember to always stay within your fitness level.
Thank you for reading this short post.
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The Ultimate Guide To Running For Beginners
Ready to run?! We’ve got your ultimate guide to running for beginners, complete with all new runners need to know to begin your running journey!
How to Start Running
They say that the hardest part of running for beginners is getting those running shoes laced up, but what’s even harder than that is getting started with something you’ll stick to!
For beginners, just getting out the door is a big feat. Whether you’re focused on weight loss or training for a half-marathon, the first step is making a commitment.
To help you accomplish that feat more than just once or twice, we’ve listed a few tips below that we are confident will help you start a run program in a sustainable way!
How To Start Running #1: Keep it realistic!
We all have different goals, schedules, and lifestyles, so be sure you’re starting a running program that works for YOU. Training of any sort needs to be the perfect puzzle piece to fit into YOUR life and limit your risk of injury if it’s going to be sustainable.
How To Start Running #2: Set a goal.
Setting a goal will help hold you accountable, and allow you to track your progress and stay motivated.
Think about why you’re starting to run, and then set a concrete goal based on that! It could be a specific race or distance you want to run, a mile time you want to hit, a pair of pants you want to fit into, whatever works!
If you don’t have a set goal in mind, sign yourself up for a 5k race in a few months, and start there.
For some extra help, check out these Couch to 5K Training Tips!
How To Start Running #3: Make a specific plan.
Once you have your goal in mind, start working on a training plan for beginners. If you’re following a pre-made plan online or in a book, be sure to customize the plan and modify it so that you’re not going out of your way to follow it.
If you need a good jumping-off point, check out our beginner running plan!
The more specifically you design your plan, the easier it will be to follow!
To get really specific, you can start to think about your running preferences. Will you want music? If so, get to work on creating the perfect playlist, or search for one that is pre-made. What time of day will be best to run?
To get the wheels turning on this, take a look at the image below, shedding light on what many of today’s runners prefer. All of the info comes from Statista and RunRepeat.
How To Start Running #4: Choose how you’ll be held accountable!
It could be a training partner, a friend or loved one who will check in with you daily or even an online running group you join!
If that doesn’t work for you, simply write down training schedule, and check it off as you go.
Accountability does not have to be a public display! In fact, as you can see in the image above, most runners prefer not to share their runs on social media.
No matter how you do it, just make sure you have a record of whether or not you’re sticking to your plan. And if you’re not, perhaps you need to modify it and make it more realistic, or just find someone or something that MAKES you do it!
How To Start Running #5: Have a backup plan from the start!
Life never goes according to plan, so expect that! Make a contingency training plan should you have to stay late at work, or if you get sick, etc. And be flexible!
This way, you’ll still be on track to reach your goals, and will be less tempted to just give up on running when one thing goes wrong.
Different plans will work for different runners, and it may take a bit of trial and error. But stay patient, and be confident that the best running plan for beginners is not one size fits all.
For some added inspiration, watch these 4 tips to keep running fun!
Running Form For Beginners
Now that we’ve got a plan, let’s make sure pain + injuries aren’t going to sideline us after Week 1! Having a correct running form is the easiest way to avoid injuries and make running a habit, not a phase. Let’s dive in!
To make sure everything is in line, we’ll start from the top and work our way down.
Running for Beginners: Head Position
Because so much of our time is spent at a computer or on our phone, it’s become natural to slouch a little in our everyday life. But running rounded or slumped over will take a toll on your whole body, so it’s important to make sure your head is in line when you run.
To make sure, try this trick! Place your middle finger and thumb across your collarbone, and then extend your pointer finger upwards, making a tripod for your head.
Your pointer finger should fall right underneath your chin. If it doesn’t, adjust so that it does, and try to maintain that position throughout your entire run.
Running for Beginners: Shoulder Position & Arm Swing
Shoulder tension also contributes to that slouched position. Luckily, it’s an easy fix! When you’re running, simply remind yourself to relax and roll back your shoulders, periodically checking in to see if they have crept up since you last checked.
As for the arm swing, beginning runners often let their arms swing across their body, which actually reduces the power of the swing!
Instead, be sure your arms stay on the sides of your body, just swinging forwards and backward, with your head up tall and your shoulders back.
Running for Beginners: Hips
Our hip position is a big determinant of stride length and form. For a good, long stride, your hips need to be upright, with your hip bones facing forward. Imagine your hip bones were the headlights on a car – they should always be shining forward!
Keeping your pelvis upright will ensure a long stride, and it gets those hamstrings and glutes firing, creating a more even distribution of weight on the legs.
As you can see in the image above, Coach Holly’s hips are pointed down towards the ground, causing her whole body to slouch, and reducing her stride length.
We also want to avoid sitting into our hips as we land on our legs. To do this, focus on keeping the same amount of distance between your knees throughout your run.
If you are running along a line on the ground, keep your feet equidistant from it the whole time, or just imagine you’re doing this if there is no line.
If your feet start to drift closer to your center as you run, chances are you’re collapsing into your hips as you land. Periodically check-in and make sure there is adequate distance between your knees.
Running For Beginners: Legs & Feet
For leg technique, start by focusing on how your legs come off the ground. Ideally, our run stride should be right in the middle of a “high knee” and a “butt kick.” So aim to pull your feet up right underneath your pelvis, without the run looking too much like either of those exercises.
Now, let’s talk about our feet! If your feet are scuffing the ground as you run, it’s because you’re not picking your feet up high enough off the ground. To combat this, focus on the pulling technique mentioned above.
If you’re landing too heavy on your feet, sort of stomping on the ground as you land, try to pick your feet up a bit faster, creating a quickness and lightness in your run.
A Workout to Practice Beginner Running Technique
Let’s put all of this together, shall we?! To do this, head out for a 30-minute run. After every 5 minutes of your run, spend your 6th minute focusing on one of these body parts. Notice what your body does naturally, and fix it accordingly.
So after your first 5 minutes, spend the next minute thinking about your upper body. Repeat that again only spend the next 6th minute thinking about your hips. Continue this pattern all the way down to your feet.
Finally, spend the last 6 minutes of your run letting all of this come together, noticing the parts of your body that need the most adjusting mid-run!
Once you start to understand proper run form throughout the whole body, check out this video on the secret to your stride to dive a bit deeper and understand the lower body mechanics that will help you run farther and faster!
Drills to Practice Your Best Running Form
Drills are one of the easiest ways to work on running form because they allow us to break down our form outside of the context of a run.
It’s tough to analyze run form mid-run, so let’s take a look at a drill that will lock in proper form, ultimately making your runs faster, easier, and preventing running injuries.
We’ll start by simply balancing on one leg for 30 seconds. This is an easy way to find out what our natural tendencies are.
Does your weight naturally fall to one part of your foot, do you lean in a certain direction?
If just balancing is too easy for you, challenge yourself by turning your head to the right and left, and looking up and down. If that goes well, simply close your eyes for even more of a challenge.
Balance with Hops
Next, use any small, narrow object as a marker placed horizontally on the ground, and practice hopping over it, still on one leg.
You’ll do 15 reps on one leg, with 2 hops (forward and then backward over the object) counting as 1 repetition. And then you’ll repeat on the other leg, and you’re going to repeat that whole set 3 times.
Be sure to check out where your weight is landing after every jump – is your heel coming all the way to the ground when you land, is your body falling forward or backward?
Balance with Lateral Hops
After 3 rounds, turn your object vertical on the ground and repeat the drill hopping side to side over the object.
Again, 15 reps per leg per round, with 2 hops (right and left) being counted as 1 rep. Repeat for 3 rounds.
Notice here if your knee is caving in when you land, indicating you’re rolling towards the inside of your foot, or if your weight falls more toward the outside of your foot instead.
For all of these hopping drills, take note of your movement. On the forward/backward hops, did you travel right or left at all? And on the lateral hops, did you travel forward or backward at all?
Movement of this kind likely indicates a weakness somewhere, which could be causing discomfort during your runs!
Running For Beginners: The Drill To Fix It All
Now that we’ve identified our tendencies, let’s try this drill to balance everything out. Incorporate this drill on strength day, or at the end of a short run.
We’ll start with slow step-ups onto a box or bench. Find a box or bench at a height that’s comfortable for you to step up onto, and place one leg on top of it.
Leaning forward over that leg, step up very slowly onto the platform, without using your bottom leg at all. Once you’re on top of it, engage your glutes and stand up tall.
Then, come down the same way you came up. Hinge over at your hips, bend your standing leg, and slowly lower your bottom leg back to the ground.
Safety tip to protect your knees: be sure that your knee is right over your ankle while you’re stepping up and down, and that it doesn’t fall inward.
You’re going to do 10 of these total, alternating legs every time!
Right after you’re finished with the step-ups, find a lunge position on the ground, bending your front leg at a 90-degree angle, making sure your front knee is directly over your front ankle, not in front of it at all.
Run Workouts For Beginners
Interval Run Workout For Beginners
A “running workout” isn’t often something beginners think about – a run is a run, and we often only change the route and the distance.
And there’s nothing wrong with that! However, interval workouts are a great way to practice tempo, which will gradually increase your run speed in a way that feels more sustainable than just taking off for a sprint.
This interval run workout for beginners is also going to help build your confidence when it comes to holding your speed for a longer period of time come race day!
Interval Workout For Runners: Ladder Format Overview
For this workout, we’re going to be increasing the amount of time we run for, and then decreasing it, with our rest time always being 1 minute long.
Before we get into the ladder, start with a 5-minute warm-up run, at a comfortable speed.
We’ll start the workout by running for 1 minute, and then walking for 1 minute. Then we will run for 2 minutes and walk for 1 minute, then 3 minutes, and then 4 minutes of running, always walking for 1-minute in between runs.
After that, we’ll work our way back down the ladder, running for 3 minutes, then 2, and then 1, keeping rest time the same at 1 minute.
Interval Workout for Runners: Details
Now that you know the format, let’s talk about intensity. As we climb up the ladder, we want an effort level of 7/10, 10 being maxed energy expended.
This means that you could still talk while you run, but probably only a few words before you would need to take a breath.
Try and hold that through all of your ascending runs, through the 4-minute run.
Next, as we climb down the ladder, we’re going to bump up the effort level. As the runs get shorter, try to attack them with a bit more speed, knowing that you are running for less time.
Don’t worry about exact speed or splits for this one, just focus on your own perceived effort level, and push yourself to speed up as the runs get shorter.
You’re only doing 16 minutes of running in this workout, so keep that in mind! You can do it.
Once you’ve finished your final minute of running and then of walking, give yourself a 5-minute cooldown jog, at an easy pace to gradually slow your heart rate.
Throw this workout in once or twice a week while you’re training, and your distance runs will start to feel faster and easier over time. Enjoy!
Treadmill Workout For Beginners
Consistency is what’s going to turn us beginner runners into seasoned pros, so don’t let the weather or other outdoor conditions affect your training.
To help you out, we designed this treadmill workout for beginners. Let’s dive in!
Treadmill Running Workout: Warm Up
We’ll start with an easy, 3-minute jog. The speed on this one will vary from person to person, but make sure you could talk to someone easily throughout the whole 3 minutes, we’re not pushing it quite yet!
Next, increase your speed by about 1mph, and hold it there for another 3 minutes.
Treadmill Running Workout: Cadence Drill
Before we get going on intervals, we’re going to do a cadence drill to really wake up our muscles and get our feet turning over.
Set the clock for 5 minutes, and at the top of each minute, spend 30 seconds counting how many times 1 of your feet hits the ground.
Then for the second 30 seconds of that minute, no need to count just run comfortably.
Repeat the 30-second count at the top of every minute, aiming to increase your count by 1 each minute.
The goal here is not to speed up, but rather to shorten your stride and encourage quicker turnover, ultimately making your running form work more efficiently.
Treadmill Running Workout: Interval Speed Work
Treadmill Running Workout: Part 1
The first set we’re doing is 2 minutes of a fast run, or about 7/10 perceived effort, followed by a 1-minute easy jog. And you’re going to repeat this 5 times.
If you’re totally gassed after you’re first 2 minutes, feel free to walk for a minute if an easy jog is too much for you.
As you work through your 5 rounds, try to find that perfect 7/10 “fast” speed, where you still have just enough energy to maintain an easy jog for the 1-minute segments.
Treadmill Running Workout: Part 2
Next, we’re going to up our speed and shorten our intervals. This time, we’re doing 1-minute fast runs of about 8/10 perceived effort, followed by 30 seconds of an easy jog or walk. And this time we’re doing 6 rounds of that pattern.
Again, the treadmill speed will be different for everyone, but do make sure you’re going faster on this set than you were on the previous one, basing your numbers off of perceived effort! Here we’re aiming for an 8, with 10 being maximum all-out effort.
Treadmill Running Workout: Part 3
Last interval set! Now we’re cutting our fast runs to 30 seconds, with 15 seconds of rest, and we’re going for 6 rounds.
This time, up that fast speed to a 9/10 perceived effort, just about as fast as you can go while still being in control on the treadmill.
If this workout is too difficult, no worries! Decrease the level of difficulty by keeping the structure the same, and just taking out 1 or 2 of the rounds for each section.
Treadmill Running Workout: Cool Down
After all that great speed work, a good cool down is very important! Make sure to walk for 3-5 minutes at an easy pace, letting that heart rate return to normal.
After that, hop off the treadmill and do some mobility work, whatever you feel your body needs!
If running on the treadmill will be a regular occurrence in your training, we’ve got you covered! Learn how to run indoors, how to safely get off the treadmill without interrupting your workout, and what to look for in your posture and cadence with this video on treadmill running form.
And once you’re ready for an added challenge, try this uphill treadmill running workout to get the incline going so you’re ready for those hills when you hit the trail!
Beginner Running Tips + Tricks
How To Warm Up Before Your Run
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, no runner wants to waste the first half of their run just getting warm. A proper run warm up will help us run faster and prevent injuries throughout the entire run.
Step 1: 5-10 Minute Easy Jog
To start, just go for an easy jog for 5-10 minutes. This will get the blood flowing so your muscles can start to warm up, and it will raise your heart rate slightly and get your body used to that feeling.
Step 2: Hips + Hamstrings
Next, we’re going to warm up two muscle groups that can make or break our run: the hips and hamstrings.
To get the hips moving, we’re going to do some air squats. For these, make sure your feet are just a little wider than hips’ width apart, keep your weight back toward your heels and your chest up tall as you squat down.
To get the hamstrings loosened up, we’re doing leg swings. Simply stand on one leg and swing the other leg back and forth, going as high as you can without hunching or arching your back, and without bending your standing leg.
For the format, try 1 air squat and 1 leg swing on each leg, and then 2 air squats and 2 leg swings. Keep increasing your count until you complete 5 reps of each movement.
Step 3: Lower Leg
Much like our hips and hamstrings, our calves too can make or break a run! These walking variations to warm up the lower leg don’t take up too much space, so they’re easy to do anywhere.
To start this portion of the warm-up, we’ll do 20 steps up on your toes. Try to keep your heels as high off the ground as possible for all 20 steps.
Next, you’ll 20 steps on your heels, again keeping your toes as high off the ground as possible the whole time.
After that, carefully roll your weight onto the outsides of your feet, giving the outside of the ankle a stretch. Take 20 steps in that position. If your ankles are loose from spraining or rolling them previously, be extra careful on this one!
For the next 20 steps, rock your weight toward the insides of your feet, and maintain that position the best you can for all 20 steps.
From there, take 20 steps on flat feet with your toes turned outward. This will get our hips involved as well as the lower leg. Then, reverse that and turn your toes inward and take 20 steps in that position.
Now, to get the heart rate up a little while we work the lower leg, we’ll take 20 hops on each leg.
Step 4: Speed Work
Lastly, in this warm up, we’re going to get our muscles used to activating quickly and correctly with some speed work.
All we’re going to do here are four 60-meter stride outs. The distance doesn’t need to be exact, but a stride out means we’ll start at roughly 45% of maximum speed, and work our way up to about 85% of maximum speed over the 60-meter run.
Repeat that 4 times and you’re ready to run.
By incorporating this warm up into your run routine, you’re preventing injuries by getting your muscles ready for whatever comes their way, and ultimately ensuring your best possible run!
How To Stretch After Your Run
Stretching is crucial in keeping you healthy and injury-free. To get you going, check out this video on how to stretch after your run.
The key is here to incorporate these static stretches after your run when your muscles are warm and you’ve gotten your blood flowing.
This way, you won’t strain anything by going too far in a stretch, and your body will be more receptive to the stretches.
And when your body is receptive to the stretches, it adjusts and adapts, and you’ll start to see your flexibility improve over time.
3 Beginner Running Pacing Tips
Pacing your run can seem like a myth to beginner runners – the idea that you can decide how fast to run at any given point in your run seems like a stretch. But it’s easier than you might think!
Beginning runners often fall into two different categories when it comes to pacing. The first is that group who loves the intensity of a fast pace, and who takes off at the beginning of a run, at a pace they are unable to maintain beyond the beginning of the run.
The second category are of those who are excellent at finding a pace they can maintain, so much so that their speed never improves because they get stuck in that “comfort zone.”
Beginner Running Tip #1: Know Your Tendencies
In order to correct our pacing, we need to know what we’re already doing. To get a sense of this, grab your phone, watch, or a stopwatch, and simply measure some stats on your next run.
If you’re using a smart phone, apps like Strava or Map My Run will track your splits for you. And if you’re using your watch or a stopwatch, track your splits yourself by just measuring how long it takes you to run half or a quarter of your total run distance. Whatever markers are available to help you measure will work!
Beginner Running Tip #2: Change Your Terrain
In order to perfect our pacing, we need to introduce our bodies to different paces and step out of our running comfort zone.
A natural way to do this is to change the terrain or course you’re running. If you normally run on a track or a flat road, find a trail to add some hills. If you always run the same trail, find a new one.
This will inevitably introduce your body to different speeds at different points in your run, due to varying levels of difficulty at different spots.
Another easy way to do this is interval running. No matter your course, try pushing your pace and running quickly for 60 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of easy jogging, for 10 rounds.
This will show your body what it feels like to run faster or slower, as opposed to that one speed you’re used to.
Beginner Running Tip #3: Stick To A Training Plan
We at The Run Experience love training plans for runners because they get you thinking in the long term, and they hold you accountable!
Pacing work will only help your run speed if it’s kept up over time, so try to make or find a training plan that will hold you accountable for your runs so that you see results.
Without a training plan, you’ll just be basing whether or not you run that day on how you feel, which can be a slippery slope on both ends. If it’s a day you should be training but you’re tired or sore, you might skip it without a training plan.
And on the other side of the spectrum, if you’re feeling good on a day that should be your rest day, you might not take a rest day that week, which impedes recovery.
Find a training plan for beginners that works for you! From there, take note of your pacing tendencies and vary your running terrain to get your body comfortable at different speeds. Come race day, you’ll control how fast you run given what the course requires!
Running is a wonderfully simple sport. You’re in charge, and you can run where you want, when you want.
Best of all, if you follow these principles, you can make it last a lifetime and get the most health and fitness benefit out of your running programme.
1. Walk before you run
Few people are able to run a kilometre the on their first day of running, so don’t try it. You’ll soon feel discouraged and give in. Instead, begin by mixing running with walking.
For example, run for 30 seconds then walk for 90 seconds, repeating this for a total of 20 minutes. When you can comfortably manage this four times a week, adjust your walk/run ratio to 45/75 seconds four times a week. Then try 60/60, 75/45, and 90/30. In time you’ll be running for several minutes without breaks, and then you will be able to run for 20 minutes without stopping!
Try this beginner’s running training programme
2. Build steadily
If your running is to progress you will need to work harder over time, but if you punish your body too hard too soon you won’t improve and you’ll increase the risk of injury.
Coach Jack Daniels advises his athletes to make a plan of their intended weekly training and then increase mileage or intensity only every third or fourth week. For example, if your current mileage is 30km a week and you’re aiming to build that up to 60km, add eight to 10km every three to four weeks.
Apply this same principle to increases in speed.
3. Warm up, cool down
Warm-ups let your body gradually adjust to the exercise, preparing you for the harder work to come and actually making the session easier.
Five to 10 minutes of running or walking before you start putting your body through its paces will also lessen the strain on your heart and reduce the chances of injury. (Read more about warming up, here)
Then after you’ve run hard, the first thing you usually want to do is head straight for the sofa to crash. Don’t, because an abrupt finish to exercise can cause cramps, dizziness, abnormal strain on the heart, and hamper the removal of the body’s waste products such as lactic acid. Just spend five minutes longer on your feet at a gentle pace to cool your body.
4. Choose your running surface carefully
Most runners clock their kays on the open roads. Roads aren’t the worst places to run, but try to run on the tarmac no more than three times a week. If you run the same route regularly, run it in reverse, too. Running the same camber of the road repeatedly can lead to injury.
Steer clear of concrete pavements, which will pound your body. Running tracks are okay for speedwork – although they are draining on the mind – but avoid them for recovery runs or fitness running.
Grassy areas are the softest surface to run on, but they can be uneven. Perhaps the best surface is an evenly graded dirt road; it’s easy on the body and relaxing for the mind.
5. Set goals
Staying fit and healthy is great reward in itself, but setting a goal can make you more motivated and help you enjoy your running more. When you sit down and set yourself a goal consider four elements, incorporated in the acronym RACE.
Firstly, choose a goal with a noticeable reward. It could be a medal, a time, or a new set of clothes if your goal is weight loss.
Secondly, make that goal attainable – within your reach.
Thirdly, make it challenging. If your goal is going to be a cinch, you won’t work to achieve it.
Finally, be explicit: set out specific races, precise target times, and the crucial points along the path to achieving your ambition.
6. Run by time, not by kays
This advice is especially valuable for beginners and those hoping to build endurance. When you find that you can gradually spend more and more time on your feet, all that hard work seems to be paying off.
If you’re a more experienced runner, you’ll find that thinking of time can prevent you tearing round your training routes at breakneck speed trying to set a PB. This can ensure that your recovery runs actually provide the rest and recuperation all runners need.
7. Build a base
You can’t fire a cannon out of a canoe. That’s how one coach once summed up the need for an aerobic base before the fast times will come.
Once you’ve built that platform of steady work, and only then, should you start thinking about speedwork, hillwork and fartlek.
This base of running can last from six months to as long as a year, and should consist of steady running and jogging. Enjoy this period; if you’re an ambitious new runner this may be a useful stress-free period of running when you can gauge which distances may be right for you to race in the future.
8. Learn the hard-easy routine
Whether you’re one of the world’s elite or a beginner, stick to the ‘hard-easy’ method of vigorous exercise followed by either a rest day or a recovery run. Even if you do feel fantastic the day after a hard run, temper yourself. If you don’t do that, you will struggle the following day, or worse, pick up an injury. Stress on top of rest equals improvement, but stress on top of stress equals breakdown.
Still, just how gentle should a recovery be? The key is to listen to your body for warning signs – sore muscles, aches, pains and fatigue – and err on the side of caution. Remember, too, that as you get older you will need longer to recover.
9. Build up your long run
Long runs are the definitive way to build endurance; strengthening the heart, the legs and the ligaments in the process. They also burn fat and boost confidence. Sounds good? It certainly does, but be cautious: If the longest you are used to running for is 30 minutes, gradually build up to an hour by adding five minutes to your run each week.
Just minutes of extra running make a difference – but too much, too soon and you’re setting yourself up for injury or illness.
10. Make running a part of your life
Holistic running’ was a term coined by athlete Kenneth Doherty in 1964. He believed that the runner trains 24 hours a day, not just for an hour or so of running.
Take a look at the way you organise your life, how much you sleep, eat, and drink. Then consider the balance within your training programme. Are you racing too much? Are you not making time to run those routes that are personal favourites? Are you running too much speedwork with too little time to recover?
Just as you should keep the balance in your training, do so with the other areas of life.
READ MORE ON: beginner how-to
How to Start Running: The Complete Beginner’s Guide
Wondering where to start when it comes to running? Do you just head out and run? What about clothes? What about gear?
This article will answer all the questions you have about running plus inform you on how to get started. We cover:
- Are You Healthy Enough to Run?
- Running Gear/Shoes
- Eating and Running
- Your First Run
- Running Basics
- Common Mistakes to Watch Out For
Are You Healthy Enough?
Even before you run out the door, the first step you should take is to pick up the phone, call your doctor, and make an appointment to find out if you are healthy enough to run.
This is especially true if any of the following apply to you: overweight, pregnancy, health issues (high, bp, diabetes, etc.), current or former smoker, family history of heart disease, have dizzy spells, feel faint, have heart issues, have been sedentary for over a year, are over 65, have chest pain.
Discuss your fitness goals with your doctor and talk about potential health issues that may arise. Do you have any health conditions running may make worse, or better? Have you had injuries in the past few years that may be aggravated?
If you are trying to lose weight by running, let your doctor know as they may have some tips and pointers for you.
If you haven’t been to the doctor in a while or haven’t even exercised in a long time, it is a good idea to get checked out even if you don’t think you have health problems to ensure you are healthy enough to start running.
Why Do You Want to Run?
Thinking about why you want to run will help motivate you and keep you going while your running routine gets started. Sometimes in the beginning runners can get frustrated because they don’t feel or see progress right away.
Think back to why you started running and keep working towards that goal.
Some common goals for beginner runners include:
- Running regularly (three times a week)
- Setting goals for specific distances
- Run a 5k or 10k
- Lose weight
- Run with friends
- Run for charity
- Run a 12-minute mile
Overall Benefits of Running
Some people start running because of the overall physical, mental, and emotional benefits of running. So what are these benefits?
“Runner’s high” has been scientifically proven and it makes runners happy. About 30 minutes of walking, running, or a combination of the two can lift your mood. This can also help combat depression, especially when it is combined with meditation. One way to do this is to add meditation into your pre or post-workout routine.
Having trouble studying or remember formulas for the big test? Running has been shown to enhance and activate neuron reserves in the brain that are important to the brain’s capacity to learn. Furthermore, regular running can increase the size of your hippocampus, which is the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning.
Running helps heart function overall. A study from the University of Hartford showed that marathon runners habits reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, the American Heart Association says 150 minutes of brisk activity can keep your blood pressure at a healthy range for your age.
The National Cancer Institute has said “there is convincing evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of cancers of the colon and breast. Several studies also have reported links between physical activity and a reduced risk of cancers of the prostate, lung, and lining of the uterus.”
The best part is, all you have to do is run 50 minutes per week to get the health benefits.
There is no need to run long distance marathons or hours every day, just 50 minutes per week can increase your overall health according to an analysis published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Before you head out, there are a few things you’re going to need. Running shoes, proper apparel, and other gear — the last one being optional, but more on that later.
Why do I need a good pair of running shoes? You may be asking yourself this, and the answer is because having the right shoes make running all the more comfortable and safer. Would you race a minivan on a racetrack? No, because it is not the proper tool.
Running shoes are the most important tool you will have so it is important to find the right ones. Without them, you will experience hip pain, knee pain, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and other pain that comes with running in the wrong shoes.
Neutral shoes are for runners with a higher arch, efficient foot biomechanics (including mild supinating, or when your ankle rolls outward), and generally a lighter body frame. These shoes tend to be lighter models and can be used for racing. They do not “stabilize” the foot and arch when you hit the ground.
If you do want something to stabilize your feet when you hit the ground, you will need stability shoes. These have some form of structure to support the foot, ankle, and arch to prevent pronation or overpronation (when the ankle rolls inward). Overpronation can increase the chances of certain running injuries, so check with an expert to see how you run and help predict whether you need a stability shoe. If you do, check out the Asics Gel Kayano.
Motion control shoes are for those who need a maximum amount of cushioning and are designed for heavier runners and those who need ankle stabilization. While these shoes may be more expensive, they do keep your feet from becoming hypermobile when you hit the ground.
Minimalist running shoes have been trending the last few years, which are lower-profile and lightweight. They are designed to enhance your running form, strengthen the muscles of your lower legs and feet, and reduce injuries because of the lower impact force with each stride.
A good place to start are shoes that fall into the “neutral/cushioning” category, and not the extreme minimalist shoes. Make sure the shoes have a heel to toe offset of 8-12mm as this ensures a relatively firm platform to prevent injuries and improve biomechanics for more efficient running.
Keep in mind that not all shoes are not for everyone, so be sure to consult with your local specialty store or check out our running shoe finder. A minimalist shoe is not a “goal” to work towards; instead, if you find yourself constantly injured you should think about trying a minimalist shoe.
When to Replace Your Shoes
A good pair of running shoes will last 300 to 500 miles before they need to be replaced. Keep two or more pairs of shoes in your rotation to extend the life of the shoes. This is because of daily drying, bacteria accumulation, outsole breakdown, etc.
Another good idea is to alternate between brands/models of shoes you wear so your body becomes accustomed to different stressors when you begin to run.
Important note: As with training, ALWAYS avoid extremes in footwear. Do not decide to go with a pair of Weirdo Bare-Toes just because they are popular or a pair of Super Clunker Pain-Pods just because they are expensive. Use common sense when it comes to footwear and find what works best for you.
You don’t need to pay a lot of money for fancy gear, hydration systems, heart rate monitors, iPhone apps, etc. to enjoy running or get into better shape.
While these may seem nice, they should be secondary when it comes to the thrill of running. Sometimes people lose sight of running because of the number of accessories and consumerist clutter that makes its way into the sport. These are not necessary tools to get faster, fitter, or drop extra points.
Gear you will need includes the right running apparel. Stay away from cotton clothing and socks because when cotton gets when it tends to stay wet. Look for clothing and socks that wick away moisture. Some of these include: CoolMax, Thinsulate, DryFit, Thermax, silk, or polypropylene. These clothes will wick moisture away from you during hot weather and keep you warm during cold weather runs. Furthermore, they prevent chafing to help keep you comfortable.
A good supportive sports bra is a must have. Before finding the perfect bra, you may need to try on several kinds. While trying them on, jump up and down. Everything should stay in place and be comfortable when you do this. In addition, if your old sports bras are stretched out it is time to buy some new ones.
If you are running in unfamiliar places, a GPS watch may be helpful. These are much more expensive than fitness trackers, so that is something to keep in mind. If you want to track your run, calories, steps, etc. then a fitness tracker is a good option.
Gear for Advanced (Beginning) Runners
- High-Density Foam Roller (such as Trigger Point Therapy’s “The Grid”) — this is a good tool to massage tight muscle groups like quads, IT bands, calves, and hamstrings.
- Reasonably Priced GPS Sports Watch — great for travel or measuring your favorite routes, a GPS can be useful as volume and intensity of training increases. Check out our Running GPS Watch recommendations.
- Electric Shoe Dryer (such as Peets, Inc) — a shoe dryer prevents odor-causing bacteria and keeps shoes from breaking down prematurely.
- Gym Membership at a Facility You Enjoy — some days the weather won’t allow you to run outdoors or for safety reasons you want to add strength training to your running program, so a gym membership can be very useful. Furthermore, it is helpful to be around like-minded people when training for your next big race.
Eating and running
Are you afraid to eat before you run because of stomach cramps? Or are you unsure what to eat and how long to eat before you run? You are not alone, many beginners have these same questions.
The best thing to do is eat a light meal about an hour and a half to two hours before a run. If a light meal is not possible, eat a small snack about 30 minutes before you run.
Eating the right food before you run is important because if you eat the wrong food, you will be looking for a bathroom soon after the start of your run. The best option is a light meal that is high in carbs, low in fat, fiber, and protein.
Some healthy options include:
- Turkey and cheese on whole wheat bread
- Bagel with peanut butter
- An energy bar and a banana
- Oatmeal with berries
If you need a snack 30 minutes before your run, try one of these:
- Some goldfish crackers
- Low-fat frozen yogurt
- Energy bar
- Apple with cheese
If you wake up early in the morning and don’t have time to eat, or your stomach can’t handle it, remember to drink enough water during your workout. Remember that not eating before you run will make you fatigue sooner because your body will run out of energy, so that is something to keep in mind.
Your First Run
Now that you have all the information and gear, it is time to go on your first run.
What to Take on Your Run
You will want water before, during, and/or after your run. The general rule is to drink 5 to 12 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during your run. So if you head out for 20 minutes, you might leave your water in the car and drink it when you get back.
If you have a handy water bottle carrier or a camelback, then it can be easier to drink while on your run.
If you run more than an hour, you will want to think about adding a sports drink instead of water. Why? Sports drinks contain carbohydrates to help you absorb fluid more quickly. Furthermore, carbs also give you fuel while electrolytes keep nausea, cramps, and hyponatremia away.
Think about the weather before you head out. Is it raining? Do you need a rain jacket? Is it sunny? Don’t forget sunscreen if you are running in warmer weather. Purchase sweat-proof and waterproof sunscreen so you can stay protected during your run.
It is a good idea to bring your cell phone on the run in case of emergencies, listening to music, or tracking your time. There are many apps available to track your mileage or pump you up with running music. If you don’t want to carry it, consider an armband to put your phone in. Also add your ID, key, and a little bit of cash just in case.
What time of the day are you running? If you are running in the early mornings or around dusk, think about wearing or bringing a reflective vest. The more visible you are the less likely you are to get hit by a car.
Warm-ups and Cool Downs
A warm-up is important before you head out because it helps loosen up your joints, bones, and muscles. Another benefit of a warm-up is it gradually brings your heart rate up so you can get into the rhythm of running easier.
Here are some ideas to get started:
- The easiest way to warm-up is to walk for three to five minutes. It gets your body ready for exercise and out of sitting mode.
- Strides are another simple warm-up. Do five to six 100-meter strides to push blood to your muscles and help your body transition into running mode.
- Butt kicks can be done while jogging. Start out with 10 on each side. As you get better, and they become easier, you can add high knees into the rotation. Eventually, you can do five butt kicks then five high knee steps. This combination stretches the quads and glutes.
- Skipping is a fun and simple warm up. Skip for 25 to 50 meters while increasing the height of range of each skip.
A cool down keeps the blood flowing so the blood doesn’t suddenly stop flowing through your body. If the latter happens, you might get light-headed because of the drop in heart rate and blood pressure. A good cool down also helps work lactic acid out of your muscles to reduce the soreness you feel the next day.
Some ideas for a cool down include:
- After running, slowly jog or walk slowly for about five to 10 minutes. This will help your heart rate come down and your breathing to return to normal.
- Drink water or a sports drink during your cool down to rehydrate.
- A good stretch is the quad stretch. Stand straight and lift your foot toward your butt then grab and hold your foot. Hold for about 15 to 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.
- The calf stretch is done on stairs or an exercise step. Put the ball of your foot on the edge of the step and drop your heel to the ground. Bend the knee of the opposite leg. You should feel the stretch in the leg that has the dropped heel. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
First Time Out Routine
Running plans can be individualized to your need. The running community is very supportive, check your area for groups, online groups, apps that help you get started, running coach can help you get started, certified coaches help you succeed in running. That said, there are some basic plans to help you get started.
One of the most popular is the walk to run method. This should be done three to four times a week, or every other day. Make sure to do your warm-ups and cool downs as well.
- Run 2 minutes — walk 3 minutes
- Repeat 7 times for a total of 28 minutes
- Run 3 minutes — walk 1 minute
- Repeat 7 times for a total of 28 minutes
- Run 4 minutes — walk 1 minute
- Repeat 6 times for a total of 30 minutes
- Run 5 minutes — walk 30 seconds
- Repeat 6 times for a total of 33 minutes
- Add 3 to 5 minutes to workout time and decrease walking every one to two weeks until you reach your goal
The following is a ten-week plan to run a 5k. There are other training plans on the site to check out as well.
Week 1 and 2
- Walk 5 minutes — jog/run (slowly) 20 minutes — walk 5 minutes
- Total of 30 minutes
Week 3 and 4
- Walk 5 minutes — jog/run (slowly) 26 minutes — walk 5 minutes
- Total of 36 minutes
Week 5 and 6
- Walk 5 minutes — jog/run (easy pace) 30 minutes — walk 5 minutes
Total 40 minutes
Week 7 and 8
- Walk 5 minutes — jog/run (easy pace) 36 minutes — walk 5 minutes
- Total 46 minutes
Week 9 and 10
- Walk 5 minutes — jog/run 40 minutes — walk 5 minutes
- Total 50 minutes
The Start to run program, developed exclusively for Running Shoes Guru, eases runners into training so you can run a marathon strong, injury-free, and ready to go.
While you are getting started running, it is a good idea to think about the basics, such as form and breathing. Starting out with good habits will help your success in the future.
Running with proper form is a good thing to think about as a beginner. This way, you start out with good habits and decrease the chance of injury.
When you start out running, run tall, look straight ahead, and open up your shoulders. Think about your core, it should be strong and stable while you are running.
Your arms will set the rhythm and should be set at 90 degrees or less, relaxed, and they should reflexively come forward. The knuckles of your hand should be close to your sternum and the foot lands under your hand. Make sure to keep your hands relaxed and your torso slightly forward, like you are leaning into the run.
The knees should be in line with the middle of your feet and the full foot should contact the ground with each step.
Breathing is an important part of your form because it plays a key role in a successful run. Proper breathing can help keep you comfortable, injury free, and reduces stress on your body.
Breathing properly helps you get enough oxygen to your muscles during your run. It is necessary to breathe through your mouth. If you want to breathe through your nose as well, that is okay as long as you are breathing primarily through your mouth.
The type of breathing you should be doing is “belly breathing,” or breathing from your diaphragm.
Keep an eye on your foot strikes because exhaling on the same foot can get you into rhythmic breathing, which reduces overall stress on your body as you run.
Run at a conversational pace, which means you should be able to speak in full sentences.
Make Some Goals
Congrats on finishing your first run! Now what are you going to do? What goals do you have in mind? Your running goals (or any goals in life) should be SMART — which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related.
A few common beginning runner goals include:
- Running non-stop
- A specific distance
- Run a personal best
- Enter a run for charity
- Run regularly
Run a Marathon
Running a marathon is a great goal and there are many training programs to help you achieve this goal. Start with a simple marathon such as a 5k or a 10k. If you are unsure of running a straight race, check out fun marathons.
Some of these include The Color Run, April Fool’s Day Twinkie Run, Hot Chocolate 5k/15k, A Christmas Story Run, Rock ‘n’ Roll Series, runDisney, and The Electric Run.
Running for Weight Loss
Running for weight loss is a good goal as long as you make it attainable and realistic. Running is one of the most effective ways to lose weight, but you also need to make diet changes as well.
The healthy weight loss amount is one to two pounds per week. Anything more than this can be unhealthy, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Try to stay away from low-quality foods such as: refined grains, processed meats, fried foods, and sweets.
Everyone loses weight in different amounts, so don’t worry if you do not see changes right away. Stay on track and stick to your goals.
Run for the Fun of It
If you don’t have specific goals in mind, run for the fun of it. There are running communities both on and offline to connect with. Many of these can be done through apps on your phone or searching for local runners communities. This is a great way to meet people and genuinely have fun running.
Common Mistakes to Watch Out For
We all make mistakes, it’s okay. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for as you start your running journey.
Are you throwing on an old pair of shoes that you found buried in the back of your closet? This is a bad idea. Check out our shoe buying guide or head to a specialty store when experts can evaluate your feet so you can purchase the right shoes for you.
Running in the wrong shoes can cause blisters, irritation, injuries, and be extremely uncomfortable. Keep in mind that running shoes last 300 to 350 miles, so they will need to be replaced once you feel the cushioning starting to wear out.
Running Too Much Right Away
Do you want to head out and meet your goals right away? This is not realistic, and it can also be detrimental to your health. Running too much too soon can cause injuries such as runner’s knee, shin splints, or IT band syndrome. In addition, you may get burned out and not want to run anymore.
While running, listen to your body as this will let you know if you are pushing yourself too hard. Notice if you have aches and pains after a run, or even a few days after your run. If they don’t go away or get worse, take some time off and rest. Furthermore, don’t ignore rest days as they are important to your health.
Bad form can impact your breathing, cause pain, and make you more tired during your run.
If you swing your arms side-to-side, you may cause tension in your shoulders and neck which will get uncomfortable very quickly.
Overstriding is another case of bad form. Overstriding can cause injuries and waste precious energy. Make sure to land on your midsole and keep your stride light and quick.
Not Eating or Drinking Enough
Your body needs energy and fluids to properly handle runs. Without these, you may experience dehydration or be prone to more injuries. Before you head out, drink 16 to 24 ounces of water or sports drink.
If you are still thirsty before you start, drink 4 to 6 more ounces. Eat a light snack or meal about an hour and a half to two hours before your run. Make sure the meal is high in carbs, low in fiber, fat, and protein.
Clothing — Too Much or Too Little
The wrong type of clothing can leave you too hot, too cold, or with a lot of chafing. Make sure you wear technical fabrics and stay away from cotton. You want your body to stay cool and dry in all types of weather.
In cold weather, add 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit to the outdoor temperature when determining what you should wear. This is how much you will warm up during your run.
Running is a fun and simple hobby that you can do anywhere you go. Starting to run takes a little preparation by purchasing the right running shoes, getting the right gear, and heading out for a run. Remember to keep an eye on your form and practice proper breathing techniques. Within time, these will become second nature to you.
Post written by Leo Babauta.
Are you just starting out as a runner, or is it something you’d like to do? From experience, I know that a beginner runner has a million questions and never enough answers. I won’t be able to answer every question here, but this should be a good starting point for anyone who wants to hit the roads.
Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer, coach or running expert. I consider myself an intermediate runner (on the lower levels of intermediate), having spent all last year running, doing a marathon, some half marathons, 20Ks, 10Ks and 5Ks. But what I have to share is what I’ve learned along the way. Also, see a doctor before starting a new running program — I don’t want to be responsible for any heart attacks!
Most Important Advice
Many people, when the begin running, shoot for the stars. I was one of those. Let me tell you right now: hold yourself back, and start out slowly. Progress gradually. It takes some patience, but this is the best advice I can give you, and I know that it’s important because of experience.
It’s best to start out very easy, at a slow jog, and focus not on intensity but on how long you’re on the road. Start out with a small amount of time — 10 minutes or 20 minutes, depending on where you are — and run or walk/run comfortably the entire time. Do this for the entire first week, and even two weeks if you can stand it. Gradually increase your time until you can run 30 minutes.
From there, you can stay at 30 minutes or increase the amount of time you run gradually, every two weeks. But do not overdo it in the beginning!
Walk and Run Plan
If you are a true beginner, and cannot run for 10 minutes, you should start out with a walk/run plan. Here’s a good one to start with (do each one three times a week):
- Week 1: Walk for 10 minutes. Jog slowly for 1 minute, and then walk for 1 minute. Repeat these 1/1 intervals for 10 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.
- Week 2: Walk for 10 minutes. Jog slowly for 2 minutes, and then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these 2/2 intervals for 10 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.
- Week 3: Walk for 10 minutes. Jog slowly for 3 minutes, and then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these 3/2 intervals for 15 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.
- Week 4: Walk for 10 minutes. Jog slowly for 5 minutes, and then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these 5/2 intervals for 20 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.
You get the picture. The idea is to gradually increase your running time until you can do 10 minutes straight. Then increase the 10 minutes to 12, and so on, each week, until you can eventually run for 30 minutes. Now you’re a runner!
In the beginning, you’ll have a lot of questions and want to share your progress with others. An online forum is perfect for that. Join a forum or two, read as much as you can, introduce yourself, post your questions, post your weekly progress, and gain from the experience of others.
A few good forums to start with:
- Cool Running forums
- Runner’s World forums
- About.com runner’s forums
Make it a habit
If you struggle with making running a regular habit, try doing it every single day at the same time. Habits are easiest to form if you do them consistently. This may sound contradictory to some of the advice above about starting slowly, but the key is to go very easy in the beginning — nothing that will stress your body out or make you sore the next day. Also, instead of running every day, you could swim or bike or do strength training, so that your running muscles are given a rest while you continue to form your exercise habit. See How to Make Exercise a Daily Habit for more.
Most important advice: just lace up your shoes, and get out the door. After that, it’s cake.
The importance of rest
Some runners try to go hard every single day. They are ignoring the truth about muscles — your muscles grow by giving them stress, and allowing them to rest after the stress so that they can grow. If you run hard every day, you will just continually break your muscles down, and improvement will be slow and difficult — and it could lead to burnout or injury.
It’s best to rest the day after a tough run, to allow your body to recover. Does this mean you should rest completely, with no running or exercise at all? Not necessarily. The important thing is that you don’t run hard two days in a row. But you can do a very easy, short run (or other type of easy exercise) in between harder runs and still allow your muscles to recover.
One of the most motivating things in running is an upcoming race. I suggest you sign up for a 5K after a month or two of running, even if you don’t think you’re ready. Why? It will motivate you to keep running, so that you’re prepared to do the 5K.
Now, some people have a nervousness about signing up for a running race, because the other runners are so much better than them. Relax. There are plenty of very good runners in every race, but there are also many beginners. Don’t worry about the other runners. There’s usually so many people at a 5K that you won’t be noticed. And don’t be afraid to walk or run/walk. Many, many other people do. Just run your own race, and most importantly, have fun! It’s a blast.
On manners: do not start out a race in the front, unless you think you can win it. Slower runners should start in the back, or they get in everyone’s way. Also, stay to the right, so people can pass you. Try to be courteous, and not push or cut someone off. Watch out when you spit — you might hit someone behind you. Same thing with snotrockets. And when you beat that little 11-year-old girl at the finish line, it’s best not to point at her and yell “Loser!” repeatedly. Trust me. I speak from experience.
Once you do your first 5K, you’ll be hooked. That’s a warning.
So what do you need to run? Well, running shorts, shirt and shoes, basically. Women will need a sports bra (get a good one, trust me). Should you go out and buy the best running clothes and shoes possible, even before your first run? No, it’s not really necessary. You can get started running with any pair of comfortable sneakers and any shorts and T-shirt.
But once you really get into it, you’ll want to buy some real running clothes — breathable fibers, with some comfortable underwear built in (not cotton!) so you don’t chafe. A running shirt is also good. If you live in cold weather, you’ll need some breathable clothes to put over your shorts and shirt. I live in the tropics, so I can’t advise you here.
Most important: good running shoes. This is the most important running equipment, because it can not only make running more comfortable, but also prevent injury. My advice is to go to an actual running store, where there will be knowledgeable people who can watch you run and tell you what kind of shoe you need (overpronator, supinator, neutral, etc.). If they don’t watch you run, they don’t know what they’re doing. Get out and find a better store. Or do your own research online and learn all about it.
Other things that you might consider, but that aren’t completely necessary:
- Reflectors and flashing lights if you run when it’s still dark.
- Body glide, or Vaseline, applied in the crotch, underarms, and anywhere you might chafe — really only important for longer runs.
- Heart Rate Monitor: Best ones are by Polar. You can get fancy ones, with GPS built in, or just a simple one that tells you your heart rate. This is useful if you do HR training, which is a way of optimizing your training. Probably not necessary for beginners.
- Mp3 player: Also not necessary, but pretty cool and can add some inspiration to your running. However, if you run on the road, headphones can be dangerous, as you might not hear traffic coming your way.
- Fuel belt or Camelback: A way to keep yourself hydrated while you run. Not necessary for short runs. Also, for longer runs (60 mins or more), I just place water bottles along my route.
I can’t advise you here, as I’m not a trainer. But most of the time, you don’t have to worry about this. Just try not to fall down. One thing to watch out for is how tense your upper body is — try to relax your shoulders, relax your hands, relax everything but the muscles needed to propel your body forward. The reason is that you may be using extra energy (and tire yourself out faster) if you’re running with your fists clenched, for example.
Later, after you get past the beginning stage, you can worry about stride length or turnover rate. But for now, just worry about getting out there.
I also can’t advise you on injuries. Unless you have sharp pains, or pain in the joints, you should be able to run through minor aches. But if you have anything sharp, or your joints feel injured, stop running. You could make it worse.
The runner’s best friend is ice, and rest. In fact, it’s good to ice your muscles and joints down after every run, if you can. It helps with the healing process. Aspirin or Ibuprofen are also good tools, also to help stop inflammation.
Going beyond beginner
Once you’ve gotten a few 5Ks under your belt, and have been running for a few months, you’ll want to start a real training plan and progress to the next level. Training plans are available online for free (see some of the sites below).
Good articles and sites
- Runner’s World
- Cool Running
- About.com Running
- Beginning Runner
- Beginner’s Guide to Running
- 100 Beginning Runner Tips