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Home arrow Fitness arrow Running arrow How to Start Running: 10+ Must-Know Tips for Beginner Runners

How to Start Running: 10+ Must-Know Tips for Beginner Runners

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: July 10, 2023
10 min read 733 Views 0 Comments
clock 10 eye 733 comments 0

Have you decided to take up running? Before you strap on your running shoes, follow these foolproof tips to get the most out of your beginner’s experience.

how to start running

It’s never too late to create a new running routine.

Running is a great way to stay in shape, build strong bones and muscles, and improve cardiovascular fitness. It can lift your mood, support healthy aging, and build self-confidence. You can meet new people and join a community of runners to share the experience.

As a newbie, getting out for your first run can feel intimidating. On the other hand, you might think it’s as simple as putting on your running shoes and seeing what happens. 

But before you do, read this beginner’s guide to uncomplicate things and ensure you achieve that euphoric runner’s high!

How to Start Running as a Complete Beginner

It’s tempting to jump straight into running, but preparation can help you better enjoy the experience and mitigate health risks. You can do a few things to prepare yourself as a complete beginner. The appropriate attire, the run-walk method, and easy runs are essential starting points.

Use the following few tips as a checklist to optimize your running journey before it begins.

#1 Check with your doctor

Running is a high-impact activity that demands a lot from your mind and body. If you’re new to exercise, visiting your doctor for guidance is important. They can assess your current health to determine if running is an appropriate physical activity for you or whether you should begin with something less demanding.

Doctors often recommend some form of exercise, but depending on your needs, some activities are better than others. For example, they may recommend brisk walking as a safer, more approachable introduction to moving your body. You can then build yourself up toward a new running program.

#2 Purchase appropriate running gear

The great thing about running is that it requires no fancy equipment. You can hit the road anywhere, anytime, free from any baggage. However, what you wear to run matters. The correct attire keeps you cool, comfortable, and able to run for longer. 

More importantly, a good pair of running shoes can save you from running injuries. These are likely your biggest investment for running.

Appropriate running clothes are weather-dependent and typically include pants, tights, shorts, vests, and jackets. As you have yet to determine if you will enjoy the sport, there’s no need to invest in expensive designer gear.

#3 Start with the run-walk method

Although possible, most beginner runners will struggle to run continuously. Instead of pushing yourself to extreme lengths, try the run-walk method popularized by American Olympian Jeff Galloway.

It involves alternating between run-walk intervals, as these short walk breaks make running long distances more manageable. They also aid injury prevention, build endurance, and stop you from tiring out so you can stay motivated. According to a study in 2016, the strategy allows non-elite runners to reach similar finish times with less muscular discomfort.

A beginner’s run-walk ratio might look like this: Run for 10–30 seconds, walk for 1–2 minutes, then repeat for the duration of your session.

#4 Focus on time rather than distance

As a new runner, it’s better to prioritize time over distance. You need to build yourself up to long-distance runs slowly, and you can do this by securing a strong endurance base by running for shorter periods.

For example, try getting comfortable running continuously for one minute and gradually increase your timings as your aerobic fitness strengthens and your ability to run for longer grows. In time, you will be able to run longer distances more easily and faster with less discomfort.

#5 Don’t stress about pace and effort

Running is physically and mentally challenging and can be even more so if you’re new or out of shape. Be kind to yourself and try not to stress about your pace and effort level. Your focus should be on easy runs that allow you to move at a comfortable, conversational pace – where you are breathing heavily but still able to converse.

An easy run involves a low-intensity effort for a short duration. These runs might seem hard at first, but eventually, they will get better. It’s essential to monitor your heart rate, as this allows you to pay attention to your effort expenditure and the level of intensity. 

#6 Stay hydrated and fuel yourself

Every runner needs adequate hydration because you lose water through sweating. At the same time, you lose essential electrolytes that keep your body functioning. A chilled drink, such as water or a sports drink, will replenish electrolytes and cool your body temperature.

Food is fuel for runners, making nutritious eating a requisite for a successful run. Carbs, protein, and healthy fats will support your running performance and give you the energy to hit your goals. 

Depending on your running schedule, you should plan appropriate meals to nourish your body, from breakfast to dinner the night before a run. If your diet isn’t meeting your nutritional needs, consider taking running supplements designed purposefully for runners’ bodies.

How to Become a Runner: Your Beginner’s Running Guide

With everything in place, you can start your journey to becoming a runner. 

The following tips comprise things that even apply to the most experienced runners. Once you conquer the basics, you can repeatedly return to these strategies to improve your ability, increase your speed, and become a more efficient runner.

Here is your beginner’s guide.

#1 Learn about essential running workouts

Becoming a confident runner takes more than getting outside and moving. To get to grips with the activity, you must practice various running types to target and sharpen all aspects of your running, including aerobic capacity, endurance, strength, speed, and power. 

For example, long runs build endurance, progression runs train the aerobic and anaerobic systems, and recovery runs are necessary when your body is in need of a reset.

Prioritize easy runs initially, at least for the first few weeks. These base runs will continue to make up your weekly running schedule, but rather than doing the same thing every day, you can implement different workouts to become an all-around better runner. 

Outside of running, you can use strength training to boost your capabilities. Strengthening your body, primarily the core and lower body muscles, helps you cope better with running stress. It can decrease overuse injuries, increase endurance, and improve speed.

#2 Choose a training plan

A training plan brings structure to your running journey. It helps you determine how often to run, supporting the balance between training and resting while encouraging progression. 

You can find multiple plans online that allow you to get creative with your routine, but it’s best to keep things simple as a newbie. 

A reasonable beginner running plan should include at least three days of training per week, focusing on run/walk intervals and running at an easy pace. This allows you to master the basics before progressing to more challenging routines.

The 5K race is the perfect first race for beginners to put themselves to the test. It’s a friendly, long-distance road run covering a distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). It sounds tough, but you can train for a 5K in as little as 8 weeks with a solid 3-day-a-week running plan.

#3 Always warm up and cool down

Warming up and cooling down is necessary for runners, as preparedness influences performance. It regulates body temperature, increases blood flow, lowers injury risk, increases flexibility, and prepares the mind.

Dynamic stretching is a good way to warm up pre-run. Unlike static stretching, where you stretch a muscle and hold the position for around 30 seconds, dynamic stretches involve active movements. It can be particularly beneficial for preventing hamstring muscle injuries.

You can complete your routine with static stretches to cool down. Studies show both forms of stretching can support recreational runners

#4 Work on your running form

Proper running form means aligning your body to support good posture. It involves stacking your lower and upper body in a straight line, with each system falling on a neutral tilt. However, your running form can have some unique traits if it works well for you.

If your form is off, it can influence everything from lung capacity to speed and cause problems like neck and shoulder pain. Honing your technique helps you move faster and more efficiently with less discomfort, enhancing performance and making every run more enjoyable.

#5 Build endurance, then speed

Endurance is your body’s physical ability to sustain a workout for a prolonged period. In running, better endurance means you can run for longer without feeling tired. It takes time to build, but those long routes you once found unbearable will eventually become reasonable.

The best strategies for endurance building are to:

  • Keep a consistent routine
  • Increase your distance gradually
  • Stretch properly before and after a run
  • Maintain hydration
  • Incorporate different running exercises into your routine

You can move on to speed work after training consistently for around 4–6 weeks. The bonus of building an endurance base first is that your speed will naturally improve. Some top tips for building speed include:

  • Start interval training
  • Add speed workouts, like sprints and hill runs
  • Correct your running form

#6 Pick a race

Everybody’s running goals are different. And while you might have no interest in competing, running races can be an excellent way to maintain motivation. Instead of training aimlessly, you can sign up for a running event to give yourself something to work towards. 

You can join any race as a beginner, but it’s crucial to create a running schedule that gives you plenty of time to prepare for race day. Remember, you don’t have to run a half marathon. You can opt for fun runs – friendly races involving road or cross-country running.

#7 Create a motivation system that works for you

Motivation is a recurring problem for many runners. Until you develop a running habit that works for you, it can be difficult just getting out the door. Fortunately, everyone can start running and stick to it with a solid motivation system in place, even those who hate running

Many things can help keep your motivation levels up. Switching up your training schedule and setting goals, such as signing up for a half marathon, can form your motivation system. You can also try running apps for tracking tools, coaching, and video instructions.

Joining a local road runners club is another motivation booster, as you can build relationships with other runners and share the experience. Research shows that co-running with somebody you can compare yourself to can influence motivation and running frequency.  

How to Get Back Into Running After a Break

It’s not unusual to take a break from exercise. Sometimes it is well-needed, especially if your workout no longer brings you joy. You might consciously decide to take a break, or factors out of your control might force a pause.  

A few reasons why you might put your running regimen on hold include:

  • Suffering an injury
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Illness/poor physical and mental health
  • Pregnancy 
  • Life events, such as giving birth, raising kids, or changing careers
  • Lack of time/too many other commitments 
  • Holidays and traveling 
  • Loss of motivation 

It’s easy to lose motivation after a running break, but anybody can get back into it with the right strategy. You can handle your return to the road in the same way as new runners. That means making a running plan and starting slow with easy runs to rebuild your fitness. 

Give yourself time, and don’t expect to have your previous running ability. Even short breaks from running can impact your performance. 

FAQs

How do I start running if I am fat?

The best tip for running when overweight is to start slowly. Focus your attention on low to moderate-intensity runs and build up gradually as your fitness level improves. Remain patient, and remember to check in with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. 

How many hours should a beginner run?

Most runners begin with 20–30-minute sessions of run-walk intervals 3–4 days a week, scheduling rest days or cross-training in between. Attempting to run for long durations as a beginner can increase injury risk and diminish your motivation to continue.

Can I start running in my 60s?

You can begin your running journey at any age, including in your 60s. Running is a great exercise habit for men and women in this age category as it helps you stay fit, strong, and healthy. The trick is to start slow before raising the frequency and intensity of your runs.

Can a beginner run every day?

New runners should not attempt to run every day because it puts too much stress on the body and increases the risk of injury. The bones, muscles, and joints need time to adjust before you can become a better runner. Stick to 3–4 days of training per week.

A Word From a Running Coach

After checking in with your doctor, gathering the right running gear, and defining your goals and priorities, you can get started with a consistent running routine. Taking the appropriate actions early on will help set you up for a smoother beginner’s running experience.

Remember quality over quantity and schedule just 3–4 effective sessions per week, ensuring you’re continuously improving. Becoming a good runner doesn’t have to consume your life. You can cross-train, strength train, and rest in between your run days.

Conclusion

Creating a new running habit has countless benefits, from weight loss and heart health to better mental wellness. It can feel impossible at first and is certainly more challenging than other forms of exercise. However, it is entirely doable with the proper practices in place. 

Running takes commitment, patience, and willingness to learn and improve. With the right attitude from the start, you can mold yourself into a confident and efficient runner at your own pace. Put on your running shoes and get moving today!

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
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Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: July 10, 2023
10 min read 733 Views 0 Comments
0 Comments

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