How to Become a Good Runner for Beginners
Running is one of the simplest yet most beneficial forms of exercise. It requires little equipment, can be done anywhere, and has immense physical and mental health benefits. From improving heart health to relieving stress, running is an excellent way to get in shape and feel better. This comprehensive guide covers everything a beginner runner needs to know, from the benefits of running to training plans, technique, gear, nutrition, motivation, and more. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or returning to running after some time off, use this guide to start running safely and successfully.
What is Running?
Running is a cardiovascular exercise that involves moving your body forward at a pace faster than walking. It can range from a light jog to an all-out sprint. Unlike walking, running involves having both feet off the ground for a split second between strides. Running strengthens the muscles and improves cardiovascular fitness.
Why Should You Start Running?
Here are some of the many benefits of making running a regular part of your exercise routine:
Improves Heart Health
Running helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and resting heart rate. It increases blood flow and oxygen delivery throughout the body. Regular running reduces the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Helps Manage Weight
Running burns calories, making it excellent for weight loss and maintenance. A 155-pound person burns around 100 calories per mile run. The more you run, the more calories you’ll burn.
Strengthens Muscles and Bones
The impact of running forces the muscles, particularly in the legs and feet, to work against resistance, making them stronger. It also helps build bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Reduces Stress and Improves Mood
Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins in the brain that lift your mood. Running can help manage anxiety, relieve tension, and boost self-esteem.
Increases Energy Levels
Cardiovascular exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, leaving you feeling energized. Regular running can help battle fatigue and sluggishness.
Moderate exercise is linked to a stronger immune system, which helps fight off viruses and diseases. Running may help you get sick less often.
Studies showrunners tend to live longer than non-runners, with a reduced risk of premature death. Running helps fend off chronic diseases to boost longevity.
Provides Alone Time
For many runners, their workout time doubles as therapeutic “me time” to clear the mind. The alone time running affords can be great for mental health.
Running is an affordable exercise. Once you purchase a good pair of running shoes, the activity itself costs nothing. No gym membership or equipment is required!
Gets You Outdoors
Running outside provides an opportunity to get fresh air and enjoy nature. Exercising in the great outdoors has added mood benefits over indoor training.
Clears Your Head
The combination of rhythmic movement and fresh air when running helps clear your mind, relieve stress, and boost creativity. Many runners get their best ideas during a run.
Who Can Run?
The great thing about running is that almost anyone can do it. You do not need special skills. Running is accessible at all fitness levels and ages. From hardcore competitors to casual joggers, people of all ages, body types, and abilities run for health and enjoyment. Even those with medical conditions or physical limitations can usually run with any needed modifications. Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Provided you have medical clearance, here are some general running guidelines based on age and fitness level:
Children can start running short distances from about 6 years old once they have adequate endurance and motor skill coordination. Teens can gradually build running mileage. Running is safe for most healthy adults, though intensity and distance may need to be adjusted from younger years. Older adults can still reap the heart health and weight management benefits of running by sticking to lower mileage and intensity. Focus on stretching before and after to prevent injury.
- Fitness Level
Beginners should start slowly with a mix of running and walking over short distances to allow the body to adapt. Avoid high mileage or speed until the body is conditioned. Previously active runners coming back after an extended break need to lower mileage at first to prevent overuse injuries. Advanced runners and frequent marathoners can continue running higher weekly mileage and pace. Listen to your body and adjust your training if you feel pain or excessive fatigue.
- Body Type
Running is a high-impact activity, so being at a healthy weight reduces stress on the joints. Those who are overweight may choose lower mileage and intensity at first and focus on dietary changes to reach fitness goals. Underweight individuals may need to slowly increase calorie intake to fuel runs. A certified running coach can help customize your training and nutrition for your needs. With time and training, people of all body compositions can become successful runners.
Getting Started with Running
If you’ve decided to take up running, congratulations on making a healthy choice for your mind and body! Here’s how to start out on the right foot as a beginner runner.
Set Goals It helps to have a goal in mind to stay motivated. Goals can revolve around distance, time, frequency, an upcoming race, or a fitness milestone. Common beginner running goals include:
- Completing a 5K (3.1 mile) run
- Running 3 times per week
- Running for 30 consecutive minutes
- Finishing a 10K (6.2 mile) race
Choose realistic goals based on your current fitness. Break a big goal down into smaller milestones. For example, complete a mile without walking before aiming for a 5K.
Get Proper Running Gear Having the right gear will keep you comfortable and injury-free. Essential running apparel includes:
- Running shoes – The most critical piece of gear. Visit a specialty running store to find the right shoes for your foot type, gait, and terrain. Replace shoes every 300-500 miles.
- Socks – Synthetic, moisture-wicking running socks prevent blisters.
- Shorts/leggings – Light, breathable fabrics allow sweat to evaporate.
- Shirts – Opt for technical fabrics instead of cotton, which stays wet.
- Supportive sports bra – Minimizes bounce and discomfort for female runners.
- Reflective gear – For increased visibility in low light.
- Cold weather gear – Hats, gloves, and layers for cooler weather.
You don’t need much else to start! Optional extras include sunglasses, hats, fitness trackers, headlamps, and waist packs to hold phones, keys, and ID.
Find The Best Running Spots Finding safe, convenient, and scenic routes will make your runs more pleasant. Here are some ideal places to run:
- Parks, trails, and tracks – Softer surfaces than roads have less impact on joints. Tracks allow accurate distance.
- Neighborhood streets – Pavement is harder than dirt but avoids vehicular traffic.
- Treadmills – For indoor running. Easier on joints and consistent conditions.
- Open country roads – A mix of pavement and dirt with pretty rural scenery.
Look for flat routes as a beginner. Check for hazards like potholes or poison ivy on trails. Find well-lit areas or run during the day if solo. Consider loops starting from your home so you end where you began. Use apps like Strava or MapMyRun to plot running routes.
Avoid Beginner Mistakes It helps to know common beginner pitfalls. Watch out for:
- Attempting too much mileage or speed too soon. Slowly build up distance.
- Focusing on pace over proper form. Speed will improve naturally with practice.
- Wearing regular sneakers instead of running shoes. Proper shoes prevent injury.
- Not varying routes enough. Change it up to prevent boredom.
- Skipping rest and recovery days. Schedule off days between runs.
- Comparing yourself to other runners. Focus on your own progress.
Patience and consistency are key. Stick to your plan and be proud of all the progress made. The joy and benefits of running will come with time.
Proper Running Form and Technique
Proper running form and technique help you run efficiently, avoid injury, and feel your best. Follow these form tips for beginner runners.
Master Proper Running Form
Good running form comes naturally for some but takes practice for others. Be patient and focus on technique. Key elements include:
Head alignment – Look straight ahead, not down. Keep your chin parallel to the ground. Helps alignment.
Relaxed shoulders – Dropped down, not tensed up. No hunching.
Upright posture – Lean slightly forward from ankles to hips. Avoid bending at the waist.
Arm swing – Bend elbows 90 degrees. Swing arms back and forth from shoulders.
Foot strike – Land on mid-to-forefoot. A heel strike can cause impact injuries.
Cadence – Take quicker, shorter strides instead of overstriding. Aim for 170-190 steps per minute.
Soft knees – Maintain a slight bend in the knees to absorb impact. Don’t lock your knees.
Practice good form during every run. Ask a coach or running partner to observe your form and provide feedback. Video yourself running to spot anything that needs correcting.
Avoid Common Running Form Mistakes
When starting out, it’s normal for some inefficient habits to creep into your running form. Watch out for:
- Overstriding – Taking long, extended strides that cause feet to land ahead of your body. Increases impact on joints.
- Bouncing – Excessive up-and-down movement while running. Wastes energy needed to propel you forward.
- Twisting – Letting arms cross over the midline of the body. Causes torque through the core. Keep arms swinging straight front-to-back.
- Tight hands – Make loose fists to keep hands relaxed during arm drive. No clenching.
- Tensing up – Don’t carry tension in your upper body. Stay loose.
- Head tilting – Keep your head facing forward, not angled down. Helps breathing and alignment.
- Heavy feet – Land lightly on your feet, not loudly. Loud footfalls signal excess impact through legs.
Improve Your Running Form
Use these form drills to ingrain proper running technique:
- Run gently uphill. The incline cues good form automatically. Really focus on your technique during the climb.
- Perform sideways and backward running drills for short distances. Exaggerate good form. Gets you out of “autopilot”.
- Speed up your cadence and take shorter, quicker strides. Should feel light and easy on the feet and knees.
- Run on soft surfaces like grass or dirt trails. Hard surfaces reveal form flaws through impact.
- Video yourself running and analyzing the form. Fix issues.
- Take a run/form clinic or work with a coach. Cues help the technique stick.
Be patient with yourself. Improvements in form take time through practice. Keep focusing on technique and it will come.
Proper Running Technique
In addition to overall form, mastering running technique for elements like breathing, foot strike, and arm drive will help you run efficiently and avoid injury.
Getting breathing right makes running feel easier. Follow these tips:
- Inhale and exhale through both nose and mouth to maximize oxygen intake.
- Attempt a 2:2 or 3:3 breathing rhythm. For example, inhale for 2 steps, exhale for 2 steps. Find what’s comfortable.
- Exhale forcefully to empty lungs. Prevents side stitches.
- Slow down if unable to breathe comfortably. Racing your breaths strains your cardiovascular system.
- Practice belly breathing. Draw air into the stomach and abdomen instead of chest.
There are different ways to land your foot with each stride:
- Forefoot strike – Landing on the ball of the foot, under or just behind the toes. Low-impact and natural for most.
- Midfoot strike – Hitting with the middle of the foot, not heel or forefoot. Also low impact.
- Heel strike – Landing on the back of the heel and rolling through the foot. Causes greater collision forces up the leg. Best avoided.
A forefoot or midfoot strike is best for injury prevention and efficiency. But let your foot land naturally – don’t force any strike. Transition to a forefoot strike gradually with short, quick steps.
Your arms drive the momentum of your stride. Use them efficiently:
- Keep elbows bent ~90 degrees and swing arms back and forth, not side to side across body.
- Drive elbows back, not hands, to propel body forward. Hands should loosely follow elbow path.
- Don’t tense up shoulders or grip hands. Stay relaxed.
- Increase arm drive to power uphill climbs. Lightly push back as if leaning into a breeze.
Swinging your arms correctly will come with practice. They help drive the pace, so use them efficiently.
With the right precautions, running can be both an enjoyable and safe activity. Follow these tips to stay safe on the roads, and trails, and during varied weather conditions.
Run Safely on the Road
Follow these rules when running on streets and sidewalks:
- Run facing traffic so you can react to oncoming vehicles.
- Choose routes with wide shoulders or sidewalks. Avoid narrow roads.
- Stay alert and minimize distractions like headphones. Keep volume low to hear surroundings.
- Make eye contact and nod at drivers to ensure they see you.
- Wear bright, reflective clothing if running at dawn, dusk or night. LED lights add visibility.
- Avoid slippery surfaces like puddles, ice or snow. Slow down and use caution.
- Look both ways and wait for walk signals at intersections. Be predictable.
- Watch for opening car doors in parking lots or on streets with parked cars.
Running defensively will help avoid accidents with vehicles. Be visible, alert, and cautious.
Run Safely at Night
Don’t let the dark deter you from running. Use these safety strategies when running at night:
- Stick to familiar, well-lit routes. Avoid unlit paths or trails.
- Run with a partner or group if possible. There’s safety in numbers.
- Wear reflective gear and LED lights so drivers and cyclists can see you.
- Carry a phone and ID in case you need assistance.
- Tell someone your route and expected return time.
- Trust your intuition if something feels unsafe. Turn back if needed or alter your route.
With the right gear and precautions, night running can be accomplished safely.
Run Safely in Bad Weather
Don’t let rain, snow, or heat waves interfere with running. Implement safety strategies for varied weather:
Hot weather – Hydrate well before, during, and after runs. Take walk breaks in the shade. Wear light clothing, sunscreen, and a hat. Run in the cooler hours of morning or evening. Know the signs of heat illness.
Cold weather – Dress in layers you can remove as you warm up. Wear wicking fabrics close to the skin, insulation mid-layer, and a water/windproof jacket. Cover extremities in gloves, hat, and socks. Watch for icy patches.
Rain – Waterproof shoes and jacket keep you dry. Take caution on slippery surfaces. Avoid flooded areas, which could conceal potholes.
Snow and ice – Traction devices on shoes provide stability on snow and ice. Stay visible in reflective outerwear. Run slower and take smaller steps for balance. Avoid going out in blizzards.
Pay attention to weather forecasts. Adjust your run timing, apparel, and route based on the conditions. Don’t risk running in unsafe weather that necessitates stay-at-home orders.
Maintaining proper running etiquette ensures you stay safe while also respecting other pedestrians, runners, and cyclists sharing space on roads, trails, and tracks. Follow these etiquette guidelines.
Share the Road
Be mindful when running on public paths:
- Stay to the right to allow others to pass on your left.
- Pass with care by alerting others with “on your left”. Pass on right if ample room.
- Move off the trail when stopping so you don’t block the flow of traffic.
- Run no more than two abreast on roads and trails to allow others to pass easily.
- Follow all pedestrian rules of the road and signage. Don’t cut across lawns or private property.
- Yield right of way to wheelchairs, strollers, and pedestrians with mobility limitations or service animals.
- Bikes yield to runners, and runners yield to pedestrians.
Staying aware and respectful of those around you helps avoid collisions and confrontations when running outside.
Practice etiquette at organized races too:
- Line up at the start according to your goal pace. Don’t self-seed incorrectly.
- Let faster runners pass you. Don’t block competitors.
- Toss cups, gel packs, etc. in trash bins at water stations, not on the course.
- Follow race route signage. Don’t cut the course short.
- Be kind to volunteers who make events possible!
- Congratulate fellow participants. Avoid criticism. Respect the effort.
Adhering to etiquette guidelines creates a safer, more enjoyable race environment for everyone.
Starting and sticking with a running routine takes mental fortitude. Use these strategies to stay motivated when the running gets tough.
Stay Motivated When You Don’t Feel Like Running
Running takes discipline, especially on days lacking motivation. Try these tips:
- Find an accountability partner to run with. Harder to skip when meeting someone.
- Promise yourself you’ll just run 10 minutes. Often that’s enough to complete the whole run.
- Visualize how great you’ll feel after a run to get inspired.
- Make your run the top priority of the day so it happens before excuses arise.
- Pack your gear the night before so it’s ready to go. Eliminate prep barriers.
- List your goals and remind yourself why you started running in the first place.
- Go watch other runners in a race or group run. Their energy and joy is contagious.
- Reward yourself after successful runs, like relaxing with a healthy smoothie.
Stay positive on unmotivated days. Getting out the door is the hardest part; you’ll usually feel better once you get moving.
Set and Achieve Running Goals
Working toward S.M.A.R.T goals provides structure and motivation. S.M.A.R.T stands for:
- Specific – Clearly defined goals, not vague ideas
- Measurable – Quantifiable metrics to track progress
- Achievable – Challenging but within realistic reach
- Relevant – Aligns with your overall fitness aims
- Time-bound – Has a set timeframe or deadline
Examples include running a half marathon within the next 10 months, consistently running 4 times per week for the next 3 months, or improving your 5K time by 2 minutes in the next 2 months. Check in regularly on your goals and rewrite new ones as you progress.
Find a Running Community
Running with others provides accountability, socialization, and fun. Ways to connect:
- Local running clubs – Group runs, training plans, races, and social events. Great way to meet fellow runners.
- Running partners – Find a friend or make one through apps and local boards. More fun to train with someone.
- Races – Opportunity to be among other runners. Bond over the accomplishment!
- Online communities – Subreddits, forums, and social media groups unite runners worldwide.
- Running apps – Connect with and set challenges for friends through fitness tracker apps.
- Run commuting – Join run commuting groups that meet for jogs to work. Burns calories while socializing!
The support and camaraderie of a running community can help you stick to your training. Find your fit.
Running for Health
It’s clear running has cardiovascular benefits, but it also boosts your physical health in numerous other ways. Understand the full impact running can have on your well-being.
Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
Running delivers immense cardiovascular benefits:
- Strengthens heart muscle to pump blood more efficiently to body tissues. Low resting heart rate.
- Improves blood circulation and widens arteries and capillaries to reduce blood pressure.
- Increases red blood cells, hemoglobin, and oxygen delivered to working muscles and organs.
- Boosts lung capacity and endurance through rhythmic breathing.
The aerobic activity and oxygen intake running provide are the gold standard for heart health.
Lose Weight by Running
Running is one of the most effective forms of exercise for losing or maintaining weight because:
- It burns significant calories, especially over long distances. A 155 lb person burns ~100 calories per mile run.
- The more you run, the more your cardiovascular fitness improves, allowing you to run longer distances and burn more calories in a session.
- It builds metabolically active muscle mass that increases your resting metabolism, enabling you to burn more calories around the clock.
- Interval training maximizes calories burned by alternating intense effort with recovery during your run.
Combine running with a healthy diet for amplified weight loss and management results.
Reduce Your Risk of Chronic Diseases
Studies show regular runners have up to a 45% lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and certain cancers compared to non-runners. Running helps prevent chronic diseases by:
- Reducing inflammation throughout the body
- Improving cholesterol profiles by raising HDL (good) and lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Stabilizing blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity
- Lowering risk of blood clots by keeping blood vessels clear
- Boosting immune function to better fight illness and disease
Make running a lifelong habit to maximize your odds of staying disease-free well into your later years.
Building a Run Training Plan
Training plans provide structure as you increase your mileage. Here’s how to build your own running plan suited to your goals and needs.
Create a Beginner Training Plan
As a new runner, start with 3 short runs per week. A sample first week:
- Run 1: 2 miles
- Run 2: 2 miles
- Run 3: 3 miles
Gradually increase total weekly mileage by no more than 10% each week to avoid injury. Add 5-10 minutes to one run per week until you reach desired mileage. Take at least one rest day between runs.
Do most runs at an easy, conversational pace. Only one weekly run should be faster. End each run with 5-10 minutes of walking to cool down. Stretch after finishing.
Use a journal or app to track workouts. Schedule runs and rest days on your calendar. Plug your race date into a training program calculator for guidance.
Increase Mileage Safely
Patience is key for increasing weekly mileage safely as a runner. Keep these tips in mind:
- Increase long runs first before daily runs to build endurance. This stresses the body less.
- Take cutback weeks every 3-4 weeks where you reduce volume. Gives the body a break to absorb the training.
- Add cross-training like swimming, cycling, or strength training to supplement runs. Improves fitness while giving running muscles a break.
- Focus on adding time, not speed, as you progress. Speedwork comes after building an endurance base.
- Adopt a mantra like “consistency over intensity”. The tortoise beats the hare!
Listening to your body and increasing slowly and strategically will enable you to stay injury-free as your fitness improves.
Listen to Your Body
Your body provides important clues on its readiness to increase training volume:
- General muscle soreness that resolves within 24-48 hours is normal as you adapt. Pain during runs is not.
- Repeated injuries or new aches that don’t go away signal a need to pull back. Don’t try to power through pain.
- Pay attention to non-physical symptoms like chronic fatigue, irritability, lack of motivation, or poor sleep. Your body may be overtraining.
- Be flexible and willing to alter your training plan. Extra rest or cross-training can get you back on track.
Trust how your body feels over any prescribed training program. Slow down if needed to keep running for the long haul.
Varying your runs keeps training interesting and yields greater fitness gains. Incorporate these essential workouts.
Long, slower runs build your endurance and aerobic base. Start with 25-30% of your weekly volume as a long run. Proper pacing ensures you don’t wear yourself out. Home stretch pickups prepare for race finishes.
Short, repeated bursts of faster running with jogging recovery build speed and strength. Start with 4-6 x 30 seconds fast/90 seconds easy. Do on flat terrain.
Increase your pace slightly each mile throughout your run. Finishing faster taps speed while tiring legs teach mental stamina.
Swedish for “speed play”, fartleks involve alternating spurts of fast running with recovery periods of your choosing. Adds fun spontaneity to buffer boredom.
Run repeats up and down a hill to build leg strength and power. Trains you to maintain form when fatigued. Shorter/steep hill intervals raise HR quickly.
Taking it easy once or twice a week helps muscles adapt and repair from harder efforts. Keep these runs short and slow.
Variety keeps training fun, stimulates different energy systems, and provides a more well-rounded fitness base. Mix it up!
Structure Your Running Workouts
Follow these guidelines to get the most out of your varied runs:
- Do most runs at an easy conversational pace to build your aerobic base without risking burnout.
- Limit intense workouts to 1-2 times per week max to allow proper rest and recovery between harder efforts.
- Always include a warm-up and cool-down before and after speed work. Helps minimize injury risk from intensity.
- Perform drills during warm-up to activate muscles, rehearse good form, and prepare for faster paces.
- Choose routes or track workouts appropriate to that day’s run. Know your course.
- Record your workouts in a journal or app to track progress over time.
- Schedule harder workouts and rest days strategically. Fast runs never two days in a row.
Smart programming maximizes your fitness gains from every run while keeping you healthy.
Stay Motivated During Workouts
Use these mental tricks when motivation lags during a tough run:
- Break runs into manageable chunks. Focus on getting to the next checkpoint or lap.
- Envision exactly how you’ll feel once your workout is complete. See yourself achieving your goals.
- Sing a song or mantra in your head to distract from fatigue or boredom. Repeating affirmations works too.
- Find a workout buddy. Friendly competition and peer accountability push you both.
- Research inspiring stories of runners who overcame major obstacles. Use them as your motivation.
- Monitor your heart rate or pace. Seeing objective data on your efforts keeps you on track.
Staying focused on why you run and your goals ahead helps you tackle any workout.
Nutrition for Runners
Proper nutrition provides energy for training and optimizes recovery. Follow these nutrition best practices to fuel runs.
What to Eat Before a Run
Fuel up before heading out with:
- Mostly carbs for energy – Whole grain toast, oatmeal, banana
- A little protein to sustain – Nut butter, eggs, yogurt
- Healthy fat for absorption – Avocado slices, olive oil
- Hydration – Drink 12-16 oz water
Time meals so there’s 1-3 hours for digestion before running. Avoid heavy, high fat or fiber foods that cause GI distress.
What to Eat During a Run
For longer runs exceeding 60-90+ minutes, refuel with:
- 30-60g carbs per hour from sports drinks, gels, chews, or fuel tablets.
- Electrolytes like sodium and potassium to replace losses in sweat.
- Caffeine shots can provide a mental edge and performance boost.
Practice with various portable nutrition sources during training to determine what best sits in your stomach when running.
What to Eat After a Run
Optimize recovery eating within 30-60 minutes post-run:
- Carbs to replenish glycogen stores – Chocolate milk, sweet potato, quinoa
- Lean protein to repair muscles – Chicken, eggs, Greek yogurt
- Anti-inflammatory fats – Avocado, nuts, olive oil
- Electrolytes including sodium, potassium, and magnesium
- Water to rehydrate – 20-24 oz for every 1 lb lost
Refueling right after runs brings nutrients to fatigued muscles when they need it most.
Dehydration hampers running performance and drains energy. Remember:
- Drink throughout the day leading up to runs, not just right before.
- Assess hydration with morning body weight, urine color, and thirst levels.
- Customize water needs based on sweat rate, heat/humidity, and workout duration.
- Carry water on runs longer than 60+ minutes. Left feeling thirsty is a red flag.
- Weigh before and after workouts to calculate water lost through sweat.
Proper hydration energizes runs and aids muscle recovery. Don’t let thirst be your guide.
Avoid Common Nutrition Mistakes
Getting nutrition right takes some trial and error. Watch out for:
- Under-fueling – Eat enough carb-based meals and snacks to power runs. Don’t risk hitting the wall.
- Overdoing protein – Excess won’t improve performance and may cause GI issues.
- Skipping pre-run fuel – Never run on empty or you’ll run out of steam quickly.
- Trying new foods pre-race or hard workout – Stick to tested fuel sources.
- Not individualizing – Find the best nutrition solutions for your digestion and preferences.
- Training inconsistently – Mimic race-day fueling in practices.
Work with a nutritionist or coach if needed to harness the power of proper running nutrition customized to your body and training.
Staying Healthy and Injury-Free
Avoid overuse injuries with smart training, recovery, and crosstraining habits.
Prevent Running Injuries
Running injuries usually result from training errors like increasing mileage too quickly. Avoid injuries with:
- Proper rest and recovery between runs – Don’t run hard daily
- Mileage increases of 10% or less per week
- Rotating 2-3 pairs of shoes used for running to evenly distribute wear
- Strength training to reinforce muscles and joints
- Stretches after running to maintain flexibility
- Proper nutrition and hydration to avoid deficiencies
- Replacing running shoes every 300-500 miles
- Running on softer surfaces occasionally to reduce impact
Patience and listening to warning signs allow you to steer clear of hurt.
Recover Properly After Runs
Recovery allows the body to adapt and get stronger in response to the running stimulus. Make it a priority:
- Always stretch thoroughly post-run when muscles are warm. Hold stretches 15-30 seconds.
- Keep moving with an easy walk for 5-10 minutes after hard efforts.
- Refuel with a mix of carbs and protein within 60 minutes of finishing runs.
- Rehydrate with 20-24 oz of water per pound lost through sweat.
- Use foam rolling, massage, Epsom salt baths, compression gear, or CBD topicals to speed muscle repair.
- Sleep 7-9 hours nightly for tissue growth, energy restoration, and hormone regulation.
- Schedule rest days and avoid high intensity efforts on consecutive days.
The right recovery ritual helps you consistently come back ready for the next workout.
Cross-training builds fitness while giving your body a break from the pounding of running. Add:
- Low-impact cardio like swimming, cycling or elliptical workouts
- Yoga or pilates to maintain muscle flexibility
- Strength training 2-3x per week to reinforce joints and connective tissues
- Alternative workouts like rowing, stair climbing, bootcamp classes
- Sports and recreational activities you enjoy in moderation like tennis or rock climbing
Listen to your body if you feel specific areas getting overworked. Use cross-training to maintain overall fitness as needed when scaling back running volume. A strong cross-training program prevents injuries and mental staleness.
Troubleshooting Common Running Problems
Don’t get discouraged by typical obstacles encountered when getting into running. You got this!
Problem: Lack of motivation
- Run with others to stay accountable
- Join a running group for camaraderie
- Sign up for a race and train for it
- Establish rewards for achieving weekly goals
- Make a commitment to run a minimum number of days per week
- Treat running as an important appointment; prioritize it
- Read inspiring books and blogs about running
Problem: Difficulty with early morning runs
- Prepare gear, breakfast, coffee the night before to save time
- Hydrate well and have a glass of water by the bed to start rehydrating upon waking
- Go straight from bed to running clothes to eliminate decision making
- Have a mantra you repeat when alarm goes off to get moving
- Schedule runs with others to meet up
- Know it gets easier once you start moving!
Problem: Sore knees when running
- Improve form by increasing cadence and avoiding overstriding
- Run on softer surfaces like trails
- Strengthen thighs and hips with resistance training
- Replace running shoes around 300-500 miles
- Consult a physical therapist about imbalances or weaknesses
- Reduce mileage and add more cross-training
- Rest and ice knees after runs
- Take anti-inflammatories and use KT tape
Problem: Getting bored during runs
- Explore new routes and trails frequently
- Listen to energizing music, podcasts or audiobooks
- Run with a partner and socialize as you run
- Follow a guided run that coaches you through the miles
- Switch up your workouts to have variety each week
- Sign up for virtual races you train for
- Alternate walk breaks into long runs
- Bring your phone to take photos and explore along the way
- Play games like seeing how many other runners you pass or types of trees you spot
Problem: Needing walking breaks
- It’s totally fine to take walk breaks! Use a run/walk interval method
- Build slowly from a short distance you can run continuously
- Run slower than your usual pace to go further without stopping
- Focus on controlled breathing and relaxing your upper body
- Master proper form to use oxygen efficiently
- Cross-train to build strength and endurance
- As fitness improves, slowly decrease the walk breaks
Problem: Sports bra chafing
- Make sure your sports bra fits snugly but not too tight
- Apply an anti-chafe balm like Body Glide to the problem areas
- Wear a soft inner layer or tank under the sports bra
- Try different sports bra fabrics like silk or seamless styles
- Rinse off sweat after long runs so the skin isn’t irritated
- Visit a specialty running shop for a professional bra-fitting
- Size up if the bra seems too tight and constricting
Congratulations on starting your running journey! With commitment and patience, running can become an amazing tool for achieving your health and fitness goals. Focus on consistency with your training plan, running safely, refueling properly, and listening to your body. Avoid comparing yourself to other runners and trust in your progress. Most importantly, have fun out there! Maintaining a positive mindset and being in it for the long haul leads to running success. You got this!
Tips for Staying on Track
- Recruit friends and family to cheer you on. Accountability partners provide motivation.
- Lay out your gear and prep recovery snacks at night to remove excuses in the morning.
- Sign up for races in advance so you have events on the calendar to train for.
- Log your runs so you can track your progress. Apps like Strava, MapMyRun, and Nike Run Club make it easy.
- Follow runners on social media or blogs for inspiration. Their journeys may mirror your own.
- Start a running streak of consecutive days run to build habitual momentum.
- Forgive lapses and get right back out there. Every run makes you stronger.
- Experiment to find what works for you in terms of fueling, gear, routes, and recovery.
- Appreciate small achievements like nailing a workout or running a new route.
Staying consistent with running leads to big payoffs over time. Stick with it through ups and downs.
Helpful Resources for Beginner Runners
To continue improving as a runner, take advantage of these helpful resources:
Running Apps and Trackers – Map routes, log workouts, join challenges. Try Strava, MapMyRun, Runkeeper, and Nike Run Club.
Running Books – Pick up training guides, inspirational stories, or reference books. Good Reads lists top choices.
Running Blogs and Magazines – Runner’s World, Trail Runner Magazine, Believe in the Run, The Run Experience.
Local Running Shops – Visit specialty retailers for quality gear, workshops, group runs. Experts provide personalized advice.
Running Meetup Groups – Search sites like Meetup.com for local clubs and regular runs. Great way to make new active friends.
Social Media – Facebook and Reddit have numerous running communities. Follow elite runners on Instagram for inspiration.
Couch to 5K Apps – Ease into running with guided programs that mix running and walking intervals. ZenLabs and C25K are popular.
YouTube – Instructional videos demonstrate proper form, drills, training techniques, stretching, taping, and massage.
Podcasts – Entertaining shows like Pavement Runner Radio and Ali on the Run cover everything running. Listen on training runs.
Races – Sign up for a local 5K or 10K. Events provide structure and camaraderie. The energy is contagious!
Coaching – Online or in-person coaching provides personalized guidance. Helpful for technique, injury prevention, and nutrition.
Explore various resources to enrich your development as a runner. Knowledge and support spark success.
Frequently Asked Questions for Beginner Runners
Here are answers to some of the most common questions new runners have:
How often should I run as a beginner?
Aim for 2-3 short runs per week when starting out. Slowly increase weekly frequency as you adapt to prevent injury. Build up to 4-5 weekly runs. Include rest days for recovery.
How far should I run as a new runner?
Run distances you can complete without walking at first, likely 1-3 miles to start. Slowly increase your long run first up to 3-5 miles while keeping other runs shorter. Aim to run 30 minutes continuously. Increase your total weekly distance by 10% or less each week.
What should I wear when running?
Breathable, wicking fabrics allow sweat to evaporate. Dress in layers you can remove as you warm up. Reflective elements improve visibility. Properly fitted running shoes are essential to provide cushioning and support.
What should I eat and drink before, during, and after running?
Before: High-carb meal or snack 1-3 hours prior. During: 30-60g carbs every 30-60 minutes if running over an hour. After: Mix of carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats within 60 minutes of finishing the run. Drink fluids as needed.
How do I prevent running injuries?
Increase mileage gradually, strength train, use proper form, wear supportive shoes replaced every 300-500 miles, allow rest days, cross-train for variety, stretch, and foam roll. Don’t run through pain.
How should I recover after running?
Gently stretch, walk slowly, refuel with carbs and protein within 60 minutes, rehydrate, use compression gear, massage, or ice if needed, elevate legs, and allow 1-2 rest days between hard efforts. Prioritize sleep.
What is cross-training and why should I do it?
Cross-training like cycling, swimming, and yoga builds fitness while giving running muscles a break. Maintains strength and flexibility. Prevents imbalances or overuse issues. Keeps training varied and engaging.
How do I know if I’m running too hard?
You should be able to maintain a conversation during easy runs. Racing heart, labored breathing mean you should slow down. Muscle pain or illness after runs can signal overtraining. Listen to your body.
What should I do if I get injured running?
Stop running, ice the area for 20 minutes repeatedly to reduce inflammation, take anti-inflammatories if needed, and see a doctor for a diagnosis. Explore alternative training like pool running, cycling, or strength training that allows injury to heal. Ease slowly back into running.
Stay committed, train smart, and seek help when needed. Consistency will get you to your running goals!