Tips for Beginner Runners

10 Tips for Beginner Runners

Ready to start your running journey, but not sure where to begin? These tips for beginner runners, as well as walkers looking to step it up a bit, will help guide you toward success, no matter your fitness level.

1. Start with a Plan

Before you start running, take some time to set realistic goals. Decide whether you want to run for a specific time or distance and how often you intend to run each week. I highly recommend using a run-walk method where you alternate between run and walk. Over the course of several weeks, you can decrease your walking time and increase your run. Your plan should also include non-running rest days between running days so your body can recover. A plan helps you build stamina and strength safely, and also allows you to see the strength and endurance your body is gaining.

2. Invest in the Right Gear

You don’t need a lot of equipment to run, but your gear can significantly impact your experience and performance. The most crucial item to invest in is a good pair of running shoes that fit, are comfortable, and suit the kind of running you’ll be doing (i.e. pavement, trail, hills, etc). Comfortable clothing made from moisture-wicking materials will keep you dry and chafe-free. Consider the weather and time of day you plan to run. For example, if you’re gonna run during low light, wear a headlamp and reflective clothing!

3. Practice Proper Form

For beginners, running form often takes a back seat to building up endurance, but you’ll run more efficiently and easily with good biomechanics. Proper form can be the difference between effortlessly gliding through a run and feeling every step. Form includes posture, arm and hand positioning, and cadence. Let’s do a running form assessment and I’ll help you dial in your technique with personalized focus points and drills.

4. Warm Up and Cool Down

It’s tempting to just go out and just start running, but an effective warm-up and cool-down routine matters. A warm-up prepares your body for exercise by increasing your heart rate and circulation, while a cool down gradually brings your heart rate back to normal and helps to reduce muscle stiffness. A dynamic warm-up routine involving active movements such as leg swings and high knees is ideal for before a run. After a run, static stretches can help improve flexibility and aid in muscle recovery. Give yourself 5 minutes on either end of your workouts to ramp up and down gradually.

5. Listen to Your Body

Respect pain. There are inevitable twinges and aches when a person starts running. Most of those things just settle down on their own. But if you feel a sharp or persistent pain or if something feels wrong, stop running and assess the situation. Understand the difference between the general soreness of muscles working harder than usual and the pain that signals a potential injury. I have a bevy of physical therapists, sports doctors and bodyworkers who can help, so hit me up.

6. Rotate and Rest Your Running Shoes

Your running shoes work hard with every step, providing support and cushioning to prevent injury. Over time, the midsole of your shoes will compress and lose some of their shock-absorbing qualities. “Most experts recommend replacing your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first.” Insoles like Superfeet can prolong the life of running shoes, but you do need to replace those over time as well.

7. Pay Attention to Nutrition and Hydration

Running is a demanding activity that burns high calories and depletes essential nutrients and fluids. Ensuring you’re adequately fueled and hydrated going into a run supports your running goals and helps with recovery. Hydration is key; a general guideline is to aim for about half your body weight in ounces of fluid each day, though not too much right before running. Add a pinch of salt and/or juice to your water for maximum absorption. For workouts themselves, you likely don’t need to hydrate during a run if it is under 45 minutes and conditions are cool. If it’s hot or you sweat a lot, revise that down. Having a recovery snack, a mix of protein and carbs within 30 minutes of finishing a run is a superb recovery practice.

8. Celebrate Progress

A surfing teacher once told me “Surfing’s a warrior sport.” Running is, too. It’s easy to get focused on how far you are from where you want to be, but if you look back to where you came from, you’ll see you’ve made progress. It really helps to keep a running log, or use a training app, so you can see progress and milestones. Find ways to treat yourself to a small reward, or simply take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come. The neuroscience around building and sustaining habits shows us that the feedback loop of rewarding a behavior is essential for keeping it going. So celebrate, okay?

9. Be Patient and Persistent

In the early stages of running, progress can be slow. You may not see the improvements you’re hoping for as quickly as you’d like. (It’s a warrior sport, and you’re a warrior!) Hear your running coach saying slow progress is progress you can trust and build on. There will be days when you struggle to find motivation, don’t feel like you’re improving, or even take a step backward. These are completely normal things to feel so remember, running is a skill that takes time to develop and the only way to get better at it is to be consistent. Remember that plan you made in Tip #1? Stick with it, and keep showing up.

10. Join a Running Community

What makes learning to run easier? Joining a local running group! Your posse can provide support, camaraderie, accountability, and the opportunity to learn from more experienced runners. The Unstill Life Half-Fast Walk & Run group welcomes all levels of runners, as well as walkers and walk-runners. We have fun and interesting routes around Seattle and environs. Sign-up today to join a great community of runners! If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Be sure to check out our classes and run/walk group – we’d love to see you there!

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