How to start running: 5 tips for beginners

Looking to start running? Here are 5 Beginner tips to get you in your running shoes and out the door!

There are many reasons for wanting to start running, whether you’re looking to shift a few extra pounds, want to be more active, have decided to focus on your health in 2020, or even just want to be outside in the summer’s heat.

However, how do you actually start running?

It might sound simple, yet you’d be surprised how many people ‘think about running’ yet never actually do it. While it’s all good having them life-changing thoughts at 3 am while you can’t sleep, if you don’t take action you’ll never get anywhere – and you certainly won’t start running.

Related: How to stick to your new year’s resolution in 2020.

Without further ado, here’s five tips for beginners to start running. 

1. Just do it

The longer you spend researching, planning, and moping around ‘considering’ running, the more likely you are not to start. Instead, just start. Yes, it really is as simple as that. Get out the door and run for as long as you can. Whether you’re able to run five minutes or thirty minutes, making a start is the hardest part.

Consistency is key to progress

The more you run, the better you’ll get and the more you’ll enjoy it. It may not seem like it at the time, however, rest assured knowing you will see results in as little as a week or two of consistent running as a beginner.

For some reason, many of us are convinced that building habits take a total of 21 days. However, this is in fact a myth! A study back in 2009 found that instead of 3 weeks, it may take anywhere between 18 and 254 days for a person to build a new habit. However, it isn’t all bad news – the same study also found that on average it took 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.

While we’re not trying to dishearten you, you should know that habits such as starting to run will not form overnight – they require hard work and dedication. However, we can offer our biased opinion that you’ll fall in love with running in no time whatsoever, not even needing to build a habit!

2. Run/walk

One of the more popular approaches to beginning running is the run/walk method. This approach is especially popular for those unable to run for a substantial chunk of time, whether this is ten or twenty minutes. To start the run/walk method:

•    Perform a 5-minute warmup of dynamic stretching and walking

•    Run for a set amount of time and then walk for a set amount of time

•    Overtime gradually decrease the walking and increase the running

•    Push yourself hard during the run section

•    Gather your breath in the walking section

•    Once finished, perform a 5-minute cool-down with static stretching and walking

Have you tried the run/walk method to start running? It's easy to follow and great for building up your fitness! #running #running101 #runwalk #fitnessClick To Tweet

3. Progress slowly

Whether choosing to run or run and walk, progressing at a slow rate is essential to reducing your risk of injury. A general rule of thumb to follow is: to increase your total time or distance by no more than 10% per week.

For example, if last week you ran 20 miles the following week you’d want to run no more than 22.

Furthermore, ensure to include multiple rest-days per week into your training, especially when starting out. Likewise, it’s easy to get carried away with training when beginning, ensure to take it easy on your ‘easy days’, even when you feel you have more gas in the tank. Failure to do this will increase your likelihood of overtraining and burning out from the sport, further increasing your risk of injury.

Related: A 10-step approach to recovering from injury.

4. Incorporate strength training into your schedule

Incorporate one or two strength sessions per week to take your running to the next level

Incorporating strength training into your schedule at least once per week will reduce your risk of injury and actually progress your running much faster. However, strength training should complement your running, not replace it. Too much strength training will likely impact the quality of your running, while also increasing your risk of injury.

Before starting strength training for the first time, you want to familiarise yourself with some basic exercises (as seen below) as well as focusing more on good form instead of the amount of weight you can lift.

Below you will find some beginner strength training exercises, perfect for developing all-round strength, especially within the lower leg muscles and core:

1.    Weighted walking lunges (3 sets of 10 reps)

2.    Weighted/bodyweight Squats (3 sets of 10 reps)

3.    Plank (3 sets of 60s)

4.    Russian twists (3 sets of 45s each side)

5.    Push-ups (3 sets to failure)

5. Take care of your body

If a total beginner to exercise, and or to running, it is vital to take care of your body. This is due to the increased demand and stress you’re placing on your body – you must take good care of yourself.

Think of yourself as a car – you can drive for miles, but eventually, you’ll run out of gas or worse require servicing. Don’t let your body reach that stage. Be sure to fuel your body with nutritious food including a mix of carbohydrates, vegetables, and plenty of protein, while also hitting the hay for a minimum of eight hours per night.

6. Celebrate even the smallest of victories!

From Netflix to putting off your chores, celebrate from time to time your consistent hard work!

As a beginner runner, it’s important to celebrate every little victory! This will increase your motivation for training while reminding yourself that you truly are accomplishing something great – working on a new, improved, faster, and most likely running obsessed version of yourself (it will come… it just takes time!).

These victories can be as simple as running on a day when you really don’t want to – providing yourself with an incentive to lace up and get out there. Likewise, celebrating these little victories can really increase your motivation and drive towards training, helping you see results much quicker whatever your goals may be.

Ways in which you could celebrate include:

  • Watching your favourite movie
  • Rewarding yourself with something sweet
  • Eating your favourite meal
  • Not having to do the chores until tomorrow!

However, you should only celebrate and reward yourself when you actually achieve something. That means no reward for sitting on the sofa binge-watching Peaky Blinders, despite how good it may be! Otherwise, you’ll begin to trick your mind into thinking you don’t need to run and can in fact have these rewards without running, thus derailing your running journey and most likely turning it into a Netflix marathon.

Related: 6 Top tips for sticking with a training plan.

The bottom line

Beginning to run can be difficult at first, but we promise it gets easier over time. We recommend using a run/walk method if a complete beginner, while those who are already active may be better suited to outright running.

Finally, be sure to take care of your body by eating and drinking plenty and getting adequate amounts of rest. Failure to take care of your body will slow down your progress and may even lead to injury.

Why not check out our blog post on the 10 best affordable beginner running products?

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