Disclosure: This post on beginner runners may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure on the bottom right sidebar for more details. Also, this post was first written in 2017 and revised for 2020.
Running is a great way to stay in shape or even lose weight if you wish, but a lot of people just don’t know where to start. I have been distance running for eight years, and while not the fastest person ever, I do have some words of wisdom to share for beginners. Check out my eight very best tips below.
1.) Start slow: One of the reasons people think running is such a daunting task is they feel the pressure to run a marathon–like tomorrow. First of all, that would be crazy, and second of all, you may never run a marathon, and that’s totally fine! Starting out slow will give your body a chance to adjust and help you avoid burnout. I don’t suggest running every day to start (or ever really!) Try once or twice a week and see how you feel. The last thing you want is to get injured, so a gradual go is best!
2.) Go for distance first, then speed: I am a huge fan of the Jeff Galloway run walk run program, as well as the Couch to 5k program. Both will get you going but in a safe way. So many people think they aren’t truly a “runner” if you aren’t running the whole time, and that is simply just not true. Starting out with a run/walk is not only safer for your body, but will enable you to go further distances and build up your confidence.
3.) Get some gear: When I first started running, I ran in cotton t-shirts and socks, which was not a pretty sight in the hot and humid south. I chafed, got blisters, and was generally a miserable person to be around until I discovered the magic of running gear that fit well and helped wick sweat away from my body. Game changer! If you are comfy (and think you look awesome, too) you are more likely to stick with it!
4.) Plan for before and after: Keep in mind that as a runner, there is more to it than just the run itself (say what?) you need to plan for your before and after, meaning what are you fueling your body with before you run, during, and after. I always eat before I run, but I give my body time to digest. I personally prefer these protein bars or a banana and peanut butter (depending on the distance I’m running I may eat more). If I’m running over five miles I always carry hydration, and typically fuel like a GU as well. Also, you will need to warm up properly before you run, cool down after your run, and stretch/foam roll.
5.) Hydrate: I already mentioned hydrating before a run, but also make sure you are drinking enough before and after your run. Especially if you live in a hot or dry climate, if you are dehydrated you won’t be able to run as far or as fast. I personally get headaches when I’m dehydrated, which isn’t fun when running. If you need to carry water on a run, consider a hydration belt or handheld water bottle.
6.) Find an accountability partner/group: Fun fact: I actually started this blog when I wanted to train for my first half marathon. I wanted an accountability journal of sorts and knew if I started blogging and people saw it, then I would HAVE to follow through. Anyway, look around locally for a running group to join, or ask a friend to hold you accountable at work.
7.) Get fitted for proper shoes: When I first started running, I wanted to wear whatever shoes I thought looked the prettiest on the shelf in the store. I knew nothing about my gait, what size I should get or the specific needs of my feet. I am much wiser now and know there are certain brands that just don’t work well for me. I highly recommend going to a local running shoe store and getting a gait analysis, but then once you know what shoes you like, there are many places to purchase them.
8.) Don’t quit! It’s tempting for beginner runners to give up when you are tired, sore, and not seeing progress as quickly as you would like. This is where a lot of people will give up and say they hated running or that it was too hard. What’s sad is if they would have held on just a bit longer they probably would have been happy with their results. We live in such an instant society everyone wants things to happen RIGHT NOW but becoming a runner takes time. I can attest to the fact that it may not always be fun, it is, however, totally worth it, so don’t give up just because you are one of the beginner runners!