Are you trying to start running for the first time? Or are you a previous runner looking to get back into it seriously? Either way, I’m here to help you start running for beginners!
So to give you some background about myself, I played basketball and ran track when I was younger, but I didn’t get into running distance until I was in college. I actually decided one day to run a half-marathon that my alma mater was hosting, and it was the one of the most amazing experiences! Since then I have been an off and on kind of runner but I started to take it WAY more seriously in 2020.
The pandemic helped because it gave me way more time to focus on my physical and mental health. Running for me is therapy.
I run about 25-30 miles each week now in hopes I can run the LA Marathon next year. So everything you are feeling, trust me I felt it too! I’m here to remind you that anyone can run and that it is not meant for a particular type of person. You can do this no matter what the stupid voices in your head or saying. You got this!
So here are 10 tips that I think will help you start running and CONTINUE running!
Stretch Before You Do Anything
Each time before you run, make sure to stretch. Even if you consider yourself somewhat of a runner, you should still be stretching to get your muscles and body prepared for the work it is going to do.
If you aren’t sure where to start, you can click here for some dynamic stretches that I would recommend to get you loose before your run! Add in static stretching, which requires less movement, after your run so that you don’t get tight.
I would also recommend that you also do a pre-workout. This does not entail running per say, but instead focuses on walking for at least 10-15 minutes before you get into your run. This will help your body naturally warm up and get your legs at least a little loose before you start running.
So stretch and then walk 10-15 minutes before you run and you’ll br one step closer to being a runner!
Identify Time of Day For Your Run
The reason why this is important is because the preparation you may need will kinda vary. Some people will argue that running as soon as you wake up without food is not the best way but I honestly think it depends on the person. I run when I wake up but I never do that if I am running for more than 45-60 minutes. I’ve also found out this works for me for shorter runs. For long distance, I eat a meal about 90 minutes before I head out the door.
The reason why you want to figure out the best time of day is to figure out if you should eat and how much you should eat. If you are a morning person, try to grab some quick acting fuel like a small fruit. I usually go for a clementine or orange as a quick snack before a run. Once you eat, make sure to give yourself 60-90 minutes to digest before you run. Everyone is different so test out different time spans before your run until you find what works for you.
Focus on Time, not Distance
I know it seems like the most obvious thing to do would be to focus on hitting a certain mileage, but if you are just starting off, don’t worry about the distance. Simply focus on being able to run for x amount of time.
Running cold, as in straight off the couch, can be difficult. Trust me, when I started again seriously this year, I was dying before I hit the one mile mark. For your first few runs, try to run for 10-15 minutes and see how you FEEL. Keep it to a light jog–meaning you should not be extremely out of breath and you should be able to hold a small conversation if you were asked to.
The important part is to get your body used to running. Think of it like this–knees going up and down and hitting the ground, arms swinging and your normal breathing pattern will change That is a lot for anyone who is not used to it, so focus on time for now. If you’re up to it, keep going. However, I would not recommend too long of running as you may wind up really sore.
A little soreness is okay but you don’t want to completely break down so you can’t run again. You gotta continue running!
Don’t Forget To Breathe!
I know it seems obvious that you would need to breathe during a run, right? But to be honest, sometimes I notice I’m not breathing efficiently during a run. I’ve had to catch myself a few times and remind myself to just BREATHE.
Remember to take full breaths as much as you can. I try to take deep breaths throughout my run and what helps me is to focus on feeling my chest/ stomach expanding. You don’t have to do this, but I found it to be helpful in reminding myself how to breathe. I guess I forget sometimes 🙂
Sometimes I pause my music or whatever I’m listening to and just focus on my breathing. It’s actually nice to just hear yourself and it allows you to focus on how your body is performing during the run. It will also help you maintain your composure and make sure you don’t die at the finish line. I’ve been there and I want to help you avoid that if possible.
Pick Out The Right Shoes/ Gear Ahead Of Time
I found that I love to run as soon as I wake up in the morning because I really like just getting it out of the way. It reduces the chance I talk myself out of it on the hard days where I don’t want to do anything. It happens to the best of us…
So I normally get up at around 6am to get running so it’s way easier if have my outfit picked out or at least readily available.
I try to lay out the clothes I’ll run in the next day and charge up my Apple Watch and headphones so I can be ready to go. This also leads to me one important part too….
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GOOD PAIR OF RUNNING SHOES!
Even though you are new to running, you want to ensure you have a solid pair of running shoes. If you don’t, you run the risk of injury or simply just being in pain once you are done running. Trust me, I’ve had blisters and sore feet after a run. I highly do not recommend.
If you are not sure where to start, check out Runners’ World. They have a few great articles reviewing some of the best running shoes so they can help guide you. Keep in mind they will ask you to subscribe after you review a few articles. Try opening in incognito window. you’re welcome 🙂
I recently picked up Hoka’s Clifton 6 and they are great! I have them in the funky blue and white ones and I absolutely love them. They are comfy with a lot of cushion that provides a lot of support for long distance running. You may have to try a few shoes until you find the one that works for your foot. Everyone is different, so keep that in mind.
You Need Days of Rest & Relaxation
If you have been consistently running for a few weeks, then running more frequently makes sense. However, when you are since you are just beginning, it is important that your body gets enough rest and recovery. Your body is literally doing something it has either not done before or, something that it is not used to doing.
Give yourself a break!
I would recommend running maybe 2-3 times a week depending on how you feel after the first run. You may have to give yourself more of a break so just pay attention to your body. I am really big on people not pushing themselves too much past their limits in the beginning of working out.
So make sure to incorporate days where your body can rest and use those days to do another type of workout instead of running. I recommend something to build strength, which will aid in your running moving forward. Some of my favorite workouts include:
- Planks (great for your core!)
- Resistance-band training (great for full-body)
- Pull ups
Map Out Your Running Route Beforehand
It will be WAY easier if you map out where you are running before you leave the house. Whether you are running in your neighborhood or on a trail or track, find something that’ll work for you.
I alternate between my cute little neighborhood in San Diego, which is pretty suburban with little traffic, and other places such as along the beach, bay or lake.
It will take you time to figure out what location is best for you but it’s easier to map out where you want to run still. If you want to run in your neighborhood, use GPS to estimate where you will be running to and how you will get back. It doesn’t have to be exact, just an idea.
Just ask yourself this. Are there a lot of cars or traffic you will have to watch out for? Is there a sidewalk or will you have to run on the street? Are there are a lot of other runners or bikers in the area?
Get comfortable with your location before you start, trust me. You don’t want to waste energy during your run figuring out where to go when you can use that energy on the run itself!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
For any workout, it is crucial that you give your body the fluids it needs to get to the finish line. Running is no different so make sure you hydrate beforehand. And to be extremely clear, this means water!
I aim to drink a gallon of water everyday. Luckily my best friends got me a 17oz Gold Armour Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle. A gallon of water is 128oz, so doing some math, I need to drink about 7.5 bottles a day.
But let’s not get it twisted, haha. I DO NOT hit that goal everyday. I average about 5.5 to 6 to give you an idea of where I fall 🙂
**Disclaimer: Do not try to drink a lot of water right before a run. You run the risk of feeling too full, getting a cramp or having to pee mid run. None of these things are fun so try to fully hydrate a few hours before AND get into the habit of hydrating days leading up to your first run**
Spend Time Doing A Cool Down Post-Run
Do NOT skip this part! It may seem silly but it’s needed for your body. You want to cool down so your hear rate can decrease and go back to its resting state. Also, it helps reduce the lactic acid that has built up in your body. After I run, I cool down by simply walking for roughly 10-20 minutes to help my heart rate slow, but…
RUNNING HACK: the cool down also helps train your body to be on its feet a little bit longer after the run
The method I use to cool down is based on the mileage I run. Let’s say your first run winds up being a mile (and that is something to be proud of, seriously), I would recommend a cool down of at least 10 minutes. As you continue to run and long longer distances, feel free to increase that to what feels the best for you.
During the cool down, make sure to keep a good walking form. Make sure you feel your arms moving back and forth and you are still walking at a pretty decent pace.
This will help train your body to perform longer as you increase distance. And of course after the cool down is when you can get into your stretching. You will be loose so this is the perfect time to stretch those muscles and reduce chances of injury, inflammation and overall soreness.
Believe In Yourself As A Runner, You’re Almost There
A lot of people assume they cannot run or can’t be a runner. I’m here to tell you that is SO FALSE. It’s also negative self-talk. NONE OF THAT! Because you can actually do anything you want!
I came across the book, Mindset by Dr. Carol S. Dweck, which taught me about having growth mindset. The book is great for those who are trying to do something new or simply need help believing they can do anything. Instead of telling yourself what you can’t do or accomplish, simply tell yourself that you can grow into it, you can learn, you can do it in time.
You may not have been a runner before today, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be one in the future. You will have some days where you want to give up or your sore and you don’t care about running. I totally get it and have been there before. It is perfectly okay and normal. But every step you take is a step in the right direction.
There were so many days in the last month where I didn’t want to run. I just didn’t feel up to it mentally but my boyfriend said something one day that really clicked for me and maybe it will click for you.
Discipline is better than motivation.
Even when you lack motivation, remember that you are disciplining yourself to do something new. It will not be easy but you are transforming so be patient with yourself. You can do this!
Let me know how your first few runs went. What are some things you learned? Comment below on how it went!