Five Tips for New Runners

By Katie, 7:21 am

Today is National Running Day!!!

In honor of this important event, I thought I would outline my top five tips for those who are just beginning – or thinking about beginning – a running routine. If you read my exercise story, you know that I only began running consistently about nine months ago, so in many ways I’m still a beginner myself! But I’ve come a long way in those nine months, and I think a big part of the reason why is that I followed these strategies.

1. Start with a run-walk combination.

I definitely didn’t just wake up one morning, decide to start running, and hit the pavement for 30 minutes straight. No, I eased my way into it by alternating between jogging and walking. At first I started with 4 minutes of walking to 1 minute of jogging, and then just increased the jogging from there when my body felt ready. Using a run/walk method helped me to feel strong during my workouts; if I had gone straight to running only, I would have felt weak and tired…and probably would have hated it.

2. Forget comparisons.

Have you ever read about a blogger’s latest run or race and found yourself thinking, “Wow, I could never be a runner like that!”  8-O I certainly have! But we have to remember two things. First, everyone starts somewhere. Regardless of how fast or fit a runner is, she was a beginner once too. Second, running is always relative. You’re amazed that someone could complete a 5K, but that person is in awe of someone who finished a half-marathon. And that person is blown away by the woman who’s training for her third marathon. We are all looking up to another runner who is faster or has more endurance, but comparing ourselves to others is pointless. Focus on you, on your successes.

3. Wear the right shoes.

Ok, so I didn’t actually follow this piece of advice, but I wish I had! Wearing the proper footwear makes such a difference; it will decrease your risk of injury and make running feel more comfortable. It is definitely worth it to go to a specialty store and get fitted for sneakers that are appropriate for your feet and gait.

4. Sign up for a race.

The idea of participating in a race might seem intimidating, but the truth is that races are FUN. 8-) They provide motivation by giving you a specific goal to reach, and the adrenaline that comes from the experience is addicting. I absolutely love the atmosphere at races; the runners encouraging each other, the spectators cheering, the fun swag, the refreshments at the end – it’s great!

Active.com is a great resource for finding races in your area. And the Couch-to-5K running plan is a wonderful training guide that will have you successfully completing a 3.1 mile race in just two months.

5. Minutes, Not Miles

In one of my first blog posts, I explained why I was focusing on the number of minutes I was running instead of on the number of miles. Focusing on mileage or pace can be really intimidating at first. I think going by minutes makes the experience feel more manageable. You can say to yourself, “Today I will run for 20 minutes,” without a worry or a care about how far or how fast you’re going.

If you’re new to running or are considering starting up, I hope you find these tips helpful!  :-D

If you’re a runner, do you have any other tips to share? How did you get your start?

If you’re not a runner, are you/have you considered giving it a try? Why or why not?

35 Responses to “Five Tips for New Runners”

  1. Tamara says:

    I’m considering it now, but I’m afraid of making the commitment to a race because of my obsessive tendencies and unhappy running history. On the one hand I want to push myself, but on the other I don’t want to end up hurting myself again.

    • Katie says:

      I would recommend being very careful. I definitely needed to deal with my obsessive tendencies FIRST, before I could get to a point where I could become a runner for the RIGHT reasons.

  2. These are great tips! I would definitely say to start slow– don’t expect to run five miles on your first time out! But keep at it, because one thing that was super gratifying for me when I was training for my half was how quickly you can improve in running. Each time, I was able to run a little further!

  3. Simply Life says:

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Fantastic post. I love it even more because we know you did these exact things and just killed that half! My only advice would be similar to what you said about walking. Realize that even though you’re working on your running, any form of movement is good for the body, so there is absolutely NO shame in walking!

  5. Great post. I just thought about picking up running again and it is such a daunting task right now. So thanks for the encouragement!

  6. These are great tips Katie!! I think I would definitely reiterate your point about wearing the right shoes. These are the most important piece of running equipment you can purchase! The other thing I’d say is not to worry about time. Just go out and run. Don’t look at or stress about how fast you went.

  7. Nicole, RD says:

    I love the “minutes over miles” suggestion, as well as the run/walk. As I’ve aged (ha, and I’m not old!), I’ve adopted these habits in my running. I found it exhausting to always work on getting faster and running was losing the fun. I enjoy it so much more without the pressure and to simply focus on fitness and enjoyment! :)

  8. I agree with Nicole! Minutes not miles–love that. Sometimes thinking of 4 miles can be so daunting. Its nice to break it down and take the pressure off yourself.

  9. Not increasing your mileage by 10% a week is HUGE for starving off injuries!

  10. i couldnt agree more with these tips. having the right shoes is SO important.. its gonna make the biggest difference.. i know for me that if something doesnt feel perfect on my feet and comfy.. all i think about during the run is that.. and it messes up my psyche. walking and running combo is another amazing tip- probably the most important out of them all for beginners!

  11. Great tips! I have been running for a while, but am SO slow. I can run for over 2 hours without stopping but have no idea of my mileage, but that’s okay! I don’t have a pedometer or garmin or anything so am jus still working on stamina. I think the next time will be focusing on pacing but whenever I start thinking about how I should be running faster it stresses me out, when I really just want to enjoy the run.

    • Katie says:

      Being able to run for over 2 hours is HUGE!!! I think it’s awesome that you’ve come so far without worrying about time and pace and all that stuff that so easily turns into a stressor.

  12. Arielle says:

    This is great advice! I just started running again after a month break and I’ve been following these exact tips so it was nice and reassuring reading them this morning, knowing I’m doing it the right way! Or at least a way that someone who just finished a half-marathon approves of! Ha! I ran yesterday on the treadmill MORE than I ever have. I did intervals of 1 minute running and 2 minutes walking with warm up and cool down (but started my running as long as I could which was about 2 1/2 mins) and ended up running a total of 8 1/2 minutes. I covered 2.7 miles in 30 minutes! :) I’m getting REALLY excited about running more. Running again tomorrow! WOO HOO! Today is yoga.

  13. Great tips!
    As a runner, I’d just say – take it slow!! Don’t increase mileage too fast or anything; the longer it takes you to get there, the better you’ll be when you do (it’s like losing weight – lose it slow, you keep it off for longer!). Plus, injuries are less likely :)

  14. i wish i could run, but the bum knee thing isn’t really conducive to that :) i highly recommend the walk-run method though…start slow, and make sure you STREEEEEEEEEETCH

  15. Great tips, Katie! As a veteran runner, I completely concur with this post :)

  16. I was unaware that today is national running day! I’m going to have to write something on my blog about this as well. I’m still a new runner too – I think my favorite tip is to do what feels comfortable. :-)

  17. [...] been thinking about starting to run, why not start today.  Check out a few good tips for running here at Katie’s blog.  Plus the weather is great today.  Just remember to stay hydrated if you do [...]

  18. Great post Katie! I think those are some fantastic tips for starters. I’d add in there not to forget to stretch – I got a LOT of shin splints starting out because I was (and sometimes still am, eek) too ambitious to get on with the run that I’d skip the streeeeeeetching!

  19. sophia says:

    I love your tips, particularly #2. It’s a common ailment for bloggers to compare to one another! Just because someone can run a 8-min miler doesn’t mean that she could do that instantly. It all takes time and training!

  20. Great tips!! I’m definitely going to keep all of these in mind!

  21. Erica says:

    I just saw that it was National Running Day on another girl’s blog! How cool is that! Great tips! I started running by signing myself up for a half marathon. Never ran in my life but decided to give it a shot and have not stopped running since.

  22. FANTASTIC tips! I am getting back into running after an injury and am definitely abiding by the walk/run rule. And I agree that minutes are far more important than miles!

  23. Melodie says:

    Great post! I love running :) I am prone to injury though… usually going too far too fast. I just recovered from an injury about 2 months ago, so I am reallly trying to go slow and not build my mileage up to fast. However, sometimes I just don’t want to stop and want to keep running!

    • Katie says:

      I can imagine it’s difficult to hold yourself back! But it’s good that you’re being very careful.

  24. Great tips! I started running after high school when I wasn’t involved in team sports anymore and got pretty out of shape. I walked a lot, then once I couldn’t get my heart rate up much with walking, I started alternating with jogging – no times, distances, etc. – just doing whatever felt right. For about 2-3 years all I did was slowly build up my jogging, just going when I felt like it. I didn’t really start running seriously until less than a year ago. I think starting with run-walk combinations is huge and I always tell people who think they can’t run very far that they’re probably going too fast – you definitely need to build up speed as you improve. Comparisons are a problem for me because even after running seriously now for a few months, I feel like I can’t run as fast as I should, but I keep reminding myself that I can run so much further than I ever though I could and I’m getting in great exercise regardless of how compare to others. You’re SO right about running being relative!

  25. This is a really great post. I started running by doing a walk run combo as well. My suggestion is to always start out with a brisk walk to get used to the movement before going into a running pace. I still warm my self up by walking for at least 5 minutes. I still find it difficult not to focus on distance, but have started to focus on songs I listen to. I’ll tell myself “run for two more songs and then walk for one.” It really helps me not to focus on time, pace or distance.

  26. Shawnee says:

    I think signing up for a race is a great tip. That’s what got me really motivated. I signed up for a 5k with 10 weeks to train! It was a great experience. I need to sign up for another one soon. I’m losing my runner’s zest.

  27. Run Sarah says:

    My best tip is to run slow! For the longest time I tried to run too fast and would get frustrated because I tired so easily.

  28. Lisa says:

    great tips! I’ve always run by miles, but once I start again after this injury, I’m going to try running by time.

    Hope you had a great Nat’l Running Day!

  29. [...] much always been a runner, I realize that many haven’t and Katie gives 5 great tips for New Runners. These are things that I know definitely work because I have helped others begin running with [...]

  30. Lisa says:

    I really wish I had gotten fitted properly for good running shoes when I first started. FYI newbies, learn from my mistake!! It makes a world of difference. :)

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