Advice for beginner runners
Running may appear daunting but there really is nothing to be afraid of. We have some basic running advice for you.
Follow these steps for more enjoyment and success:
Relax – Part 1
Many people panic about their training and worry about all kinds of weird and wonderful things (am I really slow, if I miss one run will I fall apart…).
Some people may try to put undue pressure on you. Don’t worry about other people’s expectations or get too hung up about you fitness yourself. If you are the sensible the improvements come.
There’s no need to worry. Enjoy your running!
Relax – Part 2
Many beginners try too hard. They often do too many runs each week and try to run them as fast as they can.
Start at a manageable number of days of training – two or three is absolutely fine. Build up gradually and as you feel more confident. You're just beginning to run so don’t force things.
Don’t try to do each run fast. Work at a steady comfortable level on most runs. Only push yourself on one run in three. Take walking breaks if you need to.
Everyone needs help staying motivated and one of the best ways is to find a friend you can do some running with. Even if you only meet once a week the encouragement is great and it adds a social dimension to your running.
Get a goal
Whether you are running to lose weight, aiming for a 5k race, wanting to get up to a certain number of runs each week or anything else that is motivating you, set youself a goal. Choosing goals will help keep you motivated. It gives you great enthusiasm to be able to tick off when you are 10% of the way there, 20%, 50%... It is simple advice but it does help motivate you.
Look to drink a little and often throughout the day to stay hydrated. This is particularly important before and after training. If you are exercising for 30min or more you may want to take a water bottle. If you want to run well, you need to stay hydrated.
Listen to your body
If you are feeling tired (e.g. sore legs, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite) then back off. Improvement comes by training sensibly over a sustained period not from doing as much as possible today.
Once you are comfortable with a level of training then you can move it one. You will find that sometimes improvements come quickly and at other times you plateau. Remember the first point- relax! Don’t worry about this.
Many factors affect how easy or tough a run is – whether your job has been hectic or plain sailing, hot weather, cold weather, windy weather, hills, lack of sleep, that game of football with the kids. Don’t get hung up about it all just run at a sensible steady effort and accept some days are easier than others.
Starting to run longer
Look to build up the length of your runs. You may still need to include walking breaks but these can be reduced over time. Only increase the length of one run each week at a time.
Choose one run a week that you make this a particular focus for. Look to build the length of this. So you may have three runs in a week and once you are comfortable with them all add 5 minutes to one that is to become your long run. Then when this is comfortable add 5 minutes to another run. When this is comfortable add 5 minutes to the longer run again. Once this is manageable add 5 minutes to the other run and continue the process.
Don’t be afraid to cut the lengths of your runs for a week if you are feeling tired. Starting to run is never plain sailing.
Break it down
As a beginner a mix of running and walking is a great way to build up distance and fitness. As you get fitter you will be able to run for longer and longer without breaks.
Once you are running comfortably for 20min-30min without needing walking breaks it can be a great move to do what you least expect – re-introduce the walking breaks!
Start with a few minutes very easy running. After this alternate running 2min then walking 1min, or running 1min then walking for one you can get used to running at faster paces. Do this for a total of 20min or so and finish with a slow jog. You may choose to run/jog very slowly instead of walking between these faster sections but the effect is the same – it helps you to get faster and to feel stronger and more relaxed on your steadier runs.
We hope you found our running advice for beginners useful. Starting to run can be scary but follow our simple running advice and you won't go far wrong. Once you've mastered the basics, check out our other articles, we have many that are aimed at running faster, running longer or both!