We’re gonna take it wayyyyy back to today.
Like back to the beginning.
There are bazillions of tips, tricks and ideas out there to make you a better runner, but what do you really need to know just to get started? Not nearly as much as you might think!!
These tips to start running are going to surprise you in their simplicity and even in not being so freaking hard that you’re terrified to lace up and get moving.
What’s a good distance to start?
How far should you be running? Ahhh that’s the question of the ages.
At the bottom of this post you’ll find graphic to pin for later that includes the entire Couch to 5K program. It’s the perfect way to get started…unless you’re crazy like me and want to make a half marathon your first race.
- Don’t be afraid to walk, it’s how you’ll start learning to spend more time on your feet
- Slow down to run farther
- A generally accepted guideline is don’t increase your mileage more than 10% a week
- Your long run shouldn’t account for 50% or more of your weekly mileage
- Don’t worry about how far you’re going, just go!
Of course the final piece of this is the age old 10% rule. As in don’t try to increase your total weekly mileage by more than 10%, that’s how many new runners end up with shin splints.
This is one of the tips for beginning runners that often gets ignored because it sounds so basic, but it works. Don’t try to be wonder woman and do it all right from the start. An injury that puts you back on the couch is definitely not motivating.
Does your running form matter?
Focusing too much on your form initially can be stressful. Instead pick a couple of key aspects and then check in during your run to see if you’re maintaining those good practices.
Checkout my STAR running form for easy ways to check in during your run and the only 4 things you need to focus on initially to help you stay injury free and even breathe a little better.
If you’re ready for more advanced techniques checkout this comparison on pose and Chi running methods, to find additional tips.
Perhaps you, too, have marveled at the “fanatics” who run in all kinds of weather and treat their training as if it were practically a religion.
These runners don’t necessarily possess special dedication pills, rare ambition genes, or are particularly self-disciplined, but have found that running enacts the cycle of pleasure and gratification; offering the unique set of internal and external rewards only running can give. – The Ultimate Beginner’s Running Guide by Ryan Robert.
Some people might say beginner running tips shouldn’t talk form, but I’m a fan of the idea that we might as well start with good habits because it’s a whole lot easier in the long run (pun intended).
What if you don’t have the energy to workout?
In general, prior to my crazy estrogen issue I never considered my energy levels to be honest. Working out was something I did simply because I loved it and I never questioned that I would get up at 6 am to run.
Now I admit, my amazement that I powered through two marathons when most people would have been down for the count. I attribute this to the basics that many of us know or preach, but sometimes don’t do.
I needed to feel good so I was following them as often as possible:
- Daily green smoothie or green juice
- Foam rolling
- Protein powder to help with recovery
- Daily goal of at least 7-9 servings of veggies and fruit
- Sleep. Probably more than normal to be honest as my body was trying to keep cortisol levels down from both sickness and training
- Carbs. You cannot workout full steam on a low carb diet or at least I can’t. My weight loss always stalls as my energy plummets when I try to be too low carb. Stick to awesome whole grains, sweet potatoes, fruit and yes the occasional cookie! Your body needs carbs for fuel.
- Pre-workout supplements. I don;t drink caffeine during the day, which means if I choose to use a pre-workout supplement before a long run I am able to truly get a nice performance booster.
- Digestion. I didn’t know until much later how digestion can impact our energy levels and so much more. No I take a probiotic and digestive enzyme.
I also found that my energy levels stay higher when I stay active.
If I take a 100% do nothing rest day, my legs feel more sluggish the following day. So I do low impact activities like walking or restorative yoga to keep the blood flowing on off days.Back to basics - what a beginner runner really needs to know (hint it's not drills and gels!) #runchat #sweatpink Click To Tweet
A few friends of mine have also recently gone gluten free and swear that their energy levels have sky rocketed, so if you’re just dragging all the time, that’s something to consider too!
It’s not unusual for people to have a dairy or gluten intolerance. A 30 day elimination trial that helps clear out any food causing inflammation in your body will certainly give you more energy!
How to handle the changing weather and allergies?
Indoors or on the treadmill, I don’t care a run is a run! Don’t stress too much about the where or the when, just decide you’re going to get it done.
- Tips for running through allergy season
- Tips for running happily into winter
- Tips for surviving heat and humidity
- Tips for surviving long runs on the treadmill
- My must have summer gear
- My must have winter gear
Heat, rain, cold, snow, most long term runners will tell you that investing in the right gear has made all the difference in ensuring they get out the door.
Should you buy special running shoes?
One of the first questions new runners often ask is “what shoe do you recommend?”
Running shoes are a super personal choice. But here are some thoughts…YES get actual running shoes.
I’m over the moon with a low profile running shoe like the Saucony Kinvara and a cushioned neutral shoe like the Hoka One One Clifton. The two are completely different, but have the same neutral feel and low heel drop. They also allow me to rotate running shoes, which means my body doesn’t begin to shift my stride or over rely on the shoe for good form.
Read more on minimal vs maximal >>
What works for you is often going to be a bit of trial and error.
Even the best shoe store may recommend a shoe that doesn’t feel great, so no matter what features it has it won’t be THE shoe. Don’t skimp on your shoes, I tried for years to use cheaper pairs because I was a poor college kid!! It’s not worth the pounding your body is going to take!
Read all the best tips for finding the right shoe >>
Personally I love running shoes in general and have tried just about everything….seriously everything.
I was open to barefoot, I was open to going from minimal to maximal. I have found that neutral shoes are key and the heel drop really matters, but that’s MY body.
What was the best advice you received when you started running?
Any other running questions you have?
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Read Next: Speed workouts for beginners >>
As adapted from the official Couch to 5K.