We’re gonna take it wayyyyy back to today. Like back to the beginning. If I’d had access to these beginner running tips on day 1 it would likely have saved me not only some time, but my sanity and drastically reduced my risk of injury.
Wondering if others struggled as much as me? Yes
Wondering if it would ever feel easier? Uhh, kinda.
Wondering if that ache was normal or a really bad sign? Probably normal.
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. From taking walking breaks to keeping it fun, I promise they help.
Beginner Running Tips
I’ve got so many articles here, that I want to try and break them down by topic for you.
Bookmark this page in case you need to come back, ok you will need to, but for now checkout the sections and figure out what you need today.
- Embrace the art of run/walk – this will allow you to increase your endurance
- Take daily walks to increase your time on feet, this will translate to feeling better on the run
- Remember that being a good runner includes cross training: full body and core strength training
- Set a goal to run or walk 3 times per week to start
- Pick one day a week to be your long run day and slowly increase that each week
- Remember that even as a beginner, you need rest and recovery days. Your body needs time to catch up to the new stimulus you’re providing.
Can I Just Start Running?
Yes. But also with all the caveats I mentioned above.
Remember that if you haven’t run in awhile, your muscles, bones, joints and ligaments need time to adapt to this new intensity.
Don’t be afraid to just go and see what happens! Maybe you’ll make it a block, maybe you’ll make it a mile, maybe you’ll run like Forrest Gump.
Remember to do a warm up before you start, which is going to help make the breathing feel easier and prevent any muscle strains.
After that ease in to your first run by starting with a super short, super easy test. Think of it as a test, you just need to see where you are and then you can actually decide on a plan to move forward.
What’s a Good Distance to Start Running?
How long should I run as a beginner?
Ahhh that’s the question of the ages and the first answer is NOT every day.
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 (in fact it’s called the Galloway Method and is an ideal way to train!)
- Slow down to run farther, every runner does this when increasing distance
- A generally accepted guideline is don’t increase your mileage more than 10% a week
- Increasing mileage or pace too quickly will result in shin splints or other common injuries
- 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!
These tips for beginning runners often get ignored because they sound 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.
What’s a Good Beginner Running Pace?
Depending upon your previous fitness, age and overall health you might start out at a 10 minute or a 15 minute mile. Honestly, there is no such thing as a good pace.
There is the pace that’s right for you where you are right now! Checkout the Average 5K paces, I bet it surprises you. The average person is not the speedster you so often see on TV.
Remember that your starting pace is a baseline. Think of it like hey the slower I start then the move improvement I get to show. Doesn’t that mindset feel better?!
- The majority of your runs should be done at an easy pace.
- Easy means that you could speak a few sentences while running.
- Utilize the RPE Running Scale to help you better find that easy feeling
- Remember that this pace will fluctuate from day to day based on all kinds of factors.
Is Being Part of a Community Helpful for Beginner Runners?
Having a group of like-minded people around you can do wonders for not only your level of motivation but also help the process feel less intimidating.
If you’re an introvert reading them and shying away from the thought of being part of a group of runners, don’t worry! I totally get it, but you’ll learn from experience how rewarding it can be.
Being part of a running community can help you stay accountable, so consider joining a virtual running club! It’s a great option if you’re looking for some more guidance and advice, but don’t know how to ask those personal, specific running questions.
It’s also quite helpful to have a running buddy! There’s nothing like running with others and having someone to motivate you is priceless. You’ll also send up making lifelong friends along the way too!
Want more than just a plan to print on your own? How about access to a coach every week to ask questions? And a community of other runners who are going through all the things you are?Check out the new Virtual Run Club. You’ll get access to coaches and all our courses. Plus right now code beginnerrunclub gives you $30 off sign up.
Does Running Get Easier?
Yes. No. It’s complicated.
Because in running there is no real finish line. As soon as you run 1 mile, you set a goal to run 2. Complete 13.1 and you set a goal to run it faster.
In that sense it never gets easier because you’re always taking on a new challenge.
But, does the showing up consistently to do something hard get easier? Yes. Absolutely.
In your new running routine, focus on consistency rather than speed or distance. Create a weekly running schedule to develop a regular running habit.
- You build habits which help to get you out the door
- Your body adapts to the discomfort and gets stronger
- Your endurance continues to grow and that helps you keep training consistently
- You start tapping in to the runner’s high and begin to enjoy the sweat sessions, to need them
How to Get Better at Running?
The only way to get better at running is to continue showing up. It’s hard in different ways for all of us. But these things will help you start improving:
- Implement the run/walk program to improve your endurance. This means you alternate running and walking at planned intervals.
- Build a strong base before you start adding in a lot of speed workouts. This means a few months of easy running to increase stability, consistency and adaptation of the body.
- Include hill sprints . They will make your legs stronger, which will make you faster.
- Don’t be the runner who skips strength training! Here are free online strength training resources for runners
- Try these beginner speed workouts once you have a solid base of running at least 3 days per week
What is a Good Beginner Running Plan?
I’ve got a number of printable plans on the site that can help you, wherever you are!
The key is to follow ONE TRAINING SCHEDULE. They’re designed to progress you in a smart way which will prevent injury. So if you bounce around from one to another it’s much easier to end up with an injury which will then keep you from running entirely.
- Printable Couch to 5K Training Plan (now that’s a good day 1 start!)
- A Doable Guide to running your first 5K
- Printable Couch to 10K train plan
- Printable Couch to half marathon training plan
- Printable Couch to marathon training plan
What Are the Basic Skills of Running?
Most runners rarely spend time thinking about how their running form, stride and cadence could make runs feel easier.
But it’s actually an easy way to learn to run faster with less effort. Doesn’t that sound great!
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. Like keeping yourself up tall instead of letting your shoulders slouch.
Checkout my running form tips 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.
Next it’s time to work on things like how quickly do you pick up your feet which is known as running cadence. Most new runners make the mistake of trying to lengthen their stride to go faster, instead of increasing their cadence.
Including just two to three minutes of drills before a few runs each week will pay off massively!
You’ll learn to increase cadence, how to have a good arm swing (it also effects pace) and to drive your knee upward. All of this is going to make your runs feel easier.
Start with a few of these basic running drills >>
I’ve also got 5 weeks of follow along Running Form drills you can follow as a brand new runner, which are also available inside Virtual Run Club.
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, I’m amazed 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:
Do a Strength Workout Instead
Strength training is an undervalued part of running. Sometimes when you might not feel like running, you know you have enough energy for a 20 minute strength training session.
Play Mind Games
Sluggish, tired and the idea of a run sounds awful. Welcome to the mindgame that works for everyone from elites to new runners.
“I’ll just go for 10 minutes. Even if I just walk.”
Sometimes you’ll head out and after 10 minutes of walking turn around and plop down on the couch. That’s fine!! Other days you’ll start warming up and realize maybe you could do a few minutes, then a few more and suddenly you’ve finished the run.
Increasing Veggie and Fruit Intake
When I first learned the ‘gold standard’ of healthy eating meant eating 7-9 serving of fruits and veggies everyday, I couldn’t believe it. When I started digging into it more, it made me realize all the little things I could do to increase my veggie and fruit intake.
I now have a daily goal of at least 7-9 servings of veggies and fruit.
I also recommend a daily green smoothie or green juice because of just how efficient it is in helping increase your intake.
Sleep for Recovery
Knowing how important carbohydrates are for runners. 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.
Paying Attention to a Runner’s Diet
Don’t forget to pay attention to your overall diet to get the right amounts of macronutrients, including proteins, carbs, and fats.
Don’t Forget About Hydration
Learning more about hydration will do wonders for you. Drink plenty of water to replace the fluids you lose while sweating.
Supplements for Runners
Pre-workout supplements for runners. 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.
I didn’t know until much later how digestion can impact our energy levels and so much more. Now I take a probiotic and digestive enzyme.
Are Rest Days Necessary?
Rest days are incredibly important, even when you’re just starting out. Overtraining is a real risk, and beginner runners should focus on rest and recovery.
But rest days don’t mean just staying in bed all day. I 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 take active recovery days and do low impact activities like walking or restorative yoga to keep the blood flowing on off days.
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.
Tips for new runners often include tons of rest days, which is fine if you need them!
But listen to your body, do you feel better or does it just throw you off schedule when you skip your morning workout? It’s important to find a balance.
Get a foam roller and try it out to help you reduce muscle pain you’ll likely feel when you’re just starting out.
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 in the 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.
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.
Learning to dress according to the weather conditions is a skill all runners should have and I encourage you to go through these guides to understand what you need to focus on.
For example, running during the winters is all about layers and I’ve explained it all in my must-have winter gear guide.
Best Running Shoes for Beginners?
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 of my thoughts as a running coach to help you find the best beginner running shoe!
Visit an Actual Running Store
I highly recommend going to an actual running store to get your running shoes. They can do a gait analysis to help you find the type of shoes that fits your foot type. Figuring out more about your foot type will seriously help you find the shoes that are right for you.
They can tell you whether you overpronate, which is when your foot rolls inward as you land, and so need more support from your shoes, or whether you need a neutral type.
People often think they need support when what they really need is cushioning. And A LOT MORE HIP and GLUTE STRENGTH.
More important than the gait analysis is having someone to talk you through the variety of shoes. Trust me they don’t care about your pace, they LOVE helping new runners.
Rotate Running Shoes
Rotating your running shoes is important so that your body doesn’t begin to shift your stride or over-rely on the shoes for good form.
Trial and Error Process
Finding a good pair of shoes can be a bit of a trial and error till you figure out what works best for you. There is no single best running shoe, it’s all about finding the one that’s right for you.
Don’t Skimp On Your Shoes
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!
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.
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.
Read all the best tips for finding the right running 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 Other Gear Is Important?
- A basic GPS running watch (you don’t need all the bells and whistles)
- Good dry fit running socks – trust me this will prevent blisters
- Shorts or capris that don’t ride up while you run causing chafing (I like these longer Lulu shorts)
- Moisture wicking shirts are amazing, but honestly I ran my first marathon in a cotton t-shirt! So don’t use gear as an excuse not to start.
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish
BONUS: Beginner Running Program
As adapted from the official Couch to 5K, here is a beginner running program that will help get you started. Tips for running a 5K are all about the things listed above, so don’t over think it.
Just start at day one and keep going.