It’s exciting to start something new – especially RUNNING! And although the act of running seems as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, there is surprisingly much to know! Especially if you intend to stick with it, improve, and plan to enjoy this new found passion. With that, here’s eight tips that will help beginner runners succeed – and keep their sanity in the process!
Regardless of why you started running, knowing some common pitfalls, and critical tips can go a long way in keeping new runners on track. No pun intended.
Also know that you can find a lot of info here in the Beginner Runner section. Below are some of the most popular articles!
- How to Start Running – 8 Tips to Start & Continue
- Run-Walk Method for Your Best Results
- 10 Run-Walk Method Mistakes You Want to Avoid
- It’s Here: Your FIRST 5K Training Plan
- How to Run Your FIRST 10K & Glide Across the Finish
- Your FIRST Half Marathon – 8 Tips for Success
- Why New Runners Quit – Avoid These 7 Mistakes
- Running Speed Workouts for the Beginner Runner
- Start Running AGAIN with 8 Expert Tips
Let’s dive into these eight critical tips for beginner runners.
The Short List of Beginner Runner Tips
The RUN/WALK method is GREAT for new runners.
Run/walkers tend to enjoy their runs more, and are less injury prone to those that start out with strictly running. Essentially, it’s a safer option to increase endurance and time spent on foot with less injury/pain.
Beginner runners are especially prone to injury, so I highly recommend trying this tip. It is difficult to progress when you have an injury, and must take time off to rehab.
Don’t skip rest days.
Regardless of how fit you become, rest is critically important. New runners that ignore this tip will end up over-fatigued and possible injured. As such, I suggest rest days in-between your run days. A three day/week schedule is a great way to start as it allows a rest day between each run.
If you prefer to get miles in on the weekend (Saturday and Sunday runs), or simply want to run more often, a good schedule is Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Personally, I do some activity on my non-running days, BUT at least one of those days is an “active recovery” workout – ie: an easy yoga session for 20 minutes.
Get fitted for running shoes.
Your running shoes are by far your most important investment. There’s just no getting around this. At minimum, wear shoes that are specifically made for runners!
Better yet, get fitted for your shoes at a local running store. Most will do a foot and gait analysis to determine several recommendations that are right for you.
Trust me, it’s tough to navigate what’s best simply by taking a few steps in a shoe at a massive sporting good store. A local running store chain here in Atlanta, The Big Peach, provides a 100% guarantee, plus matches internet pricing (same model, version, color, & size)!
If possible, attempt to purchase TWO pairs that you can rotate. There is evidence that shows rotating shoes does help lower injury risk (~39% according to this study). Of all tips for new runners, this is very compelling!
Invest in some running clothes.
Aside from running shoes, you need a few basic clothing articles to stay comfortable running.
- Avoid cotton – a previous coach of mine often said “cotton is rotten.” It tends to get heavy with sweat, and wicks poorly.
- Choose Dri-Fit pieces, or an “engineered” material that helps wick away sweat (thus keeping you cooler, less likely to chafe).
Whether in cold or hot temperatures, sweat (and clothing) that stays close to your skin will make you feel hotter, or colder than necessary. Note, the “no cotton” rule applies to socks, also. Invest in running socks that are expressly made to keep you comfortable, blister free (I love Balega and ProCompression socks).
More Beginner Runner Tips
LESS emphasis: pace; MORE emphasis: time on feet.
Conversation pace is your aim. If you are able to say a sentence or two while running, that’s the ticket. There will be plenty of time and miles to improve your speed later.
A top complaint of beginner runners is breathing difficulty. A conversation pace, plus the run-walk method lessens those breathing issues.
Remember to breath through your mouth and nose (but mostly mouth) while keeping your jaw relaxed. Secondly, focus on belly breathing. This means your stomach should expand on the inhale, versus your chest.
Don’t ignore pain, discomfort, or injuries.
This is a tricky one, as running is often about feeling uncomfortable. A few key pointers, however…
- If you must change your gait while running, you need to stop.
- A dull ache that lessens with intensity as you run is likely okay. A sharp. localized pain that intensifies is not.
- Don’t wait for a “niggle” to become a full-blown injury. If you notice something is off, blindly continuing your plan will typically just make things worse. Nipping the injury/issue early on is critical, and you’ll miss less run days by doing so.
Running form – keep it simple.
Running is not as technique intensive as sports like swimming, tennis, golf, and the like. But, poor running form means you’re a less efficient runner (more effort for same result). It also impacts your endurance, plus increases odds of injury. And quite simply, makes the run feel harder – who wants that?
At minimum, remember these two running form tips for beginner runners:
Keep your feet underneath you — a compact stride. Runners who foot strikes out in front of them (over striding) stress their joints from head to toe. Plus, over striding is the equivalent of a braking effect that impairs forward movement.
Runners that keep their feet beneath them naturally have a higher running cadence (steps per minute). A higher running cadence means less ground contact time, less energy spent on moving forward. That’s a good thing. Less energy spent enables you to run further (or faster – or both!) with the same effort.
Avoid hunching at shoulders and bending forward at the waist. Both make it more difficult to breathe properly. Think shoulders back and down, with a slight lean forward of your upper body without bending your waist.
Consistency matters, a lot.
First, if you stick with your running program, you’ll amaze yourself with your progress. Consistency with your runs is one of the few areas experts agree that is critical for progress.
The best, most optimal running schedule available means little if you’re inconsistent. And, “weekend warriors” tend to get injured more, and have less overall success.
Yes, there will be days where you want to bag it. Too tired, too stressed, lack of time — all valid difficulties. Still attempt to run on those days, even if you do less than the plan calls for. Running half the distance is certainly better than no distance, and it helps build a stronger habit.