Thinking of starting to run?
Well, that’s great!
Running is a simple sport. Anyone can start at any age. All you need to do is put on your shoes and start running.
But wait… There is more to running than just running. The sooner you realize this the better it will be for you.
Anyone can start running but how many will stick to it depends on a few things. You may not find running as enjoyable as you thought or you could stop completely after getting injured.
That’s why it’s important to understand the basics. Here is a list of the essential tips for beginner runners that will help you on your running journey.
1. Get Proper Running Shoes
Running shoes are the most important gear for runners. When your feet land on the ground while running, your body has to deal with the shock generated by landing. Running shoes are designed to protect your feet from this shock.
Note that, all runners are different and so are their feet. Generally, runners are categorized into three categories according to their feet type – neutral, overpronators, and underpronators.
Neutral runners and underpronators are recommended to wear Neutral running shoes. And if you are an overpronator, you’ll need stability shoes that support the overpronation.
You can check your feet type with a simple wet foot test and then choose the running shoes accordingly.
2. Get Sport-Specific Clothes
Get some sport-specific clothes for running. These clothes are light and they are made of breathable fabric. They keep you dry by wicking the moisture away. Additionally, they look awesome and will give you some motivation.
For women, a well-fitting sports bra is essential.
3. Run Slow
One of the biggest mistake new runners make is they run hard and fast every single day. Doing so not only makes running unenjoyable but also puts you at risk of getting injured. In my opinion, this is the biggest reason why many people fail to stick to running.
Start with easy running. In the beginning phase of your training, you should exclusively run at an easy pace or conversational pace. Meaning, you should be able to talk to your running partner if you are running with one.
If you run alone, go by how you “feel”. If you are gasping for air, you are running too fast. And you need to slow down.
If you feel too tired while running, take walking breaks. Walking breaks are absolutely fine. Do not be ashamed of taking them between your runs to recover. You get similar benefits as running without getting too tired.
4. Build Mileage Gradually
To get better at running you need to run more. There are several ways you can increase your total weekly mileage:
- You can run more often like 5-6 days a week
- You can add a few mid-long runs in the middle of the week and a long run at the end of the week
- You can also add a second run on some days but this is for experienced runners and new runners should avoid doing it.
Be very careful though. The increase in your training volume should be gradual. When you increase your volume, you put your body through new stress. And your body needs time to recover from and adapt to this new stress.
This takes time and proper planning.
A general rule is to not increase your mileage more than 10 percent in a week. And you should hold the increased volume for at least three weeks before increasing again.
I wrote a post about how to start running properly a while ago. It goes into more detail, so do check it out.
5. Follow a Plan
Following a proper plan will keep you in line with your goals.
Once you build your endurance base, you will need to add some quality workouts such as tempo runs, interval runs, etc. to your training. These workouts improve your speed which is the ultimate goal of runners.
But these workouts are hard and you need to recover from them through complete rest or recovery runs. A training plan arranges these workouts in a certain order so you get the maximum benefits without getting hurt.
6. Run With Proper Running Form
Running with good form makes you more efficient. You use less energy with each stride and your chances of getting injured decrease significantly. There are several mistakes runners make when it comes to running form. Keep monitoring the following things until they become your habit:
- Keep your body straight from head to toe and lean slightly forward
- look ahead, not at your feet
- Keep your neck, shoulders, arms, and hands relaxed
- Make sure your upper body is not swinging side to side excessively
- Your hands should move forward and backward, not side to side
- Your foot should land under your knee, right below your body. Taking shorter steps will help.
7. Warm-up Before Every Run
A warm-up wakes your body up and prepares it for the running you are about to begin.
Start with some dynamic stretching then walk and progress to slow jog before starting to run. A 10-minute warm-up is enough before every run.
8. Cool-Down After Every Run
When you complete your run, do not stop immediately. Slow down to a jog and then walk at the end of your workout. This should take up to 10 minutes.
9. Stretch After Every Workout
Spend some time doing a few static stretches after completing your workout. It relaxes your body and helps you recover fast.
10. Include Supplementary Training into Your Regime
Adding some supplementary training to your regime will improve your running. Strength training, plyometrics, cycling, and swimming are great for runners.
These will make you stronger and a well-rounded athlete by fixing any muscular imbalances.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time on supplementary training. For example, doing strength training 2-3 times a week is enough.
11. Get Enough Sleep
Sleeping is essential for recovery. Make sure you get enough sleep every day. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
12. Keep a training log
Keeping a training log lets you see your progress. And it also motivates you.
You can use mobile apps to record your activities. Strava and Nike Run are two of the popular apps among runners. These apps store the records of your runs which you can see anytime you want.
13. Join A Running Group
Running can be as solo or as social as you want. it’s a matter of personal preference.
If you are more of a social person, join a running club in your area. Running with a group of like-minded people can make a huge difference. Most runners are very friendly and would love to help you when in need.
You can also join running groups on social media to see what other runners are up to. Seeing posts from them will also give you some motivation to continue.
14. Be Patient With Your Training
Running becomes enjoyable when you develop endurance, your body gets stronger, your heart gets stronger and your lungs become more efficient. This takes time, proper planning and more importantly – patience.
15. Drink Plenty of Water
You will sweat a lot during your runs. So make sure you hydrate well by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Also, you may need to carry water with you on your long runs. Generally, you’ll be able to run for about 90 minutes without water. But as noted before, every runner is different, so you’ll need to experiment with this.
16. Listen to your body
Listening to your body is the key. You’ll experience muscle soreness and side stitches occasionally especially in the beginning phase of your training.
While these are normal and you’ll be fine with them, there are pains and aches that you should not ignore. You may feel pain in your legs, knees or other body parts.
There are several reasons that can contribute to such pain. You might be doing too much too soon or there could be some deficiency in your diet.
When you feel such pains, cut back your training and recover first before starting again. If the problem persists, seek professional help.
17. Sign up for Races
Now, you’ve gone through training for months, it’s time to put that training to use. In fact, you should tailor your training in such a way so that you are at your peak for your chosen race. This is how elite runners train.
There are plenty of running events nowadays. Sign up for races near you for an amazing experience.
Start with shorter races like 5k and 10k and then move onto longer distances of half marathon and marathon. Experiment with what distance you like and try to improve your times with each race.
It feels amazing to spend some time with people like yourself. The feeling is amazing and you’ll make many unforgettable memories.
18. Be careful on the roads
If you run on the roads, be aware of the passing vehicles. Run facing the traffic. This way you can see the vehicles coming and you can adjust your course accordingly.
If you like to hear music during your runs, make sure the volume isn’t too loud. You should clearly hear what’s happening around you.
That’s it! Have you discovered any interesting tips for runners? Do share in the comments.
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