So you want to start running – or maybe you’re considering it – kudos to you! I remember back when I first started, it seemed like such a big feat – anything over a few miles was a lot. And double digits?! Out of the question. Now, several years and miles later, I’ve defied my limits, run for two high school teams and two Division I collegiate teams, and met some of my closest friends through it – more than I could have imagined. I say this to show that wherever you are in your journey, anything that seems impossible or lofty now will later be second nature. You just have to give it a shot!
I come across so many people who say “I don’t run” or “I’m just not a runner.” My biggest word of advice? Drop the belief that there is a certain body type, speed, mileage, or qualification that requires you to earn the status of becoming a runner – there isn’t! Anyone can be a runner – anyone who runs, for however fast, long or hard, is a runner. So what are you waiting for? Follow my tried-and-true 5 steps to start running for beginners.
My 5 Steps to Start Running for Beginners:
1. Commit to it.
Decide that you are going to run consistently. Set a schedule and stick to it. I recommend every other day with a day for walking, cross training or strength training in between.
2. Get out there and get going!
Start by alternating periods of walking and running. I recommend the following:
Day 1: Walk for 5 minutes, Jog for 1. Repeat until 20 minutes has passed.
Day 2: Walk for 4 minutes, Jog for 1. Repeat to 20 minutes
Day 3: Walk for 3 minutes, Jog for 1. Repeat to 20 minutes
Day 4: Walk for 2 minutes, Jog for 1. Repeat to 20 minutes.
Work up until you are able to run for 20 minutes straight. From there, run 20-30 or more minutes at a time, add in a long run once a week (20-25% of your weekly mileage). Test out faster and slower interval workouts, adding in 4-6 strides at the end of your regular runs. As for weekly mileage, plan to increase by 10% each week and scale back every third or fourth week. Definitely allow for off-days in there, too!
3. Join a running club, meet-up group or ask a friend to be your running buddy.
I can’t stress how much accountability helps! Even after years of running, it’s tough getting out there on your own, and some days, it just doesn’t happen. When I schedule a time to meet up with a friend or teammate, there’s no way I’m flaking. Having someone to run with, or better yet, a group, will challenge you to run father, longer and harder. It also makes running more fun 🙂
4. Stretch and strength train!
Injury prevention is KEY. We often think “running is enough,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Forgetting to stretch will lead to aches and pains later on. Especially when you’re first starting and increasing mileage, little niggles will likely pop up here and there (shin splints, tight calves, Achilles’ tendon, plantar fasciitis, knee pain…). Who wants that? Luckily, it’s easy to prevent. We just need to put a little time into stretching and strengthening those muscles and tendons because running demands a lot from them. For strength training, I recommend starting off with bodyweight and weight-bearing exercises, emphasizing core (planks, push-ups, squats, lunges, deadlifts, glute bridges, hip clamshells, to name a few).
5. Sign up for something
You’re ready to race! Start with a local 5k and see where it takes you. And don’t let the “I’m not ready” or “I’ll finish last” worries stop you. With a few weeks of training under your belt, I can guarantee you neither will be true.
For an 8 week program to start running for beginners (by Runner’s World), click here. There are lots of others out there, too.
I’m working on releasing more running resources, including some racing-specific workouts to take you to the next level. Join my email list to get the latest tools as soon as they’re released. Also, if you think this article, might help a friend, feel free to share it with them. Happy running!