If you’re looking to get in shape both physically and mentally — and maybe enjoy the added benefit of meeting other people — running is something you should consider. One study shows that runners live longer than non-runners. Other historical studies show that running is comparable to therapy for ailments like depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. But if you’ve never run before, you’re likely wondering how to start running.
Follow along in this running-for-beginners guide that will have you hitting the pavement in no time.
What Gear Do I Need to Start Running?
One of the first questions new runners ask is what type of gear they need to get started. Unlike other sports, you don’t need any fancy equipment or expensive gear. But to be successful, there are a few things you need to start with.
- Good running shoes. That old pair of converse sneakers in the back of your closet won’t do. You need a well-fit comfortable pair of running shoes to prevent pain and injuries. Your local sporting goods store will help you find the right fit. Many towns have specialty stores that fit runners based on running form and foot shape.
- Performance clothing. If you’re running in warmer temperatures, you’ll want clothing that wicks away moisture. If you’re worried about your thighs chafing, consider wicking pants or shorts. Running socks will also save your toes and feet from blisters.
- Water. Staying hydrated during your runs is a necessity, but it can be difficult to carry a water bottle. Many runners will invest into a hydration belt or a CamelBak.
6 Tips for New Runners
When following a running program for beginners, it helps to set small, achievable goals rather than one big goal. Check out these six tips that will get you off to a good start.
Set Your Goals
The first step is to define and set your goal. Why do you want to start running? To lose weight? To improve your health? To challenge yourself and run in a race?
Give it some serious thought and let whatever you decide as your goal be the motivation to move on to the next step.
Choose a Training Plan
Next, choose a training plan. The plan you choose should line up with your running goals. If you want to run to relax on weekends, don’t choose a plan that requires you to run five times a week. If you want to run to get in shape, choose a training plan that includes cross-training for the best results.
Start with Basic Training Strategies
When you first start running, it can be tempting to start out with a bang. Big mistake. If your body isn’t used to running, starting out too quickly or with too many miles can lead to injuries. That’s why you should select a beginning runners’ plan and build up from there.
Use the Run Walk Method
Anyone who has started running knows most can’t (or shouldn’t) stay in a full run for 15, 25 or 30 minutes. Bodies just haven’t been prepared to do that, but you can build up to those times by using the run-walk method.
As a beginner, you should run for 15 to 30 seconds and then walk for one to two minutes. The key is that you don’t wait until you’re tired to switch from running to walking. Instead, do it on a schedule to build up stamina and reduce fatigue. And as a beginner, don’t be tempted to push adding more time. You will get there as you build, it’s more important to stay in the beginner zone until you do.
Even experienced runners use this method to reduce fatigue, build stamina, and improve their fitness levels while reducing the chance of injury or burn out.
Focus on Time First
One mistake many beginner runners make is focusing on distance instead of time. When just starting, it’s most helpful to measure your progress in time instead of miles or kilometers. A good beginners’ run would look like this: after a warm up, jog slowly for one minute, then walk for two to three minutes. After you have fully recovered, repeat the process five to seven times before cooling down.
As your body begins to adjust, you can increase and adjust your speeds.
Be Patient and Stick to a Plan
Running is a sport that requires patience and dedication. It will require you to stick to a plan and remain committed no matter how difficult it gets. In the end, you will experience the joy that comes from running the distance you imagined when just beginning your running journey.
Running Program for Beginners
Here are training plans you can use to get started on your running journey. Be sure to listen to your body and adjust the plan as you need.
- 8 Week Training Program
- 9 Week Training Program
- 10 Week Training Program
- 12 Week Training Program
- 20 Week Training Program
Your Running Goals are Closer Than You Think
By looking at your running goals in easy-to-break-down steps, you can see that in no time, you will be making long runs like a pro. Just set your goals, get the right gear, start slowly and work your way up. If you want to enter a race as a goal, visit HalfMarathons.net to see a listing of races in the U.S. and around the world.
When just starting out running, you should abide by a run/walk method and only run for 15 to 30 seconds followed by a one- to two-minute walk. This will build your stamina and ensure that you don’t sustain an injury.
You should always warm up by walking for at least five minutes before any distance run.
When running, you should breathe in through your nose while pushing your stomach and diaphragm out. Then, breathe out slowly through your mouth.