Have you decided that this is your year to become a runner? Whether to lose weight, boost endurance, or even make new friends, many people turn to running as an easy way to start or enhance their fitness journey. The wellness benefits of running are remarkable, but for a newbie getting started can be a challenge. Here are 5 tips to guide your path.
Start Wherever You Are
Just because you haven’t run since high school, or pre-school for that matter, doesn’t mean that you can’t start your running journey exactly where you are. For some this may mean walking (yes walking) for 10 minutes while for others this could mean running three 10-minute miles. The key is to START exactly where you are.
Find a Running Program
As a new runner you have more than enough to think about so give you brain a break by starting off with a running training plan. Training plans provide valuable guidance on what days to run, what days to rest and speed progression. Finding a plan is easy — Google “running training programs” and you’ll get more than 2000 free programs returned. The challenge isn’t in finding a program — it’s in selecting the right program for you. Here are some tips:
Select a program that fits your skill level. Generally programs are defined as beginner/novice, Intermediate, or Advanced.
Select a program that works with your existing schedule. If your current schedule only allows you to train two days per week, search specifically for a program that fits your availability.
Every runner isn’t the same, and those who are successful understand their personal training personality. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are starting out.
- Do you work best in the morning or the evening?
- Are you more likely to stick with a program if you run in a group or alone?
- Are you someone that prefers a scenic run or a loop/track?
- Do you prefer to listen to music, podcasts, or the sound of your feet hitting the pavement?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions use this journey as an opportunity determine what works for you. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches until you find what works.
Train Smart …and Hard
So it's 6:00 a.m., and you’ve got your running shoes on and you can’t wait to sprint out the door and run at top speed to your destiny. The excitement of a new running program makes people want to take off running as fast and hard as they can. However training smart will help you reach your goal and stay healthy in the process.
- Train Progressively — Your training program should include gradual increases in distance and/or time from week to week. Resist the urge to go from running half a mile to running three miles in one week.
- Rest Days — Rest days allow your body to repair, adapt, and prepare for the next run. They are critical to a runner’s success and to preventing injury.
- Always listen to your body — Consider this the first commandment of running. Independent of your program, running partners, or your previous performance, be sure to listen to your body during each run and give yourself permission to rest, reset, or stop.
- Stretching is Sexy — Many new runners go from sprinting to walking to sprinting to getting back in the car and heading home, leaving no time for the critical cool down. The truth is that post run stretching helps prevent injuries, enhances muscle function and promotes recovery.
Wherever your running journey takes you, don’t forget to celebrate your hard work. Here are some common ways that runners mark their success:
Sign up for a target race. Most new runners start with a 5k.
Treat yourself when you reach a goal – decide on a present that you will give yourself once you reach a goal distance and/or pace.
Share your story- For some, the greatest celebration is to share their journey with others. Document your running experience and share it through social media.
Congratulations on starting your running journey! Let us know what know what’s working for you in the comments below.
Danie is a fitnesspreneur with a passion for bringing total wellness to the communities she serves. A D.C. native, Danie now lives in Houston TX where she owns a mobile training business. She holds a bachelor's, master's and 10+ fitness certifications.