Wondering how to start running? Our easy guide on running for beginners offers that final push you need to tie your laces and hit the pavement. It might seem daunting at first, but with a few considerations before your first run, you’ll find the journey much more enjoyable—and you’re more likely to make it a lasting habit.
Regular running is an effective and enjoyable way to lose weight and give your body a boost of feel-good chemicals. It can also lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the essential steps of running for beginners to prepare for your first running experience. Additionally, we’ll share valuable running tips to sustain your momentum and optimize the benefits of every run.
In This Article
In This Article:
How to Prepare for Running as a Beginner
Let’s start with the basics of running. We’ll discuss how to prepare for a run and how to run properly. We’ll assume you’ve not had a good run or jog in a while.
To say that you’ve never run wouldn’t be true. Remember all that running you did as a child? Even if you can’t find a memory of it now, your feet remember it. You’ll see that right away once you start running.
Get the right running shoes
The best running shoes for you should feel comfortable. You don’t have to overspend on your first pair. Buy quality, not hype. Try out the pair before deciding on it, making at least a few steps wearing it with the laces tied.
The right running shoes for a beginner:
- Feel light and comfortable the moment you put them on
- Provide arch support
- Make your toes happy and bend where they do
- Have a stiff back
Running shoes will be a recurrent theme in your runner’s life, as you should get a new pair every 350–500 miles to prevent pain and injury.
You don’t need any fancy equipment to start with but prioritize comfort when you shop for sports clothing. It can help you enter running mode the moment you wear it.
Since running means sweating more than usual, you want to wear clothing made of fabric that draws moisture away from your skin, known as wicking. Cotton is not a good choice because it soaks up sweat and becomes clammy and heavy.
In cold weather, put on a windbreaker over long sleeves and wear a hat, scarf, and gloves. If it’s hot, add a hat or visor and use sunscreen. Use light fabrics to prevent chafing, and choose a supportive sports bra.
Also, don’t forget about hydration. Clip a lightweight water bottle to your belt and sip every 15 minutes to stay hydrated.
Select your running course
When it comes to running for beginners, it’s good to stick to paved roads and other flat surfaces. This will make your run easier and reduce the risk of injuries.
Can’t or don’t want to jog outside? Hit the track or treadmills at your local gym. Running outdoors takes extra effort, but you can compensate for this by selecting a 1% treadmill gradient.
Use a running app to plan your route and track your performance. Running apps can help you keep track of how far and how fast you jog. They’ll also tell you how many calories you burn.
Don’t worry about getting distracted by apps during your run. Just set up the route on your app, and then you can forget about it until you’re back home.
Eat like a runner
This doesn’t mean fast. It means healthy and with an eye for your total protein intake, which should be higher than average to fuel muscle recovery.
Eat a light, healthy meal rich in protein, healthy fats, and fruits and veggies before each running session. This will give you energy without making you feel unpleasantly full.
Also, you reduce your intake of sugary drinks and foods, processed foods, and greasy foods. These don’t pack nutrients or the right fuel for a runner.
Your First Run: It’s Go Time!
Running can be quite intense in the beginning, so if you’re new to this, start by jogging. If you’re an absolute beginner, begin with brisk walking. It’s okay to take breaks! Remember to enjoy while you build a sustainable habit of running.
Here are a few quick tips:
- Start with run-walk intervals. Alternate between 5 mins of jogging and 2 mins of walking for 20-30 mins. It’s a great way to ease in.
- Match your breath to your strides; try 1 breath for every 2 steps.
- End your run with a 5-10 min walk, followed by 15-30 second deep, static stretches.
- Post-run, opt for 410-470 ml of fluids, like recovery shakes.
- Aim for at least two runs a week as part of your weekly running schedule. Increase your distance by 10% weekly to avoid injury.
- Setting goals and long-term challenges, like aiming for a half marathon, can keep you motivated.
How to Run the Right Way
- Now that you’ve mastered the basics of how to start running, there are a few other things you should pay attention to become a more efficient runner. Let’s dive in!
Never skip warming up. It raises your core body temperature and increases blood flow to your muscles and heart, getting you ready for action.
The good news is that you don’t have to do any complicated warm-up. Walking and jogging easily for 10 minutes is enough, and you can make this a part of your actual running session.
Nutrition and hydration
Avoid heavy meals before your run or jog, and bring with you a protein snack or gel and hydration options such as water or a sports drink. Don’t forget about your runners’ supplements, either.
Going too fast or running too much too soon, doing the same run over and over again, and not following a beginner running plan—these common mistakes can take the fun out of running. Avoid them.
Don’t let your heel land first ahead of your usual stride. This is called overstriding and can lead to injuries, plus it may affect your running performance.
Slouching and swinging your arms side-to-side is bad upper body form—keep your hands at waist level with your elbows at your sides. Run tall with your back straight and gazing ahead of you.
Tip: Listen to your body and slow down when it tells you to, and you will avoid the most common injuries.
Staying hydrated and wearing the right clothes and shoes will help you reduce muscle cramps and foot injuries.
Fitting cross-training into your running program helps you become a better runner while avoiding burnout and injuries.
It can include yoga, swimming, cycling, and strength exercises you do at home. Depending on what you opt for, you can do a cross training session after a run or in the days between runs.
Proper breathing and form
Run at an easy pace, breathing deeply from your belly. Use both your mouth and nose for inhalation and exhale fully through your mouth.
Also, make sure to maintain a good running form. Keep your back straight and shoulders down. It will help to keep your chest open to take more oxygen in.
Cooling down after a run is as important as warming up before it, regardless if we’re talking running for beginners or pros. Don’t stop a run or jog abruptly. Decrease the pace in the last 10 to 5 minutes, and then do simple stretching exercises.
Make Running a Habit
Your first run or jog is important, but so are your second, third, fourth, and fifth jogs, and so on.
Developing a running habit becomes easier if you integrate running into your life and build good running habits. Here are some tips to help you.
Set a goal
Make it realistic and long-term. Creating a personalized running program will make this easier. Check out our app for personalized plans that match your goals.
Keep a diary
Make it a habit to write an entry after every run. Note how your run went and any other thoughts associated with it. Devote a special notebook to this running diary.
Hack how you form habits
Follow the advice of James Clear, author of the bestselling Atomic Habits, for establishing a good habit that lasts:
- Make running a habit: Decide on the specifics like “I will run at [Time] in [Location].” Write this commitment in your diary before each run. Leave your running shoes and gear where you can easily see them. Place your water bottle and runners’ supplements on the counter where you can’t miss them.
- Make running attractive: Enhance your running experience by teaming up with a friend or joining an online running community. To stay motivated, engage in a pre-running ritual that you enjoy and repeat every time you run.
- Make running easy: Plan your runs in advance and invest in good quality running shoes and gear. The important thing is to always show up, even if you only manage to run for a few minutes and don’t complete your planned distance.
- Make running satisfying: Track your progress by documenting your runs and jogs. After you finish, treat yourself to a reward like a healthy, delicious snack, or spend half an hour listening to your favorite band.
How should beginner runners start?
For beginners, the running journey begins with preparation. Start by choosing the right running shoes that offer comfort and arch support. Pair it with moisture-wicking activewear for better performance.
As you get started, you might want to stick to flat terrains like paved roads. If you’re an absolute beginner, begin with walking or run-walk intervals and gradually transition into jogging.
You can follow this simple routine for running for beginners: jog for 5 minutes, walk for 2 minutes, and repeat for a total of 20-30 minutes. This will help your body adjust to the new activity and reduce the risk of injuries.
How many times a week should a beginner run?
Starting slow is key to avoiding burnout and injury when it comes to running for beginners. A good rule of thumb is to run at least twice a week initially as you grow your running routine. As you build endurance, you can start to add more days and run longer distances.
Also, consider incorporating cross-training activities like yoga, swimming, or cycling on non-running days to improve your overall fitness and reduce the risk of injuries. Be consistent, and you’ll see improvements over time.
How many minutes should a beginner runner run?
Beginners should aim for a 20-30-minute session that includes both walking and jogging intervals. For example, you could jog for 5 minutes and then walk for 2 minutes, repeating the sequence as needed to complete your time.
As you get more comfortable, you can gradually increase the duration of your runs by about 10% each week. Just remember that it’s not about how fast you go; it’s about building a sustainable habit.
How do you keep running when you want to stop?
Motivation can be challenging, especially when you’re just starting. The key is to set achievable goals and track your progress. Once you feel stronger, you can set a more ambitious goal, like completing a half marathon, for instance.
If you find your motivation waning during the run, try focusing on your breathing, keeping a proper running form. You can also listen to energizing music or an inspiring podcast. Running apps can also help you stay engaged by providing real-time feedback and tracking your milestones.
Team up with a friend or join an online community for added encouragement. Also, consider incorporating short-term rewards like a delicious post-run smoothie to make the experience more satisfying.
Takeaways: Once You Start, Keep Going
When it comes to running for beginners, whether you’re running to get fit or training for a running event, the key to a successful journey lies in proper planning and enjoying the process. From your diet to the gear you wear, every detail counts.
Most importantly, listen to your body’s cues and pace yourself—there’s no need to push too hard too soon.
Need a beginner running plan to help navigate all these aspects? A running app like Joggo can take the guesswork out of your journey. It offers a personalized running plan tailored to your goals, educational articles for smart running tips, and even a personalized meal plan from a selection of popular diets.
Ready to lace up those shoes and hit the track?
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- Diem, C.J., 2001. Tips for Success: Running for Beginners. Meyer & Meyer Verlag.
- Griffin, M. and Phoenix, C., 2014. Learning to run from narrative foreclosure: One woman’s story of aging and physical activity. Journal of aging and physical activity, 22(3), pp.393-404.
- Robert, R., 2012. The Ultimate Beginners Running Guide: The Key To Running Inspired. Gravity Ink Books.
- Australia, H., 2023. Running tips for beginners.