When you see runners striding along the waterfront or the parkland trail, are you just a little bit in awe? You’re winded after jogging a few city blocks, and these Nike-clad superheroes can go for miles. Did it ever occur to you that you could be one of them?
Training to be a runner takes time and patience, and with a little of each, running can become an essential, and enjoyable, part of your fitness regimen. Our guide to starting a running program gives you all of the basics you’ll need to train as a beginning runner.
Before You Start
Before you start running, set up a plan by answering these basic questions:
- Consider why you’re running. Are you looking to lose weight for health reasons? Do you have a life event that you want to specifically lose weight for? Are you running to train for a sporting event?
- What’s your experience with running? If you’ve never run aside from PE class, then running will present a challenge. Keep that in mind as you prep and start.
Having the right gear is essential for starting your running program right.
- The right sneakers lead to the right run. Depending on where you plan to run, it’s important to pick the right sneakers. Different footwear works best for treadmills, streets, trails and races.
- Always consider that running is an endurance sport. Long miles with uncomfortable clothing can ruin the experience. Depending on the weather, find light, breathable gear.
- Do you need music? Music is a great motivator, but having no music initially can be to your advantage. Starting off as a runner, breathing is important. Having no music allows you to be more aware of your breathing pattern. This helps you control breathing better until you’re in a comfortable running space.
Healthy eating and drinking will make all the difference when you start running.
- Water consumption should be increase when starting a running program. The average person should drink 8 oz of water daily depending on their body weight. In order to keep your body hydrated add 6-12 oz for every 15-20 minutes you run.
- Carbs are an essential part of endurance training. Since running is endurance try to keep a healthy supply of carbs in your body. Our 19 Meals for Your Best Run offers a lot of options.
- Try to avoid eating or drinking anything within 30-45 minutes before a run. This will help avoid stomach pains and uncomfortable running. Let your body run on stored energy. Always think light when it comes to a pre-run snack.
Preparing for your body for running is important as much as building up your endurance.
- Stretching is important before and after a run to help warm up and cool muscles down. In addition to warming up and cooling down, stretching when you wake up and before you go to bed, help with your muscles overall elasticity. The looser your muscles are, the easier running can become.
- Running is a full body sport, so exercise should be part of you starting your program. Working on building stronger legs and a stronger core will help make running easier. This Runner’s Strength Training Workout is a perfect routine to target the right muscles for a stronger run.
1. Plan your first week
- Decide how you times you want to run for week one. If you’ve been eating healthier, exercising and stretching regularly your body should be able to heal a bit faster after your first run. Aim for 3-4 days for the first week. Keep the runs short and paced.
For your first run, get an idea of what you want to accomplish.
- Do you want to run for a specific distance or time?
- Pace yourself. Finding your rhythm takes time when you start running. Go too fast and your burn out quicker. Slower and paced is always better.
Choosing how to want to run is important too.
- Running non-stop on your first day will eventually lead you to a wall. If you feel confident, you can run until you hit your goal. You can also spread out running and walking to get your muscles used to the feeling of running long distances.
- You can also do cardio walks if you’re not comfortable with running yet. Fast paced walking with a specific goal in mind.
What to do once you’re finished?
- See how you feel after your first run. What worked for you? What didn’t work for you? Did you feel energized? Did you eat too soon before? Were your shoes and clothing comfortable? What would you do different? The more aware you are of your run, the better you can plan for the next one.
- Stretch it out. Stretching will help your muscles cool down. Try some of these techniques.
2. Continuing Your Running
Plan your weeks out.
- The best way to commit to becoming a runner is to plan your running schedule ahead of time. This keeps you more aware of how to eat in advance and allows you to mentally prepare yourself. The most successful way to have great exercise sessions is to mentally be prepared hours before you even start.
- Find a program that works for you. If you’re looking for a guide to take your running into the right direction try our Beginner’s Running eBook. It combines strength training, cardio walking, running and healthy eating into a comprehensive guide on making any beginner a half marathon runner.
Once you find a program you like, stick to it. Adjust as you need to for bad weather or personal issues but try to stick to the plan.
- Listen to your body as you run. You want to push past plateaus, but you don’t want to injure yourself. If something hurts, slow down and see if you can walk it off.
- Stay positive. Running takes a lot of time to master. You have to train your organs and your muscles. What tends to happen is, your lungs may be stronger than your legs or vice versa. Keep that in mind as you train. Your breathing may be solid, but if your legs haven’t built up the endurance yet, pace yourself to build them stronger.
Additional Tips For Success
- The best way to keep running is to have fun. View our 7 Insane Races We Dare You to Try article and find some fun races to add along your running program. This gives you something fun and exciting to look forward to.
- Use resources. As a beginner, you may have questions along the way. Our Running page is full of tips, programs and playlists to help your runs become stronger each time.
- Treadmill running versus street running is very different. Use this guide to give you the breakdown to see which one might be best for you.