Running is a great way to get outside, get active, and kickstart a healthier lifestyle. Unlike expensive gym memberships, rigorous training programs, or intimidating pieces of equipment, everything you need to start running is already at your fingertips (and toes). Although running is a relatively simple activity, it can be hard to stay committed if you don’t start in a sustainable way. This beginner’s guide to running will take you through what you need to know to start jogging towards your fitness goals today.
In this beginner’s guide to running. we’ll start with the mindset. If you want to start running, you have to get yourself mentally ready to hit the road. The clothes you wear, the location you choose, and even the music you listen to can make the difference between you giving up early or creating a lasting habit. Treat yourself to a pair of new running shoes, curate an upbeat running playlist, or find a cool new trail to jog down. Having an optimistic mindset can give you the extra push you need to keep going until you start to see positive results.
The clothes you wear can make a difference in how comfortable you are throughout your run. It’s tempting to just throw on a worn pair of sneakers and take off down the street, but you might regret it later. Wearing proper running shoes could make the difference between you giving up or pushing through when you start to feel the burn during a run. Any shoe might feel uncomfortable at first as your feet adjust to the activity, but continued discomfort or pain are signs that you need to find a different style or size of running shoe.
When you’re getting dressed for your first run, make sure to check the weather outside. If it’s cooler, try running in leggings or running tights rather than shorts. Wear a light jacket and tie it around your waist if you get hot later on. In all types of weather, try wearing moisture-wicking fabrics that will stay light and cool as you sweat, like wool or synthetic blends. Make these considerations before you go so that you don’t get too uncomfortable in the middle of your run.
Running accessories are entirely optional, but they can make your run more pleasant. For example, if you plan to listen to music while you run, you might want to invest in a running belt or pack to hold your phone. Different types of sports watches can track your stats and progress during the run. Other accessories include water bottles for hydration or reflector vests for safety.
This wouldn’t be much of a beginner’s guide on running if we didn’t mention warming up. While a few toe-touches and quad stretches can’t hurt, dynamic stretches are a better choice to get ready before a run. Some butt kicks, walking lunges, high knees, and other aerobic activities help get your muscles loosened up, protecting you from injury and improving your range of motion as you jog.
A warm-up walk can also be beneficial before a run, especially if you’re new to aerobic exercise. Take a few minutes at the beginning of your workout to do some power walking to get warmed up. After a few minutes, adjust your pace and stride into a light jog to begin your run.
A common mistake that beginners make when running is not setting a good pace. If you plan on running three miles, your pace should be slower than if you were running just one mile. Sprinting can be fun, but jogging at a slower pace is much more sustainable over long distances. Avoid the temptation to compare yourself to other runners—go at the pace that works best for you. As you gain endurance and muscle strength, your speed will increase as well.
When you first start out, you might consider running in intervals. Programs like Couch 2 5K are designed to help anyone train to be a runner. Over several weeks, C25K leads you through intervals of walking and running, eventually leading to run a 5k (3.1 miles) without stopping. A running plan like C25K’s can guide you through a gradual increase in stamina and speed. There’s a host of websites, apps, and other programs that can give you a structure to follow as you train.
Once you complete your run, you definitely want to incorporate a cool-down afterwards. Slow down near the end of your course and allow your heart rate to transition back to the baseline gradually. Try jogging slower or switching into a brisk walk.
After you’ve crossed the finish line for the day, spend some time stretching. It can be tempting to collapse on the couch and down a glass of water, but doing so will only make your future soreness and discomfort worse. Spend around ten minutes targeting different muscles with both dynamic and static stretches.
Congratulations! You’ve finished your first run—you’re a runner! Now the real challenge begins—sticking with it.
Accountability is key. Find a running partner or join an online training group to stay motivated. Make a training schedule and reward yourself after reaching certain goals. You might experience muscle discomfort, fatigue, or impatience, but don’t give up! Incorporate rest days into your training schedule to allow your muscles to recover. Use ice and/or heat to alleviate pain and soreness. After a few weeks of pushing through, you’ll be thrilled to notice that you have more muscle definition, increased endurance, and a sense of accomplishment!
We hope that this beginner’s guide to running has been helpful! So what are you waiting for? Lace-up your shoes, head out the door, and start running your way towards a healthier, happier you! If you decide to take a crack at trail running, take a look at our guide for determining the right trail for you. For more information on running, be on the lookout for more running focused blog posts. If you have any questions or are looking to gear up for your next running adventure, please visit us online, or head to your nearest Sun & Ski Sports.