Tuesday Topics | Tips for Beginner Runners

I am a relatively new runner myself (7 years) but I think I have inspired a few other people in the last few years to also pick up running as a form of exercise and self-care and it makes me so happy. Here are a few tips I’ve given those new runners when they first started out.

Get fitted for proper running shoes.

That’s probably my first and most important piece of advice. It’s easy to say “oh, I am just going to use these old sneakers that I have lying around” (and I’d better not tell you that I started my running journey running in hiking shoes *yikes* not for very long though!) but the right footwear is so important to prevent injury.

Start with run-walk intervals.

There’s no shame in starting with run-walk intervals, in fact, I think it’s the smart way to approach a running exercise regime and build up your endurance. There are plenty of beginner training plans out there that are not focused on distance/pace, but on building up endurance with the goal to run for an extended period of time.

Run by feel.

This goes hand in hand with the previous tip, don’t be a slave to your running watch/app when you first start out. I know, we all have “expectations” of ourselves and maybe think we “should be able” to run at a certain pace, but paces are highly variable (depending on the day) and also highly dependent on each person and their fitness level. It’s ok to work towards goals, but don’t set yourself up for failure because you’re not hitting certain paces on day one.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

In particular, don’t compare yourself to runners that have more experience and training time under their belt. Progress takes time, commitment, and perseverance. Speed and endurance comes with regular training and time. Running should be fun, or otherwise you’ll hate it, so don’t try to ‘compete’ with people who are further along in their running journey.

Remember: not every run will feel the same.

Progression and regression is normal, not every run will feel the same. Sometimes, the hard runs will feel easy and the easy runs will feel hard. It’s all part of a running routine and you should embrace it.

Consider incorporating some cross-training.

When I first started running, I was so focused on running that I completely neglected any type of cross-training (except for the occasional yoga class or a session on the elliptical at the gym). I was pretty good at warming up and stretching before and after runs, but what I failed to realize is that regular cross-training (esp. some light core and strength training) would have helped my running a lot. I saw immediate progress when I finally started doing more cross-training exercises and I would encourage every new runner to also consider short (even 10 minutes is a good start!) strength exercises as part of your new routine.

Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love.

Yes, that’s a Peloton instructor quote and so fitting. Especially when you’re a beginner runner, you need to take rest days and cues from your body seriously. It’s so easy to overdo it when you first start out. Make sure you drink plenty of water, you fuel your body right, and give your body time to recover between workouts!

Any other tips that you’d give a beginner runner?

I am linking up with Kookyrunner and Zenaida  for Tuesday Topics.

  1. All great tips for beginning runners and also for those running for years.

    I like the one about not being a slave to your running watch. I know runners that cannot run without one and obsess about the stats. Running should be fun.

    And it’s ok to walk. Real runners walk. When I die toward the end of a race, it’s usually because I don’t walk enough in the early miles.

    1. Haha, I totally obsess about the stats, but I am trying to teach myself to “let it go” more often. ;) I am a work in progress.

  2. It’s so true what you’re writing! I was struggling with running some (many) years ago and then stumbled upon a book promoting the run-walk-run method and it was a real game changer, because it took the pressure off of actually “running”.
    One thing one could consider as a beginner is to try out a running group. It might not be suitable for everyone, but if you like company, it could help with routine. Also more experienced runners can always provide advice and motivation when you’re struggling!

    1. That is a great tip. For some runners, running with a group might be really helpful (especially in the beginning). I’ve always been a solo runner, but I can definitely see the benefits!

  3. I love that last tip! I see a lot of people who don’t IMHO treat their body with enough love — of course, I’m not walking (or running) in their shoes either. But I do think we all have a tendency to beat up on ourselves — and ignore what our body is telling us.

    1. Being intuitive with your own body is something we all have to learn, I think, and it takes time.

  4. Run by feel is HUGE! It wasn’t until I was training for my second marathon that I had a running coach who stressed this. We talked about pace but everything (other than speed work) he programmed for me in RPE and my mind was blown. It truly took the stress off of me and made running much more enjoyable!

    1. I think running by feel is super-important (unless you’re trying to hit training paces) because it will really help you to get in tune with your body!

  5. These are great tips! I really wish I had started with run/walk intervals – I could have saved myself a lot of grief!

  6. I love that you mention the quote from the Peloton instructor! I always run with a watch but many times do run by feel. It goes with that not every run will feel great or the same as the previous day.

  7. I think you hit on everything! I think a lot of new runners get frustrated because they expect instant results, and feel compelled to run too fast/long/much too soon and either get injured or burned out.

  8. When I first started running (1985) I made many mistakes: wrong shoes (too light), too long and many workouts, too many challenging races, no cross training.
    After some injures I learned many lessons but the most difficult to learn (also now) is “listen to your body”!

  9. Yes! Incorporating strength training is the biggest thing I wish I’d done as a beginner runner. I’ll bet I could have avoided a lot of issues if I had lifted weights in the very beginning. Your tips are all great.

  10. Run walk intervals were so helpful for me when I wanted to get into running! That couch to 5k program was a great intro for me!

  11. This is so comprehensive and wonderful! It reminded me of things I learned in the early days and forgot about! I think I’d add that training plans can be helpful for a race, but not every training plan is right for a beginning runner. I used the Hal Higdon ones when I was first getting into running and it kind of had me running too often – at least for my body. It was a 5-day/week plan and I find I do much better on 3-4 days of running w/ cross-training.

  12. Those tips almost make me funny run – in my old gym shoes of course. HA. Almost…

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