Want to start running? You’ll be
in good company, considering almost 60 million Americans
regularly hit the road, trail, or tread, according to
The benefits are pretty legit, too, considering
even just 10 minutes of leisurely running per day can
help you live longer, found one 2014 Journal of the American
College of Cardiology study. (Some research, published
in ScienceDirect, actually suggests runners live a full
three years longer than non-runners, if you needed extra
convincing.) Plus, pounding the pavement also just makes
you feel good.
"Almost every time you go out there,
you can accomplish something new," says Carl Leivers,
a USA Track & Field Certified Level 2 endurance coach
based in Atlanta. Anything from running for an extra minute,
to tackling a hill without stopping, or just having a
more positive attitude while you're hoofing it counts—and
you can’t beat the high of crossing your first finish
line or setting a new PR.
Though running is one of the most accessible
forms of exercise out there, becoming a runner can be
a little more complicated than just lacing up and putting
one foot in front of the other.
Whether you’ve never run a full
mile, want to finish your first 5K, or are ready to train
for a half marathon, these training, fueling, and injury-prevention
tips will make you a better runner than ever—and
yes, even help you enjoy every step.
be afraid to start with walking.
If you’ve never laced up for a run before, ease
into a consistent cardio routine by walking for about
20 minutes, three times a week, says Colleen M. Brough,
DPT, director of the Columbia University RunLab.
From there, progress your walks into run-walk
interval workouts, Brough recommends. Start with 20 minutes
four times a week, then bump the time up to 30 to 35 minutes.
“Run-walk intervals help minimize
the risk of injury and can make the process of starting
out more enjoyable and less daunting,” says Megan
Roche, M.D., running coach for Strava. “Increasing
the number and duration of running intervals versus walking
intervals is a great way to progress over time.”
If you’re starting out with those 20-minute workouts,
for example, alternate between running for 30 seconds
and walking for 90 seconds. As you
get more comfortable, alternate between 60 seconds of
running and walking—and eventually work your way
up to a non-stop run.
2. Use your breath to find your
Sure, you might know how to run, but knowing
what kind of pace you can hold is a whole other story.
New runners almost always start running too fast and then
burn out, says Brandon T. Vallair, USA Track & Field
Certified Level 1 Coach and owner of Run for Speed. Though
you might associate the word “running” with
speed, give yourself permission to slow it down.
To control your tempo, use the “talk
test” and maintain a speed at which you can easily
converse or sing, suggests Vallair. If you're gasping
for breath, slow down. If you can belt out the chorus
to a Bruno Mars song on your iPod, pick it up a bit.
“The idea is to finish each run
wanting to do a little bit more or go a little bit faster,”
says Leivers. “It makes it easier to get out there
the next time, because you feel like there's more to accomplish.”
Even if you follow these guidelines, though,
know that running will still likely feel a little uncomfortable
at first. “New runners should keep in mind that,
when they start their run, their whole body has to play
catch-up and it can feel pretty bad for the first stretch,”
says Brough. “It gets better!”
run every day.
It’s true that practice and repetition are key for
fitness success. Each run you do stresses your muscles,
bones, joints, and ligaments, forcing them to adapt by
growing stronger and more efficient.
You can totally do too much of a good
thing, though. Running is high-impact and repetitive,
so going overboard can increase your injury risk.
The trick is to find the sweet spot in
which you run enough to spark changes but also give your
body enough time to recover. “There is a delicate
balance, and you have to find the formula that works for
you,” says RRCA-certified run coach Jennifer Gill,
Start out with three runs per week, Gill
recommends. Any less and you may not progress as quickly
as you'd like; any more, though, and you may not have
time to recover.
Once you’ve logged six weeks of
three weekly runs, you can add a fourth running day, says
Leivers. This allows you to keep up the consistency without
overloading your body.
4. Focus on minutes
instead of miles.
How you measure your runs is totally up to you, but thinking
in time instead of distance may be less daunting. After
all, setting out to run for 30 minutes gives you more
wiggle room to have a bad day or take it slow than vowing
to run three miles.
“In general, I like people who are
just getting into running to run by duration of time as
opposed to mileage, unless they are training for a specific
racing goal,” Roche says. “I find focusing
on duration helps with consistency and avoids a focus
After all, you want to keep getting back
out there, not feel discouraged or overworked. Forgetting
about mileage means you can focus on feeling good throughout
5. Progress smartly
If you have your eyes set on a race (especially a half
marathon or longer), you’ll (of course!) need to
dial up your distance. However, it's key to do so slowly.
First, designate just one run each week
as your long run, says Leivers. While you can add a mile
or two to that run over time, keep the rest of your runs
Leivers’s number-one rule: Increase
your total weekly mileage every other week by no more
than the number of days per week you run. For instance,
if you run three days a week, you can increase your mileage
by three miles every other week.
And number two: Keep your long run to
no more than half your weekly total mileage to prevent
overdoing it during any single outing. So, if you run
10 miles a week, that long run should be five miles or
6. Mix up your
Once you can run for about 30 minutes straight, you can
start adding intervals—which will help you improve
your overall pace by switching up the stimulus on your
body—to your routine, says Brough. Plus,
“switching up workouts is a great way to keep the
fun rolling," says Roche.
Two ways to try intervals:
Hill strides: Run uphill for 20 to 30
seconds, then jog downhill or on flat road until recovered.
Speed intervals: Alternate between one minute at about
75-percent effort and one minute of easy jogging.
Sprint intervals: Alternate between one minute of all-out
sprinting and five minutes of easy jogging.
You can also use checkpoints (like mailboxes, trees, or
houses) as interval endpoints to keep outdoor runs interesting,
7. When in doubt,
find a training plan.
If you’re starting to run with the ultimate goal
of completing a race, the right training plan will help
you get there.
“It feels mentally good to have
a plan and a goal—and it’ll help you build
volume appropriately,” says Roche. "You’ll
be less likely to have to interrupt your running routine
or training because of an injury.”
Once you’ve found a plan that suits
your goals, adapt it to your daily life, Roche says. If
you have a big commitment one week and won’t be
able to run, for example, adjust the next week’s
schedule to accommodate.
8. Gear up to
go the distance.
If there's one piece of equipment you need to successfully
become a runner, it's a pair of comfortable running shoes.
“Running shoe preference is something
that varies widely across individuals—a shoe that
may work well for one runner may cause issues in another,”
Roche says. To find your perfect pair, check out a local
run shop to try out a few pairs of running shoes and see
what feels best on your feet.
Though it’s important to find a
pair of shoes suited to your foot mechanics, comfort is
still top priority, adds Brough.
From there, consider stocking up on some
moisture-wicking tops (skip anything cotton), says Brough.
If you want to record your stats or run
routes, a fitness tracker can help you get into the nitty
gritty of your new hobby.
9. Call in the accountability buddies.
One surefire way to keep up with your running workouts—and
an easy way to make them more enjoyable and more social—is
to join a running group, or at least find a running pal.
You don’t always have to meet with
these accountability buddies in person, either. Online
platforms and running apps—including Strava, Nike
Run Club, and MapMyRun—offer virtual support groups
to cheer you on and motivate you to get moving and log
10. Remember why
you’re out there.
Runners hit the road (or tread) for all sorts of reasons—some
for fitness and health, others for mindfulness, to be
social, or for the competition, shows a survey done by
To keep your love of running alive, remember
what made you want to run the first place. “As your
running experience grows, running will mean different
things to you, and you will transition through being different
runners,” says Brough.
Whether your motivation is to finish a
5k, escape work stress, or catch up with a friend, “enjoyment
comes from finding your why, and going for it,”
Brough says. Define yours, then get out there!
From: Women's Health US