Beginner Running Tips to Help You Kick Off a Consistent Schedule

Coaches, pro runners, and shoe specialists offer their best advice to make the most of your training


If you’re convinced of all the benefits you’ll gain from running, but aren’t sure how to get started or even what you need to know before you head out the door, we got you. We chatted with coaches, pro runners, and shoe specialists for their best beginner running tips. Before you sign up for a 5K or even buy a new pair of running shoes, follow this advice for starting out on the right foot — and make running a lifelong habit.

When you’re first starting out, pace should be the least of your worries. Just lace up your shoes, hit the road, and try to hold a pace you can maintain for your entire run.

“Focus on one kilometre at a time,” says former pro triathlete and Ironman Champion, Linsey Corbin. “You never know what is going to happen up the road. Running one kilometre at a time — and not focusing on the whole picture — helps you stay focused on the process versus the outcome.”

If you find yourself too focused on how fast you’re running, professional ultrarunner Katie Asmuth recommends going out for a trail run. The hills, roots, and rocks will help you “forget your pace and your worries, and enjoy the scenery around you,” she says.

2. Quit the Comparison
According to Corbin, “comparison is the thief of joy.” When you’re worried about what the runners around you are doing, you lose focus on your own personal journey.

“The best results come when you focus on yourself. Looking around at what everyone else is doing is almost guaranteed that you will never be satisfied,” says Corbin.

Danny Mackey, coach of the Brooks Beasts professional track club, echoes Corbin’s sentiments: “Be mindful that everyone progresses and improves at different rates. Some days, you have to balance what’s best for you. That might mean running slower or quicker compared to another person. Running is a lifelong sport, so compare against yourself first.”

3. Get Comfortable With the Uncomfortable
Like it or not, running is hard. You’re putting your entire body to work, from your arms to your feet. Once you understand that, it’s easier to push yourself to the limit.

That doesn’t mean you should always feel uncomfortable. Easy runs, for example, are meant to feel easy. But when you’re out for a harder run or running your first race, you have to be okay with the challenge.

“How you feel while running isn’t always predictable, so dial in what you can control,” says Asmuth. The goal is to be uncomfortable, but in command of your body.

In order to run happy, healthy, and consistently, you should have a good pair (or two) of running shoes. Everyone’s stride is different, which makes picking the right shoe a personalised experience.

Your local speciality running store is the best place to go for a fitting. The staff members are specifically trained to properly size your feet, determine whether you overpronate, and inform you on the different brands and styles out there.

Michael Zabrodski, vice president of operations at Philadelphia Runner, warns new runners not to be swayed by fashion: “Making sure it is the right shoe for your specific needs is paramount. If the shoe doesn’t perform for you, then it doesn’t really matter what it looks like.”

5. Listen to Your Body
Running coach Yusuf Jeffers believes that “there isn’t an athlete out there who hasn’t experienced some form of injury at one point or another while practising their sport.”

Therefore, it’s important to know when your body is at it’s limit. When feeling unnatural aches or pains on a run, it’s better to stop early and try again tomorrow than to force through.

“Running is a highly repetitive motion sport, it leaves one particularly vulnerable to overuse and overtraining injuries,” says Jeffers. So when you feel like you might be overdoing it, refer to the next tip.

6. Cross Train and Take Rest Days
Professional 1500-meter runner David Ribich of the Nike Union Athletics Club compares runners to batteries: “At full charge we have maximum capabilities, ready for any demand that comes our way. If we work hard and get our bodies’ battery life down before we recharge, we either overtrain, get injured, or feel bad.”

However, it doesn’t always make sense to take a complete rest day. Sometimes it’s just helpful to shake things up and cross-train  —whether on a bike or in the pool or gym.

“Movement is medicine,” says 25K American record holder Parker Stinson. “Your body and mind will appreciate you taking the day off from running, but still finding a way to get some blood flow into those sore muscles.”

7. Be Patient and Consistent
Running is a sport that requires diligence and dedication over time to see continued success. However, you have to be patient when building up your mileage. There’s no shortcut — jumping right to high mileage can lead to injury.

James Randon, professional 1500-metre runner, suggests that when you first start running, focus on the number of days you run a week rather than the length of each run. Once you get up to five or six days a week, you can gradually increase your mileage.

Once you get to a consistent mileage, Randon recommends tracking your training using an app like Strava. “You will find patterns that may have led to a recent flair-up or injury,” says Randon. “Using this data, you can quickly isolate what causes hiccups in training or maybe preventing further mileage increases.”

8. Find Strength in Numbers
Running is often seen as an individual sport. Sometimes, it can even feel lonely. That’s why Elliott Heath, coach of the Bowerman Track Club Elite, recommends running with a group.

“The runs will go by faster, you and your running partners will hold each other accountable to a regular routine, and you will all improve together,” he says.

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