1. Just Get Started
As a beginner, you can spend so much time thinking about it, browsing the web for tips and weighing up which plan to follow, or you can just get out there and run regularly. The most important thing if you want to learn to run is to establish the habit. Just get used to being on your feet, warming up, stretching and going out for a run.
Forget the idea of reaching a certain distance, and instead, just set a time goal. Our beginner running target for the first week is to get outside for just 10 minutes, three days a week. Eventually, we're aiming to bump that up to 20 minutes to 25 and so on and then to four days a week.
2. Embrace the Run-Walk Method
It’s here, in the beginning, when many new runners fail. You think, “Today, I'm going to start running!” and out the door you go with the best of intentions—but maybe not the best preparation. Four minutes later, everything hurts, and you feel like you are dying. Don’t despair. Running takes time to break into whether you’re fresh off the couch or coming from other sports or fitness activities.
“Every able-bodied person can be a runner,” says Gordon Bakoulis, a running coach so always keep that in mind. Just start slowly and build up gradually.
And this is the key.
Most trainers agree that the best way to become a runner is by adopting a run-walk approach.
So with that first 10-minute target in mind, focus on just a few minutes of running, followed by a period of walking. Maybe aim to run for a couple of minutes and walk for one minute—continue to alternate until you reach the time goal, always ending with a walking segment to cool down.
No matter how long you’re going to run for, DON'T push yourself too hard but rather think about reaching a 6 to 7 out of 10 in terms of your exertion level during those run periods, then take it down to 2 or 3 during the walk That means you should still be able to have a conversation during those three-minute run periods. (Who actually runs and talks??)
3. Consider Proper Technique
Treat yourself like a runner—from day one. That means taking time to properly warm up and cool down. A good warmup makes it much easier to get going and keep going. It’s much more than just boosting blood flow to your muscles. Your neuromuscular system, which involves your brain telling your muscles how to contract, gets up to speed. Your body starts churning out fat-burning enzymes, which help your aerobic system work more efficiently. Synovial fluid warms up, which helps lubricate your joints. THIS IS ALL GOOD! But too many beginners skip this step without realising how much easier it makes the whole workout feel.
Cooling down allows your body to gradually adjust from running back to a resting state. Just a few minutes of walking is all you need to let your heart rate return to normal and for your body to clear out any metabolic waste you created during your efforts.
Even (and especially) in the early stages of running, you also want to think about form. Here are a few simple questions you can ask yourselves when you're out:
Am I leaning forward through the chest?
Are my arms swinging?
Is my core engaged?
Are my knees driving?
Are my heels nice and high?
Really focus on picking up your heels behind you, especially if you’re feeling tired and your legs are feeling heavy to take your mind off the run for a little.
4. Explore New Places
An easy way to keep your motivation up on the run is to find a new area to discover. Pick a route down roads you've never been before. Maybe run through a park you've haven't visited.
5. Progress Slowly
It’s SO easy to overdo it on the days you feel good but doing too much too soon is a classic rookie mistake that can lead to injury and burnout. That's why I ended up injuring myself a couple of years ago. When you’re first starting out, your goal should just be to have fun a few times per week.
6. Don't Get Discouraged
And this is easier said than done. When you start to feel like you just want to stop, really focus on why you decided to start running. Even when it gets hard, there’s a reason you got out in the first place and for me, the battle wasn't so much with my legs or my breathing but definitely with my mind.
Before you start each run, decide what you want to get out of it to keep your focus. Do you want to get outside and enjoy it? Do you want to end smiling and feeling good? Do you want to get mentally or physically stronger? Do you just want to sweat a little? Whatever it is, point it out and use it as your motivation to just keep going.
Also, don’t dwell on one bad run, because everyone has them. Running is more of a collection of work—day by day, you work for it—and it’s at the end that you see everything. So just focus on showing up a little bit every few days. Some days you’ll feel amazing; some days you’ll feel terrible. But success is not determined by one day, but by all of them put together.
In the end, running should be fun and it's HUGELY rewarding!
Tools To Help You Stay Inspired
A Training Log
A simple journal offers insight into how far you’ve come, what’s working, what’s not, and keeps you on track to meet your goals. Some items to consider recording: type of run (duration/miles/special workout); effort level; food and drink consumed before, during, and after; weather; and how you felt.
Having a running partner, real or virtual improves the odds that you’ll stick with working out. Knowing that lots of other people are working out and starting their runs / journey with you is so motivating. They're depending on you as well don't forget!
With all the classes that we do together, you must be really aware of the powerful effect music can have on performance. "Certain types of music can help lower the perception of fatigue and enhance feelings of vigour and excitement,” says sports and exercise psychologist Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., psychologist at West London’s Brunel University.
Just be sure to keep the volume low enough or opt for open-air earphones so you’re aware of your surroundings.
Finally, always remember that you’re a runner, no matter how much time you put in and whether you walk or not. All you have to do is show up, put one foot in front of the other, and you’re a runner. Don’t forget it!