How Do I Start Running?
It’s amazing to know that you’re interested in becoming a runner – whether it’s for weight-loss, competition, fitness (or all of the above!), everyone needs to start from somewhere. Personally, I started from the absolute bottom. I wasn’t looking to lose weight, I was looking to get fit and compete. What some people don’t realize is that healthy weight does not always equal healthy body – you may look fit, when in reality you are far from it.
For me, I was very unfit in terms of cardiovascular health. I couldn’t run a kilometre if my life depended on it. After getting some help, I was set up on a training plan and started with the most basic of plans. Now, years later, I can easily run that kilometre, and many many more. The beauty was it only took a few months to build up to distance runs – and I started to enjoy them quite well too.
How Do I Start Running?
Finding answers on how to start running leads you to an information overload, and not all of it is true. Sometimes simpler is better, and this list shows you the basics to running – with no outdated data. There are three things you need to start running, and they’re all simple to follow.
One running session can last for well over an hour (once you work up to it), and you want your shoes and clothing to be comfortable the whole time. Jeans may be comfortable to relax in, but will drag you away from your potential when running.
Pick the Right Apparel.
You don’t need the latest and greatest to have a great run, a lot of that is actually mental. A positive outlook can be the difference between horrible and amazing. For bottoms, you just need something that is lightweight and keeps your legs as free as possible. Grab a pair of your favourite shorts and they should do just the trick.
Your top should be made of material that will prevent chafing, as an hour long jog (this will sound a lot less scary after you get stronger) will become mighty uncomfortable once you rub sensitive skin over and over. Other than that, the top is only dependent on the weather. A t-shirt is usually the best choice for summer, and a long-sleeve or jacket is best in the winter.
Shoes are your most important apparel when running – if they aren’t comfortable, they will make your run miserable and turn you away from the exercise completely. A good pair of running shoes won’t make you faster, but they will make it much more comfortable to run faster. Pick something that is comfortable to you. Don’t pick something that someone else finds comfortable.
Find Your Pace.
A lot of new runners want to get right into speed work and to go fast. However, this can lead to someone quitting because they are disappointed that they can’t hold the pace for very long, or they injure themselves. What these runners don’t realize is that running slow helps you run fast. Setting goals that are too high for yourself can impact you and turn you away from running really quickly. Go slow, and explore what you can do already. Then expand.
To find your pace, head out for a run and try to say a short paragraph. If after the first sentence you’re struggling to make the words out, you’re going too fast. You’ll know if you’re going too fast intuitively. When beginning, it’s best to take it slow and easy. Practice proper running form when you run, as this will become a good habit that will lead to you becoming a much better runner.
Running partners can help you pass the time, stay on pace, and push each other when training. When you know someone is expecting you to run with them, you will run. When you know someone expects you to finish the run, you’ll finish. A positive partner will make running a joy, something you look forward to. Whether this is family or friend, they can help.
Follow a Plan.
- When beginning, you want to create an “aerobic base”. This base is the foundation for future training.
- Start out slow. Running is a high impact sport that will leave you very sore the day after. This is normal for beginners – it will go away as your muscles grow and adapt to this new activity. As long as you aren’t pushing yourself to your limits with speed work everyday, you’ll grow very strong.
- Run at least twice a week (if you can) for results to really show. If you can find time for 4 times a week, you will improve much faster and burn more calories than you would with only 2 days. As long as you give yourself time to recover, it will only help you.
- Eventually, put speed work into your plan to become even faster.
There will be more on this in the next section, so hold on to your shorts!
First, you need to know what aerobic work is, and what the opposite is. Aerobic work is the long, slow, endurance training. This type of work takes a long time before you tire from it. Aerobic work depends on you current fitness level. For example, 5k in 25 minutes is not aerobic when you end exhausted and ready to drop.
Anaerobic work is the opposite, where you hit off with speed and power. 200m sprints are anaerobic work, and are not part of the aerobic base you need when starting out.
So how do I create an aerobic base? Create a month long plan to run easy and long. What is considered long is up to how fit you are when you start running. Some runners can run for 10 minutes at an easy pace before becoming tuckered out, for others it might be 20 minutes. Find how long you can run for and set that as your goal. Keep adding a few minutes to it for every day you train until you’re happy with how long you can go far. Over 30 minutes is a great goal when starting out.
Ways to Start:
One way that some coaches start is with the most basic ways to improve – run-walk-run-… on and on. It’s completely fine to not be able to run for 10 minutes straight at first – it’s a challenge when the body has never had to deal with that stress. A run-walk program is great for beginners – in fact, that’s how I started running!
This can be done by running for a minute, walking for a minute, and repeating a few times. make sure to stretch afterward and do this multiple times every week. Every day you do this, increase the number of times you repeat it – or increase the length of time that you run. It’s completely up to you and how you feel. Everyone has a unique body.
Another way to build up is to start with a set time goal and then increase the time (not distance). Focusing on time lets you set a good pace to feel good throughout the run so that during bad days you won’t dread the run. Here’s how this works:
- Day 1 – 4:00 run.
- Day 2 – Rest.
- Day 3 – 6:00 run.
- Day 4 – Rest.
- Day 5 – 8:00 run.
This will build up to 20:00 – many high schools use this progression idea to push students to good health. The best part is that it works. As you improve, you’ll quickly realize how fast the original four minutes feels compared to when you started. This can be done at any pace, so long as it’s running. Get that heart pumping!
Beginner’s running plans:
- Couch to 5k 9 Week Plan
- Hal Higdon Novice 5k 8 Week Plan
- Women’s Running First Finish 5k 12 Week Plan
Now it’s time to put these ideas into action. Seriously. It can change your life.
Running has a bad reputation for being a hard and injury prone sport, but as long as you keep it easy, build your aerobic base, and have proper running form, you will be golden – without injury. The benefits of running far outweigh the risks of injury – in fact, running can make you less prone to injury since you’re strengthening your entire body.
If you’ve ever wondered how to run, it’s just one step at a time. Progression, recovery, and habit-building are what running is all about.
What’s stopping you from running?
Caleb Thompson is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and other Amazon stores worldwide.
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