The Most Important Beginner Running Tips
All You Need to Start Running
You have decided to start running. Good for you!
Follow my beginner running tips and you are off with a flying start!
What follows below are, what I think, are the most important beginner running tips. I hope they help you. At the bottom of this page you find links to a number of other beginner running articles on this page. Make sure to check those out as well!
Beginner Running Tip 1 : It is Never Too Late to Start RunningWhatever your age: exercise is good for you. Regular exercise provides you the following benefits:
And the list does not stop there! So put on those running shoes and your running clothing and go for it!
By the way, ever checked the number of so called veterans in race results? The vast majority of the running pack consists of people aged 35 and older. It is never too late to start running!
Beginner Running Tip 2 : Visit a Physician
Before you start your running program, pay a visit to your physician. This is always a good idea, but especially in case of the following conditions:
Hey, better safe than sorry!
Beginner Running Tip 3 : Use a Running Program
I have developed running schedules especially aimed at beginners. They combine running and walking and get you to running 15, 20 or 30 minutes non-stop. These beginner running programs will accomplish many things for you. They will:
Too many beginning runners do too much running too soon and stop within weeks because of injuries. Not you though!
I have received a lot of positive feedback on these running programs. Here are the comments from one happy runner....
... Really Done Wonders for my Health, Stamina and Self-Confidence...
"Ran it today (not a race, just the distance) and now move on to concentrating on my 10K and half marathon.
To sum up, the training program that I used to run really did wonders! I am indebted to Dominique, the owner of this site. It's really done wonders for my health, stamina and self-confidence (who knew I could run 5 metres let alone 5 kilometres?)."
Natasha from Canada about running her first 5K with the help of Beginners Running Program 3 (running 30 minutes in 12 weeks)
Beginner Running Tip 4 : Start with a Run / Walk Program
One of my most important tips for beginning runners is to start with a run/walk program.
Some people will never start their exercise program, because they don't know how to start running. All my beginner's running schedules consist of both running and walking. When you start off, especially when you are completely untrained, you will not be able to run far distances.
Moreover it is not wise to do so, because you put yourself at the risk of running injuries and health problems.
Therefore, start slowly and find out you can still make fantastic progress in just a matter of weeks!
My beginner running programs can help you get there! And when you get stuck, there is an easy FAQ section in which the most frequent questions get answered. And you can ask questions yourself as well!
Know that story about the tortoise and the hare? Be the tortoise and astonish your friends and family. Be a winner!
Beginner Running Tip 5 : Check Your Pulse
An obvious factor which many beginning runners will monitor is their weight. Another one, often forgotten is your heart rate.
Running is a cardiovascular activity. It trains your heart. Your heart pumps blood through your body. A result of proper, regular exercise is that your heart will be able to pump more blood through your body with every heart beat. So it will need less beats to do the same amount of work for you.
Regularly check your pulse and see if you are improving. For fair comparison you need to check your pulse under the same conditions everytime
So the best moment is early in the morning, just after you have woken up, but haven’t gotten out of bed yet. Count the beats during ten seconds and multiply with six to calculate the number of beats per minute.
You should see a steady improvement in your pulse. Not from day to day. But you will definitely see your pulse improve over longer periods of time; i.e. every few weeks or so.
Many of us have fitness trackers as well that provide us with a rest heart rate and/or other measures of fitness. But even if you don't have one of those, just checking your pulse every morning after wake up and making a note of it somewhere is fine. You will see improvements over time.
Do not get discouraged too quickly, when you don't see improvement from day to day or even a slight increase now and then!
We want to see the trend improve over time, we are less concerned about small fluctuations from day to day.
Important: if your pulse is higher (5 to 8 beats per minute) today than yesterday instead of lower this could mean you are overdoing it. Take a rest today and check your pulse again the next day. When it is back to its old level you are ready for your next hard run again.
A higher rest heart rate generally means that you are dealing with additional stress. It could be overtraining, it could be lack of sleep, it could be stress in life, work, relationships, etc. It is generally a sign you need to take it a bit easier that day.
Beginner Running Tip 6 : Keep a Running Log
In a running log you enter basic information about your runs.
For example: distance, time and type of workout.
You can also be more comprehensive and regularly put in your weight and pulse.
You can add how you felt during the run, if you had any niggles or otherwise.
Over time, your running log becomes a very valuable tool as you can see how your training impacts on your fitness. It may also tell you that a certain level of mileage is causing you injury issues. And it is extremely motivating to see your mileage increase and your weight and pulse decrease as your running program progresses!
You can easily make up your own training log with pen and paper or in a computer spreadsheet. Or you can use online tools, such as Strava.
Beginner Running Tip 7 : Listen to Your Body
Probably one of the most ignored tips by beginning and more experienced runners is to listen to your body.
Listening to your body can help you prevent running injuries.
Of course, when you run you are bound to get tired and you can experience muscle pains afterwards. When I am in serious training mode, I wake up with heavy legs more often than not. That's fine. Nothing wrong with a bit of muscle soreness. However, when you start feeling different pains beware! This could be the start of an injury.
Now, many of us are pretty stubborn.
We might get stuck into our training program. We might not want to lose a day of training. We might think we just need to push through the pain.
When you get those kind of thoughts... please beware!
Check in with yourself. Am I feeling normal muscle soreness, or is this the start of an injury? And if it is an injury, take it real easy. Take a couple of days off. Until the pain subsides. When the problem persists, check with your physician.
You can avoid most injury problems, by simply taking a bit more rest.
Take care of yourself. You only have one body and one life. Running is a great healthy activity, but in your enthusiasm (too much too soon) you can harm yourself. Follow one of my beginner training schedules to avoid injuries. Even then, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!
Learn to listen to your body and you will be your own best coach who can tell you to keep on going or to stop.
Beginner Running Tip 8 : Low Intensity
Another cause of problems with beginning runners is that they start at a too high intensity. They decide on a certain running route and measure their time on every run. Everything needs to be speed, speed, speed.
There is also somehow this feeling that you are not really running, if you are not thoroughly exhausting yourself....
If you are a starter, you are far better off doing low intensity runs for a number of reasons :
So slow down and enjoy your running.
Beginner Running Tip 9 : Regular Workouts
Regular running is an important key to your progress. Let's face it, in order to get better at something, anything really, regular practice is key. Same applies to running! Try to run three or four times per week.
It's got to do with consistency,with building up stamina and to get your body used to the regular exercise, rather than shocking it once a week or once every few weeks. The "shock therapy" does not help you build up your fitness and gives you a higher risk of injury.
Make sure that you follow a good running schedule which takes care of a slow and regular build up.
Check here for good beginners running programs.
Beginner Running Tip 10 : Set Goals and Celebrate Progress
Whenever you reach a goal be proud of yourself! Give yourself a compliment and treat yourself to something. Basically, anything tangible or intangible that gives you the feeling you have done well.
Sometimes there is nothing better than just having that glowing feeling of pride when you have accomplished something you didn't know you could do.
Make an effort to celebrate. E.g. have a nice warm bath, share your results on your favorite social media site, or get yourself a running present. Maybe a shirt or a pair of shorts, a heart rate monitor, subscription to a running magazine, etc.
Beginner Running Tip 11 : Don't Be Discouraged if You Don't Experience Weight Loss Immediately
In it for weight loss? congratulations! You have chosen one of the best ways to improve your weight. Please note however that you might not experience weight loss immediately. As a starting runner, you may be discouraged with a lack of progress at first.
The truth is, you need to build up the time spent running and combine your running with a good diet. Not diet as in starving yourself. Diet as in a healthy sustainable lifestyle.
Also note that muscles are heavier than fat. Proper exercise will reduce your body fat and will increase your muscle mass. This could sometimes even lead to an increase in weight.
However, your body could still be leaner, you'd look better and still fit better into your clothes!
Keep this in mind when you step onto those feared weighing scales!
Running for weight loss?
Then check out the running for weight loss page for a few good tips!
Beginner Running Tip 12 : Warm Up and Cool Down
By doing a warm up you are letting your body know that it will have to start working soon. It is important to do this so that your heart and legs can adjust properly. You can do this by doing a dynamic warm-up. Check out my running stretches page for more information on what to do. So don't sprint out of the door, but do a dynamic warm-up and start with a brisk walk, followed by very easy running for a couple of minutes.
At the end of your workout take a couple of minutes to cool down. So run very slowly or walk the last minutes of your workout.
This will improve your recovery rate and reduce muscle pains.
Beginner Running Tip 13 : Cross Training
Running is good for you. However, your legs have to endure a lot while running. Every step you take, the impact on your legs is two to three times your body weight.
This does not need to be a problem. A proper running program that builds up slowly helps your body adjust. Additionally, you can do weights to build leg strength.
But, I also think there is a place for cross training in your running program.
Cross-training is any different form of activity which isn't running like riding a bike, swimming, hiking, walking, going on the elliptical machine, etc.
Cross training is great. It is still helping you increase your fitness while giving your running muscles a break.
Also check out Cross Training for Runners
Beginner Running Tip 14 : Involve Your Family and Friends
In these fast and stressed times you are making a good decision to start running.
Regular running training is important for your progress.
Sit down with your family, inform them of your decision to change your life for the better and work out the best times for all agendas to do your training.
Stick to these times and have your family there to remind you of your training as well.
Even for experienced runners the hardest part of running is getting out of the door! I get most of my running done early in the morning. This way, family life is minimally impacted by my exercise. Additionally, other things like odd jobs around the house etc. do not get in the way.
I have learned this the hard way. In the weekends I used to run late afternoon. But it became clear to me that every second time there would be something going on in or around the house that needed my attention and I would scrap my run for the day.
So, make clear agreements with the family about when you run. Then make your support network push you to make sure you stick to your running schedule!
Beginner Running Tip 15 : Find a Buddy
I just said it: the hardest part of running is getting out of the door. Find that you regularly have trouble doing this? Then find a running buddy to make the journey more pleasurable and to keep yourself accountable to someone else.
When you have a buddy who is running with you, you don't want to let each other down and you will do what is needed: you get out of the door.
Again, I have personal experience with this. Before the COVID era I did a lot of my running during lunchtime at work. Having a work colleague to run with has helped on dozens and dozens of occassions to stop working and get out of the door, rather than working through!
Beginner Running Tip 16 : Eat, Live and Breathe Running and a Healthy Life
Surround yourself with running. Get a subscription to a running magazine or buy a magazine at your bookstore.
Buy yourself a great running book or occasionally visit a running store. Not even necessarily to buy something there, just to browse and get energized by the atmosphere.
I love running stores. Looking at new shoes, browsing through the latest gadgets...
Another great tip is to find a local race in which you can compete. It will help you keep yourself to your training schedule. You will be surprised how much fun you will have in running the race, completing it and talking about it with your fellow competitors.
Maybe you have a parkrun nearby. That's a fantastic way to get motivated and enjoy yourself. parkruns are free and low key. There are runners and walkers. There is a volunteer who walks at the end of the line, ensuring that he or she finishes last. Parkrun is a fantastic body-positive movement. If you have one nearby, make sure you make use of it!
Don't ever feel like you are too slow to join a race. Almost every race will have people walking the full distance. Time allowances are usually such that there is sufficient time for you to cover the full distance. If you have any concerns, just contact the race organisers. Most races are very supportive of anybody taking part.
Beginner Running Tip 17 : Subscribe to a Running Newsletter
About running injuries and how to prevent them.
About increasing your mileage and doing it safely.
About the different types of running workouts you can do, and why you would do them.
Browsing this site will hopefully help you a lot in that respect.
So will subscribing to the Best Running Tips Newsletter. It gives you a regular overview of additions to the site and, even better, provides you with even extra running tips.
I challenge you: try it out.
Don't like it? Then unsubscribe easily at any time.
But I doubt you will ever do that!
Beginner Running Tips
Are you a beginning runner? Then this is your best starting point. Many tips and running programs on offer, dedicated to you.
Running for Weight Loss
Aiming to lose a few pounds? Get into the Running for Weight Loss section for tips and advice.
The Running Training section of the site has got the most articles. It is constantly getting updated with new tips and information. A must-visit if you are serious about improving your running performance.
5k Running Tips
The 5k is a great distance to run and train for. The great thing is that you can do it quite often and see big improvements.
10k Running Tips
The 10k is a real challenge. You need to run fast for an uncomfortably long time! Check out this section if you are strong of mind and legs!
Marathon Running Tips
The marathon is a massive challenge. Proper training is so important! Make sure to check out this section if you have got your mind set on the marathon!