8 Essential Distance Running Tips for Beginners

Distance running is an excellent way to improve your fitness and overall health. Whether you're looking to run a marathon eventually or simply build your endurance, there are a few tips that can help you get started on the right foot. Below are some distance running tips for beginners that can help get you off with a flying start!

Distance Running Tip #1: Start Slowly

distance running tips for beginners
One of the most important distance running tips for beginners is to start slowly. Almost everybody starting out with running starts off too fast. It might not be you, but I just wanted to make sure we covered off on this point first. Running can be challenging and very difficult. But when you start out, I'd like you start off nice and easy. Start with shorter distances and slower speeds. Enjoy your running. Gradually increase the time you run. Gradually increase the intensity. Just take your time. This will help you avoid injury and build your endurance at a steady pace.

So, run at an easy pace. You will enjoy your running much more. You will have lower chances of getting injured. And you will be able to run further as well!

Distance Running Tips #2: Follow a Training Plan

distance running tips for beginners
To build your fitness effectively, it's pretty useful to follow a training plan. From experience, when new runners start running, they might often just run a set distance, e.g. around a couple of blocks, around the park, around a lake, etc.

The next time they run, they might run the same course a bit faster. Next time a bit faster again. And so on. Not a bad start, but not an optimal approach to running either. You can improve further by following a plan that slowly but surely increases your time spent running and includes different types of workouts.

Examples on this site of run/walk programs:

Beginner Running Programs - Three programs that aim to get you running for 15, 20 or 30 minutes non-stop!

Heart Rate Monitor Running Programs - Programs for your first 10k and first half marathon. They are set up to use with a heart rate monitor, but the page includes instructions on how to use it without as well.

Distance Running Tips #3: Increase Mileage Gradually

distance running tips for beginners
One of the biggest mistakes that beginner runners make is increasing their mileage too quickly. This can lead to injury and burnout, and it can set you back in your training. Instead, aim to increase your mileage slowly. A popular rule is to increase it by no more than 10% per week.

It is not a bad rule, but I have tried to improve upon it on this page about increasing mileage.

Distance Running Tip #4: Run Consistently

To build your fitness and improve your running abilities, it's important to run consistently. This means running at least three or four times per week. This will help you build your endurance and make it easier to maintain your fitness over time.

Only running once or twice a week? I am not saying improvement is not possible. But it makes it harder, when you are not running regularly. You can compensate somewhat by doing cross-training, such as cycling and rowing.

Distance Running Tip #5: Use Run/Walk Intervals

distance running tips for beginners
This may not apply to you, but if you are very new to distance running, and you find it difficult to run for long periods without taking breaks, then I have the solution for you. Run/walk intervals. They can be a great way to build your endurance gradually. To use this technique, run for a set amount of time or distance, then take a short walking break before resuming your run. Over time, you can gradually reduce the length of your walking breaks until you're running continuously.

I provided a link to the beginner running programs on this site before. I'd like to make a special mention of Beginners Running Program 3. Over the lifetime of this website (since 2006) it has had the most users (thousands).

It is completely free of charge and has had much positive feedback. One runner commented that she considered it to be better than the programs provided by Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway and Runner's World. Just saying... :)

Distance Running Tip #6: Incorporate Strength Training

Strength training can be an excellent complement to distance running. Especially when you come to running at a higher age or when you are running a lot, strength training is no longer optional. My view. I have personally learned the enormous benefits a strength training routine can bring. It can help make you stronger and fitter. Clearly. But from a running perspective, it can help improve your running form, help you maintain your form as you get tired as well as reduce your risk of injury. An overall body routine with a focus on exercises that target your core, hips, glutes, and legs works really well. Examples of useful exercises are squats, lunges, push-ups and planks.

Check out my page about strength training for runners for a lot more information.

Distance Running Tip #7: Rest and Recover

distance running tips for beginners
Rest and recovery are essential components of any training program. They give your body time to repair and rebuild after your workouts, which is essential for building your fitness over time. Make sure to take at least one or two rest days per week, and get plenty of sleep to help your body recover.

Distance Running Tip #8: Listen to Your Body

Finally, it's important to listen to your body and adjust your training as needed. If you feel tired or sore, take an extra rest day or reduce the intensity of your workouts. If you experience pain or discomfort, stop running and seek medical advice. By listening to your body and taking care of yourself, you'll be able to build your fitness safely and effectively.

In summary, distance running can be a challenging but rewarding pursuit. By following these tips, you can build your endurance gradually, reduce your risk of injury, and improve your overall fitness. Remember to start slowly, follow a running program, incorporate strength training and be sensible with increasing your mileage. And at all times, listen to your body!

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