What is The Best Way to Train for a Beginning Runner?

by Nick

best way to train for beginning runner

I have been running for a little over a month. I seem to be in decent shape for a former smoker. I started with 2 miles per run, twice a week for the first 2 weeks. Then, I stepped it up to 3 miles per run, again twice a week for the next 2 weeks. This past Sunday, I even completed 4 miles with a friend. In each running session, I made sure to maintain a consistent pace, around a 10-1/2 minute mile. The 4-mile run took us about 42 minutes.

However, I signed up for what I believed to be a 5k three weeks from now. It actually turns out to be a 5 mile race and I am unsure if I can complete it. I'm unsure if I should focus on hill running, cross-training, or sprint training of some kind. I've always been an active person, playing sports or working construction jobs. I am 31 years old and quit smoking 7 months ago.

Answer by Dominique:


Thanks so much for your question regarding training for your upcoming 5 mile race. It's fantastic to see that you've embarked on the journey of running. From what I gather, you're progressing pretty well so far. Let me put your mind at ease, since you're already up to 4 miles, you can complete a 5 mile race. It will be fine.

In order to prepare best for this adventure, I have got the following breakdown for you:

1. Most of the Running Should be Easy
2. Benefits of Easy Running
3. Adding Some Faster Running

Most of the Running Should Be Easy

best way to train for beginning runner
Now, the core of my training philosophy is slow and steady beginnings. I'd highly recommend you start with building a strong base, which means focusing mostly on "easy pace" runs.

It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but incorporating lots of easy runs into your training routine is a terrific method for building endurance and achieving consistent results. Easy runs help to condition your body and build on your current base. Besides that, it's a great way to burn calories and increase your stamina - all without overstressing your body. It's also beneficial for promoting a steady and healthy heart rate. Plus, easy runs are typically more enjoyable and less stressful for your mind.

Check out the Easy Running Page for more information.

Benefits of Easy Running

best way to train for beginning runner
A big part of easy running is that it helps prevent injuries. Overexerting yourself on tough runs or sprint exercises can risk pulling a muscle or causing other types of injuries. Easy running allows your body to adapt to the consistent movement of running at a comfortable, maintainable pace.

As a beginner, your focus should be on increasing your distance and comprehensively enhancing endurance rather than speed. If you rush into extensive speedwork or rigorous hill runs too early, you could find yourself with increased injury risks.

Tortoise and the hare, my friend. Build that base, take it easy, then move on to the more advanced stuff.

Adding Some Faster Running

best way to train for beginning runner
If you want a little variation and challenge after some time, don't worry. You could add a weekly "fartlek" session to your routine or try some tempo running.

"Fartlek" is a Swedish term that means "speed play". It involves random bursts of speed during your normal run. Temporarily increasing your pace helps to push your boundaries and can really spice up your training routine.

Tempo running, on the other hand, is a run carried out at a "comfortably hard" pace. It trains your body to sustain speed over distance, which could be very handy for races.

Intervals can be good as well. It is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is often touted as the best way to train, but it can lead to exhaustion and stress. So, I am not saying do not do it. But, one interval session is more than enough per week. Balance is the key in running just like in life.

I hope this clarifies your doubts and helps you in your training. I hope the 5 mile race is not the end of the running journey. Best of luck with your race!

Kind Regards,

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