Running is an amazing way to get fit and stay healthy. In addition to providing great physical health benefits, running also brings great benefits in terms of mental strength.
Since you are reading this post, for which I thank you, you have already decided to start your journey as a runner. You may have already been out on a few runs or you may be deciding whether it is for you.
To be honest, getting started as a runner can be tough. I wont lie. But starting something new is often challenging and breaking through those first few runs will open up a new world of fun. Importantly, starting correctly can greatly ease your start and make your journey a lot more enjoyable.
Your first run is important to set the right start, if you don’t enjoy your first run, the likelihood that you will ever head out on your second run decreases significantly.
So let’s take a look at how you can set yourself up for success on your journey into running.
If you have already caught the running bug, you may need a bigger challenge. Read my 7 Tips for your first 10k and take your distance to the next level!
1. Set a Realistic Goal
Setting a goal is a great way to maintain set a direction and to maintain motivation, this is true for many things in life.
The key word in the title is ‘realistic’. When starting out as a runner it is important to gradually grow your strength and build your running muscles. There is no shortcut.
Setting a goal gives you a great opportunity to build a plan, and structure your runs and exercises. In addition it gives you a fantastic way to measure your progress. I have always found that writing down my goal, or telling my friends is a great way to commit and it has helped hold me accountable. You may also have a short distance race to work towards, commuting to a time and place to complete your goal will help greatly when it comes to keeping you on track.
Next Step, pick a training plan that matches your goal. There are many beginner training plans available, take your journey as a new runner step by step. Start with a beginner running plan to condition your body and build your running strength, then progress to a 5k or 10k plan as you build up on your distances. Avoid skipping steps or pushing too far on the distances too soon, you will only increase your risk of injury which is a sure way to stop your new running career abruptly.
2.Set Up a Training Plan
Start by selecting a training plan. There are plenty of training plans online which will build your pace and distance gradually through healthy mix of runs, steady pace, intervals and some will also suggest core and other strength exercises, which are all key to running.
Pick a plan that enables you to set runs when it works best for you. If you are not able to stick to your plan you may lose motivation and start to skip more runs than you should.
Ensure that your plan matches your target and stick to your plan even if may seem easy at first. You may find that the first runs feel too slow or short, but this is part of conditioning your body. Work your way into your plan and build strength gradually this will make you a stronger runner.
Below are a few beginner training plans to consider to help you get your journey as a new runner started.
3.Start Small & Keep Growing
It happens so easily, and it has happened to me, the enthusiasm is high and we are over ambitious on our first run. The result, it gets tough and motivation quickly drains.
If you are using a beginner training plan, which I highly recommend, you will see that they start with small runs. Training plans are designed to offer you variety in your running to help you build your strength.
Start small, give your body the chance to build up and get strong. Using techniques that include run & walk will also help you build your running strength and stamina.
Starting small is also true when making a return to running after a long break. I have often been surprised how tough it can be to return. Our last running memory may be great long run. This is our last reference point and we make assumptions we can pick up where we finished. False.
Running should be fun, sure, in time you may be out there pushing your pace and distance but to get there start by taking small steps.
4.Warm Up & Stretching is Part of Your Training
Never underestimate the importance of warm-up and stretching.
Launching into your run without the appropriate warm up is a recipe for injury. When you set aside time for your run, always include the time for a dynamic warm-up and post run stretching.
A dynamic warm up will help you gradually increase your heart rate, warm-up your muscles and loosen your joints as you build up to your run start, and your run by slowing down slowly and stretching.
Pre-run dynamic warm up exercises
- 5 Dynamic Stretches to Do Before Every Run | Runners World
- 6 Quick Dynamic Warm Up Exercises for Runners | Runners Blueprint
- 5 Amazing Dynamic Warm Ups for Runners | Running for Sweets
Post run Stretching
- 5 Fast and Effective Post-Run Stretches | Active Andrea
- How to stretch after a run | NHS
- 6 Quick & Easy Post-Run Stretches for the Time Poor Runner | Runner’s Tribe
4.Invest in the Right Shoes for You
Running is a relatively inexpensive way to get fit. You don’t need a gym membership and lots of expensive equipment. However, do not cut corners on your running shoes! This is one worthwhile investment.
I got this wrong when I started out. A pair of running shoes is, well a pair of running shoes. Right?… Not quite!
Your entire body relies on the support that is offered by your running shoes. I highly recommend heading to a local running shop to get a gait analysis. Getting shoes that support you correctly is critical in avoiding injury and will avoid unnecessary aches and pains as you start to pick up the kilometres.
It is good to start early with the right shoes, once the pains start it will be harder to fix, and you will be putting a pause on your running. Running shoes are personal to you and your running style so spending some time with pro’s in a shop is important. You should be given the opportunity to try a variety of shoes and see how the fit and feel as well as getting measured up for appropriate support.
Understanding More: What is a Gait Analysis and Why Do I Need One?
5.Find a Training Partner
In the beginning you will need motivation. One way is to set a goal, and keep your focus on achieving it. Another simple way to amplify your motivation is to find a training partner.
Knowing that someone else is relying on you is a powerful motivator. And it’s a two way benefit. You both play a role to support the other.
It is important though that your training partner is at a similar level as you, maybe even on the same training plan. This way you are both committed on the same journey.
There are many advantages to group running, the obvious one being that having a training partner is more fun. You will partner through the tough times and celebrate the successes.
6.Focus on Your Core
As you focus on getting up and running, it is easy to forget to focus on your core.
A strong core will help you maintain your stability, balance and posture whilst running. Developing your core will focus on developing strength in your abs, lower back, hips and pelvis.
Your core strength exercises should are as important in your training plan as the runs themselves. Building a strong core is essential to a long healthy running career. So whilst you motivation may be to go and run lots of kilometres. Set out some weekly time to focus on your core.
Strengthening your core will help you reduce risk of injuries and enable a faster run.
Check out these core exercise ideas for runners
- Strength training workouts for runners to make you stronger and faster! | Meraki Lane
- The ABCs of Core Training for Runners | Slimmer Fitter Stronger
- 5 Simple and Effective Core Exercises for Runners | Aaptiv
Read my tips to build up your very own core home studio.
Celebrate the small things. I like to print my training plan, in this way I can cross out each accomplished training session when complete.
Your goals maybe specific, in which case keep track of them as your training progresses. Are your runs getting faster? Or are you running further? Are you getting closer to your goal?
Set milestones and cerebrate reaching them, it is all about the journey.
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Jeroen is a keen runner and triathlete. With over 10 years of experience training and participating in races, simply for the joy of sport he has turned to sharing his experience through the articles he writes. As a founder at Loop Social Sport Jeroen has focused his passion on creating a community of like minded individuals who not only train together but also motivate newcomers to take up sport, whether in person or via this blog.