If you are new to running, it’s important that you make your workouts as enjoyable and fun as possible. After all, I want you to develop the running a habit, and not just go a couple of times and then give up.
It takes time to make running habitual. A habit being something you can do without thinking about it too hard or using a lot of willpower. It’s only when exercise becomes a habit that you will get the results you want. One workout a week won’t do it – you need to exercise at least three-times a week to see any benefits.
Here are my best 12 beginner tips to make your first few runs as enjoyable as possible.
1. Get the right shoes for the job
Running can be hard on your feet, knees, and hips. Good running shoes will protect you from impact and make your runs much more comfortable. You don’t have to buy super-expensive shoes, but they do need to be fit for the job. Not sure where to start? Check out my article Best Running Shoes for guidance.
2. Dress in layers
Running can make you hot so it’s important to dress in layers. That way, as you heat up, you can remove clothes to stay cool. A light jacket or hoodie with a zip is a good place to start. It’s always better to start off feeling cool and then warm up than it is to start warm and then get too hot!
3. Be safe, be seen
If you are going to run near traffic, make sure you are visible to other road users. A lot of running clothes have built-in reflective strips to make sure you are easy to see. You could also add a reflective belt to your running outfit. If you run at night, stick to well-lit areas, and consider wearing a headtorch.
4. Run with a friend or in a group
Running is much more fun when you do it with a friend or in a group. Running in company boosts motivation and enjoyment, and you’ll have someone to chat to which helps pass the time. Try to run with someone who is the same level of fitness as you, so you don’t have to over-exert yourself to keep up.
5. Follow a plan
You’ll make much faster progress if you follow a plan when you start running. That way, you’ll gradually run a little further each time which will help make you fitter. You’ll find an easy-to-follow beginner’s running plan in my article Running for Beginners.
6. Use the 10% rule
Running to far too soon is a good way to get sore, tired, or injured. Increase the difficulty of your workouts gradually by using the 10% rule. That means you never increase the length of any single run or your weekly running total by more than 10%. Experienced runners use this rule, but it’s especially relevant for beginners.
When you run, you lose water by sweating and in your exhalations. You need to replace this water, or you could end up dehydrated. One way to do this is to use a wearable Hydration Pack which allows you to run and drink water at the same time. You should also make sure you drink water both before and after your workouts.
8. Listen to your body
Your body will soon tell you if the plan you are following is too easy or too hard. Listen to the messages your body is sending you and act accordingly. For example, if you wake up feeling tired and sore from your last run, your body is telling you that it could do with an extra day’s rest, or that you should have an easy run today. It’s good to be motivated and determined, but also remember that running should be fun and healthy. Don’t force your body to work harder than it wants to.
9. Focus in distance and not speed
When you start running, you will probably find that you can’t run very fast. That’s okay; speed comes later. At first, find a pace at which you are comfortable and can maintain for a good length of time. When you can run without stopping for 30-40 minutes, then you can start to speed up a little. Going too fast might mean you end up stopping and it’s usually better to run long and slow than short and fast.
10. Run smoothly and quietly
Running is a simple activity but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it wrong. Running with bad technique will make running harder than it needs to be and could even lead to injury. Concentrate on not only how far you run, but your running style too. Run lightly, quietly, and with short strides. Keep your body upright, look straight ahead, and make sure your arms, shoulders, neck, and face are relaxed. Finally, breathe in time with your footfalls even when you get tired. Do not lose control of your breathing and start panting rapidly as you’ll just end up getting tired sooner.
Running can make your muscles short and tight. This will not only make running harder, it could also lead to injury. Make sure you start and end every run with a few stretches, and also stretch on your rest days. Not sure where to start? Consider doing some Yoga Poses for Beginners.
12. Don’t ignore pain
Running is a healthy form of exercise but, like all types of exercise, it can sometimes cause pain. Usually, that pain is nothing more than sore, tight muscles that can be relieved with stretching. Other times, it might be something a little more serious, like knee pain or lower back pain.
Don’t ignore pain. After all, it’s your body’s way of telling you something is not right. If you have pain, try and treat it yourself with rest and using things like heat or ice. If it doesn’t go away after a day or two, consider seeing your doctor. Do not try and run through severe pain – you might make the problem much worse.