How To Start Running – 5 Tips for The Complete Beginner

The reasons you’re looking for advice on how to start running are no secret.

I mean…Running is awesome.

Research has shown that it prevents a host of chronic diseases, improves mood, burns calories, helps maintain a healthy weight, increases lifespan, improves brain power, and so much more.

That said, embarking on the running path ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. Starting a running program can seem daunting—especially for the complete beginner.

But fret no more. I got you covered, buddy.

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite  running tips for beginners that I usually hand out whenever I get asked for beginner exercise advice.

So are you excited? Then here we go.

1. How to Start Running?

The answer is simple: slow. This is the best way to get into running without risking injury or burnouts.

Starting small is the cardinal rule of running success. That’s it. A lot of beginners make the mistake of starting too fast, too hard, then they get injured or burned out (sometimes both), within a few weeks. And that’s bad.

Get this: if you are starting out from nothing to doing relatively high-intensity, high-volume and high-impact training in a short period, then you’re setting yourself up for a severe setback.

Pushing through unnecessary discomfort barriers can do more harm than good. And the last thing you’d want when you’re starting out is to get hurt.

In fact, you are asking for burnouts and/or overuse injuries such as Runners Knee, Stress Fractures, etc.—all of which can sideline you for many weeks, compromising and ruining your training resolve.

As a result, do not do more than your body can handle.

So, during your first few months (yes, months!) of training, take it easy.  Begin from the beginning. Start from where you are, not from where you wish to be.

I’m guilty of this, so I know. You believe you can do more, so you do. But that’s a trap. Even if you’re already in a decent shape, have perfect technique, and $200 shoes, running will always be a high intensity, high impact exercise. Don’t mess with that.

The Out of Shape & Overweight Beginner Runner

Beginning a running plan when you have not done much exericse in your life is no easy feat.

So, if you’re overweight (30-plus pounds or more) and/or out of shape, start by walking for a 30 to 40 minutes a session, three to four times a week, then progress into a run-walk method recipe.

This, in my experience, the best way to begin running when out of shape.

2. The Walk/Run Demystified – How to Start Running The Easy Way

After three or four weeks of walking, including some relatively faster walking/jogging intervals—low-intensity jogging alternated with brisk walking for recovery.

The ideal session comprises warming up with walking for 5 to 10 minutes, then jogging for 30 to 60 seconds or so, alternating with walking recovery periods.

As you get fitter, increase the time spent running while taking less and less for recovery until you can run for 30 minutes straight with little huffing and puffing.

Start with short periods of first—8 minutes, then 10, then 13, then 15, and so on.

Later down the road, once you’re comfortable running for 30 to 40 minutes, then, and only then, you can add distance and intensity.

Walking to Running Ratios

To practice the walk run method the right way, take the walk breaks before you start getting tired. That’s the way to go.

Contrary to popular belief, this beginner runner method does not mean that you should take breaks only when fatigued.  As a matter of fact, the walk/run method is about taking recovery breaks way before fatigue starts to set in.

If you wait until you are completely exhausted, you may overboard. You don’t want that, especially if you don’t want to burn your engines out before you are done working out.

Here are 3 walk-to-running ratios to experiment with. Pick the ratio that feels the most appropriate for you.

The Newbie: Jog for 20 to 30 seconds. Then walk for one to two minutes

The Intermediate: Jog for three to five minutes. Then take a two to three minutes walking break.

The Experienced: Jog for eight to ten minutes. Then walk for 30-second to one full minute.

3. Take Your Time When Starting a Running Routine

Gradual progression is the other cardinal rule. If you’re not willing to follow this rule, then you shouldn’t bother running—or doing any other form of exercise—as you’ll only end up hurting yourself.

If you got injured and hurt early on, your interest will fizzle, your enthusiasm will fade, your motivation will hit rock bottom, and you’ll give up. This will discourage you for both the short and long term.

What should you do instead?

Take your time. Your body needs ample time to adapt. That’s the key principle for injury-free and effective training—whether you are running newbie or an elite Olympic weightlifter.

It takes time (roughly two to three months of regular training) for your ligaments, tendons, joints, and muscles adjust to the high impact forces of running, and if you try to rush this process, you’ll, sooner or later, end up injured.

Becoming a full-time runner does not happen overnight. It requires patience and gradual progress. You didn’t become a complete total couch potato in 4 weeks, so you shouldn’t expect to get fit and in shape in 4 weeks.

So, please progress slowly. Aim to increase your actual time spent running by no more than three to five minutes from one session to the next.

Distance Matters

TIME first, DISTANCE later. Make that your motto.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but you can only add distance and intensity once you have built enough cardio and stamina, and are used to the rigors of running.

And please keep in mind that you have the rest of your life to work on getting fit. Don’t let unrealistic expectations dictate the pace of your workouts.

4. Comfortable Pace–The Talk Test

One thing you can do to keep tabs on your training intensity and to make sure you’re exercising within your capacity is to monitor your training pace.

Enter the Talk Test

The best way to keep tabs and monitor your training pace and effort is the Talk Test.

The Talk Test has been around for decades, and it’s still here because it’s simple and it works like a charm.

This test is one of the most commonly used, not to mention most simple and easy way to implement, methods of evaluating training intensity and determining whether you are running at a suitable level of effort, or are overdoing it.

The principle is, if you can carry on a conversation with your training partner while training, then you’re not overly challenging your cardiovascular system.

But, if you are huffing and puffing your way through the conversation, then you’re running too hard.

Here is the cardinal again: As a beginner, your breathing should be under control, and you should be able to maintain a conversation with your training buddy without gasping for breath on every step you take.

In other words, you should be able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance without much trouble.

Rest

Do not ignore recovery days. They are as vital to fitness progress as the training itself. They are also essential for preventing injury and burnouts.

So, as a rule of thumb, take plenty of rest between workouts, with two days off every week.

For more on proper recovery, check my article here.

5. How Long Does it Take

So, how long will it take to become a runner?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but every runner is different and responds differently to the high impact stress of running.

That’s why answering the question “when will running start to feel easier for me?” is tricky. Every runner is unique—with every meaning of the word.

It all depends on the individual. No more. No less.

Well, there is no right or wrong answer because every individual is unique and has a different starting point. So, the answer depends on you.

But, all in all, here are some factors to consider when attempting to find out how long will it take you to become a runner—whatever that means for you.

Your current shape—or how fit were you before you take up running.

Your age. The younger you are, the quicker you can get in shape.

Your current body weight. If you are overweight, or many pounds heavier, then chances are it’s going to take you a little bit longer than someone with a healthy weight.

 

Bonus Tip – Start Running And Keep it Up 

Once you can run straight for a half an hour without much huffing and puffing, then shift on focusing to make turn running into a daily habit.

This is especially the case if you’re serious about sticking to your exercise routine for the long haul and making the most out of your running training.

To build the running habit in your life, do the following:

Schedule your workouts the same way you schedule a vital work meeting or a important doctor checkup. Block out the time required for the session using  a daily calendar, smartphone, or whichever tool you happen to use.

Stick to the “three run per week” rules for the first three months. If you can work it up to six months, then be sure that now you have the exercise habit set for life.

Don’t go solo.. Instead peer up your friends, training buddies from the gym, or any local runners who share your fitness goals and levels. Not only a training buddy will help you keep you going strong, but also hold you accountable for your action and results.

Conclusion

There you have it. The above beginner’s guidelines are all you need to get start running and keep your exercise routine for the long haul.

That said, make sure to stay within your fitness level at all time. Yes, starting a running routine will do wonders to your fitness and health levels, but if you do too much too soon without giving your body enough time to adapt and re-adjust, you’ll definitely hurt yourself. And you dont want that.

Is it not?

So please be careful, and practice the above “how to start running” guidelines the entire time.

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David Dack

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