How Fast Beginner Runners Should Run

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Beginner Runner
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Written by :

David Dack

If you’re lacing up your running shoes and wondering, “How fast should I be logging the miles?” – you’re on the right track.

Running isn’t just about putting one foot in front of the other; it’s also about discovering your perfect tempo. As a beginner, it’s common to feel like you’re racing against yourself, questioning whether you’re too slow or pushing too hard.

But here’s the secret: running is not just a sport; it’s a journey, and every journey has its own pace. In this article, I won’t rush through the basics.

Instead, I’ll be your running buddy, guiding you through the intricacies of finding that ideal speed for your runs.

Sounds like a plan?

Let’s hit the ground running.

Understanding Running Speed

Embarking on a journey into the world of running is a bit like learning to play a musical instrument – it’s about finding the perfect harmony between speed and comfort.

When we discuss ‘running speed,’ it’s not just a measure of how fast you can move your legs; it’s about establishing a pace that aligns with your current fitness level, your objectives, and your overall well-being.

For beginners, it’s not about sprinting like a lightning bolt but rather about discovering a rhythm that feels suitable and sustainable. This isn’t a race against others; it’s your own personal marathon.

Your ideal speed is the sweet spot where you feel challenged yet comfortable, building endurance without feeling like you’re running on empty.

Enter the ‘Conversational Pace’

This term is music to the ears of many runners, especially novices. It’s all about identifying a pace where you can easily maintain a conversation while running. Imagine going for a jog with a friend, engrossed in a lively chat.

You’re not gasping for air or stumbling over words. That’s the pace we’re aiming for – a pace where talking feels as effortless as your strides.

If you find yourself panting, it’s time to dial it back a notch. Reflect on your pace, and remember, it’s about striking a balance where you’re pushing yourself without going overboard.

Now, here’s a quirky analogy to tie it all together. Picture yourself running while reciting the pledge of allegiance. Yes, you read that right!

If you can smoothly recite those words without turning into a wheezing mess, you’re on the right track. It’s an unusual but effective way to gauge your effort level, ensuring that you’re running with both energy and composure.

Benefits of Running at a Conversational Pace

Understanding Running Speed Diving into the world of running can feel a bit like tuning a new instrument – it’s all about striking the perfect chord between speed and comfort. When we talk about ‘running speed’, it’s not just a measure of how briskly you can move those legs.

It’s more about setting a pace that’s in tune with your current fitness level, your goals, and your overall well-being. For those of us just starting out, it’s less about sprinting like a bolt of lightning and more about finding a rhythm that feels right and sustainable. Remember, this isn’t a sprint against others; it’s your own personal marathon.

The right speed for you is that sweet spot where you feel challenged yet comfortable, building your endurance without feeling like you’re running on empty.

Introducing the ‘Conversational Pace’

This is a term that’s like music to a runner’s ears, especially beginners. It’s all about finding that pace where you can comfortably hold a conversation while running. Imagine you’re out for a jog with a friend, immersed in a great chat.

You’re not struggling for breath or stumbling over your words.

That’s the pace we’re aiming for – a pace where talking feels as natural as your strides. If you find yourself panting, then it’s time to ease up a little. Reflect on your pace and remember, it’s all about finding a balance where you’re pushing yourself but not overdoing it. And here’s a quirky metaphor to bring it all together.

Picture yourself running and reciting the pledge of allegiance simultaneously.

That’s right! If you can recite those words smoothly without turning into a wheezing mess, you’re on the right track. It’s an unusual but effective way to gauge your effort level, ensuring that you’re running not just with vigor but also with grace and control.

Benefits of Running at a Conversational Pace

If you’re taking your first steps as a runner, choosing a conversational pace is akin to selecting the perfect pair of running shoes – it’s a smart move.

This approach offers a multitude of advantages, enriching both your body and your overall running experience. Let’s dive in and uncover these benefits:

Endurance Enhancement:

Embracing a conversational pace revolves around aerobic running, the cornerstone of stamina development. When you can comfortably converse while running, your body becomes more adept at utilizing oxygen. As a result, you can extend your runs in terms of both duration and distance without hitting a performance plateau. It’s the bedrock of your running journey, and believe me, it’s rock-solid.

Efficient Fat Utilization:

At this relaxed pace, your body primarily utilizes fat as its energy source. It’s like tapping into a long-lasting energy reservoir, allowing you to sustain your run without experiencing an energy crash. Additionally, it promotes steady and healthy weight management.

Injury Prevention:

Injuries such as shin splints or runner’s knee often arise when you push your limits too aggressively. A conversational pace acts as your shield against these unwelcome visitors. It introduces your body to running in a gentler manner, affording your muscles, joints, and bones the necessary time to adapt and strengthen.

Mental Well-being and Enjoyment:

Running at a comfortable, conversational pace can serve as a stress reliever and a form of moving meditation. It offers a mental escape from the daily hustle and bustle and can be an excellent opportunity for social interaction if you’re running with a companion or a group.

Sustained Consistency:

When running feels more like a source of joy than a chore, you’re more likely to stay committed. A conversational pace ensures that your runs are something to anticipate, not dread. It’s about savoring every step of the journey rather than solely focusing on the finish line. This approach transforms running into a sustainable, enjoyable component of your lifestyle.

Finding Your Ideal Beginner’s Pace

Finding the right pace as a beginner runner is like tuning into your favorite radio station – it’s about hitting that sweet spot where everything just clicks. Here are some handy, intuitive methods to help you tune into your ideal running pace, ensuring your runs are both challenging and enjoyable.

Talk Test:

The talk test is as straightforward as it sounds and works wonders. It’s like checking if you can keep up a conversation during a coffee catch-up while on the run. If you can chat or talk to yourself in complete sentences without turning into a panting mess, congratulations, you’re probably at your perfect pace. If speaking feels like a Herculean task, slow down. And if you can easily belt out a song, you might want to gently pick up the pace.

Perceived Exertion:

This one’s all about tuning into your body’s signals. On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 feels like a stroll in the park and 10 is like a full-on, breathless sprint, aim for a comfortable 4 to 5. You’re looking for that zone where you feel like you’re pushing yourself, but not to the point of exhaustion. If you’re edging towards an 8 or 9, it’s a red flag that you’re overdoing it.

Heart Rate Monitoring:

If you’ve got a heart rate monitor, it can be a nifty tool in your running arsenal. For beginners, keeping your heart rate around 60-70% of your maximum is a good benchmark. This keeps you in the aerobic zone – think of it as your body’s happy place where you can run comfortably without gasping for air.

Run-Walk Intervals:

Implementing run-walk intervals is like having training wheels on a bike – it’s a great way to keep your pace in check. Think of walking as always having one foot on the ground. A brisk walk is roughly a 15-minute mile. You don’t need to shift into a run until you’re cruising faster than that. For new runners, aiming for a 12 to 13-minute mile pace, peppered with walk breaks, is a solid starting point.

Begin with a ratio that feels right for your fitness level, like running for one minute and walking for two. It’s like mixing intervals of a brisk dance with moments of a leisurely stroll. Start with a 3-minute run followed by a 1-minute walk.

This pattern helps regulate your breathing and keeps your heart rate in the sweet spot. Stick with this for a week or two until it feels comfortable, then gradually shift to 4-minute runs and 1-minute walks, like turning up the tempo of your favorite song as you get more comfortable with the rhythm.

Use Time, Not Miles:

For beginners, it’s more beneficial to focus on the time you spend running rather than the distance covered.

As weeks pass, you’ll find running becomes easier as you build endurance and cardiovascular health.

You’ll start to cover more ground naturally. Perhaps initially, you might only manage a couple of miles, but soon you’ll see those 2 miles stretch into 2.5, then 3, and so on, just like adding more songs to your running playlist.

Gradual Progression:

As a beginner, it’s important to start with a gentle approach. Don’t feel pressured to sprint towards a specific pace.

Think of it as laying down the first few beats of a song – focus on finding your rhythm comfortably and consistently.

Over time, as you get more in tune with running, you can gradually increase your pace, like gradually turning up the volume on your favorite track.

Listen To Your Body

Listening to your body while running is like having an internal coach guiding you. It’s essential to be attentive to the signals your body sends you during your workout. Your body communicates in various ways, letting you know whether you’re on the right track or if you need to adjust your pace.

Here’s a list of red flags to watch out for, indicating that you might be pushing your running pace too much:

  1. Dizziness or Lightheadedness: Feeling unsteady or faint can be a sign of overexertion or dehydration.
  2. Overwhelming Fatigue: If you feel excessively tired during or after your run, it might mean you’re pushing too hard.
  3. Sharp or Persistent Pains: Acute pain, especially in your joints or muscles, is a clear indicator that you need to slow down.
  4. Irregular Heartbeat: Pay attention if your heart feels like it’s beating too fast, too hard, or irregularly.
  5. Trouble Breathing: If you’re struggling to catch your breath or can’t breathe comfortably, you’re likely going too fast.
  6. Nausea or Upset Stomach: These can be signs of pushing your body beyond its current limits.
  7. Excessive and Prolonged Soreness: Some soreness is normal, but if it’s excessive or lasts for days, it’s a sign of overdoing it.

These symptoms suggest that you might be pushing yourself too hard, and it’s crucial to prioritize your health and safety. Remember, slowing down when you notice these signs isn’t a defeat; it’s a smart and necessary step in your running journey.

The Ideal Beginner Running Session

Ready to kick-start my running adventure? Let’s get going with a fun 2-mile loop right in my own neighborhood. It’s going to be my personal track today.

First things first, I like to warm up for 5 minutes. This is super important to get my muscles ready and my heart excited for the run ahead. It’s like revving up the engine before a thrilling ride.

Now, here comes the exciting part – my run-walk routine! I start with a gentle jog for one minute. I can feel the ground under my feet, and my heart joins in the fun. After that minute, I switch to a relaxing walk for two to three minutes. It’s my chance to catch my breath and smile, knowing I’m doing great. I like to keep up this jog-walk mix five to seven times – it’s like a game where I’m building strength and endurance without tiring myself out.

All done with the running? Awesome! Now, it’s time to cool down. I spend a few minutes walking to let my body wind down gently. It’s like giving myself a pat on the back for a job well done.

This whole routine – a bit of jogging, some walking, warming up, and cooling down – is a fantastic way for me to dive into running. It’s easy, fun, and a great way to start my running journey without pushing too hard. So, if you’re ready, lace up those shoes and join me on this exciting adventure!

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