I’ve never been a very good runner, but I’ve always wanted to be. That’s why one of my New Years goals is to start running to increase my fitness level, tone up, and lose more weight. My younger sister runs half marathons but the longest I’ve ever managed to run is 15 minutes. That’s sad, I know, but you’ve got to start somewhere right? There is no shame in where you’re starting out, because the decision TO start is a point of pride in itself.
Running is a fabulous cardio workout, for weight loss, and for your overall health. Many people find running to be a great stress reliever as well, especially when it’s done outdoors. The fresh air does wonders for both the body and the mind, and a beautiful view can have a calming effect if you’ve got a scenic running trail. I plan on doing both outdoor and treadmill running.
If you’re like me, and you want to experience the health and weight loss benefits that running offers you, you need to prepare yourself as you embark on this journey. This article includes all of the research I’ve done on how to start running the right way so you avoid injury, build endurance, build up your physical fitness, and lose weight. 🙂
Running Tips for Beginners
Tip #1 – Clarify and Set Your Goals
Do you want to increase your fitness level, lose weight, or get toned? Maybe you want to run a 5K, a half marathon, or even a full marathon… or perhaps you just want to run for 30 minutes a day to stay fit, like I do. Whatever your goal, you need to find a program that is specific to you and your needs. You may want a 8 week plan or a 10 week plan. You may want to run on trails or maybe you want to run on a treadmill. You need to set SMART goals that are personal to YOU – realistic and achievable – because it will increase your chance of sticking to your goals and achieving them.
Tip #2 – Get Medical Clearance. Your Health Comes First!
Making an appointment with your doctor and getting a complete physical is advised. Depending on your level of fitness, checking in with your health professional to make sure you’re ready to start a new fitness program is always a good idea. If you’ve been working out for awhile, starting a running program may not be a big deal. However, if you’re overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle up until now, you should make sure your doctor does not have any concerns that would prohibit you from starting a running program. Only your doctor can tell you if a running program is appropriate based on your current health.
Tip #3 – Make Sure You Always Warm Up & Use Good Form
Before you run, warm up and do some light stretching to avoid injury. This can be as simple as walking at a slow to moderate pace for 5 minutes before your begin your running program. The best way to explain what “good form” looks like is to show you. Here’s a video that explains it all in 3 simple steps:
Tip #4 – Purchase the Right Running Shoes for Beginners
Just about every sport has it’s own equipment to optimize your results and protect you from injury. Running is no different, you simply need less equipment! A good pair of running shoes will do wonders for your feet, your legs, and your results. When you do decide to purchase your running shoes, be sure to buy shoes that are designed specifically for running. Your shoes should not be regular tennis shoes, walking shoes, or even cross trainers. If you plan on making running a part of your life, running shoes are required.
Running shoes are specially made for a runners needs. They’ve a specific kind of cushion and support needed for running. If you’ve never purchased running shoes before, you can visit a sporting goods store and a sales professional can guide you through the purchase based on your needs. Or you can also simply choose one of Fitness Magazines Top 5 Running Shoes:
Tip #5 – Create a Plan & Stick to It
As a beginner, it will likely take you some time to get your fitness level up to where you can actually run for any length of time. So, you’ll need to make a commitment to a training schedule. Plan out the days and times you’re going to run and stick to it. You can start with anywhere from three to five times per week, beginning with as little as 10 minutes. You can slowly build up your running time from there, but in the beginning you simply need to focus on keeping your commitment to running and being consistent.
Tip #6 – Build Your Endurance
As noted in the tip above, you probably won’t start out running for any good length of time in the beginning. If you mind is already leaping to thoughts of “how fast to run” or “how many miles” you’ll run… well, hold your horses. When you just start running, you simply need to focus on how much time you spend running. You do not want to start running too fast, too soon because it could result in injury. Injuries have a nice way of being painful and discouraging, not to mention they almost always ruin your running goals.
A good place to begin, is by starting with a brisk walk for 3 minutes and then run at a slow to moderate pace for one minute. You should repeat these intervals 3-4 times or until you have completed 10-15 minutes. You can start at 20 minutes, if you’re up for it, or you can slowly increase the number of intervals you do to 20 minutes when you feel stronger. When you reach the 20 minute goal (or after about a week of going at this pace), you can try increasing your running time to your walking time. For example, you can start doing intervals where you then run for 4 minutes and walk for one minute for your 2nd week.
Progressing at slow and steady pace helps to build up your endurance. You’ll get stronger the more you train, even though it may feel like you’re not really running in the beginning. Once you build up some stamina and are running a little more, you will notice that you are covering more distance and can run for longer periods of time. After a while, you might be someone who falls in love with running! Depending on how you feel, you may want to re-do your goals to decide if you want to continue to run for fitness, incorporate other forms of exercise with your training, continue to run for weight loss, or set a new goal to run your first 5k or even your first half marathon.
Here Are a Few Beginners Running Programs:
I’m not ashamed to admit that in the past when I’ve tried to start running I had no clue what I was doing! Would you believe I would just run on the treadmill as long as I could and then walk the rest completely and totally exhausted and out of breath. As ridiculous as that may sound, that ill-advised method of “training” got me to my 15 minute running record… but I really lucky I didn’t hurt myself in the process because I went about it the wrong way. This time I have a better, more well thought out plan. Since many new runners report that running gets easier and more comfortable when they can run continuously for 30 minutes, I’m gonna take it slow and use the 8 week program from Runners World below. Here are some beginner running programs you may want to consider as well:
3 weeks to a 30 minute running habit e-course from About.com
Treadmill Running for Beginners vs. Trail Running for Beginners:
Running for beginners can be done outdoors on a trail, on the sidewalk, at a park, or even the beach. But if you prefer, you can also run on a treadmill at the gym (or like me, in the comfort of your eown home). Running outside offers visual stimulation to take your mind off of running itself. Many people find that running outside or on trails allows them and escape to think or just be free. You can plug in your iPod or MP3 player and zone out while you get fit. Treadmills, however, offer convenience if you have one in your home like I do. You can watch TV while you run on your treadmill, plus there are no weather or safety factors to consider. You can use the beginner running programs and schedule above with a treadmill, but I thought I’d also share a couple of treadmill workouts designed for beginners as well.
Beginner Treadmill Workout from FitSugar.com
Beginner Running Interval Treadmill Workout from IttyBitsofBalance.com
Running for Weight Loss
If your goal for your running goals is to lose weight, you’ll want to remember that, like any workout or fitness program, you need to expend more calories than you take in. This means you need to watch what you eat. When you start running, you don’t really need to switch to a special runners diet, but instead to focus on nutrition and performance. Runners burn about 100 calories per mile, so keep that in mind when you’re calculating how many calories you need to consume each day to lose weight. I don’t really believe in counting calories, but choose to eat clean instead, which great as well. Remember, eating clean means you eat 5-6 meals a day while focusing on “whole foods” that include lean proteins, veggies, fruit, and complex carbs. You want to avoid junk food, processed food, sugar, bad foods, and simple carbs and increase your water consumption. Taking Skinny Fiber and using the Thin and Strong meal plan while you run has the potential to boost the weight loss results you get from running, so I will be incorporating them as well.
Don’t Forget to Streeeeetch!
After you’ve finished your run, don’t forget to stretch so you can avoid injury!
Are You Ready to Run?
Remember, running takes time, consistency, dedication, and patience. Do you plan on beginning to run this year? If you’re ready to grab a pair of running shoes and hit the pavement, I’d love to hear from you so please leave me a comment below. And if you enjoyed this article or found it helpful in any way, I’d be honored if you’d share it with your friends. 🙂