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Running for Beginners: The Basics, Mistakes to Avoid and Tips to Progress

How to start to run as a beginner. Image via Unsplash/Jenny Hill
How to start to run as a beginner. Image via Unsplash/Jenny Hill
Natalie P.

It’s no news that running is an excellent way to burn fat and improve stamina. It’s also a means to relieve stress by releasing endorphins and dopamine to uplift your mood.

Parks and jogging tracks are usually bustling in the morning and evening hours with runners of all ages running at their own pace. It can seem easy and breezy, but if you’re a beginner with runs, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind to ensure you get the most out of your run without hurting yourself.


The beginner’s guide to running

If you’re someone who’s looking to start running as an exercise, chances are you already know it can be challenging and might require some time to build the agility to run long distances. Here are some things to remember when you start out:

Choose a terrain

This is an important step as it is one that will keep you motivated to stay consistent. You can choose to run on the sidewalks, in a park, on a track, on a treadmill, in the woods, wherever. Try experimenting with different settings each day to see which one you like best.

Choose a space that's comfortable for you. Image via Unsplash/Mike Cox
Choose a space that's comfortable for you. Image via Unsplash/Mike Cox

Pick the right shoes

You should avoid shoes that are flat-soled. Invest in a pair of running shoes that have padded or cushioned heels so you can give it your all in your runs, and not have to deal with your feet hurting or blisters on your soles.

Alternate between running and walking

The best way to get into the groove of it is to switch between running and walking. This can be done HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) style, with a ratio of 1:1; one minute of running and one minute of walking. Extend your running time as you progress, and reduce the time spent walking.

Stretch

Especially with newbies, it’s common to get injuries in the form of muscle pulls or strains during runs. To counter this, be sure to perform some pre-running stretches before you begin.


Mistakes to avoid

Starting a new activity can be hard, and everyone is bound to hit some roadblocks when they’re getting into the rhythm of it. Common mistakes people make when it comes to runs are:

Unrealistic goals

Oftentimes, in our enthusiasm to start something new, we forget that it is practice that makes perfect. If you’re looking to run long distances and/or improve your speed, you have to start slow, with shorter distances and more breaks of walking at a moderate pace.

Bad posture

It’s important to keep yourself upright while running, especially your back. Slouching your upper back can cause postural issues and throw your gait off, possibly injuring your knees as well.

Not eating or resting enough

Nutrition and recovery must not be ignored at any cost. Even if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s vital to eat the required calories and get adequate hours of sleep. Recovery goes a long way when it comes to improving your performance. Be sure to stretch after every run.


Tips to progress

Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it can still be hard to improve your performance - whether that’s running faster or longer distances. Here are some pointers to help you as you progress through this journey.

Monitor your runs

Keeping track of the distance or duration of your runs is a good way to stay updated with your own progress, and improve yourself each time you step out to run. This has been made easy thanks to technology and the rising popularity of sports bands and smart watches.

Monitoring runs is important to progress. image via Pexels/RFStudio
Monitoring runs is important to progress. image via Pexels/RFStudio

Be sure to cross-train

Sure, you want to get better with your runs. But as with any exercise, perfect execution requires training the muscles around it. Putting in a few hours each week at the gym to train your muscles will help strengthen your body to push more while running. Plus, it’s always good to have variety so you don’t get bored.

Increase the distance/duration progressively

It’s never wise to just jump into a larger figure when it comes to any exercise. Start slow. Add an extra half-mile or 10 minutes to your run each week, and you’ll be going longer distances.

Increase distance of your runs progressively. Image via Unsplash/Chander R
Increase distance of your runs progressively. Image via Unsplash/Chander R

Divide the run into quarters

If getting faster is your goal, you can divide your run into segments of moving at a moderate pace, fast pace, a moderate pace again, and then the fastest you can go for the last quarter.


It might seem boring, tiring, or tedious. However, it is an underrated form of stress relief and cardiovascular exercise. It is the easiest to do on days where you want to move but aren’t in the mood for a workout. Just play your favorite music, tie up your shoelaces, and warm yourself up - keys to a killer run!


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Edited by Prem Deshpande

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