Starting running as a beginner can be daunting, particularly if you haven’t been consistently active for a long time or you consider yourself to be very “out of shape.“
The good news is that with patience and with the best tips for beginner runners, you can start your running journey today, and you may even fall in love with running faster than you think!
In this guide to how to start running, we will discuss how to get into running and tips for following a running for beginners plan so that you not only have success following your beginner running plan but you actually enjoy the journey.
11 Tips for How to Start Running and Enjoy It!
Here are some tips for getting started running for beginners:
#1: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
When you first start running, there are lots of common questions and logistics to learn about.
For example, what type of running shoes should you wear? Is there a way to prevent blisters?
Then, there are questions beginners have that they often feel shy about asking, such as, “How do I prevent chafing under my bra or between my thighs?” “Do I wear underwear while running?”
Experienced runners generally love answering questions, so don’t be shy to ask around. Another great option is to consider getting a running coach.
You can also check out our extensive database and read some of our articles for new runners here.
#2: Find Your Place In the Running Community
One of the coolest things about the sport of running is how diverse it is.
For example, within the demographics of runners themselves, the age of runners spans the entire lifespan, from young toddlers and preschoolers participating in fun runs and helping a parent across the finish line to centenarians testing themselves on the 100-meter dash or even just their daily training runs.There are runners in every country of the world from different socioeconomic backgrounds, races, religions, upbringings, interests, and so on.
The other unique thing about the sport of running is the diversity within the sport itself.
Although millions of people call themselves “runners,“ what “being a runner“ means to each individual person can look and feel totally different.
Some people run a couple of miles a week on the treadmill before lifting weights or just to stay in shape, others run more than 100 miles a week in preparation for competing in marathons at the highest level.
All of this is to say that you don’t have to train for marathons or run on the road to be a “runner.“
Try trail running, fun runs, sprinting, obstacle races, group runs, treadmill runs, or any facet of running that appeals most to you.
#3: Try an Organized Fun Run
Particularly when you are a beginner, there are many benefits of trying an organized fun run (like a color run or community MeetUp group run) in your area rather than starting right off the bat with a competitive 5k race.
Participating in a fun run can be a great way to introduce yourself to the feeling of accomplishing something and completing a running goal, all while having a fun time in a casual atmosphere without the stress of anxiety associated with a formal road race.
Fun runs are also great for new runners who identify as being “slow.”
Beginners who think of themselves as “bad runners” or “joggers vs. runners” often feel self-conscious or intimidated about entering a “real” race.
Indeed, many beginners start to get excited about running as a hobby and want to take part in the running community, but they don’t yet feel quite ready to enter an official race.
By all means, no matter what your body size or shape is or how fast or slow you are, you are encouraged to enter actual races!
In these types of situations, trying a fun run first can be a good stepping stone to help you work up the courage or excitement to enter a timed running race.
You can use the fun run event as an exciting foray into the sport of running that catapults you into more serious training for the next event.
#4: Recruit a Training Partner
They say that “misery loves company,“ but so does joy—and joy can come from running.
One of the best tips for beginning runners is to find a training buddy to start your running journey with you.
Perhaps there is someone in your life that you would like to introduce to the sport of running, but they have been hesitant or reluctant, thinking that running might be too “hard“ or too “competitive.“
Instead of starting running alone, having a training partner can be a fantastic way to have an accountability partner and someone to go through the highs and lows of being a new runner together.
Plus, especially if you live in a rural area or identify as a female (this is a generalization), running with a buddy or dog is a good way to improve safety relative to running alone.
#5: Don’t Be Afraid to Try a Race
Beginners often worry that they won’t be able to get through the whole race without stopping, or they may fear finishing last, among other common pre-race anxieties about running your first 5k.
Walking is okay, and beginners can definitely run races (but read the next tip first!)
#6: Take Time to Train Before Running a Race
Sometimes, new runners want to jump right in and run their first 5K race within a week or two of starting running.
However, if you have not been doing any type of running but want to run a 5k race or 5k fun run, and you want to be able to run the entire distance, you should begin your training at least six weeks before the event, if possible.
This will allow you enough time to build up your mileage gradually and adapt to the physiological demands of running.
Of course, if you have less time to train for your first 5k race, you can take on a more aggressive 5k training plan for beginners, but you should assess your readiness and injury risk before doing so.
Doing too much running too soon and ramping up your training volume too quickly can result in injury.
It is always best to err on the side of caution and feel a little under-trained going into the race rather than overdoing it in your training leading up to the fun run.
After all, you want to get to the starting line in a healthy place and actually enjoy the event. If you have to stop and walk some, it’s totally fine.
There’s nothing more disheartening than getting injured leading up to your first 5k or fun run.
#7: Consider Using a Watch
One of the most valuable training tools that has helped facilitate a more scientific and specific approach to training is the GPS running watch.
While there are many merits of training by feel/effort as a beginner and not worrying about pace, using a watch can help you track your progress and keep track of the distance and time that you are running.
If you want to do run/walk intervals, you can use the running watch to help you determine when to take a walking break.
Plus, getting a good GPS running watch (we love the Garmin Forerunner 265!) will allow you to upload or keep track of all of your running and cross-training workouts in one place so that you can set a training goal and make adjustments to your beginner training plan as your fitness improves or obstacles arise.
#8: Start With What Appeals to You
Many beginners aren’t sure if they have to run outside or if a treadmill is okay.
While most runners find that they end up loving running outside more than on a treadmill, if you prefer to run on a treadmill vs outdoors, you should certainly feel comfortable choosing the treadmill over finding an outdoor running route.
However, if you are running on a treadmill because you feel self-conscious about running outside because you either see yourself as “slow,” “overweight,” or want to walk/run—LET THOSE FEARS GO!
No one is paying attention to you as they drive by or run by.
If they happen to look your way, they are likely just impressed or wishing they were also trying to run.
#9: Embrace Running
Many runners find that running isn’t just a form of exercise they do to stay healthy but also a way of life, a passion, and part of who they are.
They may love to talk about running, read running magazines or books, listen to running podcasts or audiobooks, follow running blogs or read online running resources and articles, and watch running movies and documentaries.
If you are trying to figure out how to “get into running“ in terms of feeling like a runner and being invested in running, try embracing running in some of these other ways as well.
#10: Follow a Beginner Running Program
It may sound obvious, but one of the most important steps for how to get into running safely and effectively is to follow a running plan for beginners.
A beginner running plan will help safely progress your fitness and allow your body enough time to get accustomed to the physical demands of running.
Even if you do a lot of cardio, following a beginner running program rather than jumping into something more aggressive is important because running is a high-impact activity, and even though your cardiovascular system might be in decent shape, your musculoskeletal system needs time to adapt to the impact stresses of running.
We offer many excellent running plans for beginners that are free.
You can find the best beginner running plan for you based on your goal distance and time to train by browsing our beginner training plans here.
#11: Take Your Time
Running is hard, and it takes a while to really feel like you’re getting to the point where running is “easy” enough to be enjoyable.
It’s worth the wait, so follow our top tips for how to start running and get started today!
Welcome to the club, new runner!