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Jogging For Beginners: 12 Tips To Start Jogging Today

Our running coach gives you everything you need to know to get started.

It can be daunting to start a new exercise program, especially if you’re taking up a sport or activity you’ve never done before.

If you’ve been mostly sedentary and decide you’d like to take steps towards being active and healthier, even just deciding to start walking 30 minutes a day can be challenging, let alone something like starting jogging.

If you’ve never run before, you might have no idea how to start jogging or what sort of jogging for beginners training plan you should follow to get you started safely.

The good news is that jogging can be an excellent form of exercise, even if you haven’t been very active or have no athletic background.

In this jogging for beginners guide, we will explain how to get started jogging and the best jogging tips for beginners to ensure you have a safe and effective start in the sport.

A person jogging on a fall day.

How Do You Get Started Jogging?

They say that every journey begins with a single step, and nothing could be more true than when it comes to jogging.

However, to start running can be a little overwhelming for beginners who have been completely inactive for quite some time.

Depending on your current fitness level and how strong you feel, you might want to start with a couple of weeks of brisk walking before jogging.

Additionally, if you have any existing health conditions, particularly involving your cardiovascular, neurological, or musculoskeletal systems, it can be a good idea to have a checkup with your doctor and discuss your interest in jogging before you get started.

Men over the age of 40 and women over the age of 50 should also seek medical clearance before starting a jogging for beginners plan.

With all that said, even if you are quite overweight, feel completely out of shape, and have never run a step, you can probably start jogging, so don’t feel discouraged. 

One of the best things about jogging or running is that the sport does not discriminate: whether you are tall or short, old or young, overweight or lean, fit and athletic or quite deconditioned, coordinated and agile or clumsy and awkward, you can become a jogger.

So, count yourself in instead of out, and let’s learn how to start jogging for beginners.

A person walking on the sidewalk.

Jogging For Beginners: 12 Expert Tips

The following are some of the most important considerations and tips for how to start jogging for beginners:

#1: Start With Walking

As mentioned, if you’ve been completely inactive for at least a couple of months, starting with a week or two (at least) of walking is a good idea.

Start with just 15-30 minutes of walking a day or a mile daily.

Increase your pace so that you walk briskly as soon as possible.

Once you can walk briskly for 30 minutes a day, you should be able to start jogging.

#2: Take a Run-Walk Approach 

Jogging is a high-impact, high-intensity activity, and walking is a low-impact, low-intensity counterpart that pairs well with jogging for beginners.

Jumping into a running program can increase the risk of injury if you increase your volume and intensity too quickly because running places a lot of stress on your bones, joints, muscles, and tendons, so your tissues need time to adapt. 

Adding walking breaks gives you a chance to catch your breath and slow your heart rate, and because walking is a lower-impact activity, your joints and muscles also get a break. 

In fact, when you first take up jogging, your cardiovascular fitness will improve faster than your musculoskeletal system will adapt to the impact of running.

Therefore, even though you might feel like your heart and lungs can handle more running, it’s important to take walking interval breaks over the first few weeks of training to reduce the stress on your bones and joints and keep you injury-free.

You could start with just a 1 minute run and a 2 minute walk and work your way up from there.

Two people power walking on a trail.

#3: Take Rest Days

Starting a new exercise program, especially a running routine, can be exciting.

After you get over the initial hurdle of starting to jog, most new runners find that they love their workouts and want to do as much jogging as possible.

While enthusiasm is awesome, taking days off is important, especially in the first few weeks and months of your new jogging routine.

As mentioned, jogging is a high-impact activity, so your bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues are subjected to a lot of stress and pounding. 

These tissues need lots of time to recover to adapt effectively to the demands of your new routine.

When you first start jogging, you should take every other day off. You can walk or do other low-impact cross-training cardio activities on these off days, although you should ensure you have at least 1-2 full rest days per week.

After you have a few weeks of consistent jogging workouts under your belt, you can start to add additional days per week of jogging.

A person holding a cup of coffee and reading a book.

#4: Follow a Training Plan

Following a plan for beginner runners rather than creating your own jogging routine can be the safest way to prevent injuries and progress your fitness.1Videbæk, S., Bueno, A. M., Nielsen, R. O., & Rasmussen, S. (2015). Incidence of Running-Related Injuries Per 1000 h of running in Different Types of Runners: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine45(7), 1017–1026. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0333-8

A beginner’s running plan will lay out exactly how far or how long you should run every day, how often you should run versus taking a rest day, etc.

Unless you’ve been doing a lot of exercise until now, a walk/run plan for beginners is advisable. Check out this plan for beginners as a good place to start.

If you would like even more personalized help and your very own training plan, you could work with a running coach or a personal trainer. A coach can help you analyze your workouts to see what’s working for you, improve your running technique, and be there for moral support.

You could also join a running club to stay motivated and begin your running journey with other new runners.

#5: Get the Right Gear

One of the biggest mistakes beginner joggers make is not taking themselves seriously enough and getting the right gear.

It’s very important that you have a good pair of running shoes, even if you are jogging just a couple of blocks a few times a week.

Head over to your local running store to get properly evaluated and fitted for the right shoes for your feet and running gait. The shoe fit experts may ask you to jog on the treadmill while they observe your running stride, taking note of how your feet land.

You might feel self-conscious or anxious about jogging in public, but runners of all shapes, sizes, and abilities run on those treadmills every single day.

Therefore, every employee in the store has seen it all, and getting a running gait analysis is an important step in terms of buying the right running shoes to keep your body healthy.

In addition to running shoes, ensure you have comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement but helps you feel supported.

A person doing gait analysis, putting tape on the back of someone's calf.

#6: Don’t Worry About Your Pace

With all the readily accessible technology, whether via a running app or running watch—it’s easy to get wrapped up in your minute-by-minute stats regarding how fast you’re running.

However, your pace really doesn’t matter.

Run by effort, not by pace. 

You will have some days where your jogging workouts feel easier than others. 

If you have a bad day out there and struggle to finish, recognize that that’s normal; you aren’t “getting worse” or losing fitness.

Sometimes, the body has off days where extra recovery is necessary; don’t panic—better workouts will follow.

#7: Strength Train

A great compliment to your jogging routine is strength training. If will help keep you injury free, and strengthen your muscles so you’ll be able to run faster and longer.

Include exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, step-ups, glute bridges, and planks to get started.

A person about to write in a notebook.

#8: Keep a Log

Whether you run with a GPS running watch and upload all of your workout data to a fitness app such as Strava or use a good old-fashioned pen and paper to record your workouts, keeping a running log is a good habit to establish right off the bat.

Having a running log will not only allow you to look back and see how far you’ve come, but it also helps you monitor your progress, keep track of potential injuries, and learn what types of workouts seem most effective for you.

#9: Fuel and Hydrate Like a Pro

Beginning with your first step on your first workout, you become an athlete.

Ensure you are fueling and hydrating your body to support your new life as an athlete.

Focus on providing your body with a nutritious, well-rounded diet2Burke, L. M., Jeukendrup, A. E., Jones, A. M., & Mooses, M. (2019). Contemporary Nutrition Strategies to Optimize Performance in Distance Runners and Race Walkers. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism29(2), 1–42. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2019-0004 with enough calories and minimally-processed foods like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean proteins, eggs, low-fat dairy, seeds, and nuts.

#10: Warm Up and Cool Down

Warm up before your workouts with some walking and dynamic stretching. When you complete your workout, cool down with more walking to bring your heart rate and breathing back to baseline gradually.

After you have recovered stretch the muscles worked while jogging such as your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves.

A runner drinking water.

#11: Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is an important part of recovery from exercise, so make sure you get at least 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night. Getting enough rest will help prepare you for your workout the next day.

#12: Plan Your Routes 

Some runners enjoy having variety in their running routes to keep things fresh. Other runners prefer having just one or two routes or running on a track or treadmill.

Find what makes you comfortable and feels motivating and fun.

#13: Establish a Routine

Try to carve out the same time every day and establish this as your sacred workout time to ensure no excuses or conflicts get in the way of your training.

Although not a necessity, it’s often easier to make and keep a habit if you’re consistent with when and how you do it.

#14: Listen to Your Body

If you feel soreness or fatigue or have an ache that is bothering you while you run or lingering afterward, take a day off or try cross-training or walking instead.

It’s far more important to pay attention to what your body needs than to follow your training plan to a T.

Welcome to the club of runners and joggers. You’re going to love it!

Would you like to try a Couch to 5k training plan? Read our next guide to start you on your journey to your first 5k.

References

  • 1
    Videbæk, S., Bueno, A. M., Nielsen, R. O., & Rasmussen, S. (2015). Incidence of Running-Related Injuries Per 1000 h of running in Different Types of Runners: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine45(7), 1017–1026. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0333-8
  • 2
    Burke, L. M., Jeukendrup, A. E., Jones, A. M., & Mooses, M. (2019). Contemporary Nutrition Strategies to Optimize Performance in Distance Runners and Race Walkers. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism29(2), 1–42. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2019-0004
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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