Taking up running for the first time, or after years off, is exciting but challenging.
Those first few weeks of workouts can feel as exhausting as they do exhilarating.
At first, you might only be able to run a block or two without becoming totally winded, or you might deal with a lot of post-run muscle soreness.
Although there will always be some degree of “growing pains” as your body adapts to running and you build your aerobic fitness and muscular strength, you can ease your transition into becoming a runner and set yourself up for a lifetime of success in the sport by following the following best running tips for beginners.
From training tips to gear tips, tips to run faster, and nutrition advice, we have put together a guide filled with the best running tips for beginners.
We hope these running tips for beginners will help you as you enter the wonderful world of running.
Welcome to the club!
#1: Consider Getting a Running Coach
Working one on one with a running coach can be great for beginner runners who have the means because an experienced coach can design a personalized training plan for you.
An in-person coach can also critique your stride and give you running form tips to reduce the risk of injuries and improve your efficiency so you can run faster and longer.
A running coach can also answer all of your questions and help you feel confident and prepared for your running.
#2: Follow a Training Plan
There are tons of training plans for beginners, such as the popular couch to 5K training plan, as well as many others.
Following a running plan for beginners will help ensure that you are progressing appropriately and not too aggressively and that your workouts are structured correctly to help you achieve your first goals as a runner.
#3: Get a Running Gait Analysis
Your local running shoe store can do a free running gait analysis where they look at your running form.
This process not only helps you figure out what type of running shoes to get but also can be a useful means of correcting any problems with your running form early on before you’ve engrained bad habits. Take their running form tips and try them out during your next run.
#4: Wear Proper Running Shoes
One of our most important running tips for beginners is to get comfortable, appropriate running shoes. It’s really important to get fitted for the right type of running shoes for your individual biomechanics.
Visit your local running store and have the shoe fit experts watch you run so that they can point you towards proper footwear.
#5: Warm Up
Heading out the door to run first thing in the morning or after sitting at your desk all day can be a sudden shock to your system. Your tissues need a chance to warm up and transition from rest to running.
A gentle warm up of walking and light jogging will elevate your heart rate, which in turn increases circulation to your muscles.
This prepares your muscles and reduces the risk of straining a stiff tendon or pulling a muscle.
Because running is a high-impact activity, you need to build up gradually.
The walk/run method is an effective approach to building cardiovascular fitness while getting your bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues accustomed to the stresses of running.
Essentially, walking breaks give 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.
Jumping into a running program can lead to 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.
In fact, in most cases, your cardiovascular fitness adapts faster than your musculoskeletal system to the impact of running, so even though you might feel like your heart and lungs can handle more running, it’s a good idea to take the walk breaks over the first few weeks of training to reduce the stress on your bones and joints.
#6: Set a Schedule
Choose a time of day for your runs that works best in your schedule, and then try to be consistent with that routine.
Although this isn’t a requirement, it’s often easier to make and keep a habit if you’re consistent with when and how you do it.
Some runners find it’s easiest to run first thing in the morning as soon as they wake up. Others use their lunch break, while some run after work.
Whatever works best for you, try to carve out the time every day as your sacred workout time to ensure there are no excuses or conflicts that get in the way of your training.
#7: Vary Your Routes
Don’t be afraid to try new running routes because if your routine gets too repetitive, you may get bored or feel unchallenged.
Also, don’t be shy about running out in public when you first start, even if you’re super slow and have to walk a lot.
People aren’t paying attention to you. If anything, they’re in awe that you’re doing something they wish they could.
#8: Cross Train
Cross-training involves doing any kind of exercise other than running, such as cycling, swimming, rowing, or walking.
One of the best running tips for beginners is to incorporate frequent cross-training workouts into your training program as you are getting started with running.
Cross-training exercises are typically lower impact than running, which means that you can perform them without putting so much stress on your musculoskeletal system.
This enables you to continue to build your aerobic fitness without increasing the risk of injury by running too much too soon.
Doing a variety of types of exercise also reduces overuse and soreness in muscles that aren’t used to running yet.
#9: Strength Train
Strength training is one of the most important workouts in any good running training plan and one of our best tips for running and runners in general.
It’s natural to think that if you want to become a better runner, you need to run more (and you do, and you will!), but making sure your muscles and connective tissues are strong enough to support your running workouts is paramount to staying injury free so that you can train consistently enough to run longer and faster.
Early on, establish a habit of performing 2-3 total-body strength training workouts per week, and commit to sticking with it.
#11: Slow Down
One of the best tips to run faster is actually to slow down.
You might already feel like you’re the slowest runner in the world.
First of all, you’re not. Secondly, slowing down will help you run longer, which ultimately will do more to boost your fitness so that you can run faster in time.
#12: Stretch After Your Runs
Many beginner runners think that they need to stretch before their run, but static stretching (holding a stretch) is best saved for after your workout.
You can do dynamic stretching before you run as part of your warm-up, but stretching cold muscles can increase the risk of injury.
#13: Don’t Be a Slave to Your Watch
Many runners are obsessed with their metrics—how far they run and how fast they run.
While tracking your runs by using a GPS running watch or running app such as Strava can be beneficial, it’s also good to run by effort or “run by feel.”
Throughout your journey as a runner—and especially as a beginner—you’ll have days where you just don’t feel as strong, energized, and fit as usual.
That’s totally normal! Not every day will be your best, so if you’re only focused on your pace, you can feel defeated when your body just needs a slower day.
Understand that there will be good days and tougher days, but even on the days that feel impossible, you haven’t lost fitness or gotten worse—it’s just a hard day for your body.
You’ll have plenty of days where you feel like you have wings!
#14: Find a Running Buddy
Running with a friend, neighbor, coworker, or partner is a great way to enjoy your workouts.
Running lends itself well to deep conversations, and chatting together makes the miles fly by.
A running buddy will also increase your accountability and help you get out there and go running when it’s rainy, dark, or cold or your motivation is lacking for one reason or another.
If you recruit a friend who’s also new to running, you can progress as beginners together, but there’s also something to be said for running with a more experienced runner who can show you the ropes.
Lots of beginners are intimidated by running with runners who have more experience, but it doesn’t have to be an everyday thing, and most runners would be honored to have the company of a newbie on their easy days.
#15: Fuel Your Body
You are now an athlete, so you should view your overall diet as the nutritious fuel your body needs to run well.
Some nutrition tips for running well are to limit processed foods, junk food, and alcohol, and focus on getting enough nutritious calories from healthy, natural foods like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, seeds, and nuts.
#16: Start Getting More Sleep
Any type of exercise routine is stressful for the body.
Running is a high-intensity activity, so it requires a tremendous amount of energy and resources both during and after your workout to support and recover from your run.
Sleep is a critical ingredient in the recovery process.
It’s not only restorative and helps your energy rebound so that you’re up to running, and much of the repair process in the muscles occurs while you sleep.
As you start running, make sure you establish a good bedtime routine and get to bed early enough to get at least 7-9 hours of solid sleep per night.
#17: Cool Down
Just as you shouldn’t suddenly bolt out the door into your run, you shouldn’t stop immediately and flop on the grass when you are done.
A cool down of easy jogging, walking, and stretching helps flush waste from your muscles so that you can recover faster and deal with less soreness after your run.
#18: Outfit Yourself Appropriately
In addition to running shoes, wearing running socks, a supportive running bra (if need be), and breathable running clothes will ensure you’re dry, comfortable, and blister– and chafe-free while you run.
#19: Monitor Your Progress
Keeping a running log—whether paper or digital in a running app–will enable you to keep track of all of your workouts, monitor your progress, and look out for warning signs and patterns of overtraining or injury.
#20: Consider Yourself a Runner
Don’t sell yourself short. Whether you jog slower than you’ve ever seen anyone go or you only run/walk for 30 seconds at a time, you are a runner.
Be proud of where you are in this exact step in your journey, and be excited for what’s ahead.
We hope our 20 essential running tips for beginners have you motivated and ready to get running!
To help you get your pre and post-run routines lined up, check out our 12 Best Pre-Run Stretches and 12 Best Post-Run Stretches Guides.