8 Tips for New Runners

As January comes to a close, it’s almost time for February’s 5 by the 5th Virtual race.  There are many experienced runners in the group, but also quite a few walkers, new runners and wannabe runners.

I’ve asked several coaches to contribute training tips throughout the series these next few months.  My friend Rachelle, from Living the Sweat Life, pulled together eight helpful tips for new runners.

Are there things you wish someone had told you before your first run?

1. Just do it.  Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week, or next month.  Do it today.  Run to the mailbox to get your mail, run to the end of the block, run with your dog until he goes to the bathroom and then run home.  Start today and never look back.

2. Don’t start out too fast.  This is a common mistake that new runners make.  You start out too fast, then feel exhausted, out of breath, and defeated.  We don’t want that, so start slow.  No, I mean really slow.  Slower than you think you need to.  If, after a while, you feel like you can pick up the pace, then great, go for it.  But, for now, pace yourself, you are in it for the long haul.

3. Get fitted for some good running shoes.  Find a running store and get fitted.  A good pair of running shoes will cost from $85-$120 but they are so worth it.  Take the time to get the right pair.  It will save you time, blisters, and injuries in the long run.  Here is a great resource for finding the right shoe.

4. Try not to get frustrated.  Even the most seasoned runners have a bad run.  If one day you have a terrible run, don’t give up, it happens to the best of us.  The next one will be better, I promise.

5. If you are running on the road, run against traffic, that way you see the cars and can get out of the way if they don’t see you.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others.   So what if tiny shorts lady can run a 7 minute pace.  You run at your pace and that’s that.  If you want to do speedwork when you have this running thing down, then by all means do it.  But do not compare yourself to others.  Running is individual.  Run for yourself, not for anyone else.

7. Listen to your body! Don’t push yourself….stop if you need to stop, slow down if you need to slow down, and eventually it will all come together and you too will feel that “Runner’s High”. ;-)

8. Find what motivates you– whether it is getting faster or losing weight or going to new distances, set a goal and work towards it in small increments.”

For more resources for new runners, check out Amanda’s great post: New Runner Q &A.

I love these tips.  I would also add:

  • take days off every week
  • increase your weekly miles very gradually
  • continue to incorporate non-running activities into your routine
  • refuel within 60 minutes post run for optimal recovery

Experienced runners, what is one thing you wish you knew before you started running?


87 thoughts on “8 Tips for New Runners

  1. Such great tips! I think that the comparison point is so important, especially with the plethora of running blogs out there. It’s so easy to get caught up and think you need to keep up. And rest is such an important concept that so many new runners don’t get. Great post!
    misszippy recently posted..A crossfit/running marriage?My Profile

  2. Definitely great tips! Mine is a little out of the box though. Part of me is really glad I didn’t know a whole lot about running. When I got hooked on it, I just signed up for a race and decided I was going to do it. I was clueless but I fell in love and didn’t overthink anything!
    abbi recently posted..The Dog RantMy Profile

  3. Get out of your head! That’s my tip for myself at least. Once I stopped thinking so much – as in planning what I was doing right after the run, planning dinner, planned everything – and just ran and enjoyed the moment, it all changed. I think of course, but I’m not planning and already moving along to what comes after the run.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Cold Running & Things I Need Help WithMy Profile

  4. #6 really speaks to me. I lost some of my ‘speed’ (relative as it may be) over the last few months when I wasn’t running much. I am making my way back, but as I see other runners make it into the 8min/mile range. My jealousy flairs up a little. I have to remember that I am still relatively ‘new’ at this and it is only going to get better.

    I no doubt love everytime I finish a run and feel spent and renewed. And that thankfully – is not dependent on speed.
    Deana recently posted..Week in Review #4My Profile

  5. Great tips, Laura! I definitely agree with the incorporating non-running activity into your exercise regime. I learned this one the hard way. Cross training is so important to keep your body and muscles from getting overworked as a result of using them the same way day-in and day-out.

  6. I would say it is important to set goals and push yourself. You will never improve if you stick to your easy, comfortable runs.

  7. As an extension of #6 (not comparing yourself to others), I’d advise to do what works best for YOU – whether it’s where you run (treadmill, road, trails), how you run (slow, fast, or with walk breaks), when you run (experiment with morning and evening), and even what you wear when you run. The best thing about running is that there are so many ways to do it, so it’s inevitable to have to try a bunch of different things before you find what works best for you. Use other runners for ideas, but remember you don’t have to run like them!

    Another tip: do it consistently for a month before you give up. It can be really frustrating at the beginning, but stick with it! It takes time to actually enjoy running and to reap the benefits.
    Jen recently posted..Weekly training recap: 1/21/13My Profile

  8. I love Rachelle’s blog and she had great advice for new runners. I especially like #1 because that first step is the most important and life changing. Everyone was a beginner at some point so don’t let it scare you. Running is awesome!!!
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Week 5: Running on EPICMy Profile

  9. Great tips, Laura! I always tell people to not compare themselves to others (which we are all guilty of at some point). Also, taking it slow and building up mileage gradually is a great tip, I think doing couch-to-5K and bridge-to-10K helped Mike and I ease into it.
    Jamie @ couchtoironwoman recently posted..Eating Hills for BreakfastMy Profile

  10. This is great!
    One thing I always tell new runners is that being winded or feeling tired isn’t a reason to give up! If you’re breathing hard and your heart is beating and your muscles are working, then you’re doing it right! (of course, all that within reason, we don’t want people to pass out!)

    If you want to stop and walk, that’s ok! But pick a spot ahead of you, like the next telephone pole or intersection and walk THERE, don’t just stop dead in your tracks. That way you remember that you are in control of your body and the workout.
    Amanda K. recently posted..Racing while pregnant: How pregnancy changed my half marathonMy Profile

  11. Great tips! I think doing a walk/jog combo can be good for beginners, depending just how beginner you are. I feel like a beginner since I hope to get back into it soon. It’s so hard to make myself take it slow, but I know it’s important!
    Tiff recently posted..The Big SnowMy Profile

  12. I wish I would have kept a running/training log right from the start. I’m a numbers gal, so looking at my training in a quantitative way is an encouraging way to see how well my body is responding to my training. Running goals are important to give us something to aim for, but looking back on how far we’ve come is also encouraging!
    And similar to #4,6 & 7 – learn to forgive yourself! Not every run/race will be perfect or go according to plan. Sometimes we get injured, sometimes we under-train for a race, and sometimes we skip a day – it’s all okay..forgive yourself and move on. It’s the big picture we are after – a lifetime of happy, healthy running! 🙂

  13. I didn’t have anyone running with me in real life, so I found a strong online community. Unfortunately, I kept being drawn to these crazy fast running mamas {hello, comparison trap!}.

    My running group goes with the motto: Be at peace with your pace .
    Once I got past what a runner “should” be able to run, I was fine knowing that if both my feet were off the ground at the same time, I was running!

    As far as what I wish I was told, CROSS TRAIN! Once I fell in love with running, my lifting/cross training dropped significantly, but then my various injuries began. Balance for the long run (pun intended!!)
    Melissa @ Melissa Running It recently posted..Carlsbad Half Marathon Recap and a New PR?My Profile

  14. Very good tips here for beginners! I especially think that going at a very slow pace, just to see how far you can go that way is a fun experiment (Goes with #2) . You might be surprised how far you can go that way.

    Also, I would add that keeping a log of your progress is helpful. Looking back over improvement is a big motivator to me.
    Raina recently posted..11 Random FactsMy Profile

  15. I love all of these tips! I think my advice would be: don’t forget to workout your core…especially if you’ve had a baby! My core muscles used to be great, and now 15 months after having my son I still have to pay special attention to those muscles just to make sure I’m supporting myself through my stride and not overworking other muscles. It really makes running feel easier when your carriage is good.
    Bryony recently posted..Mommy MondaysMy Profile

  16. Awesome tips Laura! New runners seem to always express to me how difficult it is. IT IS! There’s a fine balance between building slowly, giving your body time to adapt to the stress, backing off when needed but not giving up.
    Marcia recently posted..Hitting the Reset ButtonMy Profile

  17. These are great tips! Like others have said, definitely don’t compare yourself to others not only in performance but also training. What works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to remember that everyone is different.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Sick DayMy Profile

  18. Thanks so much for these words of wisdom! I am a terrible runner but a very goal-oriented woman, so keeping logs of my runs and walks has really helped me see progress, even if it is just a tenth (yes, a tenth) of a mile at a time. Thanks for this post, Laura, and for all of the suggestions and encouragement to newbies!

  19. What Natalie said…listen to your body and know the difference between normal running fatigue and injury. If you’re injured, rest and get help from a PT or someone qualified so you can keep running and not get sidelined.

  20. Although I’m not a brand new runner, it was good to remind myself of these helpful tips. I’m gearing up for my first race in almost two years and I’m trying to remind myself not to over do it and to just take my time. I’m extremely excited though.

    Thanks for the tips!

    The Sassy Fit Mom
    MANDI recently posted..Fitness FridayMy Profile

  21. Didn’t see this post yesterday :/
    LOVE it!!!
    One thing I wish I knew was the resources available out there for us – so many online ones (RW, Competitor, Womens Running, even twitter!) that could answer any question a runner may have!
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..Be Your Own RunnerMy Profile

  22. I wish I had been warned about shorts that ride up and fall down. I made a few bad wardrope choices in the past before learning what is considered a good pair of running shorts/leggings. For example, colored leggings are no good. I have a pair of purple lululemons and a pair of teal underarmors, both look like I had an “accident” at the end of runs. No good.
    Also shoes!!! Get fit!
    Taylor @ LiftingRevolution recently posted..I’ve Overtrained My Poor Legs, Now What? Kitchen Time To Make Raw Vegan Energy BarsMy Profile

  23. Awesome tips! I have loved learning along the way but the biggest thing I wish I knew is CONSISTENCY gives bigger gains than any program. I love a good program but there is no magic one that will achieve what lacing up your sneakers day after day (with rest days of course!) will!
    Jenelle @ MummyLovesToRun recently posted..11 weeks – Canberra marathonMy Profile

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  27. I agree with all of these, but especially the Don’t Start off Too Fast and the Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. These two are mistakes I see new runners make all the time. I also would say that there is nothing wrong with walking when you need to. The miles still count. The other tip I like and would add to is the runners rules of etiquette. Run toward traffic, don’t run in groups across the path, when you are coming up behind someone, say “on your left”, and don’t run in the middle of the path. And I know this isn’t necessarily a “new runner” tip, but I would also say Wear Sunscreen!
    Travel Spot recently posted..Failure to CommunicateMy Profile

  28. What a great blog 😀 ive just started running. Or training myself into running…my daughter just turned 2..and ive been trying so hard to lose weight and get in shape..and I want so badly to work myself into a 5k run eventually. But I dont know much about much lol. Thanks for the tips!

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