Running is one of the best exercises to burn calories and stay fit. It is not just a popular sport but is now a great fitness craze, helping millions of people across the globe to keep their weight under control, boost their energy levels and stay fit. Here are some of the best running tips to make it safe, enjoyable, effective and also to keep you stay motivated. Below are 45 running tips for beginners.
Just Tie Those Laces
My coach in junior college used to tell me his trick to find motivation getting out the door is to set the goal of just tying up those shoe laces. Once you have them tied up then you might as well go on that run.
You will not look silly
Nobody cares what your form looks like or how fast or slow you’re going.
You are a runner
If you run, then you are a runner. Remember that.
Safety is very important. Here are some basic rules I go by:
Always carry ID
Wear reflective clothing at night
Slow down and shorten your stride when on slippery surfaces such as ice or maybe a slippery trail.
Keep the music down on the music or podcasts so you can hear what’s going on in your surroundings.
Assume cars never see you.
Set a goal
You need to stay motivated and look forward to achieve something or else, it is going to be really difficult to stay motivated. Set a goal for yourself and go for this goal.
If you are going to carry something like your phone, keys and water bottle, try to minimalize as much as possible because you want your hands as free as possible. So try to put your phone in one of those phone pockets and try to put as much as you can in your bump pocket.
Coaches aren’t just for pros
Having guidance from a running coach when things go wrong is just as valuable, if not more so than when things are progression nicely.
Plan a route
Plan a route which is hopefully circular to where you’re living so its makes it easy for you to run all the way and back. Go for a brisk walk for about 5 minutes to get your pulse going and get lubricated a bit. Then move into a very light jog and make sure you are breathing in and out and do not hold your breath.
The best time of the day to run
There is no best time. The best time to run is whenever you can. If you’re busy, and you’ve got a demanding job, family and kids, you just try to fit it in when you can.
Warm up, stretch and foam roll
When you warm up, you should do dynamic warm ups. What that means is that you should not just sit, stretch and touch your toes, but you should rather move to warm up. The types of movement I mean are like walking, lunges, leg lifts, high knees, ankle circles, arm circles. And then when you’re done running, you make sure you stretch so you can avoid being way too sore the next day. Static stretches are enough at this level. After that, try to foam roll. A foam roller is like a cylinder of foam and you roll your muscles on it. Try to do this pretty regularly as it’s a great injury prevention technique and a great way to get rid of sore muscles.
Running is not bad for your knees
Many research studies indicate that running does not elevate your risk for developing Osteoarthritis. In fact, running may even lower your risk.
Know your gear
By gear I mean your shoes. People do a bunch of different types of running; running on the treadmill, trail running, outdoor running, sand running and so on. It just kind of depends on you. So the idea behind the tip of ‘know your gear” is inspiring you to take that time and do some research to figure out what types of shoes will be good for the type of running that you’re doing and then which ones feel good for you. Sometimes it’s about trial and error and sometimes it’s about spending a little bit extra money on something that’s better for your body and better for your runs.
Or you can go and get fitted for some shoes. I know it’s tempting to just pick out the cutest shoes you find. That’s not going to be what’s best for your feet. Running store staff are going to look at how you run, your gait and how your feet hit the pavement and accordingly tell you what’s best for you. This is going to be worth the extra money.
A lot of runners don’t give much importance to the foot issues they have and accordingly end up aggravating their condition. Big brands have manufactured running shoes for plantar fasciitis, bad knees, shin splints, you name it.
Wear more minimal footwear
I like to use the Brooks Pure Connect because it has a lot of cushioning but it’s just stripped down a bit. Most modern running shoes are way overbuilt with too much arch support, too thick of heels and too high off the ground. The lower you can get to the ground, the more natural of a running stride you’re going to have. So if your legs don’t require a lot of support, go for minimal running shoes.
Boost your health with even 5 minutes of running
If you don’t have much time, know that running for even 5 minutes you’re actually doing a whole whack of good inside your body. Researchers have actually shown us that.
Start off small
What I mean by this is that you should not go out for a 20-minute run you never ran before. You’ll hate running with your whole heart and never run again. Instead, get yourself out the door and then you run for a minute or maybe two if it’s not uncomfortable for you, and then you stop and walk a little bit and be done for the day. But then the next day you’ll have to do that again. This way you’ll start building up and eventually you will be able to start running for three minutes, 5 minutes and then all of a sudden you’ll be running a long time and it won’t be uncomfortable for you.
It’s really tempting when you first start running to think that you should be running fast and try to go as fast as you can for as long as you can. My advice is to slow down and you should try to be able to carry on a pace where you could talk and have a conversation. It’s ok to take walk breaks as it’s going to build your endurance, speed will come later, but first just work on building up that endurance. Even the pros focus on slow running most of the time.
A good way of pacing yourself is by using a watch. I like to use Garmin 310xt GPS watch. It’s just a good way of seeing what pace you’re running, what time and how long you’ve been running for so that you know you either slow yourself down or speed yourself up and just keep yourself in good control. It’s all about sustainability when you’re running.
Don’t judge a run on the first 10 minutes
Some days you’ll have and someday you won’t, but don’t judge your run on the first 10 minutes. I’ve gone out many times when I felt terrible and then more often than not, after 5 to 10 minutes I start feeling good.
Run for time (on your feet), not distance or speed
Distance and speed will come later.
You shouldn’t be winded
If you find yourself out of breath and unable to talk with someone you’re running with, take a walk break.
Beginners might not have that level of fitness or endurance to run for a long time. In such a condition, the walk/run method helps in carrying out for a long time, with small walking breaks in between. Keep extending your running time period as you progress and then you can do away with the walking section completely.
If you can find a consistent pattern of running every day or every other day at specific times, it will become a habit and actually becomes a motivational driver to keep at it. Try your best even if you have a crazy work schedule.
There no rules of thumb for progression for beginner runners. Consistency and staying injury-free should trump any rule for progression. If you’re in doubt, stay on the conservative side.
Build that habit
Build running into a habit. If you want to make running a part of your life, it needs to become a habit and something you learn to enjoy.
Water and fueling
Hydration is the most important thing when you’re running especially on longer runs. If you run out of water, you’re just going to run into a lot of trouble. So what I like to do is always try to carry water with me on a run. What I like to do with water bottles is fill one with water and then the other one with another liquid like juice, a smoothie or something like that. I use a little bit of organic maple syrup, squeeze in half a lemon, and fill it with water to the top. This works out perfect as a great sports drink.
Commercial sports drinks are a total gimmick. You’re much better off and much healthier eliminating all the preservatives and junk that’s in them. If you’re running for less than an hour, you will not require any additional fuel. That means no sports drinks, no gels, you don’t even really need any water unless you’re going over an hour.
Bunking is what a lot of runners refer to as “hitting the wall”. Basically, it’s just running out of energy which is running out of sugar in your body. Your body can only store so much glycogen, and when that’s gone, your running just slows right down becoming a really hard place to get out of. So you should always make sure you eat and consume calories on your run to prevent you from bunking. Something good to carry with you is dried fruit, dried pineapple and a couple of dates.
You can also make your own gels (no commercial gels) by blending up some dates and some fruits and putting it in your gel flask. A great alternative to that, which I find worth trying, is organic baby food, believe it or not. The one I like is called Happy Baby Organic Baby Food and just blends up organic mangoes and a bit of Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid. It comes in a nice little gel container. The reason I like this is because I prefer to eat all natural simple whole foods and you just can’t get that with commercial gels.
Run on soft surfaces
Especially on long runs, if you can get off the pavement on to the trails or even on to the grass, that would really help take some of the impact off your legs and your joints.
Dress appropriately for the weather
If it’s really warm out, then make sure you don’t overdress because you’ll end up dragging all those clothes on with you. You always warm up when you run, and even in the cold your body temperature heats up as you’re running. Keep in mind as well to make sure you don’t get too cold. So if its’ a cooler day, wear a bit warmer of a top to keep your core warm and that way you won’t get a chill as you’re running. Nothing slows you down faster on a run than if you get a chill. So keep yourself cool and keep yourself warm depending on the temperature.
If you’re lacking confidence, perhaps wear some sunglasses and a hat. Generally it’s the eyes that make us feel a little unconfident when people are looking at us. So with some sunglasses on, a hat and some music going on, you’ll feel like the king of the street.
Try to make sure when you’re running you’re wearing things that are made out of moisture wicking properties and not cotton. Moisture can lead to blisters especially in your feet. So, do not wear cotton socks and get some moisture wicking socks as it’s going to make all the difference.
I find that on runs I tend to get tensed up sometimes in the shoulders, the neck, the arms and even the hands. Any time you’re carrying extra tension that takes energy away. So try to be as loose and “flowy” as possible. A really good book I found for running without tension is “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer. He even talks about releasing the tension in your muscles in your legs and you can run longer and faster without getting a lot of the soreness and pain you can get from running.
Do a weekly long run
These long runs are so important for building up your base mileage. You don’t have to do them fast at all; you could go like a turtle moving through peanut butter pace.
If you want to run faster, you have to run faster
I don’t mean this in a sarcastic way at all, but what that means is that if you want to get faster times, you have to incorporate some speed workouts into your training routine.
Find a running buddy or group
When I first started running, I found a training group near me that was training for a 5K and I just fell in love with the training programs they had. This can be a great way to connect with other people and it just helps pass the time.
While I prefer running in a group, sometimes I have to run by myself, so I make sure I always have something to listen to. I like to switch between a good playlist, audio books and podcasts. But, safety tip, be aware of your surroundings. I like to run with just one ear bud in especially if I’m running on the street. Tell me about your favorite things to listen to while running as I’m always looking for new podcasts and new songs to put in my playlist.
Download an app to track your progress
This helps keep me motivated because I can see when I’m making an improvement. There’s lots of good apps out there for runners these days like Nike+ Running App, Strava and Map My Run. Also, if you decide you want to get really fancy, you can invest in a GPS running watch. I used the apps for about a year and then I made the switch as it’s nice because you can see the stuff right on your wrist; see how you r pace is, how long you’ve been running and that sort if things.
Never try to make up for missed workouts
If you do that, you’re just asking for trouble, trust me. I’ve done it and I’ve ended up with Plantar Fasciitis, Ilio-Tibial Band Syndrome by trying to make up for missed workouts. Don’t do it, period.
Sign up for a race
Signing up for a race is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Once you pay that money and make the commitment, you’re half way already. Races are a lot of fun and a good way to meet other runners, plus sometimes there’s free beer and food at the end (don’t tell anybody).
Rest days are so important for your body. It’s not good to go out and run hard every day because you need cross training days and rest days in between. It’s advised to listen to your body and take a rest day if you need it because your body knows what’s best for you. This is going to help prevent injury and fatigue. Some good thing you can do for cross training are Yoga, Bike Riding or rock climbing, just get out there and something fun.
There are good days and bad days
Every runner has bad days. Don’t throw in the towel because you had one, two or even three bad runs in a row, just keep at it. Everyone goes through these ups and downs and it will get better if you keep it up.
You will get injured
Your goal as a beginner runner is to decrease the likelihood of getting injured, and when injuries do occur (and they will), get back to running as soon as possible because you’ve trained smart.
No pain, no gain
You might have a little bit of pain when you start. So listen to your body and try to gauge the pain on a 1 to 10; a 2 and 3 is maybe ok, but once it starts creeping up to a 4 or 5, take note of that. While running, try to develop your athletic intelligence. What I mean by that is the more your run, the more you’re going to know your body, and the more you’ll know when you need to stop and seek medical attention.
Does form matter
Yes form does matter, but don’t worry about it to begin with, just run and focus on running. If you need to focus on one thing, try to run tall like someone’s got a string and pulling you from your head.
If you’re really nervous about going outside and running, obviously you can run in the gym on a treadmill. You just need to slowly increase the speed over time, perhaps again jogging or sprinting if you want to. You can also increase the incline to walk at a faster speed if you’re not comfortable enough to jog.
Mix it up
When your legs start get stronger, you can then start running on the grass, the sand, the asphalt, uphill, and downhill. Sometimes you get caught in just running the same route over and over again and your body gets used to that repetitive motion and path.
Recovery is key to enjoyment in running because if you can’t recover, then you’re not going to enjoy your next run because you’re going to be sore and in pain and all that stuff. The most important tips for recovery are drink, eat and sleep. When I finish my run I drink, I eat some watermelon which is loaded with carbohydrates and hydration as well. This way I’m nourished and hydrated. Then get an early night and make sure you’re comfortable when you sleep. You’re going to notice that your recovery is much better, you’ll wake up feeling less sore the next day and you’ll be able to get more enjoyment out of running. This is how I can run longer and more frequently.
Celebrate your accomplishments
Buy yourself a new piece of running shoes, go for brunch, celebrate with coffee…
These are my tips for getting out the door and becoming a runner. If you have any other tips, please feel free to leave a comment and I will happily include them in the article.