Beginner Guide to Running

The first step you want to take as a beginning runner is setting a goal. Whether its to run a mile or your first 5K, pick a distance and make it your target. I honestly think the best thing you could do is sign up for a local 5K. Itll force you to work towards your goal and give you a timeline and distance to shoot for. Grab a friend or commit the whole family and do it! Theres almost always a race going on to benefit local organizations. Lets use a 5K as an example for the rest of this post.

The Plan

Step 1. The first thing you want to be able to do when starting to run is physically be able to walk the goal distance. This means you need to be able to walk 3.1 miles for a 5K. If you need to chart a course thats 3.1 miles theres a free app called Run Keeper. If you are unable to walk 3 miles, just get out there and try to walk for 30 minutes. If you can do that increase your next walk by 5 minutes and keep building from there. The goal is to make it 3.1 miles, doesnt matter how long it takes to get you there. To find a race in your area try Running in the USA.

Step 2. Intervals. This is where youll see progress in no time! There are several ways to do intervals. If you are on the treadmill you can walk for 2 minutes, run for 1. Keep doing this for a mile. Next time do the same interval and go for a mile and a half. Keep building from there. Once you build strength and stamina you can change up your interval times. Aim for a 1:1 walk/run ratio. You can go further than that, run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute. Play with your intervals to keep it fun while moving forward!

Another interval you can try if you are able to run for about 3 minutes is using music. Try running for 1 song and then walking for 1. Keeps it fresh and fun!

The last interval is my favorite. For me running outside is sooooooo much easier than running on a treadmill. Honestly, living in Alaska makes for a very short outdoor running season. Maybe thats why I love it so much. Anywho, to do intervals outside you can pick landmarks instead of using a timer. Lets say you are going to run from your driveway to the street light, then walk for until the end of the street. Next you pick a mailbox to run to and then walk until the next driveway. Ive used everything from cracks in the road to a particular tree as landmarks. Next time you head out for a run skip the first landmark and run until the next. In this example you skip the street light and run until you reach the end of the street. Sometimes I will take a different route just so I can pick new landmarks! Keep at it until you can run that magic 3.1 miles!

Step 3. Cross training. I know you are going to be working hard and staying dedicated to smashing your running goals, but its so important to do cross training as a runner. Hitting the pavement for a run puts stress on your muscles and joints and it doesnt take long to start experiencing overuse injuries: tight hamstrings or IT band, hip flexor or tendon pain, fatigue, etc. The best cross training a runner can do is strengthen their core and leg muscles. Also, stretching regularly and doing yoga can help a ton. Dont let an injury stop you from achieving your goals, take care of your body from the start.

I recommend you work on your running a few days a week and cross train at least once. Dont run every day. Youll experience those overuse injuries real fast if you do. Soon youll find yourself wanting to achieve the next level. If you want to aim for a 10K, half marathon or full you can find lots of training plans online. Just stick with one that doesnt increase distance too fast and includes cross training.