I have 72 practical running tips for beginners right here for you!
It is always so fun and exciting to begin a new journey. Learning from others past experiences in one of the best ways to speed up the learning process and to help you grow faster!
So I want to pay it forward and share what I have learned personally and through helping others on the road to running!
1. Know what your goal is in becoming a runner.
2. Start slow. Don’t push yourself even if you are feeling great! Running tips for beginners must include a little bit of caution...
3. Take the time to find the right pair of shoes for your feet. They don’t have to cost a lot of money but they do need to fit well!
4. Make short term goals (the first month, 6 weeks, 6 months, etc.) A hard running tips for beginners because we are all a bit anxious to achieve something big!
5. Record your runs whether in a running log or journal, on your calendar or in your planner.
6. Pre-plan your running week. How far will you be going, where will you be running, etc.
7. Drink lots of water! Make it fun! Get a water bottle (or 2 or 3 preferably), use fruit slices or berries, or find a brand of tea that you love. Running tips for beginners can include tasty tidbits!
8. Learn how to land softly on your feet. You don’t want to be a loud runner. Think of being light and concentrate on landing quietly for each footstep.
9. Notice your footfall. How are you landing? On your heel, forefoot or toes? Many runners land on their heels. I believe that landing on your forefoot can drastically reduce your chances of injury although it can take practice.
10. Cross train. As a beginner runner, incorporate other activities as your body is adjusting to all of the running. (Get a cross training activities list for runners over here + some great cross training YouTube videos!)
11. Strength train! You do not need to do anything intense, however running and strength training are a beautiful combination. Start small, 10 minutes, 2x a week, keep your weights light and easily accessible. Focus on your upper body. Running tips for beginners must include strength training! You will be more successful.
12. Review your goal consistently. When you have achieved shorter goals then it’s time to make a big picture plan! Run a marathon? :)
13. Set up running systems. It doesn’t have to be complicated but turn your running into a routine. Lay out your clothes, fill your water bottle the night before, create a running box with everything you need related to run, print off some stretches to do and hang up as a reminder.
14. Keep a listening playlist topped off with exciting content. Create playlists of different music genres that you enjoy, save podcasts that you want to eventually listen to, create a watch later list in YouTube of videos you might enjoy on the treadmill. When you are ready to run you don’t want to waste time deciding what to listen to.
15. Don’t underestimate the power of a silent, thought provoking run to give your subconscious the time to work through your troubles.
16. Realize the gift of being able to get outside and be in nature. You are so blessed!
17. Focus on your diet. Record what you eat, review, throw away foods in your pantry that are triggers, think of nourishing not indulging.
18. Eat healthy carbs! Carbohydrates fuel the runner especially when you are long distance running. However this does not mean processed carbs such as donuts, cereal, white rice, white bread, etc. Opt for complex carbohydrates and your nutrition and performance will be greatly enhanced! Think brown rice, quinoa, oats, fruits, and veggies to name a few. Running tips for beginners includes healthy eating!
19. Think of food as fuel not as junk that you need to burn off. At least 80% of the food you eat should nourish and fuel your body. The other 20% of your food can be for your sanity and indulgement. ;)
20. Have a mix of complex carbs + protein within 30 minutes before or after a run. It will enhance your running performance, provide energy and recovery.
21. The food you see is the food you eat. Set out healthy choices on your counters. Keep the healthier options showcased in the front of the pantry and fridge and you will be much more likely to eat that versus the Oreos that are hiding in the dark corners. If you keep those cookies on the counter, that’s what you are going to be craving all day.
22. Make/prep a go-to running snack. (I love these protein poppers that gives you some protein as well as healthy complex carbs in the oats.)
23. Eat water dense foods for extra hydration. Water dense foods are largely fruits and veggies.
24. Build your volume gradually to increase your running fitness. If you want to be a runner well you have to...run. The best way to build your running fitness and Vo2max is to get miles in.
25. Piggybacking off of #24, only increase your total mileage each week by no more than 10%. This allows for growth but also does not increase your chances of becoming injured.
26. Start by going for total amount of time before you focus on distance. Build up to running for 20 minutes, then 30, and 40 before you begin to focus on running 1 mile, then 2 and 3 miles.
27. Visualize yourself as the runner you want to be. Maybe you want to be a recreational runner, a morning runner, a competitive runner, a strong runner, a fast runner, whatever it is, visualize yourself doing exactly what you want to become and you will increase your chances ten-fold. Also, your brain will pick up on those ques and will naturally begin to associate with those visuals.
28. Breathe. It can be hard to go step after step but always come back to your breathing. If you are breathing too fast and too hard maybe slow it down. If you feel as if your breathing isn’t labored enough then feel free to pick up the pace. Take deep breaths to recover faster. Just remember, always keep breathing. And onto running tips for beginners #29...
29. Once you have built your running volume (total weekly mileage volume) then you can begin to focus on speed.
30. To begin focusing on speed first start by adding in faster-paced “strides” to the end of your runs for 2x a week. (Start with 1 and work up to 10 over the course of several weeks.)
31. When it gets hard, smile! Smiling relaxes you and releases feel good hormones. It takes the edge off of stress! That is one of my favorite running tips for beginners!
32. Incorporate the Run/Walk technique if you are trying to begin running without stopping. Choose the variation that works best for you - 1 minute of running, 1 minute of walking, or 5 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking, etc. Slowly build to cut out the walking breaks a little at a time. This training plan might help. And now, the 33rd running tips for beginners...
33. Form is everything for a beginner runner! Now is the time to learn what good running form is before habits are made. Watch some running form videos, have someone take a video of you running and analyze what you are doing right or wrong.
34. Keep your head up and think of spinal alignment. Posture is everything to run faster, have great form and reduce upper body soreness.
35. Don’t neglect stretching after a run. Your body can become so incredibly tight that you must get in the habit of lengthening your muscles.
36. Keep your heart rate between 50-75% for heart healthy running. Here is a good chart for guidance:
37. Keep your shoulders relaxed. It’s easy for them to start a hike up to your ears. Especially if you are beginning to feel sluggish do a quick shoulder check.
38. Don’t bring your arms across your body when you are running. Keep them in a forward and backwards motion.
39. As for your feet, the more steps you take the better. Don’t focus on taking big steps, rather take small, little steps. You will have better form, less impact, and will go faster.
40. Don’t let the front foot land far out in front of your body. (Termed “overstriking”) It should land directly under you.
41. Don’t hunch over on the hills. Remember to keep your head and spine aligned all the way to your hips and lean slightly forward to let gravity have a little more effect.
42. The higher you lift your knees the faster you will go! If you want to sprint at the finish then pick those knees up, however you can’t keep this up for long so if you want to go the distance, save your energy and keep those knees lower.
43. Consistency is key to becoming a runner. You can’t run just once a week. Give your body a run 3 times a week and then cross train on the other 1-2 days. This will allow your body to make adjustments in transforming you into a fit runner! Recap: Running tips for beginners #43 - CONSISTENCY!
44. If you have trouble with consistency then sign up for a short, local race, perhaps a 2 miler or 5k and then work up to 10K training (Here’s some 10K training plans!). Schedule your training runs on the calendar and make it a non-negotiable. After all your putting money on the table.
45. Start only with the running essentials. There are so many cool running gadgets and trendy devices, tools and clothes. To start though, all you need are some shoes, an outfit (yes, you only need one to just get going) and some nutritious fuel.
46. Opt for polyester (wickable, breathable) vs. cotton clothing to keep your body cooled and the sweat away. Running tips for beginners includes talking about clothing...
47. Do focused rest days. Rest days do not mean no physical activity whatsoever. Keep them focused and relaxed by going for a walk, doing some dynamic stretching, or foam rolling or even just treating yourself to an extra healthy smoothie, tea, or dark chocolate.
48. Pull your abs in to take pressure off of your back. Especially if you are running longer distances or maybe have some extra weight to lose, pulling your belly button in towards your spine will give you back a break from doing all of the work and will help prevent a backache. (Actually do this throughout your entire day! Make those abs work for you!) Abs are a very important running tips for beginners and can help significantly with your backaches!
49. Run on softer surfaces as you begin your running journey. This will allow you to reduce the amount of impact that your body feels. Start by running on a treadmill, track or even the grass which generally give you less impact and more absorption than running on the roads.
50. If you are running on a treadmill, set the incline to 1 to mimic more of an outdoor terrain. This is one of those running tips for beginners that few know but it can make a big difference when you are transitioning back to the outdoors!
51. Remember that treadmills take away the outside elements of wind, terrain, temperature, etc. and you might find that you can run faster on a treadmill versus outside. They are not created equal although treadmills are extremely beneficial to a runner!
52. Dress for 10 degrees warmer than the thermometer actually says. Your body will heat up quickly and it’s important to keep it regulated. Always dress in layers that you can shed.
53. If you become hot, pour water over your head, cool off your neck and the insides of your wrists. This will help bring your body temperature down.
54. If it’s cold outside, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Always wear a hat to keep those ears warm and prevent the wind from wiping right through you!
55. If you chafe easily, use body glide or vaseline. Some areas to rub it on are your thighs, nipples, and bra line.
56. If you are suffering from a blister, duck tape works like a charm over them. No excuses. :)
57. Every run should have a purpose whether it is to build your weekly volume, your speed, do a slow recovery run, etc. give each of your runs a goal/reason to perform them. Recap on running tips for beginners #57 - Have a PURPOSE!
58. Pick a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that you can repeat to yourself during a run to keep yourself motivated, or to remember your goals, or to help define that run. They are very helpful in improving your mental running game! Here are some tips on choosing a mantra.
59. Focus on getting quality sleep. Running is a vigorous exercise and it’s important to give your body that much needed sleep to allow for recovery and change to happen. If you haven’t already, begin a night time routine to help you wind down and make a goal to sleep for at least 7 hours every night. Running tips for beginners must include good sleep.
60. Run against the traffic so oncoming cars can see you and so that you can see them. Be careful going around corners though as a car won’t generally be able to see you until starts turning towards you.
61. Always let someone know where you are going, how far you are running and a general time of when you should be back. Even if you live by yourself, get in the habit of texting someone or just leaving a note on your counter. Safety comes first for running tips for beginners!
62. Find a place where you can draw inspiration from whether it’s a site, blog, running buddy, Instagram feed, book, video, or maybe create your own physical running board where you hang things that you find that inspires your running.
63. Set a timer on your phone to go off 30 minutes prior to a run so that you can begin to shift gears and get your head in the game. It will also make it less likely that you will skip through “forgetfulness”. How's that for running tips for beginners?
64. Every once in a while, schedule a fitness test to see where your running is at. If you can run 1.5 miles without stopping then you can test now! Otherwise check in on that Vo2max value on your smart watch (I’m partial to the FitBit)to see if you are improving. Remember, the higher the Vo2max number is, the better!
65. If you feel pain starting in any area then focus on stretching those muscles and building strength through exercises that target those muscle groups.
66. Get compression socks/tights for your legs! They help to pump that blood but also provide recovery relief and prevent soreness after runs. Here’s more incentive to pick up a pair.
67. If you are finding that you lack energy to run then look at your nutrition. Are you getting enough complex carbohydrates, do you need to take supplements(here are some that I recommend for runners) or maybe get your coffee in beforehand?
68. Before you reach for the ibuprofen try stretching, massage, nutrition, compression, elevation, an Epsom salt bath or a heating pad.
69. Write a quote, tip, or tape a picture of something that speaks to you in a visible spot as a reminder of why you want to continue running.
70. Reflect on what is working and what isn’t. Stop and think about what is going right in your running world and what needs to be tweaked. A good time to do this is when you are running. Are you seeing improvement? Change?
71. Create running traditions that you look forward to. Maybe it’s a literal Saturday morning donut run. Or a Thanksgiving race every year. Or doing a sunrise run on at least one morning of each vacation that you take. These little running memories will hard wire you to continue to love running.
72. Always have fun with your running. This is the best of all the running tips for beginners! There will be times that you are training for a race or just need to lose some weight but it can still be fun and definitely enjoyable! Find new routes, choose a healthy reward for yourself for passing milestones, try new foods, new places, make new friends, and relish all of the new experiences!