Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beginner Running Tips

First of all, let me say that I am definitely an amateur runner. I remember going to the gym with my hubby (then boyfriend) when we were dating..he'd be running on the treadmill and I'd be walking on the one next to him. He tried getting me to run with him a few times and I wouldn't. I *hated* running. With. A. Passion. The thought of everything bouncing here and there, and people watching me huff and puff terrified me. Self-inflicted thanks.

The last few years I slowly started feeling like I wanted to run, but at 20+ lbs more than I was in college I was even more scared of starting something I was sure I'd be awful at.
As silly as I realize this sounds to me now, these were my thoughts:

"I can't run on the treadmill at the gym, people will see how slow I am or how little I can run before keeling over"

or worse..

"I can't run outside, people will be able to see that I can't even make it down the street without stopping to catch my breath"

These thoughts, which I am sure many beginner runners think (hopefully or I'm just crazy!), lead me to my first "running tip"..

1. Never compare yourself to others! It's easy to do, but don't!

2. Expect discomfort at the beginning. Running might not be comfortable at first, it shouldn't be painful, but it might be uncomfortable, or even awkward at first, but that's normal. It's also normal to be sore for a few days after.
3. Wear running clothes you are comfortable in- including a good sports bra and good running shoes. If you wear very loose or baggy clothing, you are just going to add resistance to your run. If poor shoes don't hurt you while you are running, they will hurt you later on.

4. Prep yourself with a good pre-run snack a half hour before. Running with fresh food in your stomach can set yourself up for a big stomach cramp. A good snack should have a carb and protein, such as whole wheat toast with peanut butter, I also like protein bars before a run. It's easy to want to skip this, especially if you are setting out to burn calories, but you have to fuel your body or you can set yourself up to burn muscle instead of fat.

5. Start off short and slow. If you haven't ran in a long time (or ever) don't be surprised to find that one minute of running is a struggle. It was for me the first time! In fact, the first time I ran, I looked at the clock after 30 seconds and thought 'kill me now, I swear I've been running for 10 times as long as that!'. I was also tempted to start off way faster than I should have, in fear of looking like what my friend calls a "wunner", you know where you can't tell if they are walking, bouncing or "running". Focus more on distance than speed at first. The couch to 5K program is a great starter program to slowly build up your endurance.

6. Chances are you can go longer than you think. In any workout, it's easy to stop when you start "feeling the burn", but chances are, you have more in you than you think. Always listen to your body, but try to go a little longer than you think you can, or you want to. Point out a marker up ahead and say "I'm going to run until I get to that tree" and when you get there, you might find you can run to that sign ahead and so on.

7. Music! Listen to music, it makes a huge difference. Without music, I'm constantly focusing on how hard I am breathing and how difficult the run is. Music with a good beat can keep me distracted and motivated. Often times I find myself going a little further because I'm determined to run through the end of a good song.

8. Run tall. Keeping your head up and keeping proper posture can help a ton. You'll be working harder if you run hunched over. This might sound silly, but my sister-in-law taught me this trick on a run together that might be worth trying. Run with your thumbs up...not like you are thumbs up-ing everyone you see, but keep them pointed up, it will automatically help you keep your posture straight.

9. Every pound you lose will make running easier. On average, you can increase your speed by 2 seconds per mile for every pound you lose.

10. A bad run is better than no run at all! Not every run is going to be better than the last, but if you want to improve, you have to get out there and try.

There are soo many other running tips and I like I said, I'm still a newbie "runner", but these are some things that have helped me so far. 5 years ago I never would have thought I'd like running, but I'm really starting to enjoy it. I find myself wanting to go for a run. I just did my first 5K on Saturday and I'm already looking forward to doing another one!

Is there something you've found to help you run a little longer or faster?


  1. I absolutely agree with music as a necessity. I don't/can't/won't listen to music if I'm running on the street because of safety concerns but at the gym I run much further, longer, and harder if I have something to distract me from "OH GOD I THINK I'M GONNA DIE! WAH!"

  2. I love this post! As a beginning runner myself, I can totally relate to your former feelings of what people would think and how uncomfortable it is. It's hard at first, but hopefully in time it will become an addiction I can't get away from. Happy running!!

  3. AWESOME post!! Great tips and advice...I have felt one or many of these "symptoms" of running at one time or another! It is such a great feeling to build up your endurance!

  4. This is such a great and helpful post Amy! THANK YOU! As a brand-new-to-running "wunner" I really appreciated the tips you've shared! Last night while I was doing my best to get through my 1 minute intervals of jogging I decided to stop focusing on distance and speed and just concentrate on actually getting my feet up off the ground rather than shuffling along and also on maintaining a tall posture. It really made a huge difference in how I felt at the end of my intervals, so I can definitely confirm your posture theory :) (and the idea of not worrying so much about speed) Thanks again!

  5. Thanks for this!
    I am about to start Ang's C25K schedule and I am very nervous and excited!
    I will keep these tips in mind

  6. thank you - was just sitting here, wanting to go for a run - for the first time!!! I need to find my shoes, so I went for an hour long walk instead, but I will get there. Tone

  7. Tone- an hour long walk is better than no run! Way to go!

    JoBee- Good luck starting the Couch to 5K! Keep us updating on how it goes!

    Ang- sounds like you are starting off with a great attitude and the right idea!

    Keep up the good work ladies. This running thing is still a work in progress for me, I still have PLENTY of room to improve, but it does get easier with time. Good luck :)

  8. Wow - Great post! Even if you're not a runner, so much of this advice is applicable to other types of exercise. Thanks!



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