How to Start Running for Beginners: 7 Beginner-Friendly Tips
New to running? Learn how to become a runner with these tips.
Ever wanted to start running, but didn’t know where to begin?
Or have you attempted running in the past only to get burnt out or have had a negative experience with it and end up hating it?
I totally get where you are coming from!
For 5 years I have had a love/hate relationship with running, and it was not until recently where I have fallen IN LOVE with running.
I have fallen in love with running so much that I consistently run at least a 5k (3.1 miles) 3 times a week. I no longer dread going out for my runs either.
In fact, I am excited to get out the door to run and feel absolutely crushed if bad weather cancels my run.
In today’s blog post I am sharing with you these 7 running for beginners tips. These tips will hopefully help you gain confidence to start running and stay consistent as a new runner.
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7 tips for new runners
1. Find your “why”
As a new runner, it is very easy to give up.
Running is not only physically challenging, but it is also mentally challenging.
But these challenges can be overcome if you have a “why” to why you’re running and setting out on this running journey of yours.
Think about it: When you are running you are literally thrusting your body forward just with your arms and legs all while your mind is screaming at you to stop and walk.
As a new runner, it is so easy to fall into your mind’s games and stop running because well… it’s easier to walk than to run.
That is why having a “why” as a new runner is essential to have before you start your running journey.
Related: 15 Essential Running Gear for Beginners
What is a “why” you may ask?
And as a new runner, your “why” is exactly what it sounds like: why are you running?
But don’t fret, your “why” doesn’t have to be any extravagant goal with a heartfelt story behind it.
Your “why” can be as simple as:
- I want to lose weight.
- I want to run a 5k without stopping.
- I want to fit into my favorite pair of jeans again.
- I want to have a physical activity that helps me with my mental health.
- I want to feel good about myself.
- I want live longer.
- I want to feel stronger.
- I want to challenge myself physically and mentally.
Your “why” can also change as you become a more established runner.
As you build up mileage, add more time onto your runs, and become fitter physically and mentally, your “why” may and will change over time.
No matter what your why is, it is important to establish your “why” and ingrain it into your mind.
A solid “why” will help you on your runs when your brain is telling you to stop or you lose the motivation to run.
Think of your “why” as your mental energy source just like food is your physical energy source.
2. Find a “guilty pleasure” to listen to while running
Running is already hard enough, so why make it any harder on yourself by running in silence?
While there are some people who may not mind running to the sound of cars or nature, I personally find running more enjoyable when I get to tune into my “guilty pleasure” while running.
What is a running “guilty pleasure” you may ask?
It is something you only listen to when you go out on your runs.
Your running “guilty pleasure” can be a certain genre of music, an audiobook, podcasts, etc.
But the key is is that you only listen to this certain genre of music, audiobook, podcast, etc. while you are running.
By associating something you enjoy listening to and running you are establishing a positive relationship between whatever you are listening to and running.
If you break this relationship by listening to your running “guilty pleasure” outside of running you could lose motivation to run. It’s like treating yourself to dessert after you have eaten healthy all day.
My running “guilty pleasure” of choice? Podcasts.
Here is a list of some of my current favorite podcasts to listen to while running:
- Up First by NPR
- Consider This from NPR
- The Daily by the New York Times
- Gen Z Girl by Abby Asselin
- Simple Pin Podcast by Kate Ahl
- Thrive Blogger Podcast by Bree Pair
- The Blogger Genius Podcast by Jillian Leslie
3. Use the run walk run method
Listen up, because this running beginners tip is the most important one.
When you think of a runner you may imagine someone who is out on their run and they are not stopping at all until they hit their mileage goal. But that is far from the truth.
Learning how to run as a beginner takes time and progression.
You need to be able to walk a relatively long distance before you can run.
Then, once you are comfortable walking a long distance (e.g., a mile or two) then you can start implementing the run walk run method to help make running easier and not as overwhelming for your body.
Although mankind has been running since the dawn of time, running can be damaging to the body if you do not ease into it using the run walk run method. Additionally, it is very easy to get discouraged as a new runner attempting to run a mile without stopping on your very first day.
And don’t let the run walk run method discourage you and make you feel like you are not a runner or not good enough to run.
You are still a runner if you stop and walk.
Let me repeat that… you are still a runner if you stop and walk.
What is the run walk run method?
The run walk run method is a running training strategy where you run for a certain amount of time and then walk for a certain amount of time until you reach a certain mileage goal.
Many running mobile apps (we’ll discuss them later) and running plans use the run walk run method for new runners to help their bodies adapt to running and achieve their running goals.
The intervals of running and walking stay consistent for that particular run (e.g., walk for 1 minute, run for 30 seconds until you reach 3.1 miles).
Over time, the interval of running increases in time as the walking interval decreases in time (e.g., walk for 1 minute, run for 5 minutes).
Depending on the plan or your personal running goals, you may stop the run walk run method and solely run the whole distance OR you may continue the run/walk method and increase the mileage/distance of your runs.
Want to learn more about the run walk run method? Watch the video down below.
I love the run walk run method because it allows you to curate a run that meets your current fitness level and capabilities!
4. Run slowly… very slowly
As a new runner, you aren’t trying to break world records.
And even as you gain experience as a runner the pace of most runs should not be at a “race pace.”
Starting your runs off too fast may lead to injury or your body may run out of energy too quickly.
Instead, you should go into your runs with the intention of going nice and slow–but not walking slow–just slow enough to where you can hold a conversation with someone comfortably.
By running slow you are allowing your body to adapt to the mileage you’re putting on it and you will be less prone to injury.
Also, by running slowly, you may also improve your capability of running faster!
Currently, I am running an average of 10 minutes and 52 seconds per mile.
And I am certainly not breaking any records with that pace! But as a personal pace it is “fast” enough to help me remain faithful to running and dominate my 5k and 10k runs.
5. Use a running app to guide you
One of the best ways to learn how to run as a beginner is to download a mobile app.
Mobile apps, like Couch to 5k by Active, are a game-changer for new runners because they have a pre-planned program designed to coach you and teach you how to run using the run walk run method.
Apps like Couch to 5k will help you understand how to pace your runs and helps you build your mental strength which is needed to be a successful new runner.
I have personally used Couch to 5k back in 2015 and loved the app’s ability to motivate me to get out the door to complete another workout.
I also love how these apps allow you to go at your own pace and repeat workouts as needed to feel confident during your runs.
If you do download the Couch to 5k app you can also find a community within the app.
I know Reddit as a subreddit called r/C25k and there are many users sharing their progress training for a 5k.
Other running apps to consider as a new runner are Zombies, Run! (iOS and Android) or Nike+ Run Club (iOS and Android).
However, I would highly recommend using the Couch to 5K app if you are brand new to running, have no idea where to begin, and want a set plan you don’t have to think about.
6. Reward yourself!
Running is hard!
As a new runner, you definitely deserve to reward yourself for meeting your goals and crushing challenging runs.
Some ways you can treat yourself as a new runner are:
- Buy yourself a new pair of running shoes–I personally love the All Birds Tree Dashers
- Buy yourself a new water bottle–I love blender bottles because they are lightweight, cheap, and easy to tote around while I’m cooling down after my runs
- Buy yourself new running socks–I love these ones from Target’s All in Motion Brand–and a good pair of running shoes can improve your runs
- Buy yourself a running belt like the FlipBelt to make your runs more hands-free
- Take a long hot bath or shower
- Get your nails done
- Treat yourself to a 20-30 minute at-home facial
- Go out for a celebratory meal or grab takeout
- Watch your favorite movie or TV show after your run
However, don’t go too crazy with treating yourself! If you treat yourself too much you may lose the motivation to run.
Personally, I bought myself my first pair of running shoes when I completed my first 10k run. And those shoes have been a game-changer with how my legs and feet feel while I am running!
7. Don’t compare yourself to others
When you start any new hobby or sport it is very easy to start comparing yourself to others.
As a new runner, it is easy to get caught up in how fast you can run a mile or how many miles you can run in a week.
Or if you are running in the park you may feel guilty or not good enough if you stop to walk while everyone else is still running.
But honestly, all of these numbers–like pace and mileage–are just that: numbers. And everyone else who is running in the park with you, they’re on their own running journey just like you.
Every single run you go on needs to be solely about you and your run.
You need to focus on how your body feels and how your mind feels while running.
I promise you, by staying focused on yourself and not allowing the “noise” of others to get to you, you are more likely to succeed as a new runner.
Concluding thoughts on how to start running as a beginner
Starting your running journey is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things you can do for your physical, mental, and emotional health. However, I understand how difficulty it can be to simply start running as a beginner.
In today’s blog post I shared with you 7 running for beginners tips to help you start running as a beginner.
I hope these tips will help you start your running journey, help you tackle your runs with confidence, and help you find joy and success in running.
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