Four Tips for New Runners
Mar 22, 2021
Hello, new runners! Maybe you want to try to run your first 5k, or maybe you just want to jog around the block. Either way, you’re a “new runner” and you’re here to learn more.
I would call myself “an experienced new runner”. I run regularly but not very far and not very fast. But I run faster and farther than I did a year ago, and more importantly, I enjoy running a lot more than I did a year ago. It used to be a chore, something I did because gyms were closed. Now it’s something I really enjoy. It’s easier for me to move my body, I love how it feels, and the repetitive motion is a great way for me to get some thinking done.
Why do I start this blog by telling you I’m an average runner, at best? To remind you that if I can do it, you can too. Don’t get me wrong - listening to stories of Olympic athletes is inspiring. But, that’s not me. I don’t have the world’s best running coach. I don’t even have any running coach! And running is a small part of my life: I don’t have hours a day to dedicate to it. And even if I did, I don’t even really want to run a marathon or get my 5k time under a certain amount of minutes. I just want to run, and enjoy doing it.
So these tips are going to be from me, an experienced new runner, to you, an inexperienced new runner. They’re going to be relatable, inexpensive (except the shoes, you really need good shoes) and are going to work with your busy schedule.
Get the Right Equipment
I already mentioned it, so I might as well start here. You need the right equipment. Doesn’t have to be flashy, or this season’s colors, but you need running gear: a dryfit shirt, athletic shorts/pants/leggings, athletic socks. There is no way you’re going to enjoy running if your cute little no show socks are sliding down and giving you a massive blister, or if your cotton t shirt is soaked with sweat and you’re now freezing. You also need, yes, need, good quality running shoes. Good shoes are the difference between an easy comfortable run, and shin splints and aching joints. There are lots of good brands out there: I’m partial to Nike, but Brooks, Asics, Hoka, Saucony, etc all have their fans too. Getting your gait analyzed at a running store will help you find the right fit for you. Trial and error works too.
Commit to a schedule.
For me, that means an amount of runs per week, and a mileage for the month and year. For some, that means something else. Create a goal at the beginning of each week, month, and year, and stick to it. No matter what. Even if it’s raining, or cold, or hot. Just get out there and get it done.
Don’t worry about your pace and start off slow
A lot of people hate running because they don’t do it right. They run too fast. Now, we’ve already established that I, the writer, and you, the reader, are not Olympic athletes. We’re not trying to break any records. We’re just trying to break into a new sport and have a good time doing it. So where are you racing off to?
Just get out there and move, especially at the start of your run. I guarantee, if you start your run with a race pace, you’ll be done before you want to be. So just start off slow and easy. “Slow and easy” means something different for everyone: Olympians probably warm up at a pace I’ll never reach. But we’re putting in the same effort: easy.
You might get to a time in your running adventure where you do want to run faster, or do some sprints, or something like that. And that’s all well and good, if that’s your goal. But still. Start easy.
Non number victories
Running starts off really hard. My body ached and I kept wondering why I made myself do this. I ran the same little loop each time and didn’t seem to get much faster at it. While fixating on my MPHs and total mileage, however, I was missing some other “non number” victories.
We live at the top of a pretty big hill. Which is great, we have nice views. However, that means that I run down the hill at the start of my runs, and back up it at the end, when I’m good and tired. It felt like this insurmountable mountain that I walked up every time. Until I didn’t. There wasn’t a Rocky moment where I ran up it at 100 mph after walking it for a month. At first, I could run a quarter of it. Then half. And it wasn’t linear: some days were harder than others. But after a lot of time and effort, I was running up that hill. I realized how far I had come yes, on the day I ran it all for the first time, but moreso on the day when I realized I was daydreaming as I ran up it. I was comfortable enough with this hill to get away from the thoughts like “This sucks!” “How much longer!” “I should stop!” “Why am I doing this??”
When I started to focus on these “non number” victories, I realized how much stronger I had become. Maybe it’s how long you go before walking or slowing down. Maybe it’s tackling a hill or path that seemed really hard. Maybe it’s just your attitude.
Hopefully these tips help you get out there, whether it's to start your first run or develop a habit. Running doesn’t have to be painful. It can be fun. You just need to know where to start.