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10 Running Tips For Beginners

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

Running tends to get a bad rep. I've done my fair share of absolutely brutal running workouts as a collegiate and professional runner- so I totally get it.


There are times that running really does suck.


Yet we keep on running cause it empowers us to be better versions of ourselves, stay in shape, and oh so many other reasons.


All that's to say, I totally understand why learning how to start running as a beginner can be so daunting. We all had to run the mile in gym class and a large portion of us poor souls vowed to never do such a thing again. (Even I, now a pro track athlete, said that).


Yet here you are, looking for a beginner's running plan because you just couldn't stay away. Welcome! And to show you how glad I am that you're back, I'll be sharing with you 10 running tips for beginners.


10 running tips for beginners

How To Start Running For Beginners


Whether you're looking for tips on how to start running when out of shape, simply wanting to take up a new (cheap) fitness hobby, or looking for pointers to improve your running technique, there are a few things you should definitely know.


After over a decade of competing as a pro runner, these are the 10 things I would tell someone just starting out as a beginner runner. But they're also great to know if you just want to get better, no matter how long you've been running!


1) Walk Before You Run


This might sound silly, but I promise it's a great idea.


A lot of new runners jump out the door and start running, thinking that going super slow or only a short distance is the way to go. If you're coming from doing basically no exercise, I can't recommend just throwing yourself into the fire.


You might be fine, but you're likely to be very sore and have a miserable time. Which isn't exactly going to make you want to do it again.


If you haven't been moving much, literally start by going for walks. Walking a few miles a day is actually great exercise and a really good place to start when you're just starting to run.


Gradually increase your walking distance or even pace as you start to feel more in shape. From there, add running into your walks!


2) Warm Up And Cool Down


I can't stress this enough! You have to take care of your body no matter what level of training you are at. Prioritize learning how to properly warm-up and cool down your body as you start your running journey.


You need to warm up and cool down for many reasons.


For starters, you'll feel a million times better if you activate the right muscles before you run and don't just start going cold.


Another reason is that you'll find your performance and ability improving much easier with the proper warm-up and cooldown techniques!


I have a whole blog post outlining my warm-up and cooldown for running that is full of ideas for you to try! Find it here.




3) Fuel Your Body The Right Way


When you start running, your body starts burning calories and working hard! You can't ask your body to keep up with a vigorous running - or any exercise - routine without fueling it correctly.


Even when you're not running a lot the body needs food and good nutrition to do its thang.


Make sure you are drinking plenty of water (including electrolytes!) throughout the day and not just before/after you run. Eat a colorful and variety-filled diet of vegetables, fruits, carbs, and protein.


Get protein in as soon as possible after workouts for maximum benefits and prioritize it in your meals throughout the day. It will help your muscles heal and give you the strength to run.


The rest of my tips for making a running diet simple are in this Q+A post.


4) Focus On You


The world is full of people sharing their fitness journey and the wild successes that they have. But just like you, this happened on their own timeline.


Your story is not their story and what worked exactly for them might not be the same as you. You'll get to where you need to be when the time is right.


Don't rush mileage or certain training exercises because the person next to you is doing them. Not only could you hurt yourself and set yourself back, but you also are at risk of spending too much energy comparing yourself to others and not on your own progress.


You're doing great!


5) Invest In Good Running Shoes


A good pair of running shoes is the first step.


Everyone has differently shaped feet and stride patterns, so everyone will have different needs.


Trying out sneakers at a running store to see what feels best on your foot can be a good way to figure out which shoes are best for you.


You can also ask employees at running stores for advice on shoes based on how much you're running, the surface you're running on, and what level of support you think you need.


Take care of your feet by rolling your feet, shins, and calves with foam rollers or lacrosse balls. Your feet and lower leg are going to be taking a beating, so the right shoes and recovery techniques in this area are super important.


A lot of running-related injuries start in these areas so stay on top of it from the start! Here are some top-rated running shoes:



6) Journal And Track


I'm not going to lie to you: half the battle as a beginner runner is going to be motivation.


While I am 100% an advocate that it's OK to not be motivated every day, there's no denying that inspiration and managing the mental side of running is crucial to success.


One way to help stay motivated as a beginner runner is to journal and track your progress. Maybe you find that writing down how you felt each day motivates you to keep going.


There are a ton of reasons to track fitness. Write down goal times (ex: 10 min mile) and track your progress each week as you get closer to it.


You'll be so inspired!


Writing out your workouts is also a great way to see that you're making progress on the days you don't feel so great.


running tips for beginners

7) Use Cross-Training


A lot of people don't realize how much cross-training is a part of elite athlete success. It's not just a running tip for beginners, it's for every runner!


Yup, even the best of the best take a number of days each week to bike or swim instead of run. It's the smart thing to do. It allows you to do more aerobic work/mileage without putting as much impact on your body.


Use cross-training days to improve your fitness so you can start running further and faster as time goes on.


running tips for beginners

8) Learn About Running Form


Proper running form is going to make running a heck of a lot more fun for you. Even your runner's arms matter and can slow you down/make running harder.


There are many places you can learn about proper running form, such as respected YouTube channels or running fitness instructors online.


It seems like you can just go out and run without knowing much about technique, but you should take some time to learn which exercises strengthen your running muscles and drills that get your body ready to run.


9) Take Days Off


When you're just starting out as a runner, there is absolutely no need to run every single day.


Actually, I wouldn't recommend it!


Your body has to get used to this new activity and have time to recover correctly.


The fitness world perpetuates this "NO DAYS OFF" mentality that I find motivational sometimes, but more often problematic.


Taking a day off does not make you any less of an athlete or not as good as someone else. Especially if you're hurting. Don't run through any major pains.


Beginner runners should probably run about 2-4 times per week and increase weekly mileage every other week instead of weekly. As your body gets used to it, you can gradually add more days.


Instead of taking days completely off, you can also use days that you don't run to work on other things. Maybe you do:


  • exercises that improve your running form

  • core routines

  • or a trip to the gym


10) Find A Community


Although running has been in my life for a long time and I do enjoy the sport, the community I have because of it is why I truly love it so much.


My teammates over the years have been some of my best friends on and off the track!


And I certainly don't think I could have made it this far without their support when I'm doing good and when I'm doing bad.


Joining a running group in person or even virtually can make your time learning how to run as a beginner SO much more enjoyable! If there aren't any running groups near you, maybe you can enlist a friend or two to join you on this journey and help hold you accountable.


Everything's better with a training buddy!


You can also try participating in a virtual running community that comes with a coach. There's a few of those out there and they can just help:

  • hold you accountable

  • make sure you're staying safe

  • answer any questions or concerns as you go

  • give you training ideas when you don't know what to do next



Starting A Running Plan


Remember to be patient with yourself! Running is fun and can be really simple to do (literally just stepping out of your door and doing it!) but make sure to pay attention to how you're treating your body as you start running.


You want to move at a pace that is actually beneficial for your body and your mind!


If starting a running plan as a beginner is feeling really hard, don't be discouraged! Stay on top of the little things like nutrition, hydration, and letting your body recover. Soon enough you'll be running like you've been doing it forever!


As always, message me or comment with updates on your journey! I want to cheer you on.


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running tips for beginners

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Hi, I'm Madeline

Welcome to Madeline Kopp— your source of inspo for finding a balance between healthy living and going after everything that you want! Here you'll find balanced, healthy lifestyle hacks that keep things simple and stylish. Learn more. x, MK
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