Here are a few tips from professional coaches on how to approach running as a first-timer without ending up intimidated or discouraged by the sport. Once you feel comfortable doing it, running is a lot of fun.
1. Alternate between running and walking your first few weeks.
One of the biggest things coaches stress to brand-new runners is to simply focus on spending time on your feet and not get caught up in the numbers. Most would agree that you shouldn’t start out running more than a few minutes at a time, with walk breaks in between.Many running coaches would recommend beginning runners start with a run/walk three times a week, in which they run for one minute and walk for 90 seconds for a total of 20 minutes per session.
2. Choose a realistic first training goal.
Building up to a 5K with little to no stopping within about eight weeks after beginning to run is a realistic time frame. If you are a new runner it is recommended to wait about two years before considering training for a longer race like a half marathon.
Another key in tackling a longer distance– regardless of how long you’ve been running– is to make sure you’re running enough of a base before your new training plan starts. This means, for example, you should be able to run an easy 6 miles before beginning a training plan for a half marathon, and an easy 8 to 10 miles before beginning a 16-week training plan for a marathon.
3. Consider joining a social running club for one of your weekly sessions.
These days, it’s not hard to find a free group running option in just about any city or town, whether it’s hosted by a gym, running store, running club, or even a local pub. The beauty of these runs is that they attract runners of all levels because they are more focused on enjoying the sport rather than grinding out the speed. If you’re feeling insecure about how far you have or haven’t run, a social run is a great place to start because you’ll find many people in the same boat as you, making it easier to relax and feel confident.
4. Be patient when it comes to noticing progress.
It’s important for new runners to remember that it can take weeks before they’re running without needing walk breaks and before running actually feels more comfortable.
There are always going to be plateaus, peaks, and valleys with starting a new program but don’t get discouraged if you feel like you’re not seeing immediate results while you adapt to those first few weeks of stress on the body. If you keep at it, you’ll start to notice your body adapting eventually, meaning that running will feel easier and you’ll be able to run faster or longer than you did at first.
It’s important to remember that while consistency is key and if you ever feel discouraged, remember this: Just getting out there and starting to run is a huge success in itself. Being patient with yourself, and giving your body the time it needs to get used to this new sport, will pay off down the road. Just think about how great it will feel to look back in a few months and see how far you’ve come.