Running for beginners

Ok I know you have probably all seen this floating around Instagram and other social media sights…but I kinda love it. This was me when I first started running…and this was me yesterday.  I often see runners who look like they are floating on air.  Right?  Like they are just leaping and bounding without as much as a gasp or elevated heart rate whatsoever.  That ain’t me.  I’ve talked about this in a previous post but I haven’t always been a runner.  While I know my form has improved and I have become faster and more efficient..the road getting there hasn’t been easy.  It has taken work. I think it’s important for all runners to remember that we all had a starting point.  We were all beginners at one point or another.  For me, I feel I have been a beginner 4 times since I began my running journey. Once when I first started out and then after all 3 of my pregnancies.  Post pregnancy I had more in the way of knowledge, form and experience..but it still felt like starting from scratch…adding in the constant need to pee of course.  Thank you kids.  Mommy will never be the same(as a completely random sidenote…I hopped off a treadmill the other day right after starting my run to go to the bathroom.  I came back, started running and a girl came up next to me, asked me if I had just gone to pee, then proceeded to high five me.  yep…that happened.  She said she thought she was the only one who ever had to stop that soon after starting a run to hit the bathroom.  Sister…you are not alone but the high five was a little over the top).  Anyway, my point is we all started somewhere on our roads to becoming runners.  We need to remember to encourage one another regardless of age or pace.  We can all be happy little runners together.  So to all my awesome beginner runners out there.  This post is for you.

I’ve been thinking about doing a post for beginners and then the other day a sweet friend on Instagram requested one so it’s perfect timing.  I started thinking about the top things I would tell all you beginners out there when you first start out.  Here are my top 5 running tips for beginners:

1.  Get good shoes~ The great thing about the sport of running is it doesn’t require a ton of year. Yes, there is a ton out there to get hooked into buying(like me..i have a problem. I believe all the hype about everything running related). BUT it’s not necessary when you are just starting.  You may eventually want to add in a watch that can track your HR, pace and distance but if you have a smart phone there are tons of apps for that as well.  That’s what I did before I took the Garmin plunge and I did that for years.  So, good shoes.  This is really the most important item for running.  Go to a local running store if there is one available and they should be able to fit you.  They may analyze your gait by watching you walk or jog and fit your foot to what they think is the right shoe for you.  Some great brands to be on the lookout for are Brooks, Saucony, Mizuno, Asics, and New Balance just to name a few.  These are my Brooks Pure Flow.  I love them.  I have also worn Mizuno(my foot is too fat for these shoes) and Asics.  In fact I started out in Asics and loved them. 
These are my PureFlow’s.  Totally random pic of me and Lila’s feet I know but she had just gotten these adorable Converse and I couldn’t help myself.

Good shoes will get you a long way.  It may take you a while to find just the right pair but be patient.  And, if you don’t feel right or something hurts, take the shoe back.  That’s what they are there for so any running store should be able to help you get to the right shoe.

2.  Get a plan~ I know this sounds simple but this is still one of those tried and true training tips that works for me just as it did when I first started out.  When I first started running it was a run/walk which is what I would suggest for any beginner runner.  You want a walk to run ration beginning with more walking time than running.  Start with 1 min run and 5 min walk.  Do this for 30 minutes.  It should take 8-10 weeks if you are starting from scratch to swing this ration the other way gradually getting you to the point where you can run 30 min without stopping.  There are TONS of great resources online such as the C25k and other options to get you to that goal.  I still for the most part have to have a plan.  It gets me out the door and keeps me focussed on a goal. Otherwise, its easy to get discouraged and quit.  Give your body 4-6 weeks to acclimate to running.  If you are fit and can handle a bit more at first, do it but be careful.  It’s so much better to start out slow even if it feels easy than to come out guns blazing and get defeated.  I’m more than happy to put together a running plan for you if you are interested.  You can contact me in the comment section below or by email.  

3.  Take it slow! I think many times people get so amped and excited to start running, they lace up their 15 year old shoes, walk out their front door and take off..only to be winded, walking and discouraged in a matter of minutes.  Learning to run, letting your body adjust to these new demands and gaining physical and mental strength takes TIME.  Be patient.  It doesn’t happen over night.  It’s easy to watch other runners or look at more challenging training plans and want to push yourself to a level your body isn’t ready to go to yet.  Even if you are fit and active running is different.  It puts different stresses on your muscles, joints and bones.  Don’t…I repeat…DON’T get caught up with speed at the beginning.  Your run intervals don’t need to be sprints.  If you have a gym you can easily hop on the elliptical or bike or walk on an incline on the treadmill if you need a bigger calorie burn.  Hit the weights as well to get stronger.  Don’t feel the need to run all out or worry about pace.  That will come.  For now, you are letting your body adjust to running, pace and speed will come later.  If you are working from home with no gym access then try and find a hilly route somewhere close by and add that in to your routine on a walk only day.  This will challenge your legs and build muscle and you could eventually add this in to your run route.  Hills are a great way to add challenge.  Oh, and on that note. Check out my favorite shirt that you need to wear on hills day….

This is my embrace the hills shirt.  Sarah is runfargirl and has an amazing story and the proceeds from the shirts go to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Children’s Hospital.  You know I’m obligated to ALWAYS share cute running gear with you.  You’re welcome.

4. Nutrition~ Ok so I’m not going to go into too much detail here but good nutrition goes a long way.  Pre run you need 200-400 calories of mostly complex carbs.  Try to eat at least 1.5 hours before you run.  I know if you run early this can be a challenge.  On days I run so early that I’d have to get up in the middle of the night to go by this rule(um not happening) I eat a spoonful of PB with a drizzle of honey.  It should be plenty for a 30 min workout.  If you have the time to eat a good breakfast some ideas are a whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter and honey, greek yogurt with granola, half a PB and J and a banana.  Can you tell I eat a lot of Peanut Butter before I run.  Yes, it works.  Also, post run you need to refuel within 30 min.  For me, this is a glass of good ole chocolate milk.  Sounds crazy but it works wonders.  For you this could mean a protein shake or drink, banana, apple with peanut butter etc.  Lots of options.  Also, stay hydrated especially if you are running outside in the heat.  I use NUUN but there are tons of electrolyte drinks out there. Drink throughout the day…not just around your run.
This is NUUN. I’ve done a review on this product but I love it.  Doesn’t make me thirstier and keeps me hydrated without the sugar..but again there are TONS of great products out there. 

5.  Stretch~ It’s so important to warm up and cool down properly.  This can help your muscles and keep them from getting too sore after you finish and aid in your performance during a run.  Before a run you want to do some dynamic stretches.  These are basically ACTIVE stretches such as walking body weight lunges, jumping jacks, brisk walking, high knees, grapevines etc.  Anything that losens up those muscles and gets your body warm and your heart rate elevated a bit.  Post run is when you can add in some static, or still and controlled, stretching since your body is nice and warm.  Buy a foam roller if you can.  This was one of the best at home pieces of equipment I have ever purchased. They aren’t that expensive and most athletic stores carry them these days.  You can watch a video here on the basics of foam rolling  

This is great for sore muscles and you can easily keep it at home to use before and after a run.  Static stretches are anything that you hold for about 30 seconds.  This can be a basic runners lunge with a side twist, pigeon, deep squats, toe touch, or heel dips(off a curb or step). This isn’t something I did religiously for a long time…honestly until I had several injuries and a surgery.  Now, I take my stretching and foam rolling seriously.  I know it can be a pain to add in those few minutes before and after and may feel pointless but trust me…it’s working even if you don’t always feel the results.  

Ok, those are my tips.  I know there is so much I probably left out but didn’t want you to have to spend the next 3 days reading this post.  We can do a follow up if ya’ll have more tips or things that have worked for you. I’d love to connect with you so let me know if you have any questions or anything to add.  Also, stay tuned this week for a guest post from my good friend and elite trainer Jeremy Jackson on strength training for beginners.  Happy Running!!!


2 comments on “Running for beginners

  1. Good tips! It’s hard to remember back to being a total beginner but I do remember how intimidating it was to start and keep going when at first it felt really hard and I didn’t know what I was doing. This will be really helpful to people just starting out!

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