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How to start running: 39 game-changing running tips for beginners

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The holy grail for many runners is to unlock the secret to become a faster, stronger and less injury-prone runner.

Whether you’re new to running or have been running for many years, there’s always room for improvement.

You may want to improve your speed, run your first half marathon or simply achieve your next PB. 

Whatever your goals, the running tips for beginners in this guide will help you become a better runner.

Ready?

Let’s get started!

running tips for beginners

39 running tips for beginners

Running tip #1: Be consistent

This is probably one of the most important running tips for beginners, especially when you’re starting out on your running journey.

If you want to make running a regular habit, then it’s important to be consistent. This means running regularly and consistently each week. 

Studies suggest it can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days to form a new habit, and on average 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. 

Your first run may feel horrible – you’re out of breath and want to give up – but over time it’ll soon feel easier.

Running tip #2: Have a plan

If you’re a new runner, you may feel overwhelmed. Where do you start? How fast should you be running? How far can I run?

To help you navigate the early stages of running, follow a training plan like Couch to 5k

Couch to 5k is perfect for beginner runners as it offers a simple week by week plan to get you from couch to 5k in 9 to 12 weeks.

If you’re a more experienced runner and working towards your next race goal, there are lots of training plans out there that will provide a framework in which to train for the race. 

Without a training plan, you run the risk of going nowhere fast. 

A well-rounded training plan should include a mixture of runs, rest days and ancillary training like speed training and strength training (depending on the plan you choose). 

Running tip #3: Form a routine

Every successful runner will have a routine that they stick with each week.

There are many benefits to having a routine, including better sleep patterns, better stress levels, better overall health and better self-esteem.

Having a routine will also have positive effects for your running performance and emotional wellbeing. 

Your routine will be largely determined by factors like your family life, your job and your schedule. The key is to find a routine that works for you.

Running tip #4: Run in the morning

Many runners have a love/hate relationship with running in the morning. It’s like marmite.

According to a 2014 study, running in the morning may lead to a better night’s sleep. Another study from 2012 suggests that running in the morning helps to improve sleep and physiological functioning. 

Consider going for a morning run if you want to see benefits for your sleep and physiological health. 

Running tip #5: Listen to your body

Your body goes through a lot when you go for a run. A lot is happening within your body – from your heart pumping to your legs moving to get you through the run.

Listening to your body is a great way to really tune into how your body is doing on a run. 

It can take some time and practice, but it can bring about many benefits. 

Listening to your body can help you modify your training, improve your running performance  and help you recognise your limits. 

The key is having the confidence to look out for the constant feedback that your body provides you with. 

Running tip #6: Celebrate the small wins

Running can feel like a battle sometimes, and on more than one occasion you may struggle to muster the motivation to go for a run.

During these times it’s worth celebrating the small wins – whether that be completing your first mile of a run or running Parkrun for the first time. 

You don’t have to run 10 to 20 miles each week to consider yourself a runner. 1 mile is enough.

Running tip #7: Set realistic goals

As runners we tend to reach for the stars when it comes to setting running goals. 

Whilst this is fine to begin with, it’s important to set realistic and achievable running goals in the long term otherwise you’ll be setting yourself up for failure from the get go. 

Use the SMART goal setting framework to help you write your goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

Running tip #8: Schedule your runs

If you lead a busy lifestyle, you may struggle to fit your runs into a busy schedule.

Schedule your runs like an appointment and set out some time in your day to go for a run.

If you’re a parent, then why not take your kids with you on the run? Check out my guide on running with a jogging stroller for more information and tips.

Running tip #9: Know your why

When you first start running, ask yourself why you want to start running in the first place. In other words, know your why.

Are you running to lose weight, get fit, or simply get outdoors more? Whatever your reasons are for running, make sure they align your interests and goals.

After all, you have to actually enjoy running in order to make a regular habit of it.

Running tip #10: Run to music

One of the best things about running is that you get to listen to your favourite music, audiobook or podcast while running.

Listening to music in particular helps to make the run more enjoyable and will motivate you to get out of the door in the first place.

running tips for beginners

Running tip #11: Reward yourself

Creating a reward system is a great way to motivate yourself to go for a run and to congratulate yourself for completing a run. 

Perhaps it’s a hot shower at the end of a run or a glass of wine in the evening, the key is to find rewards that are personal to you.

When you have a reward system in place, you are more likely to achieve your running goals.

Running tip #12: Find your tribe

About 50 million Americans (or 15 percent of the US population) participate in some form of running or jogging, according to a 2020 report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

This surge in popularity means it has never been easier to join a running community – either face to face or online.

Strava – the popular running and cycling app – has over 95 million users across 195 countries alone and offers its users the ability to connect with like-minded people so they can enjoy running or cycling as a group.

Running tip #13: Get enough sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for so many reasons. 

Not only does it help to look after your physical and emotional wellbeing, it helps to reduce your stress levels and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Aim to get a good night’s sleep and practice a good sleep routine. This includes avoiding any artificial blue light from your phone before bedtime.

Running tip #14: Stay hydrated

When you run, you lose fluid by sweating and breathing. As soon as you start to run, you start to dehydrate. 

It is thought that approximately 75% of the energy you put into exercise is converted into heat and is then lost. 

Your body keeps cool by sweating, which makes the replacement of these fluids crucial. 

It’s crucial that you are fully hydrated before you begin running otherwise you will risk dehydration early in the session. 

Dehydration can affect your stamina, speed and performance, and cause fatigue, headache and dizziness.

Running tip #15: Eat enough protein

Protein is needed in the diet to help the body repair cells and make new ones. 

It’s also important for growth and development during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy.  

If you’re exercising regularly, protein should be part of every meal, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

It’s also good to prioritise protein intake after a workout or run.

Running tip #16: Wear the right running shoes

If you run regularly, it’s crucial you find the right pair of running shoes. 

A well-fitting pair of running shoes will help to:

  • Support your feet when you run
  • Provide flexibility and durability
  • Protect against common running injuries like shin splints
  • Cushion your feet from heavy landing
  • Improve your performance

Visit your local running shoe store to find the right running shoes for you. Most stores nowadays offer a free gait analysis which will help determine the best shoes for you.

For more tips and advice on finding the right running shoes, check out my running shoes guide.

Running tip #17: Wear the right running gear

Along with running shoes, running gear is essential for a safe and comfortable run. 

What you wear running will depend on a number of factors, including your age, gender and the time of the year in which you run.

Check out my guides on running in the heat and running in the cold for running gear advice and tips. 

Running tip #18: Add variation into your training plan

You know the feeling, you’re working hard towards your training goals, but your training plan feels stale or boring.

Boredom is closely linked to a lack of motivation, so it’s important you find a training routine that excites you.

The simplest way to do this is to find variation in your training plan. This means including a range of runs and activities in your plan, including easy runs, long runs, strength training and speed training.

Cross training activities like swimming, cycling and yoga are also great to include in a plan to relieve feelings of boredom.

Running tip #19: Strength train

Strength training (also known as ‘resistance training’) is essentially the performance of exercises that are designed to improve strength and endurance.

Combining running and strength training is a great way to prevent common running injuries, and improve your running form and performance. 

If you’re new to strength training, then my 30 day strength training plan for runners is a simple and effective way to incorporate strength exercises into your training plan.

Running tip #20: Cross train

Cross training is essentially adding different forms of exercise into your training routine. 

It can take the form of walking, hiking, swimming, cycling, yoga and Pilates, and many more activities.

Cross training can help with injury prevention, recovery, endurance and strength and resistance. It’s also a great way to add variation into your training plan.

running tips for beginners

Running tip #21: Go for a mindful run

Mindful running has become increasingly popular over the last few years as people look for more ways to de-stress and reconnect with nature.

The definition of mindful running is to become mentally connected with your body during a run.

The best way to do this is to get rid of any distractions on your run, so this means running without your phone, watch and any other technology that you may use.

Meditation and mindful running are two practices that are often linked and used together. So if you feel like you need to de-stress, why not try mindful running?

Running tip #22: Run without a watch

Running without a watch is considered sacrilege for many runners who rely on their running watch to track their pace, heart rate, distance, amongst other things.

However, there are lots of benefits to running without a watch, one being that it allows you to be more mentally connected on your run.

It also allows you to really enjoy your run for what it is, without worrying about your speed and pace.

Running tip #23: Pick up your speed

Many runners are guilty of sticking with one speed when they run. 

While easy, steady runs are great for improving your endurance and stamina, they are not that great at getting you used to different speeds and paces.

By picking up your speed on a run, your body will get used to running at different speeds which will have benefits for your running performance.

Why not try speed training sessions like interval training, tempo running and strides on your next run? Just remember to warm up properly before your workout. 

Running tip #24: Try yoga

Yoga has many benefits for runners. It’s great for recovery, improves running technique, reduces the risk of injury, increases flexibility and improves mobility.

Not to mention the benefits for your emotional and mental wellbeing. 

The bottom line? A regular yoga practice could make you a stronger and more agile runner.

Running tip #25: Stretch daily

Stretching has a range of benefits for runners looking to improve their flexibility and reduce their risk of injury. 

A morning stretching routine, for example, will go a long way to help you become a stronger and healthier runner.

Check out my guide on the best morning stretches for runners for more information.

Running tip #26: Do more easy runs

Easy runs form the backbone of most training plans. Easy runs are designed to be exactly that – easy!

They allow for recovery between harder days where you might be doing long runs or speed training.

This is important because it is on easy running days that adaptations from hard training take place.

Crucially, if you don’t allow your body to recover, your body is not going to adapt, which could lead to limited gains and even injury.

Running tip #27: Don’t forget about the long run

Like with easy runs, the long run is an integral part of a training plan.

Long runs are designed to increase your endurance and improve your endurance. 

They also help to strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments, making you a stronger and healthier runner in the long term.

If you’re training for a 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon, your training plan should include at least 1 long run per week, normally performed at the weekend. 

Running tip #28: Get a gait analysis 

A gait analysis is used to determine which running shoes are best for you. 

It normally involves you running for a few minutes on a treadmill while a recording is made of your feet.

The footage is then slowed down then shared with you to show you how your foot hits the ground when you run. 

Most running shoe stores offer a free gait analysis service, so make sure you pick a store that offers this complementary service.

Running tip #29: Go trail running

Trail running is a breath of fresh air for many runners looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

If you’re lucky enough to live near some amazing trails, running and the outdoors come together to create an unforgettable experience.

If you’re used to road running but have never tried trail running, then check out my guide of trail running for beginners.

Running tip #30: Work on your running form

Running form is probably one of the most important things to master as a runner. 

Proper running form is all about running in the most efficient and economical way possible, placing as little stress as possible on your muscles and joints.

There are many benefits of proper running form. It improves athletic performance, helps you run more efficiently, reduces the risk of fatigue, reduces the risk of common injuries and helps you stay healthy as a runner.

running tips for beginners

Running tip #31: Run up hills

While hill running is very demanding physically, it has a host of benefits for your running performance.

Hill running tests your arms, legs and core in so many more ways than traditional road running. 

It also improves your strength and power as a runner, as well as increases your endurance, stamina and VO2 Max. 

Running tip #32: Don’t forget to warm up

A warm up is essential before any run. Not only does it get you physically ready for your run, it pumps you up mentally.

Simply put, your muscles perform better when they are warmed up before a run.

A warm up should consist of two main parts: jogging to get your heart rate up and dynamic stretches to loosen your muscles. 

According to a 2010 study, analysis has shown that performance improvements can be demonstrated after completion of an adequate warm up.

Running tip #33: Foam roll

Foam rolling has many benefits for runners who regularly experience tight or sore muscles after a run. 

According to a 2015 study, foam rolling has “short-term effects on increasing joint range of motion without negatively affecting muscle performance.

The study concludes that foam rolling may help to reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after intense exercise. 

You can read more about foam rolling in my foam rolling guide for runners. 

Running tip #34: Know your limits

One of the biggest components of running is that feeling of tiredness or exhaustion, or that feeling of sore and stiff muscles after a run.

Building up your endurance and fitness feels great. Achieving your PB gives you a high like no other. 

However, when it comes to overtraining, this can sometimes be a difficult process to sense and understand. 

What is the difference between too little exercise and too much exercise? Get to know your limits and pay attention to your body’s messages. 

Running tip #35: Fuel your runs

Food is fuel for your runs. The type of foods you eat before and after a run depend on a few factors: the time at which you run, the run intensity and run duration.

The general rule is that a pre-run meal should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat and fibre. 

According to a 2015 study, for high intensity, long duration runs, muscles prefer carbohydrates as their fuel source, regardless of whether the runner has eaten or not.

  • If your run is going to last more than 90 minutes, opt for a pre-run meal, eaten 3 to 4 hours before your run. 
  • If your run is going to last less than 90 minutes, opt for a pre-run snack, eaten 30 to 60 minutes before your run.

Running tip #36: Take rest days seriously

Rest days are often overlooked in a training plan, when in reality they are incredibly important for your health and wellbeing as a runner.

Runners should take 2 to 3 rest days per week. A rest day can include light exercise, but the focus should remain on recovery from the physical stresses of running.

For optimal performance, you should aim to include one day of complete rest in your training plan.

Running tip #37: Join a running club

If you struggle to find the motivation or confidence to run, then joining a running club may be a game changer for you.

A running club that is aligned with your interests and goals as a runner can do wonders for your running performance and your physical and mental health.

Check out websites like Meetup and Strava to find a running club near you.

Running tip #38: Don’t compare yourself to others

Comparison is generally a fast track to unhappiness. All it does is keep you focused on what you don’t like about yourself.

Instead turn comparison into inspiration. When you see someone cross the finish line, what you don’t see is all the hours they’ve put into their training for their achievement.

Don’t let someone else’s achievements get you down, instead let them open you up to the possibilities. 

Let them be the inspiration for what you can be in life. 

Running tip #39: Run Parkrun

Parkun is one of running’s biggest success stories and has changed running for good. 

Parkruns are free, weekly, community driven running events held all around the world. 

The 5k events take place in parks and green spaces on a Saturday morning. You can easily sign up for your local Parkrun on their website.

In 2018, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and Parkrun UK launched the Parkrun practice initiative.

This initiative promotes the social prescribing of physical activity through participation in local 5k Parkrun events. 

So if you’re looking to get into running or find a community of runners near you, try Parkrun!

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