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My Advice For Beginning Runners

Running is one of the best exercises out there. It works your entire body, from your legs to your core. It even works your mind! You’ll need both physical and mental discipline to become a great runner, but even so, it’s easier than you think – and a lot of fun. Painful yet rewarding fun. ;)
As someone who ran competitively for several years in high school, and subsequently took up running as a hobby, I wanted to share my tips for beginning runners. It’s one of those things that’s a little tricky at the beginning, but once you make it a habit, it becomes easier and easier.
Starting a running program can be a little intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. You might not know where to start. Here’s what I recommend.

Getting Started

1.) Make sure you have a very supportive pair of shoes. Most people invest pretty significantly in their running sneakers. If you don’t want to drop $100 on shoes you’re not sure you’ll use, maybe start running first, and then buy the shoes once you’re certain to continue.
2.) Start by running 3 times a week for 20 minutes. If you can make it all the way to end of 20 minutes without stopping, great! But if that sounds a little intimidating, then I recommend starting with a walk-run. I wrote a whole card on the amazing wonders of the walk-run, which you can read here!
3.) Don’t get discouraged if it’s hard. It’s going to be hard for the first three weeks or so. It’ll probably feel like death, actually. And it’s normal to be really sore or have weird, unexpected aches and pains. Running works a lot of small muscles you didn’t even know you had. Just stick with it.

Next Steps

Once you get used to running three times a week (this might take anywhere from one to three weeks), bump it up to four or five times a week. This is when you’ll really start to reap the benefits – running every to every other day feels sooo good!
You’ll start to find you have more energy, and feel happier and more in touch with your body. That’s one of my favorite benefits of running – I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin, and proud of what my body can do. It feels good to realize you’re so much stronger than you thought.
You can gradually increase the time you’re running when you’re ready, too. I like to increase by 5 minutes a week. And then you should start researching weekly running plans, interval workouts, and sprint workouts – whatever interests you, really! There are a lot of ways to introduce variety into your workouts to keep things interesting. ;) A typical week might look like this:
Monday: 25 min. interval workout
Tuesday: 45 min. long slow run
Wednesday: 30 min. run
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 25 min. interval workout
Saturday: 1 hour long slow run
Sunday: Rest day

Sticking With It

Don’t let any excuse deter you from your goal. Even though it hurts, the rewards are so much greater than whatever relaxation or comfort you’ll derive from spending half an hour on the couch.
And when the urge to stop strikes right in the middle of your workout – because it definitely will – just keep pushing through. Check out my tips for pushing through your workout here.
Feel free to leave any questions I haven’t answered in the comments below! I’d be happy to help in whatever way I can. Running has really improved my life, so if I can spread that positive energy to others, then all the better. :)
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Really nice and useful card! What time of day do you recommend to go running, especially since it's starting to get darker during the afternoon here in England?
Awesome card! I've always been the cheap kinda person and have bought sneakers that literally fall apart. I may have to invest in better running shoes...
I couldn't agree more
@shannonl5 Building up your breath is just like training and strengthening any muscle :) You start weak, the way we all are naturally, but with time and practice, you'll get better and better! I would say focusing on going reeeally slow, and pushing yourself to where you're JUST starting to breathe a little harder – that's a good place to start. And just do that for as long as you can. Or, if you haven't tried this yet – I swear by the walk-run. I have a card on it somewhere. It's an awesome way to get your breath in shape. Try running for 5 mins (slowly), then walking to catch your breath for 1 min. And repeat. :) That should help! It's all about not giving up, because these things take time :)
These are great tips! I run a bit and this is all stuff that I wish I'd kept in mind the first few weeks. Does anyone have tips for breathlessness? I know when I first started I was going way too fast for a beginner, but I still feel like I'm losing breath too quickly
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