One of my favorite things ever is when a friend tells me that they’ve started running. I get pretty giddy and I love hearing all about their journey. I’ve also been asked quite a few times if I had any advice or tips about running, which inspired me to put together a comprehensive post of my best advice and tips for how to get started running:
Find Your “Why” & Set a Goal
Before you start running (or most things for that matter) it’s so important to know, and believe in, your “Why.” What is the motivation, the purpose, the big reason that quitting just isn’t an option? Once you find that reason, plans will fall into place and those miles will be filled with purpose. With your “why” in mind, now you can set a goal. Do you want to run a 5k without stopping? Maybe you want to beat a 10 minute mile, or run a half marathon. Your why and goal can help you plan and achieve with purpose.
Perhaps a little too obvious, but the first step is the hardest. Personally, I have to hype myself up before working out. Sometimes it takes me 30 minutes to mentally prepare, but once I start I feel a sense of relief, now you just have to keep going.
But Don’t Be Afraid to Walk
A good run doesn’t mean you have to run for every second. When I take a minute walking-break in the middle of a run, I can really crush those last couple miles. Listen to the cues your body is giving you and certainly don’t ignore any pain you might experience. Other times I know it’s mental and I have to keep pushing, but over time you will learn to tell the difference.
Half the Battle is Mental
For the most part, running is a solo sport. You’re only competition is you. Your biggest motivator is you. The biggest battles are mental. Once you start believing in your abilities you’ll go faster and further. It helps to find a running mantra that resonates with your “Why.”
Mix it Up
When I first started running, all I did was run. I’d run 6 days a week because I just wanted to keep improving. Looking back, I wish I had paced myself. I didn’t have any structure to my runs, just “go faster.” I recommend having at least 2 days of active recovery, a break from running, where you do restorative yoga, go for a walk or stretch. In addition to your active recovery try to incorporate some kind of cross training at least once a week. Some of my favorites include strength training, barre class, HIIT (high intensity interval training), and spinning. Looking for some good workouts? Check out my pinterest board with my favorite workouts (including many that you can do at home).
Be careful not to go too far or too fast too soon. Adding too much mileage too quickly is an invitation for injury. General rule of thumb is increase your mileage by no more than 10% a week. So if you’re running 15 miles a week add another 1.5 miles next week.
Find Different Ways to Motivate Yourself
There will be days you don’t want to run. My trick to motivating myself is finding new music and creating a playlist that I can only listen to when I workout. I save some of my favorite songs just for runs. Currently I’m obsessed with this song:
I also love following fellow fitness fans and runners on Instagram and other social networks to keep me inspired and motivated. Sometimes seeing someone else’s run gets me to lace up my sneaks a little faster.
Dress for Success
The first year I ran, I wore old baggy gym shorts, homemade tank tops that I cut up myself, old sneakers, and a big goofy orange sweat band. That’s one of the amazing things about running, you don’t need too much gear to start up. Now that I’ve trained and run several races and set bigger goals it definitely helps to have the right gear. So if you do see yourself wanting to invest some time/effort/sweat into running, here’s what I recommend based off my own experiences. (Heads up, these are affiliate links, I get a very small percentage if you do order anything that I recommend)
I’ve gotten so picky about shorts. I’ve tried cheap shorts, expensive shorts, tight, loose, capris, leggings, pretty much everything. My favorites by far are the simple, Nike Tempo shorts. They don’t ride up or slip around and they never chafe my legs. (For the record, along with my lululemon tanks I still wear my old cut up tee’s in the summer).
I’m not going to claim to be an expert on running shoes, but they’re so important when it comes to staying injury free and maximizing your efforts. For a long time I ran in discount Nike’s, but this summer I was fitted at a special running store and made the investment in a pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 17’s. I have a midfoot strike and a normal arch if that helps you at all.
Confused on what kind of shoe to look for? Take this handy Shoe Quiz from Runner’s World.
Rule of thumb: replace your sneakers every 300-500 miles.
If you’re looking to get serious about some running goals, whether it’s distance, time or both I recommend monitoring your runs.
My favorite app is called RunKeeper. One of the best features is the audio update every 5 minutes telling you your pace and distance. RunKeeper has been an amazing way to track progress over the years.
If you’re read to take it to the next level I’d recommend investing in a heart rate monitor/gps watch. These are great because you don’t have to worry about bringing your phone on every run, they’re a lot more rugged and weatherproof and they can track a lot more data.
Garmin Forerunner 610 Touchscreen GPS Watch With Heart Rate Monitor:
This is the watch I have, which tracks heart rate, distance, pace, calories, and has an extra foot pod to help track your cadence as well. Being able to set and forget my music, while I tune into my run using the touchscreen on the watch has been pretty amazing.
Garmin Forerunner 15
While I’ve never tried this product myself, I’ve heard great things from other runners who have it.
- Runner’s World Guide to Getting Started Running
- Decode Running Jargon
- Women’s Running
- Active.com – Find races and fitness events
Fantastic Running Blogs
- My Healthyish Life
- Eat Run Repeat
- Mommy Run Fast
- Nut Butter Runner
- The Little Honey Bee
- Picky Runner
- Run to the Finnish
- Paleo Running Momma
- She Rocks Fitness
Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to call yourself a runner. If you run, you are a runner.
- Veteran runners, did I miss anything (I’m sure I did)?
- New runners, anything I didn’t cover that you’ve had questions about?
- Do you have any favorite running blogs?