8 Essential Running Tips for Beginners

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If you’re beginning a new running program, then you should plan ahead! Follow these 8 running tips for beginners for a successful start in running

woman stretching after a run

Beginning any workout program is important, whether it’s weight lifting, running, Pilates, etc. Just think about it: anyone who is truly great at something was once a beginner. But even more important than beginning a program is sticking with it over the long haul.

Anyone can start a program, but it takes planning and dedication to continue and finish a program. Here are 8 essential running tips for beginners that can help you find success in starting and continuing a running program over the long term.

Running Tips for Beginners

Don’t overdo it

Start out small and work your way up gradually. Injuries happen when people try to do too much too soon. You can try walking/running a 1/2 mile (depending on your fitness level) and move up from there.

And don’t worry about pace to begin with: just get out and get your body acquainted with running

Invest in good shoes

If you are serious about fitness and running, getting the right pair of shoes is very important. Get yourself fitted for a good shoe at a reputable running shop. You can also get a stride analysis from a running coach or physical therapist to help you in deciding whether you should get a neutral shoe, stability shoe, or corrective insoles.

ASICS are a great brand to try (I have had many pairs of their shoes and love them!) and they make shoes in many price points so you can find something that fits your budget.

Don’t neglect straining training (and cross training!)

Strength training (especially for your core, hips, and glutes) is vitally important to prevent injury from the high-impact and repetitive stress of running. You should be strength training at least 2 times a week, preferably more.

man running outside - running tips for beginners

If you plan on running trails, take time to strengthen the supportive muscles in your ankles to prevent sprains when navigating uneven surfaces.

Experiment with different surfaces

Don’t just relegate yourself to concrete, try running on different surfaces. Try outdoor track surfaces, indoor tracks, treadmills, grass, sand, dirt, and asphalt (has a bit more give than concrete).

Switching up surfaces (if you can) helps to reduce repetitive use injuries from running on unforgiving surfaces like concrete.

Recovery is important

Take time to rest, foam roll, and stretch regularly! If your body is feeling run down and exhausted, take some extra time to take care of your body. You get one body, so take care of it!

Make sure that you’re including different recovery modalities in your recovery (most of these you can do at home):

Running isn’t for everyone…and that’s okay

I would be lying if I said that running is the best thing for everyone. if you have been running for a while and running makes you hurt or you really don’t enjoy it, then don’t feel bad about moving on to something else.

Running is a high-impact exercise that isn’t a good fit for everyone. I have many training clients who don’t like running or who can’t run, so we find other things they enjoy. And that’s OKAY! 🙂

It’s okay to take a break

Fitness is not all or nothing. If you get burned out on running, it’s okay to take time off of running as long as you continue to work out and keep your fitness levels up in some other way. Taking a break from time to time is a good thing.

I recently had to take time off of running to get some injuries and things figured out. It helps with healing and recovery, and can even help you stick with it long term if you know it’s okay to take breaks periodically.

man running on a mountain trail with a hydration pack

Beginner Training Plans

Depending on your fitness level, you can begin by alternating running and walking for 1/2 mile to a mile. If you don’t want to (or can’t) measure your distance, start running/walking for 15 minutes then gradually build that time each week.

If you want to follow an established plan, then here are some good training plans for beginners (or those, like me, who are starting over):

If you want to create your own training schedule, download our blank training schedule and fill in your plan.

My Running Journey: Starting Over

Because of my nagging injuries, tendinitis, and persistent muscle knots, I stopped running for several months.

I had barely run since my last race in July, so it really feels like I am starting from scratch again. I have been battling injuries, hip dysfunction (I found out I have femoral acetabular impingement and bone spurs), and weird muscle knots that won’t go away, so I have to ease into it again.

I want to keep running – one of my goals was to do a half marathon next year, but I may need to stick with 5Ks and 10Ks for a while until I can figure out how to get my body on the right track. I have an appointment coming up in January with a rheumatologist to check for autoimmune issues like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia (which run in my family).

physical therapy for IT band tendinitis

Until then, my running will start out small again and will only be a few times a week to start building my base again, and I won’t neglect my strength training this time. I will have to scale back a bit to keep from getting extremely sore, but I absolutely cannot stop strength training!

PiYo has helped with stretching and strength training, I just have to watch that I’m not going too deep in some of the poses with deep hip flexion. We even got a small TENS unit (electrical stim unit) to help with muscle knots and joint pain, so that has been helping a lot!

I had been using zero drop shoes for about a year, but started having problems with my achilles tendon and my physical therapist recommended I stay away from zero drop shoes.

As soon as I went back to a shoe with a heel my achilles pain started improving. My PT was right!

My running journey has evolved since writing this post, check out my more recent posts about my fitness journey:

man running up stairs with text overlay "beginners guide to running"

23 thoughts on “8 Essential Running Tips for Beginners”

  1. I’m glad you explained that it is important to get a good pair of shoes if you are serious about getting into running. In the past couple of months, I have been struggling with a lot of anxiety and have even gained some weight; I would like to start running so that I can lose weight and improve my anxiety. In addition to getting good shoes, it would probably be a good idea for me to get some clothes that won’t limit my movement.

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  2. These are really great tips,Sarah! Being a running coach, I really love running & guiding people on how to try their best. And I agree that one should not directly start running on trails. Strengthening your muscle, along with taking smaller strides is important for becoming more agile and confident.

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  3. Hi, Sarah Jane. This is a great article, especially for millennials who are just strating to discover their true potential. In my case, I started investing in a pair of good shoes and run like there’s tomorrow hahaha. I always make sure that the shoes I got have good designs, comfortable, and affordable. Cheers!

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  4. Awesome tips! I really love to go jogging it’s been part of my daily routine but of course I also have some day off from it to rest my body. And definitely investing for the right shoes is really important, surely it will be very worth it if you love to go on a run.

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  5. You have some great tips here for running. I love to run, and it’s a great exercise, but it can be pretty rough on your feet. I agree with you, finding good shoes is vital! Getting insoles or orthotics can really help with that too.

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  6. Hi Sarah
    Thanks for your post. As a physiotherapist who practices in Toronto and has a special interest working with runners, I really appreciate your post. I definitely agree with your tips for beginner runners. Taking it slow and gradually progressing over time is key!

    I actually have wide feet also and really like ASICS. I was in a rut as well at one point where I just could not progress and kept injuring myself. And it’s definitely more common than the both of us because I have a number of patients just like us.

    I was frustrated and so were my patients so I took an excellent running course. One key point that I took home was that adaptation of tissues is key and very slow progression at the start if you are coming off an injury. It’s nice to take a sabbatical from running but when you are ready to start again, it’s always best to be consistent (running 4-5days per week) and start very very slow (run-walks). This allows the tissues to adapt to the forces required by running. The Running Clinic (google them) has a great protocol for returning to running after an injury. I used it and I finally got out of the funk 🙂 I hope this helps you.

    PS-one more pointer, the program starts really really slow so don’t expect your cardio work out from the program. It is meant to teach your tissues to adapt. If you want to feel like you are getting a work out, you may have to bike or use the elliptical or some other form of cardio after you do the running training.

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  7. I’ve been thinking of taking up running, but I have no idea what I’m doing. I think I’ll need to start off walking or jogging as a start, but I’ll be sure to get some really good shoes for this. I think that as I get into this, I’d like to follow your advice and have a physical therapist help me with making sure I don’t injure myself!

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  8. This is some really great advice for any new runner! I remember when I started, I made a lot of mistakes, not the least of them being neglecting every other exercise and strength training. But I liked your point about getting the right shoes, because that is what I wish I had been told most. Finding good running shoes that work well for you is super important, and using orthotics or other insoles that help prevent strain or injury. Thanks so much for writing!

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  9. I definitely agree that investing in good shoes is a must if you’re running a lot. Running shoes can cost a lot, but they’re well worth the price. Getting shoes with the right support and even orthotics or insoles if necessary can help provide the right support for your feet and prevent injuries. Thanks for all the tips!

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  10. Hello Sarah, Yes, it is very important to start anything with their proper knowledge. You have shared great running tips for the beginners that will help to the entire new starter.

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  11. I agree that good shoes are essential to good running abilities. When I was in cross country in high school, I came to realize that comfort was a big part of this. Even if you’re wearing a good shoe, if it’s not comfortable, then chances are you won’t run as fast.

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  12. I like that you mentioned it was okay to take a break. If you feel like something might be abnormal, you don’t want to keep pushing because you could really hurt yourself. Thanks so much for the advice!

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  13. Sarah, what type of insoles would someone need if they have webbed feet? I ask this because of my nephew’s webbed feet and also he’s starting out in the track team for his school. Just looking at his feet it would seem like he might need an wider insole. That’s just my guess but I’m thinking about taking him to talk to the doctor about what type of shoes he would need to wear.

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    • I never really liked running until a couple years ago, and I am still on and off with it since I keep getting tendinitis and weird muscle knots. Ultimately my body comes first, so running has taken a back seat for a while until I can get things figured out 🙂

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