Advice for New Runners
The following advice comes from the runners I interviewed for my People Who Have The Runs section. These runners vary greatly in skill levels, years running, and personal goals, but they all have some good advice that I'd like to pass on to anyone new to running.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about taking up running?
Julie M - "Its a great activity to keep in shape. Not much equipment is needed. go to a reputable running shop and get a good pair of shoes. Do not cut corners on shoes. The rest of the gadgets can wait. Take it slow, start with walking and add short distances of running. After having my babies I had to start all over again building a base from square one, I would walk mostly and run from one mailbox to the next then walk again. Start with what you CAN do and build from there."
Mike B - "Don't get discouraged, it takes time to build mileage, sign up for a race every few months, and JOIN TWITTER!!"
Jenny W - "DO IT! I try to recruit people all the time! I love to talk to people about how much I love running and what it has done for me. I actually recruited a neighbor to start running, gave her my copy of Run Like a Mother, got her to join dailymile.com and she just completed her first half marathon this past weekend!"
Coach Kristie - "Baby steps. Distance first, then speed. Enjoy the run. Enjoy the journey. Eat right, REST, and listen to your body. Don’t get injured trying to push yourself. Don’t let others pressure you about time. It’s personal, you are running for yourself. That’s why it’s called a PR = personal."
Sarah R - "Don’t give up until you’ve reached your first runner’s high. Believe me when I say you won’t want to give up after that. Also.. “real” running shoes are worth it. Go to a specialty store and take the plunge- it’s the only expense you’ll have in your new path to being healthier and happier.. until you start getting hooked on racing."
Summer B - "Quit making excuses and just get out there and do it. Yes, it's going to suck for a while, but few things are more satisfying than seeing progress in your performance...makes it all worthwhile."
Deloris C - "Don't try to do too much too soon. Ease into it."
Angie P - "For anyone who has the "I can't do it" wall, I dare ya to tear it down. Just get out there and run a few times and it won't be long until you have the run that makes it worth it all and keeps you going back for more. And also, get fitted for good shoes. You don't have to have all the other running toys, but you do need good shoes."
Rob K - "Do it. Just jump in baby!!"
Emily R - "Give it a shot. cheapest therapy there is"
Kristen G - "Just do it. I have people ask me about running all the time. They tell me they can't run. I tell them they can. I think anyone can run (unless there are medical issues, of course). I tell them to try. Even if it means running for 10 seconds out of a 30 minute walk. You have to start somewhere."
Andrea B - "Take it slow but don't be afraid to push yourself. It can be frustrating at times, but even the most experienced of runners have bad days. The most important part is getting back out there the next day after having a not so great run."
Krista G - "Just try it for a few weeks. But, I encourage them to follow either Couch25K program or the Jeff Galloway program. I think people get burned out because they expect to just be able to bust out a few miles their 2nd or 3rd time out."
Jessica K - "Start slow. So many people jump on the marathon bandwagon, fall in love with running and then just keep getting chronically injured. There is no easy way to get faster or to run longer other than just slowly progressing. I was running a good 3-4 years before I started running marathons, then I ran my first at 4:35:21. It took me 5+ years before I qualified for Boston. I have not had any serious running injuries because I take it slow. I just think it is crazy for people to expect to go out there and on the first try qualify for Boston or even break 4 hours. Sure, people do it and it is amazing but each of our bodies are different. We have to listen to them."
Jess and Jennifer - "Just start! Set realistic goals and post copies of them all over your house. Join a running group to help hold you accountable! And explain to friends and family why this goal is important to you and what they can do to be supportive of you."
Daniel M - "Do it. Don't worry about your pace, or how slow you'll be...just go run. Set a goal and go. The hardest part is getting started!"
Aimee S - "I'm always SUPER encouraging to those thinking of running. I try to give back to the sport by joining them on runs, and keeping them motivated. Two things that really helped me initially was 1) training buddies and 2) a date on a calendar for an event. I would also throw in there proper shoes from a "real" shoe store. I would also share personal stories of how running has helped me cope with life. How running has helped me Spiritually. How running has given me FAR more than I've given it."
Robin C - "If you want to run, just go outside and run. Don't worry about your speed or how far you go, or looking "silly" because running is new to you. You're a runner if you keep putting one foot in front of the other!"
Michele G - "There are two pieces of advice I would give to someone looking to start running. First, make sure you get fitted for a running shoe - I see a lot of people running in sneakers that they have had for years that are cross trainers or non-athletic shoes. Having the right shoe is so important to not getting injured. I credit the fact that I was fitted for running shoes 5 years ago - and have worn the same make and model since without any injuries. Second, it's great to get excited about running and sign up for races. But make sure the race is realistic - meaning, give yourself some time to get used to running before you sign up for a distance that you aren't ready to train for."
Meaghan W - "Just do it. Start small, and stay manageable. Make it part of your life, not something that's an option. You don't need to go far or fast. Find people to do it with you, or to help motivate you. And I promise, after a few weeks, you'll be addicted too!!"
Skibba - "Don't get caught up in all the gadgets and pressure of performance. Yes, we want to do our best, continually improve but that is not what running is truly about."
Ann B - "It is hard. It is supposed to be hard. But keep at it. Give it two months of running four days a week and it will get easier and you will have had at least one of those runs that makes the hard ones worth the effort."
Devon W - "Start slow, get a plan and get running friends (in person or online). The Couch 2 5K plan is a good start or start with Galloway, he's very beginner friendly. Find a running buddy if you can get one. I just got one at the end of my training and she's been invaluable. She is now going to start marathon training. Two days removed from my marathon and we're making plans for a half in March. "
Brianna S - "Just go for it. There is nothing negative about running. The community, especially on twitter, is absolutely amazing and so insightful. The only thing holding you back is yourself, running is 90% mental and the hardest part is just getting out the door!"
Jeff R - "Pure and simple - Just Do It! In Canada, visit your local Running Room they will get you started. For others, find a Couch to 5K program or Google it. Local running specialty stores know exactly how to help."
Jay S - "Don't focus or worry about what others are and can do. Focus on yourself. If you can only run one lap around the track without stopping, great! Keep at it, and you'll be running a mile non-stop in no time. No two runners are the same. Just be the best runner you can be."
Mike H - "It takes time to work up your distance and speed. The same with weight loss, you didn’t gain it overnight, you won’t lose it overnight. When I started running in ’09, I was a 12:30/mile runner. It was frustrating to see that others were so fast (even just sub 10:00) and I wasn’t making progress. Within a year, I was sub 11:00, and my average for this year (including my 13:31/mile marathon) is 10:19 for 1009 miles, with my current times being between 8:30-9:20/mile over 3-6 miles! So give it time and patience, you will get there!"
Alex R - "Just start moving. When you start, don’t focus on distance or speed. Go out for a walk on your lunch break, take the stairs, or join a group. Running is a welcoming community open to helping each other."
Bart Yasso - "Start out slowly both distance and pace. There are no short cuts in running, you have to be happy with the small gains you make daily. Running isn’t about how far you go but how far you’ve come."
Ericka A - "Start slow and focus on how it makes you feel afterward. Also, include some short sprints so you can really feel the air moving in your lungs. Notice how positive vibes and spurts of inspiration come more easily when you are running and when you are done running. It’s like a natural drug. Endorphins are priceless!"
Mike P - "Two things! 1. Stick with it! It won’t always be miserable! You’ll meet some great people, get healthier, and learn a ton about yourself. 2. Run your own race. Go at your pace especially on race day. Unless you don’t need this advice, someone will be faster than you (guy running a 14 minute 5k…I’m looking at you). It’s easy to start running faster than you should (trying to keep up with someone or catch someone), and a couple miles in you’ll be toast. It’s best to run your own race and focus on your own pacing and time."
George H - "I have some advice.. Here goes: Unless your doctor tells you not to run, then you should do it. You cannot fail if you lace up your shoes and take to the sidewalk, trail or treadmill. Even if the farthest distance you run is only .25 miles at a time you are not failing. Because that's .25 miles more than you ran while you were sitting on the couch. Start with that .25 or .50 mile then work your way up. The only way you can fail at running is to not run. Oh, one more thing. Don't worry about how fast Bobby or Suzy are running. Just compete against yourself. Everyone has different abilities and it is not fair to you to measure your ability against someone else's."
Alyssa V -"First bit of advice, just get out there and do it. You won’t regret it. I also tell people that your shoes are really important. Go to a local running store and get fitted. Fittings are usually free and it will give you a better idea of the type of shoe that works for you. Then, I think it’s super helpful to have a training plan, which usually means signing up for a race! And remember, running is supposed to be fun. There will be setbacks, but try to stay positive and enjoy the journey."
Jeff - "Take it slow and don’t worry about times or pace early on. I literally walked almost 5 months on the treadmill before I ever ran. I started to run at the end of my walks first for 5 minutes then kept increasing until I was running the whole time."
Tamara - "I would advise a newbie runner to get fitted for running shoes (yup, was glad Jeff finally took this advice!) from a respectable running store as soon as possible. I would also tell them to seriously consider getting a treadmill. I think new runners often give up when the weather is bad and use that as an excuse to not continuing."
Dave S - "Do it! There are so many benefits. Health, friends, accomplishments, etc."
Kirstin C - "Start walking, preferably a route with people-watching, interesting houses or good scenery and if possible on your way to a destination, be it brunch, work, or a friend's house. Once you've begun that habit, throw in some running every few minutes. Don't worry about speed. Play like a kid, dashing about, or taking time to stop and look at things. Join a running group or create your own with a friend or two. Sign up for a race to keep things interesting."
Gerald P - My advice would be 1) Don’t overdo it in the beginning. So many people get injured right off the bat because they tend to ramp up training too soon, and 2) when you start up, run with someone that has some running experience, and 3) Don’t be intimidated by running. Personally, I love helping new runners and love running with beginners. My only requirement is that they “pay” or “run” it forward someday, and help another person take up running too. I try to correct people that say they are “wannabe” runners. There is no such thing. You are either a runner or you are not. If you “wannabe” a runner and you run, you’re a runner.
Jed D - Even if you run just half a mile, that is farther than you went sitting on the couch! GO FOR IT!
Suann L - "Have fun. Don't get caught up in being a slave to your training or what the damn clock says. It's not a job. It's a hobby. Enjoy the journey. Meet new people. Payback to the sport by volunteering."
Michelle M - "Everyone can run. It doesn't matter if you have to start off slowly, and if you find it difficult, it's probably because you're trying to run too fast. Slow down, focus on your gait, enjoy yourself, and make new friends."
Darron T - "Before you even head out on your first run, go to a specialized running store and get fitted for a good pair of running shoes. This is the best investment you will make starting out. Second, take it slow and build your miles gradually. Overdue it, and you are for sure heading for an injury. All in all, just go for it! It is a life changer, and I can personally testify to that."
Steve Runner - "Anyone can be a runner. You will learn a lot about yourself, both mentally and physically. Try it, you might like it. I truly believe anyone can run a marathon. It is no easy task, which is what makes it such an incredible accomplishment. However, I would challenge you to go out and watch a marathon in person, or just tune into the Biggest Loser marathon episode each season. You will understand that finishers come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. "
David H - "Run a little farther each day. When I first started running, I picked a small loop of about a mile and made my first goal to run that loop without stopping. A couple of weeks later, I hit it. If you keep your eye on that next mail box or next light pole, you'll surprise yourself."