I’m currently training two Mains for their first 5K at the end of May (hi Trish and Heather!). I am so excited for them; we are going to be Team Run The Long Road!
I compiled my best tips for newbie runners (or ones that I find myself telling people most often).
Get proper shoes
This is my #1 tip! If you are serious about starting to run, visit a local running store and get fitted for proper shoes. The right shoes make all the difference in the world. If your feet are properly supported, your knee and hip will be in alignment, and you’ll be less likely to get injured.
Forget about pace
When most people decide they want to begin running, they hop on the treadmill or go outside and take off like lightening. Within a few minutes they are huffing and puffing, cursing running, and ready to hang up their running shoes for good. What they don’t realize is that if they slowed down, the run would be 10x more enjoyable and they would be able to run longer. Never worry about pace when you begin running. I tell Trish and Heather to go as slow as they need to in order to cover the amount of time they are to be running. For example, if their plan calls for 10 minutes of running they can run as slow as they need to as long as they run for those 10 minutes.
Forget about distance
Nothing is more discouraging than telling a newbie runner to go out and run 1 mile. I never focus on distance when training newer runners; I always focus on time. Here’s what Trish and Heather are doing this week:
Run#1: walk 5 min / run 19 min / walk 5 min
Run#2: walk 5 min / run 17 min / walk 5 min
Run#3: walk 5 min / run 20 min / walk 5 min
I am gradually building them up to run for 30 minutes straight. We never count miles. By focusing on time, it makes training less daunting. If they can run for 30 minutes, they are more than ready for a 5K.
Use the run/walk approach
Another thing that is daunting for a newbie is thinking that they have to run the entire time. This is unrealistic and very discouraging. By using the run/walk approach, you can spend more time actually running because you are allowing yourself brief walk breaks. When Trish and Heather started training, their first week looked something like this:
Walk 10 min / run 6 min, walk 3 min (repeat x3) / run 5 min, walk 2 min (repeat x2) / walk 10 min
Over time, I decreased the amount of time they spent walking and increased the amount of time they spent running. The changes were so small each week, I doubt they even noticed it 😉
You will see progress pretty quickly (Trish and Heather can attest to this) but you need to be consistent. That means no skipping weeks or running just once per week. Being inconsistent also puts you at risk for injury. Begin to incorporate running into your schedule like you would anything else…and stick to it. Remember, you will never regret a run but you will regret skipping a run.
Signing up for a race can be a great motivator
If some of that newbie enthusiasm starts to fade, sign up for a race! Having a goal can be such a powerful motivator. Heather told me yesterday that when she runs she thinks about how it will feel to cross the finish line…it not only motivates her but brings a smile to her face. What could be better than that?!