How to start running

Here are some tips for beginner runners who are just starting out.

During the fall each year, it seems more and more people become interested in running. One reason might be that the fall marathons are a huge inspiration – if you watch a marathon in person and see the lead runners flash past you, seemingly faster than the speed of light, it's hard not to almost cry at the triumph of the human body. This feeling is almost always accompanied by the thought, "Ugh, I need to start running." Also, fall and early winter – depending on where you live – are some of the best times of year for a run, when the leaves are crisp and the near-suffocating heat has dissipated.

Maybe you've decided to start running again after taking a several-year hiatus, or maybe you never were much of a runner to begin with. Either way, if you're looking to start running, it's not a good idea to immediately try to run 10 miles, or even five for that matter. Here are some tips for beginners to work your way to pro status in proper fashion:

  1. Get your gear. Find a good pair of running shoes that has proper arch and ankle support. The best thing to do is get fitted by experts if you have an outfitter like that near you. They will watch your gait and foot placement as you jog in each pair of shoes, and they'll ask you questions to help guide you in choosing the best pair of running shoes for you.
  2. Start by mixing your walking with running. Even if you feel very fit and it's tempting to just go for it, it's better for your muscles if you ease into it by adding a few minutes of running to your regular walks. You can start out mostly walking – four minutes of walking to every one minute of running – and then increase the ratio so you spend two minutes running to every minute walking for an hour.
  3. Don't run too fast. Start at a moderate pace that you can sustain. If you have a smartphone, download an app that can help you pace yourself and gradually increase your speed from week to week.
  4. Don't run too far or too often. Three times per week is good when starting out.
  5. Develop a running plan. You can easily find a plan for beginners online that has been structured by experts. Use this to help you choose how long you run each day and week, what type of terrain you run on and what your targeted time is.
  6. Pay attention to the pain. Your muscles will be undoubtedly sore for the first few days or week, especially if you haven't been active in awhile. But if there are any sharp or persistent pains, don't ignore or push through them. It's especially telling if the pain is on only one side of the body. If this happens, check with your doctor to see what could possibly be going on.
  7. Choose the right terrain. For beginners, it's a good idea to start out on a track if there is one nearby. Tracks are good because they are flat and you can easily know the distance you are running.
  8. Run with the right posture. A runner's stance isn't natural for most people. When you first start out, be conscious of how you're carrying your body. Get your shoulders to relax and bend your elbows at about 90 degrees, holding your arms low. For distance running, it's best to lengthen your stride to save energy, so be conscious about not picking your feet up too high and kicking them up behind you. If necessary, watch YouTube videos that can help you see proper posture for maximum efficiency.
  9. Motivate yourself with a good playlist or a post workout treat!

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