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How to Start Running: 4 Ways From Zero To Runner Hero

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The best way for a beginner to start running is to commit to at least 30 minutes of purposeful movement each day. Walking for 30 minutes a day for a couple of weeks is a great way to start your commitment. 

What are the main benefits of running for beginners?

Veterans and newbie runners alike can reap some great benefits of running. 

  1. Cardiovascular: One of the things you will notice rather quickly is that your cardio fitness will improve. No matter what type of aerobic activity or strength training you engage in, your body will be able to go for a longer period of time without feeling as taxed as before you started running.
  2. Strengthen Muscles: Running helps your muscles to get stronger. 
  3. Bone Health: Running and other impact exercises help you build stronger bones, which is a huge health benefit. 
  4. Burn Calories: Another perk to running is that you can burn many calories. Now it is important to recognize that you can’t outrun bad dietary decisions, but running is a great way to maintain a healthy weight or help with weight loss.
  5. Mental Health: Your body releases endorphins while running that help you to feel an overall sense of wellbeing. Couple that with the confidence boost that comes with physical achievement, and reaching goals and running just might be the boost your mental health needs.

How can a beginner start running?

The best way for a beginner to start running is to commit to at least 30 minutes of purposeful movement each day.

Remember what we said in the intro that you need to walk before you can run?

Walking for 30 minutes a day for a couple of weeks is a great way to start your commitment. 

Programs like the Hal Higdon training plan that incorporates a walk/run method are super popular as a starting point for newbie runners. The plan starts with just 30-minutes of exercise for 30 days.

The program consists of walking to warm up and then builds up to a few minutes of jogging and walking until a base is built to run.  

Keep in mind this requires 30-days of workouts or 60-days of going out every other day to build endurance.

1Rest or run/walk1.5 mi runRest or run/walk1.5 mi runRest1.5 mi run30 min walk
2Rest or run/walk1.75 mi runRest or run/walk1.5 mi runRest1.75 mi run35 min walk
3Rest or run/walk2 mi runRest or run/walk1.5 mi runRest2 mi run40 min walk
4Rest or run/walk2.25 mi runRest or run/walk1.5 mi runRest2.25 mi run45 min walk
5Rest or run/walk2.5 mi runRest or run/walk2 mi runRest2.5 mi run50 min walk
6Rest or run/walk2.75 mi runRest or run/walk2 mi runRest2.75 mi run55 min walk
7Rest or run/walk3 mi runRest or run/walk2 mi runRest3 mi run60 min walk
8Rest or run/walk3 mi runRest or run/walk2 mi runRestRest5K Race

How long should a beginner start running?

 When discussing how to start running for beginners, a very common question is how long a beginner should start out running. The thing is that the answer is not one size fits all.

You need to take things slow and easy for anyone brand new to running, new to exercise, or simply out of shape due to a workout hiatus. Jumping into a workout regiment too vigorously can result in a higher risk of injury. 

New runners should accept that it will take some time and take things slow and easy.

As a beginner runner, how long you run is not about the distance you actually run. If you are out for 30 minutes, even if you only run for 5 minutes of that, consider it a victory.

You should also not be afraid to use time intervals to ease into running. For example, if you start out trying to run for 30 seconds, then brisk walk for 60, and you can do that repeatedly for 20 or 30 minutes, you might be ready to lengthen your run interval to :45 seconds. 

The key is to be patient when considering the run intervals and the amount of time you should spend running each time. Eventually, if you are patient and give yourself time to build up your running form, stamina, and fitness level, you will find yourself running longer distances and walking less.

How do I start running when unfit?

If you are very unfit, you want to start by walking for 20- 30 minutes. Heck, you may even find that 15 minutes is a good starting point for you.

Once you can do that multiple times each week for a couple of weeks and your body is doing well with that, it is time to add in some jog intervals. Don’t get discouraged if you can only jog for one minute out of every 8 or 9.

Remember: what counts is forward motion.

For people who are out of shape, it is important to be patient and give yourself grace.

You did not get out of shape overnight, so don’t expect to get back into shape either. 

How many times should I run a week?

Three to four times each week is an excellent starting point.

Whatever you do, don’t try to go out every single day.

One of the biggest mistakes newbie runners make is to try to do too much, too soon.

Sure, a beginner can run every day. Heck, anyone can run every day. The question is: should you keep up with a daily running routine? 

If you are motivated, feeling great, and trying to make your running a habit, you will benefit from running daily. However, you may find that your body does not tolerate it well.

Most running coaches advise new runners to start out with four days each week. This is a good running program that allows for rest days in-between. If your body does well with that and you want to add a fifth day, give it a try.

Even though there are “streak runners” out there who run every single day, I don’t advise it to anyone new to the running world.

4 beginner running plans we recommend

Although we have already mentioned a couple, to lay it out simply, here are the most popular beginner running plans.

You can find more details on any of these online.

  1. Jeff Galloway Run/Walk Plan
  2. Couch to 5K
  3. Hal Higdon Run Walk 30/30
  4. Nike Running Club

 8 things you’ll need to get started

  1. Running Shoes: Don’t skimp on the shoes. Get yourself a fitting and find a good pair that works well for you and won’t give you blisters.
  2. Socks: Get yourself a few pairs of quality wicking running socks. Ones with arch support are nice. 
  3. Bottoms: Find comfortable shorts, leggings, or whatever you most want to wear. Of course, this depends on the time of year and the weather you are running in. Your running gear and running clothes should be dri-fit, so it repels sweat. 
  4. Shirts: You will likely want tank tops, short sleeve, and some long sleeve shirts, depending on the time of year. Again, don’t let any cotton touch your skin. 
  5. Hat: Most runners have a baseball-type cap in hot weather and favorite stocking caps for cold weather. 
  6. Watch or Smartphone: Whether you use a smartwatch or smartphone, it is all you need to track your runs and keep an eye on your heart rate. However, to be clear, you can just map a route in your head out the door. 
  7. Jacket: A rain and wind-resistant shell jacket is useful if you plan to be an all-weather runner. 
  8. Other items: Female runners need a quality sports bra. That is another item not to skimp on. If you want to carry a phone, you will wish to either leggings with pockets or a belt to hold things. 

Still wondering how to start running?

Choose a beginner’s guide, get yourself fit for a quality pair of shoes, lace up and head out the door.

It is that simple.

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