7 Key Running Tips for New Runners

If you're new to running, you may be overwhelmed by all the running information that's available. Just try to take it one step at a time, the same way you should approach your runs! Here are seven basic tips to get you started with a running habit.​

Get the Right Running Shoes

Lacing up sneakers
PeopleImages/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Wearing the right running shoes is the key to comfort and injury prevention. Visit a running specialty store to get fitted for the right running shoes for your foot type and running style. Also, make sure you don't run in worn-out running shoes—they should be replaced every 300-400 miles.

Make Sure You Warm Up and Cool Down

couple walking
Symphonie/Getty Images

A good warm-up signals to your body that it will have to start working soon. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart when you start your run. So you should start your runs with a brisk walk, followed by very easy jogging for a few minutes. You could also do some warm-up exercises. The cool-down allows your heart rate and blood pressure to fall gradually, so it's important that you end your run with a slow five-minute jog or walk. Post-run is also a good time to do some stretching since your muscles are warmed-up.

Learn the Proper Upper Body Form

Man running in park
shapecharge / Getty Images

Improper upper body form can lead to pain in your arms, shoulders, neck, and back. Try to keep your hands at waist level, right about where they might lightly brush your hip. Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle, with your elbows at your sides. Keep your posture straight and erect. Your head should be up, your back straight, and shoulders level. Your arms should be at your sides. Crossing your arms over your chest could make you start hunching over, which leads to inefficient breathing.

Don't Worry About Pace

woman on treadmill

Gary John Norman/Getty Images

As a beginner, most of your runs should be at an easy or "conversational" pace. You should be able to breathe very easily and carry on a conversation. Don't worry about your pace per mile—if you can pass the "talk test" and speak in complete sentences without gasping for air, then you're moving at the right speed. Starting out with this type of easy running will help prevent overtraining and overuse injuries. You can focus on increasing your speed once you've built up your endurance, strength, and confidence.

Try a Run/Walk Approach

Two women running in the park
Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

Most beginner runners start out using a run/walk technique because they don't have the endurance or fitness to run for extended periods of time. The run/walk method involves running for a short segment and then taking a walk break. As you continue with a run/walk program, the goal is to extend the amount of time you're running and reduce your walking time. Some runners choose to continue with run/walk even after they've significantly built up their endurance because they find they can complete their distances faster and more comfortably.

Don't Do too Much too Soon

runner with hat

Chase Jarvis/DigitalVision/Getty Images

New runners sometimes get too enthusiastic and anxious to get started and end up increasing their mileage too quickly, which can lead to injury. Don't increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent each week. By building up slowly, you can save yourself pain and frustration, and still reach your goals.

Use common sense and follow a beginner training schedule to determine how much you should be running. If you'd like to do more, you could always supplement your running with cross-training exercises such as swimming, yoga, or biking.

Breathe in Through Your Nose and Mouth

Runners wearing gloves

John P Kelly/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Some new runners assume they should breathe in only through their nose. You actually want to breathe in through your nose AND mouth to make sure you're getting enough oxygen to your muscles while running. Taking deep belly breaths can help prevent side stiches, which are a common issue for new runners.

Was this page helpful?