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How to Start Running: The Beginner's Plan

Have you thought about starting a running routine but don't know where to begin? Maybe you've tried an app but didn't find much joy in the process.

Today I'm going to break down exactly what you need to do to safely and enjoyably build a beginner's running routine. This plan works for anyone new to exercise and running. If you've had a long break from running or working out, this may be a great starting point for you as well.

Why take up running?

There are many reasons why people begin a running routine. In terms of health, running can improve heart health, overall fitness, muscle strength, coordination and balance, and even provide stress relief.

When you run, your brain releases dopamine and norepinephrine, chemicals that increase memory, mood and attention. Talk about boosting your brain power!

If you love being outside or even on trail, running allows you to cover much more ground and see much more than just walking or hiking alone.

And the best part? It's a relatively cheap and convenient sport. No gym membership required!

But what about my knees?!

Research indicates that running does NOT "ruin your knees" as you'll often hear from non-runners. In fact, numerous clinical studies have shown that runners have lower rates of knee osteoarthritis than sedentary people.

It's important to note that following a smart running plan can prevent all kinds of injuries--including knee injuries.

So, are you ready to start? Let's look at 10 tips to help you build a beginner's running routine:

  1. If you are new to exercise, make sure you talk to your health care provider before starting any new physical fitness routine.

  2. Are you a total beginner? Start by getting on a regular walking routine. If you are new to exercise in general, start taking a 15-20 minute walk 3 to 4 days per week. Over the course of a few weeks, increase your walking time. Once you can comfortably and briskly walk for 45-60 minutes at a time, several times per week, you are ready to incorporate some running!

  3. Start slow, start small. When you are ready to start running, try incorporating 30 second run intervals throughout your walk. As you become more comfortable, extend your running intervals to 1 minute. Don't worry about speed, just focus on moving comfortably. It might feel difficult at first, but it will get easier over time.

  4. Over the next few weeks, you can lengthen the amount of time you are running during your run/walk intervals.

  5. Aim to run/walk for at least 3 days per week. Over time, you can work on speed and distance if desired. Before long, you may find that you need less and less walk breaks.

  6. Invest in proper fitting shoes. Most running stores can help you not only get fitted, but can also give you options for the best type of shoe for the terrain on which you will be running.

  7. Stay hydrated. You'll want to take in enough water to replace what you lose through sweat. Try sipping 4-8 ounces of water every 30-40 minutes if the weather is hot. If you are walking/running for over an hour, you may want to think about adding in a sports hydration drink.

  8. To prevent injuries, most people will need to strengthen their hips and glutes with some at-home exercises. Working with a coach can definitely make this a lot easier to tackle. Also, proper running form is important for injury prevention and an experienced runner or coach can help ensure you are running safely.

  9. Use your walk/run time to listen to nature, your favorite music, podcast or audio book. This can go a long way in making walking/running an enjoyable habit.

  10. Recruit a friend or join a local running group. Accountability and comradery can be really helpful for creating new habits. Miles are always better when shared with friends!

It's also really important to point out the following facts:

  • If you run, you are a runner. Period.

  • It doesn't matter how fast or slow you go or how much you walk. If you run, you are a runner.

  • Every body is a runner's body. If you run, you are a runner.

  • You don't ever have to sign up for a single race to be considered a "real" runner. If you run, you are a runner.

So. That's it! If you're ready to start, grab some shoes and take your first walk. It's really that simple.

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