A Beginner’s Running Tips
In this post, I’m giving you my top tips as a running beginner on how to run 5k even if you don’t really like running.
If someone had told me, not too long ago, that I’d be blogging about how to run 5k, and even more, giving you advice, I would have laughed SO hard and told them they are completely CRAZY!
You see, I’ve NEVER EVER liked running. I sucked at it too.
In high school, during gym class, my friend and I used to hide behind the building as our colleagues ran their 5 laps of the schoolyard. We’d only join in for the last round, and, despite the ONE lap, I’d barely make it to the finish line.
To say I had ZERO endurance is probably an understatement. Running 2 minutes was the most I could do, and that with considerable effort.
I’d have to stop, catch my breath and pick myself up (quite literally sometimes). It felt like torture the whole time.
If any of this sounds familiar, don’t worry, I’ve got good news for you: endurance can be built!
I also never really saw the point of running. It didn’t seem like an enjoyable experience at all (to say the least) so why would I do that to myself?!
Well, let me tell you why.
Ever felt that going up the stairs, even just one floor, leaves you completely breathless? That even the smallest physical task makes you feel very tired?
Our heart is a muscle that needs to be trained, just like our abs, legs, and basically our whole body. This is why cardio activities, such as running, are ESSENTIAL to a healthy lifestyle.
Here are just some of the amazing benefits of running:
- burns fat and helps reduce weight
- strengthens your muscles – hello defined calves! 😉
- boosts your mood – they don’t call it “runner’s high” for nothing 😀
- improves mental health and reduces depression – highly beneficial during this pandemic lockdown
- increases your life span – yes you read that right!
- helps you sleep better
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of running, check out this great article I found, here.
So now that we know why running is so important, let’s see how we can get you to run that 5k.
How To Run 5k
Ok, let’s assume you are a complete beginner, just like I was a year ago, and you’d like to build up your endurance to run 5k. Great goal!
Here are the most important things you need to do:
Find a running plan that works for you
Since you are a beginner, you need to start slow and gradually build up your endurance.
There are a lot of great running plans out there, but probably the most famous, and my personal favorite, is the Couch to 5k program.
It starts you off very lightly, with 3 runs per week, consisting of a brisk 5 min walk, then alternating 1 minute running with 1,5 minutes walk.
The program gradually increases during a time frame of 9 weeks, by the end of which you will be perfectly comfortable to run 5k.
If you are no stranger to exercise and feel you could handle more, you can have a head start and begin at week 3 for example (that’s what I did). It really depends on what you are most comfortable with.
Remember: the Couch to 5k is a great plan, but it will only work if you stick to it. So make a commitment to yourself that you will dedicate 30 minutes, 3 times a week to this goal. Your body (and mind) will thank you!
If you find yourself procrastinating and could use some extra tips to get you starting have a look here.
This is a very common mistake which A LOT of running beginners make, myself included: RUNNING TOO FAST in the beginning.
Remember, you should run at a pace that is comfortable for you. How do you know what is an optimal pace? It’s said you should be able to hold a conversation while you run. If you find yourself gasping for air, that’s a sign to slow down.
Side note here, I run pretty slow, yet I’m sure I still wouldn’t be able to hold a very long conversation 😉
When I first started tracking my time (after a few runs), I was completing 1km (0,6 miles) in 7’45” and the next one in over 8 minutes. This is VERY slow, but THAT’S OK! The important thing is that I managed to run almost 18 minutes without stopping and that was a MAJOR WIN!
My time improved over the next few months, with my peak performance of 6’47” minutes/km. Usually I’m comfortable at around 7 and I think it’s not too bad for a beginner.
So join me in my little turtle club and start slow.
Track your progress
Tracking your progress can be SUPER MOTIVATING! It’s incredible to see the improvement in time and distance, day after day, week after week.
The app I’m using to track my running performance is Runtastic by adidas. There are many apps out there, of course, I’ve just chosen this one at the recommendation of my friends. It’s pretty cool: we can track our runs, distance, time and also motivate each other.
I love how it shows all your stats after a run and it doesn’t talk too much during it. It only informs you once another km is completed and your average time/km.
It’s also a great source for motivation, running tips, challenges, eating healthy tips, so I definitely recommend it.
Beginner’s Tip for the very competitive ones among us 😉
If you ever find yourself demotivated by your stats, just ditch the tracking for a while. Especially as a running beginner.
This can happen if you are focusing too much on the numbers.
Here’s what happened in my case: as I was running more frequently and checking the results (my time) after every run, after a while I found myself totally demotivated because my speed was… not where I wanted it to be…
What’s worse, runs which in the past felt like small victories (running 15 min without stopping, 20 min), were now disappointing because the time was not under 7 minutes/km.
Don’t do this! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and most importantly don’t compare yourself to others! You never know how far they are in their running journey.
You have to remember that speed is not important for a running beginner, what matters is the distance!
Here’s the best advice I ever got when it comes to running. It’s from my dad, who was a professional athlete in college:
Enjoy the run! Run at the pace you are comfortable with and speed will come. Every champion started slowly in the beginning.
Make it fun!
This one is for those of us who don’t particularly love running.
Make it fun! Get your headsets on, blast your favorite music, or maybe a podcast you’ve been wanting to listen to for a while and you’ll see how time will fly!
Ever since I’ve started adding music to my runs I’ve enjoyed it SO much more. I’ve also noticed that the rhythm helps me keep the right pace. There are many running playlists on Spotify, so pick your favorite and let’s go!
Having a running buddy is another great option to make running more enjoyable. I personally prefer to run alone, but having someone by your side can help, especially with motivation. Just remember the social distancing rules. 😉
Use good quality running shoes
Good quality running shoes are really important to keep your feet protected. You don’t want to get blisters or injuries later on. Plus, they make running A LOT more comfortable.
My advice is to invest in 2 good pairs of shoes, to alternate during your runs.
Have the right running outfit for the season
Besides shoes, having a good running outfit is also important.
Not necessarily from a fashion perspective (even though, looking cute never hurts 😉 ), but from a practical standpoint – you don’t want to be catching a cold during wintertime, for example.
Luckily there are great options out there with cold-proof and wind-proof fabrics, to keep you toasty warm and sweat-free during your run.
Don’t forget to warm-up and stretch
This is SUPER important when training for a 5k run. Your body needs a short warmup to be well prepared before going on a run, no matter how intense. A good warm-up prevents injuries and gets your heart rate up.
This is why you have that brisk 5-minute walk in the Couch to 5k program, for example.
But from my experience, some extra warm-up exercises (especially for the legs) are always beneficial, on top of the short walk.
And don’t forget to stretch after you’ve finished your run (it will prevent muscle soreness). EVERY time I was sore after a run it was because I forgot to stretch afterward.
Listen to your body- if anything hurts, stop
You have to always listen to your body, especially as a running beginner. If anything hurts, stop running and don’t push it. Have a medical check if needed.
I hope you found this useful and that you’re ready and pumped to start running! If you have some cool running tips of your own, I’d be happy to hear them!