Back in your playground days, everyone was a runner. But sometime between your last game of tag and your first desk job, you may have lost that magic. Maybe it happened during that mandatory mile run in the fifth grade. Or maybe it was when you got to college and embraced your new NARP status (that’s Non-Athletic Regular Person). Somewhere along the way, running became a chore. And “runners,” those who regularly pound the pavement and actually seem to (gasp!) enjoy it? A different breed.
Because you’ve found your way to this post and to this blog, perhaps you aspire to join this mysterious community. Welcome! Before getting started, there are a few things you should know.
First, we’ll let you in on a well-known secret: Everyone can run. If you run, at all, whether it’s around the block or around the world, you’re a runner! And another secret? Running can be a lot of fun. If you’re just starting out, we’ve got you covered, and cannot wait for you to join our community of 51.2 million global users (check out some tidbits we pulled from them throughout the post!). So without further ado, here is Runkeeper’s definitive guide for beginning runners.
To run, or not to run? Making a lifestyle change is a brave undertaking, but no goal is too small while you’re starting out! Whether you’re looking to lose weight, to get in shape, or to develop a healthy hobby, running 5K is fun, simple, and a great starting goal.
Sign up for a race
Get that finish line in sight! A race presents the opportunity to set and achieve a concrete goal, to add a sense of urgency and purpose to your workouts.
Many 5Ks have walkers and runners of all levels, so don’t be intimidated. Not sure where to find a local race? Coolrunning.com compiles an extensive list of upcoming races. But if you can’t find a race in your area that’s appealing, or if you feel like lone wolfing it your first time, that’s okay. Setting artificial deadlines can still help you motivate and track progress. Just be sure to leave enough time to train: Runkeeper’s Beginner 5K training plan spans eight weeks!
Get the gear
Unless you’re signing up for an undie run (which by all means, go for it) you’ll need some gear to get started. Go the extra mile (sorry) to focus on fit and comfort in your apparel, and you’ll feel the difference in your runs!
- Sneakers: Be forewarned—not all feet are created equal. But most specialty running stores will help you get fitted for a shoe that’s right for you! Check out some of our favorites at the Runkeeper Store.
- Lightweight clothing: The sweat will start flowing once you get out there, so consider investing in some technical apparel with breathable fabric to keep you cool and comfortable. Steer clear from cotton, which absorbs sweat and sticks to your body.
- Sports Bra: Finding a quality, well-fitting sports bra can be a challenge in and of itself, but the results are welllll worth it. Fitness Magazine has the low-down on what to look for based on your body type.
2. Make a plan
Behavioral psychologists have long noted the positive impact planning has on goal completion. So deciding and anticipating when and where you will work out each day may be some of the most critical steps you take.
Schedule your workouts
There are pros and cons to running in the morning versus the evening, so play around until you find a routine that works for your schedule! If you’re looking to save time, try working out during lunch. Be sure to add your workouts to iCal; you can export them directly from the Runkeeper app. Check out this how to!
Cue up your music
The right music can boost your endurance by a whopping fifteen percent! Follow Runkeeper on Spotify to check out some of our team’s favorite training tunes. Or, switch things up and try listening to a podcast; here are a couple we think are great.
3. Get out there
Alright. We see you in those flashy kicks and that performance tee. We know the sweet crooning of Ricky Martin in your ears has you itching to take off (did you know “Livin’ la Vida Loca” is the song that users run the fastest to?). Here are some final tips to make sure your first workouts are as flawless as your preparation.
A proper warm-up is critical to staving off injuries. Check out RunnersConnect’s tips to learn how a dynamic warmup can help you stay injury free.
Even if you’re totally gassed after your workout, be sure to spend a few minutes walking and stretching. Foam rolling is a fantastic way to prevent stiffness and knots from forming post run (and to get your blood flowing before heading out!).
Pay attention to your body, and the difference between soreness and pain. Soreness is good—it means you’re challenging yourself, and that’s great! Pain could indicate injury, so trust your body, and be careful to not overexert. Nothing gets in the way of a workout routine like an injury, and most are preventable.
4. Stay out there
As you near your goal, you may need some extra encouragement. We’ve got you covered. Here’s some advice to keep up that killer progress!
One way to to nix fatigue and boredom is to find a running buddy. You can help motivate each other and hold each other accountable to workouts.
Be sure to pay special attention to overall health habits: getting enough sleep and enough of the right fuel for your body are critical to keeping your runs happy and productive. Check out this link for more advice on nutrition from Runkeeper.
Cross-training and days off
Break up your running by incorporating other workouts like strength training, fitness classes, swimming, or cycling into your schedule. Cross-training jazzes up any running routine, and works different muscles, which is key for injury prevention. Rest days are also super important to take so your body has time to recuperate!
5. Celebrate! (sort of)
You did it—congratulations! Maybe everything was smooth sailing from the beginning. Chances are you hit some roadblocks along the way. Either way, you should be proud of sticking with your plan and getting moving. Now that you’re a full-fledged runner, what’s next?
Sign up for another race
Will you train to PR your next 5K? Try for a 10K? Keep at it!
Look for variety
Vary your music for a change of pace, or explore new routes! If you’re unsure where to run, try out Runkeeper’s route finder. Take in the new terrain, the fresh air, and be proud of yourself for continuing your running journey.
Love your running buddy, but looking to see other people? Join a running club together! Runners are a welcoming bunch, and you’ll be able to scope out a group pretty much anywhere. Keep an eye out for Runkeeper challenges and rewards to motivate you, and earn some sweet discounts in the process.
So there you have it, our definitive guide for beginning runners! We hope you’re just as excited to start up as you were when you saw that Brad Pitt gif. And remember when we said that anyone can be a runner? We meant it—now get out there!