Top Ten Tips for Beginning Runners
By Rick Morris
Of all the possible athletic activities and forms of exercise, running is by far the easiest to begin. Maybe not physically easy, but technically easy. After all, running comes naturally. There is really not much to learn. You don’t need any specialized equipment or locations. Just head out the door and run. While running is easy to begin, insuring your running success might be a bit easier with just a little help. Here are out top ten tips for beginning runners.
Congratulations on your decision to begin running. Learning to run is a great move from which you will reap many benefits. Obviously you had a reason for beginning to begin running, but was it a righteous reason? Maybe or maybe not. Isn’t any reason to run a good reason? Yep, any reason to run is a good reason. It gets you out there and gets you started. But, to insure your running success you need a righteous reason. What is a righteous reason to run? A righteous reason has two requirements. It must do no harm and it must be intrinsic in nature.
The first part is a no brainer. Your reason for running should be compassionate and not hateful. If you are running to spite someone or through negative emotions, it does harm. Not only will you fail in your running, but you will accumulate a bunch of bad karma. The second part is a bit more complex. Intrinsic basically means “for its own sake” or “in itself”. In terms of running it means you are running for very internal and personal reasons such as changing your life or even better, for the pure joy of running. If you have an intrinsic reason for running you are much more likely to succeed than when running for an extrinsic or “external” reason such as pleasing someone else or trying to impress someone. I believe this to be the single most important of the tips for beginning runners.
Another of my favorite tips for beginning runners is another mental one One of my favorite movie quotes is from “A League of their Own” when Tom Hanks utters the words “There’s no crying in baseball”. Well, borrowing that phrase, there is no negativity in running. Positive energy and emotions will result in running success while negative energy is self destructive and throws a formidable road block into your running success. So, always stay positive, no matter what happens.
Running is technically easy but physically difficult. That means there will always be times when you are physically or mentally struggling. In fact, you always need to be challenging yourself, that is the very essence of running. Challenges improve both your body and your mind. Never quit when running gets difficult. When things get tough I always think a line in a song by Bruce Springsteen – “No retreat, baby, no surrender”.
The one thing I believe is most important in any running program, be it a beginners plan or the training regime of a competitive runner, it’s consistency. Consistency with your running builds good habits, greater fitness improvements and superior mental strength. So get out there and run consistently on a year round basis. Consistency equals success.
To succeed as a new runner you need to improve more than your physical endurance. You also need a high level of functional fitness. What is functional fitness? It’s fitness that functionally supports your running. The best way to become functionally fit is to add in basic strength training, core strength training and running specific strength training two times per week. You body will be fitter, more injury resistant and balanced.
Need for Speed
Many beginning runners underestimate the need for speed. Even if you are not interested in competitive running you still need speed training. Speed training will improve your VO2 max, running strength, neuromuscular conditioning, running economy and injury resistance. As an added bonus you will burn more calories per minute because you will be able to run faster for longer distances.
One of the great things about running is its simplicity. You need no specialized gear or equipment. While you won’t need an special gear, that doesn’t mean you don’t need appropriate gear. To run safely, effectively and comfortably you need to dress properly for the conditions and wear running shoes that are appropriate for your fitness level, experience level, running surface and bio-mechanics.
Push for Progress
An often one of the forgotten tips for beginning runners involves progression. Don’t fall into a running rut. Many beginning runners tend to fall into that rut and never climb out. What is a running rut? It’s doing nearly all your running at the same comfortable pace or distance. In order to progress and improve as a runner you need to push yourself to new levels and incorporate multi pace training. Do some long easy runs, some short, hard, interval training and some medium distance tempo runs. You will be a better overall runner.
Junk the Junk
I tell all of my runners to avoid junk miles. Junk miles only serve one purpose. They place unnecessary stress on your body. What are junk miles? They are miles that you have no reason for running. Be sure you have a goal in mind for every run you do. It can be a very specific goal, such as doing a long run to improve your endurance or a more general goal like stress relief or just having fun. There are tons of running goals, so you will never need to resort to junk miles.
Distance running is a solitary activity but you still need some social support. The support can come from a non running spouse or friend; or it might come from joining a running group. You need a friend or family member to share your running success with and to lean on when things are going poorly. So seek out those fabulous friends.