image via runyourpersonalbest.com
“How do I get started? What is my first step?” (no pun intended).
At some point every runner wondered how to start running.
Inherently, the answer seems extremely simple.
Go outside – left foot – right foot – repeat.
However it can be complicated based on the asker’s history. So, like all things in running, the most accurate answer is “it depends.” But, that isn’t helpful.
I will give a more actionable answer than that.
Getting Started in running can be broken down into three sections – the gear you need, training, and injury prevention. I’ll cover all of them in this post.
Running Gear You Need
Some people don’t emphasize the importance of equipment.
The thinking is as follows:
“You can find a million reasons to put off running. Just get out the door and get moving, the rest is minutia.”
I do agree with that sentiment. You can find a million reasons to put it off.
However, there is no way around this:
The right equipment for any job is necessary. I wouldn’t change the oil in my car with no tools, or inappropriate tools.
Likewise, I wouldn’t attempt to get started running without the right equipment.
Equipment needed to get started running
Proper Running Shoes
This is simple. Go to your local running store, and tell them you are looking for the right kind of shoes for you.
Again, go to a running store, not a sporting goods store – this will help you start your running off on the right foot (pun intended).
The reason is that the people at the store will analyze your gait and put you in the proper shoes for you – there is customization involved, and a running shoes gait analysis is 100% free!
If you find a pair that you love, you can get away with buying your running shoes online on your second pair, third pair etc. (since you know what you want).
Note: If you are really bootstrapping it. You can stop here. You absolutely need good running shoes. It is the foundation of the running equipment pyramid.
That being said . . . I would recommend a few other things.
You don’t have to get fancy, or buy anything that is crazy expensive. You just want something that is a technical fabric (non-cotton).
Cotton absorbs moisture (sweat) which will ruin your socks and cause blistering on your feet. This is pretty important, but not overly expensive.
Again, you don’t have to get overly fancy. I would recommend Holabird Sports. They usually have the best prices on running clothes on the web.
What you need to consider when looking for running clothes:
- Your environment – Are you running outside or on a treadmill? Is it Hot? Cold? Both?
- Fabric – There are some awesome fabrics out there, but you don’t have to get too fancy at first – you just need a non-cotton, technical fabric.
- Your preference and comfort level – don’t just buy the most popular item. Think about what you will feel comfortable in. What will make you feel athletic and fast without making you feel overly exposed.
For Women: Running Bra
This is actually the second most important thing for women after shoes.
Having worked in a number of running stores, I have solid knowledge about how to find the right bra, but I will let a woman impart that knowledge.
This video by Angela at Body Inspired Fitness should help.
Training – How to Start Running
Once you actually get out the door, you need to know what to do. It is important that you challenge yourself, but don’t over extend yourself so that you hate running. Here are some ideas:
When you first get started (and even later) I would highly recommend the run/walk method. This will help you keep your heart rate in control, and it will help you actually enjoy running.
Jeff Galloway is the ultimate champion and expert of the run/walk method, and he covers it all in his book titled, you guessed it, The Run/Walk Method.
In the book, Galloway gives you a formula for success, which I would highly recommend. But, at it’s core the method is simple: jog for awhile, then walk for awhile.
The important thing to remember when you use this method is to just enjoy it!
Couch to 5k program
There are countless couch to 5k programs all over the web, and they are perfect for beginners.
My favorites are:
None To Run By Mark Kennedy From Healthynomics – Perfect for beginner runners
The Couch to 5k Running Plan by Josh Clark at Cool Running – The best advice I can give to someone who wants to know how to start running is to set a goal. This plan will help.
Novice 5k Training Plan By Hal Higdon – If you don’t know how to start running, Hal has you covered. He takes the guesswork out of your training.
5K Training For Beginners: From Couch To 5K Runner In 8 Weeks Or Less – By Jago Holmes – You don’t need to know how to start running. Jago Holmes will make you a runner in two months.
Making Sure You Don’t Get a Running Related Injury
The last concern you might have is staying healthy.
Assuming you have the right equipment (see above), there are two main things you should do to stay health when you get started running.
Strength Training Is Important For Runners
Studies have shows that strength training helps runners with a number of things, chief among them being injury prevention.
You don’t have to “get swole” or spend hours a week at the gym, but you shouldn’t ignore strength training.
Here are some of the best practical guides to strength training for runners:
A comprehensive course that shows you exactly what you should do and exactly how you should integrate it with your running.
Fantastic book for a great price. Not only will it help you integrate strength training into your running, but it will also help you get to your prime weight.
This is the plan I created which utilizes Grokker – a tool I would highly recommend if you are getting into running.
The other primary cause of injury (besides lack of structural strength) is an ineffeciency, or “hitch” in your form. Making sure you have proper from is one of the most important things to do as a beginner runner.
The reason form is important when you are starting out is because you are creating habits. If you create bad habits, they will be harder to correct down the road, but if you create good habits, you will be a much healthier runner in the long run (I am killing it with the puns today).
Here are some of the best running form resources:
Basically anything from Runners Connect is top notch. The running form course is no exception.
If the Runners Connect course is a little pricey for you, Christoff Smit has this $20 course on Udemy. This is a perfect way to get started on your form if you are getting started running.
Brad Beer is a physiotherapist and hardcore runner. He has helped countless runners with their injuries, and his book can definitely help you stay away from injury.
So, there is an actionable guide on how to start running.
Also, comment below and let me know why you want to get started running, or better yet, send me a message and tell me why you want to know how to start running, and I will give you some personalized advice!