My tips for the Beginner Runner
A couple of people I know have recently got into running, it’s randomly been brought up in conversation (always in the pub) and we’ve always got onto the subject of my own running experiences. This got me thinking about what worked for me and what kept me motivated when I was a beginner runner.
The following list of tips was going to be a top 10 of running tips for the beginner but I found it hard to short-list. These tips are what I found (in reflection) to work for me. I might add I’ve missed out the one about acid reflux and bananas as that’s just me! But if you’re the same Rennie is the answer (apologies there was no real need to share that nugget). Enjoy!
Right, so here is my list of what worked for me when I first started running.
- Running on your own? Yep that was me but to be honest I always liked it that way but some people have no choice. Try using one of the 0 to 5K Apps; these can help to motivate and support you. Some you have to pay for but generally relatively inexpensive and I think worth it. I used Couch to 5K Runner, it helped having someone in my earphones tell me when to run/walk and how far I had run.
- How long it takes doesn’t matter! If you don’t use a coaching app where you have a set 30 minutes don’t fixate on the time it will take for you to cover 5km just the fact that you have done it is what matters!
- Get a playlist together; something with a good beat will help you develop a good running rhythm. Hate to admit it but I found that S Club 7’s Reach is a brilliant running track but that might just be me!
- Work out your initial running route. It’s distracting if you don’t really know where you are going. I’ve fallen into that I’ve fallen into that trap and ended falling short, having to double back or run along some random route to make the 5km. It doesn’t have to be exact. You can simply work out where 2.5km will take you and turn round at that point and run back.
- Establish a realistic running routine. Ideally you should try and run 3 times a week; if you can’t some weeks then you can but don’t beat yourself out if it. 3 times was realistic for me and if I only managed 2 then I’d perhaps make my next run a day sooner. Once you get into a pattern it will become routine.
- Find a good time to run; suppose this depends on what time you have available. Lots of people like to run in the morning but I have always preferred early evening, I think mainly because I tend to have more time to fuel up and I like to clear my mind with a run after a day at work. Plus school runs and work get in the way of a morning run for me although I do try and run on a Saturday morning.
- Eat something prior to running that will slowly release energy and keep you going. I normally have a bowl of porridge 90mins before.
- Loo stop before you go! No need to elaborate on this point.
- Wear suitable running footwear & clothing. However when you start out t-shirts and joggers is just as good but as you get more into running you may find that you need to review what you wear. OK it’s not a catwalk but it’s all about comfort, last thing you want when out is to be distracted by a seam that rubs!
- Sports bra – a must in my eyes, not only for support but there’s nothing worse when you have bra strap issues when out on a run
- Trainers – goes without saying, doesn’t have to be anything flash as long as supportive and comfortable
- Moisture wicking fabrics; embrace the fact that you will get sweaty but these help to keep you cool and dry
- Running Tights – I’m not a fan of joggers, have an issue with the seams and they can feel bulky. I’m not bothered what I look like in running tights and no one else is bothered either!
- High Vis if running at night – most running gear will have reflective strips. Opt also for something bright, it never fails to amaze me the amount of drivers or pedestrians who simply fail to see you come. To them you are in stealth mode but High vis helps!
- Layers – you can always strip off and tie a top round your waist
- Gloves – I am prone to numb hands when I run in the winter so this is a must for me!
- Still stuck on what to wear? Read my article on
- for more tips.
10. Map out 3 or 4 routes and rotate them to keep things interesting; this comes from experience and perhaps when you are more into a running routine. I have about 4 routes, some more challenging than others. I also reverse the start point of these routes to mix it up a bit.
11. Be prepared! Make sure you always have your running kit & trainers at the ready or to hand. Sometimes time is the main constraint that stops you from running but on the flip side take advantage of times when you suddenly have time to do a 5km. Having kit ready means no excuses!
12. Save some gas in the tank. I always say this to my kids when they run with me AND when they run for their school. Sprint the last 60m if you can. I get a buzz out of doing this at the end; it’s exhausting, fun, healthy competition! Plus it gets your heart pumping! Trouble is now when I race my eldest son the last 60m he now always wins!
13. Stretch before & after. Dynamic Stretches pre-run, Static Stretches post-run. If you happen to have a foam roller use this to work on your calves.
14. Get a running partner or join a running club. Many clubs will cater for the beginner and some actually specialise in beginners. It’s a great motivator
15. Monitor your progress; I’m a big fan of charting progress. I record my times (still do). I’ve used Apps to record times, routes taken and splits (time per km). I tend to just jot my time on the calendar, that’s good enough for me as it doesn’t take any time and visually easy to track progress.
16. Sign up to an organised run. I did this when I stated to run 5km more consistently, it was more of the ‘what next’ for me once I’d reached the 8 week stage. If not sure about entering one of the big 5km events Parkrun is a good option. These are free and open to all abilities. To find your nearest one go to www.parkrun.org.uk This can act as a milestone for your training. With organised events, you will enjoy the buzz and the end celebration no matter what your time is. It’s also a great goal to aim for.
17. If you have a bad run get over it don’t let it demotivate you. Try & understand why you didn’t do so well. Is it something you can change? If not get over it and move on!