Amongst the many accolades we can hand out to the year 2020, officially becoming a runner is at the top of my list (honorable mentions will be given to Asher eating a silicone loofa and you know that whole Covid thing). But alas I’ve been on this journey for quite a while now. I’ve walked a half marathon, done my fair share of 5ks and failed at completing Couch to 5k every single time I tried it. So how exactly did I get past my hot mess of a running past and finally embrace my new habit? Well that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.
I’m dropping all my beginner running tips including how I finally fell in love with running, the best gear, what actually makes it easier to run and the ways I’ve learned to make it my own. Plus, we need to talk about how to make running suck less aka how to avoid shin splints, my go to picks for cross training and my favorite running classes to help expand your skills.
Beginner Running Tips
DITCH THE LIMITING BELIEFS
Running is as much mental as it is physical. And what you think about running will inevitably determine if you stay consistent or quit. Now of course, there’s is a time investment to help build your confidence in your skills. But if you don’t believe you’re capable, you’ll never succeed.
From the outside looking in, it might seem as though the only option for becoming a runner is to just step outside and run. And to be fair, it’s what a lot of people do. But when you take the time to dive into the running community you’ll find tons of people who have a different approach.
Ones who love to do a 5k daily but never check their times. Others swear they hate running but are already signing up for their next race. There are also those who do marathons as giant interval runs. The point is that there is no wrong way to be a runner. You just have to try and find what works for you.
GO Slower Than You Think
With the New York Marathon just passing and coming into a New Year, a lot of girlies are ready to jump into their running era. Welcome! But whether you decided to start running 5 minutes ago or you’ve been at it for years, it’s always worth saying. Go slower than you think you should.
A warm-up class with the Peloton App is always great for this because I find it forces me to check in before I dive into a full run. But really, it normally takes a good 10 minutes for me to actually warm up into the run. If you find you’re constantly uncomfortable or every run just leaves you gassed – slow the f down. A slow mile is still a mile no matter how long it takes you to do it.
Learn How To Pace Yourself
There are a few ways to do this both on your own or with a running buddy. But learning how to sustain yourself through a run as well as what your average pace is helps you determine how you can get better. I personally know that no matter what my brain will want my feet to keep up with the music. You can either create your own playlists. Websites like Joy.FM can tell you the mile pace that matches the song’s BPM (beats per minute). Or you can just type in “13-minute mile” to Spotify. I have several playlists all from 10-minute miles to 15-minute miles that you can get here.
The other way to do this is to chat with a friend or talk out loud while you run. Maybe you call someone, go for a run with a friend, or chat with the girl next to you during your Treadformer class (my fave). This is a great way to know if you are actually pacing the way you want or if you need to adjust your speed. It may not be every run for you but it’s a good way to check in occasionally.
Learn Your Fuel
Now depending on the time of day you’re looking to run, this may vary. But of all the activities I’ve tried over the years, there is nothing fun about running on a full stomach. Ever. And every runner is different – trust me, I stalk all of the runner’s world articles. Be open to testing how fueling before a run works for you – specifically how it works within your overall diet.
Tons of people love protein oats before a workout. I find they are not a great option for me. You might find that eating before a run doesn’t work so much but you feel good fueling during the run and eating a big meal after. We all work a bit differently here. It may take some time, a few side stitches and more than one unfinished run. But you’ll figure out the perfect plan for you in no time.
Learn Your Breath
Until I started running with a guide, I didn’t fully understand how to gauge my energy during a run. I always just did a little stretch, popped on some music, and went. But it doesn’t really work like that if you want to be consistent & injury-free. Taking the time to really tune into your breathing and your exertion will help you be consistent and also show you when you can push yourself.
There are a few ways to do this while you’re running or even as a part of your everyday routine to also help with stress. Ice Hoffman’s breathwork videos on YouTube are a great way to understand the power of breath over your body. You can also do something as easy as practicing with your favorite song once a day. A big inhale in for 4 – hold your breath at the top for 4 and release for 8. Learning how to do this can help you come back down if you find yourself breathing too hard mid-run.
Don’t Skip Your Warm-Up & Cool Down
We all do it. But eventually, after we’ve paid the price of shin splints, continuous issues, or larger injuries, we learn the hard way. However, it’s the little things that make the biggest impact here. There are tons of free videos on Youtube or Tiktok to help here. And if you find that you’re consistently feeling pain after a run in one place (*me currently dealing with arch pain), look into the why and where you maybe can adjust with stretching, cross-training, or pre-run muscle activation. A Google search and/or a physical therapist is great for helping here.
Learn The Difference Between Pain and Discomfort
Many of us automatically assume that we need to be in pain to run successfully. And truth be told, you’ll fall into a groove. You almost have to talk yourself into your run until you’re so distracted it’s just like walking. It’s the mental hurdle that you need to get over to really become a runner. But along with the mental hurdle, sometimes running brings up physical ones too. Aka the pain spots that flare up with a run because your muscles are compensating for some weakness.
If you find you’ve landed in that category of consistent pain when you run (🙋♀️ ), then it might be time to seek some outside help. I worked with the team at Intuitive Choice to help me fine-tune my skills as I found I was consistently dealing with calf pain post-run. They showed me that the issues I was having were caused by a lack of strength in my glutes which caused loads of other muscles to overcompensate. With their help, I’ve seen a major difference. So don’t be afraid to seek out a Physical Therapist to help keep you safely on the road.
Find the Right Training Plan For you
I think at some point we all try Couch to 5k. And inevitably, we quit it. I’ve tried all of them over the years but the one I’ve found the most helpful for beginner runners and even those I know who’ve gone on to do Marathon is Runna. The app itself is free and what I’m currently using with a premium option & expanded features.
Personally, I’ve found that the majority of running apps are built in mind for those who are running much faster than the average beginner. However, you can log how long you expect to take with your 5k as well as see pacing suggestions during your run. This is great for treadmill runners because you can get V specific. And for premium runners, you can also get pacing guides to help you stay on track.
Cross Training Is Everything
One of my biggest original hurdles to becoming a runner was shin splints. I couldn’t work my way around them. No matter what I would do, I would end up in pain. But the thing about shin splints for me is that like previously noted: my body was compensating for strength I didn’t have. And once I started doing spinning classes on the Peloton regularly, I started building up the strength I didn’t know I needed.
There are quite a few ways to cross-train based on what you enjoy. Whether that’s a mix of pilates, cycling, and lifting on your non-running days, or something that’s more geared towards developing running skills. I tend to fluctuate between both. But I’m currently really enjoying Runna for planning for both my running and cross-training days.
Do A Treadmill Run – Even If You Hate Them
As runners, we get into the habit of listening to our bodies when we run outside. And this is major because we need to find that presence in our own space. But to continue growing as a runner, we have to find ways to challenge ourselves. And treadmill runs are one of my favorite ways to do that.
There are two major perks here. Number 1, you can make little adjustments without having to change your entire route. Whether that’s speed or incline, it’s easy to do slowly. Number 2, you can do so while not having to worry about hurting yourself and finding a way home. It’s never fun when you decide to really push it but find yourself halfway into your run completely done.
Make Running Classes Your Friend
It’s really easy to get into a comfortable rut/not progress with running because you’re stuck on the belief that you’re only so fast. Except you’re probably faster and have no clue: enter running classes. Now this could be an audio class, Barry’s, or my favorite: Treadformer (pilates + running = magic). But the main goal here is to show up in a space where the numbers aren’t the focus and you can freely push yourself.
If you’re always doing long runs, try a HIIT run. If you find yourself stuck on the numbers, go for a Pop class and don’t look at your watch. Of course, Peloton has my favorite running classes. I’ve learned so much about form & my own speed levels but I’ve also found that they are great for showing me when I’m holding myself back. You don’t need to own the bike to take them. And the app is filled with loads of classes geared towards all levels of runners.
Do It For You
When I first started running, I had this idea of what it meant to be a runner. Of course, this meant I set a standard that I didn’t quite live up to and it took me a really long time to define what it meant for ME to be a runner. I.e. not always just going for long runs, being able to enjoy interval running, taking it at my own pace. But as with all things fitness, different things will serve you in different seasons.
I’ve gone through phases where I’ve put too much pressure on running and/or my goals which led me to burnout/hating running. As someone with a history of diet habits, slipping into a space of running primarily to lose weight totally wrecked my love for running for a while. Remember it’s totally okay if running right now has no goal other than helping your move your body or stress management.
I LOVE a round of running roulette when I’m stressed. Pop on a playlist and during the chorus of the songs, run as hard as you can for as long as you can. Let yourself push through whatever pain or frustration is happening. The beauty of running is that it can meet you where you need it no matter what’s going on in life. Let it work for you and you’re much more likely to stick with it.
Pick A Running Buddy
Technology has given us SO many options for this. Whether it’s an in-person running buddy, following someone else’s running journey online or taking classes with a friend, there might be a time when you just need a helping hand to show up. Lean into it.
If you like a set schedule and community, most running shoe stores have weekly runs as well as some Lululemon stores. Don’t be afraid to show up as a beginner. In general, runners tend to be a friendly community. We know the power of a good run and we’re happy to share in the endorphin love!
Savvy’s Beginner Running Essentials
The last thing I want to think about when I’m running is that I’m running. I find it much easier to just plug in my music and go. So I’ve created loads of playlists that help you do just that. Think of it like a mini coach but also a dance party. You can get all of the playlists here.
One of the things I’ve also discovered makes a major impact on whether or not I get shin splints: ankle support. If I don’t have it, I get them every time. I have a pair of shoes I like to run in and those I like to train in. Hoka Bondi 8 has become my go to for running. Asics Gel Cumulus 25 are my go to for everything else.
And to go with my fave running shoes, let’s add in my favorite running socks. They make SUCH a difference. When I don’t wear these, I find I notice my feet feel like they are burning after a while. These socks have the extra padding that makes it easier to go longer plus the tab in the back to protect my ankles.
I HATE running with things in my pockets or hands. I just feel off balance. And if it’s in my hand, I find I’ll end up with a stitch in my side. So to prevent all of the above from causing issues, I use a thin running belt that sits on my lower back. I can easily fit my phone in it as well as my car key. And it doesn’t move. Essential.
I’m sure there’s a proper name for them but these were essential for running this summer. I snagged several from Athleta that are typically used for surfing. So they were super lightweight, absorbed sweat well, and weren’t too much for a hot run. Plus, they mean I didn’t have to spend LOADS on sunscreen.
For a more focused training plan, I love Runna. I personally like to use my workout time to think and find music with the occasional podcast best. I get both my runs and my weights planned out all in one place which is perfect when you feel like you don’t know how to balance it all.
However, when I’m not using distance training apps, I love the Peloton app for both their treadmill classes and outdoor runs. I tend to pick classes based on the music and my preferred instructors. But all of the above are great options that make running more exciting. Try the app for 60 days free with my link.
Running Medals At Home
I love a good mini race or longer one depending on how I’m training but sometimes you want to be able to set a goal and work at it slowly. When I was toying with the idea of training for a 1/2 marathon again, I stumbled onto the Yes.Fit app. It let’s you train for races at home with the reward of either a medal/t-shirt when you hit your goal. Perfect for staying motivated when you have a long training schedule ahead. Plus, who doesn’t love a medal? Join me and use my referral code #0Ls15vOz to save $5 on your first race!
Whether you’re a new runner or someone who’s just feeling out the idea of learning to run, I hope that today’s post helped you. If you want more daily movement motivation, be sure to come follow me on Instagram. Until next time. Xoxo, Savvy
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