Everyone starts their running journey somewhere. It can be difficult to start running with no prior insight on how to prepare both physically and mentally. These Pro Tips for beginner joggers offer a great way to get acclimated.
Whether you’re a running beginner or trying to amp up your running workouts, you may have questions. What should you be wearing? What stretches should you do? When should you be drinking? We have the answers with the help of our running pros.
HOW TO START RUNNING WHEN OUT OF SHAPE
It’s important to build your physical abilities and not overdo it at the start. Overexerting yourself by going all in too quickly can lead to injury. Instead, start with low-impact cardio and work your way up to running.
“When I started, I couldn’t physically run more than three to four minutes,” says experienced marathon runner and DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Charles Stierheim. “Allow yourself downtime and don’t run every day.”
Remember to incorporate strength training into your workouts. Try exercises that don’t require weights, like this bodyweight routine. This can help you build your muscles.
Endurance runner and DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Kristie Johnson suggests working with a trainer to help you make sure you’re doing what’s best for you and doing it correctly.
“Take care of your feet,” says running enthusiast and DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Molly Urciolo. “Get good shoes, they’re worth it.”
An important tip for beginner runners is to get fitted for the right shoe. Start with this guide on how to buy running shoes. It can help you determine your arch type, gait type and the different types of running shoes available. This should be the first step in your running journey.
There are several factors to consider — ranging from material to fit — when choosing the rest of your running attire. Check out these Pro Tips running attire guides to help you get started:
- What to Look for in Running Socks
- How to Choose Running Shorts
- How to Buy Insoles
- How to Choose the Right Sports Bra
- Technologies to Look for in Athletic Apparel
CHOOSING A RACE
A common goal is to go from “couch to 5K,” which is not far from what our experts suggest. Smaller neighborhood fun runs, like a turkey trot around Thanksgiving or a bunny hop around Easter, are a great start, Urciolo says.
“Those are typically very high energy, lots of people come out to cheer on the runners and people don’t ‘race,’” Urciolo adds. “It’s more laid back and less intimidating, especially for a new runner.”
Fun runs and 5Ks are a great way to understand etiquette of a big race and can help you create a baseline, Johnson says. The training for a smaller race like a 5K is not as time consuming or overwhelming as larger races, like marathons and half marathons.
RUNNING STRETCHES FOR BEGINNERS
Stierheim says to, “expect pains and aches and be smart about dealing with them.” So to stay loose, you should take time to stretch before and after your runs.
If you’re wondering what to do before a run, start with dynamic stretches. These active stretches involve continuous movement that can help you warm up. Try these five dynamic stretches to get started.
Johnson also says to do lots of stretching after a run to work out any tightness. Post-running stretches for beginners should be static. This means holding the stretch for at least 30 seconds. Try finishing a run with these five static stretches.
WHEN TO DRINK
“If you wait until you are thirsty, you’re too late,” Stierheim says. “You’ll never catch up, and if you try, you will overhydrate.”
Remember to drink water throughout the day, especially the day before a race.
When participating in a race, Urciolo suggests reviewing the course map and planning out your water stops. “I don’t suggest stopping at each one, but using training runs as a guide, figure out when you think you’ll need to stop along the way and plan accordingly,” Urciolo says.
RUNNING WITH A FRIEND VS ALONE
Sometimes it can feel like you need a little push from someone to get going. Running with a friend or in a group can help keep you accountable.
“Find a buddy who is in good shape who won’t mind running with you,” says active runner and DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Emily Wolfarth. “It helps if they can accompany you and push you to keep going when you want to walk or stop.”
Other times, you may find that you enjoy the alone time to think to yourself and unwind.
“For new runners, it might be nice to think about your run as ‘your time,’” Urciolo says. “It’s a time for you to unplug and enjoy the road in front of you.”
Discover what works best for you, your schedule and your pace by trying out both.
“Every single run helps you get in shape for the next run,” Wolfarth says.