Running for Beginners (Tips from a real beginner)

Saturday, August 25, 2012 Aimee Larsen 10 Comments

Today while I was running I was thinking about blogging...

It has been three months since I first started running with a simple goal of 5k.  I thought I might share with you the steps I have taken to surpass my original goal, as well as my next goal of 10k.

In The Beginning...

  1. It is always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.  Mostly likely your doctor will tell you it is the best decision you have made in a long time.  At least, I hope that is what your doctor says.
  2. I highly recommend the couch to 5k program.  I am constantly being asked what app I use on my phone when I run.  I used the 5k Runner app by Heavy Duty Apps.  I love it!  
  3. Find a safe place to run.  I prefer outdoor running to a tread-mil(aka dread mill) any day.  If you can find a safe place to run with mile markers, those are the best.  Otherwise, you may want to get in your car and measure a distance in a few places.  My GPS app has never worked right so I rely on my car to tell me how far I am going.
  4. Be consistent!  Stick to the every other day program.  I ran 3 days a week somedays and 4 the next but not missing a run kept me dedicated.  Don't over do it by running 2 days in a row (yet).  If you want to exercise on the in between days, try something for your upper body and core.
  5. Drink water!  I gave up tea, cokes, and even milk.  I shoot for 4 liters a day or around a gallon.  When I don't drink enough water I feel sluggish.  If I want milk, I drink coconut or almond milk instead.  I grew up on a dairy farm and my Daddy milked cows every day when I was little.  I appreciate milk but I feel less bloated when I avoid it.  I do love it though!
  6. Track your progress.  It feels good to go back and see how far you have come.  I love DailyMile because I get a weekly report to my e-mail that shows me how well I did.  I also love logging my runs and thoughts on the app for DailyMile, Electric Mile.  
  7. Shoes that fit are important.  A reader, Heather, reminded me that a good pair of shoes is important.  Also, good socks.  She recommends getting fitted by professionals.  I have been told to have it done and I haven't yet.  If you have trouble with finding a good fit, definitely visit the experts.  I wear my socks thin so I try to buy socks that are thick and my shoes are 1/2 a size too big to give my toes plenty of expert runner gave me that bit of advice. 
Reaching goals...
  1. Walk to increase distance.  When I was getting close to my 5k goal but wasn't finishing it in the time allowed by the app I was using, I just walked the extra distance until my distance goal was reached.
  2. Intervals for speed.  If you feel super slow like I did for months and know you want to cover more distance in less time or just increase your 5k speed, try interval training.  A day or two a week during your running you may want to skip the 5k program plan and try running intervals.  I used my 5k app and went back to day one.  I would run as fast as my legs would move me and then walk.  I also increased my tempo during regular runs in the middle of my runs to increase my works!
  3. Plan life around workouts.  Your health is so important.  I can not even stress it enough.  I would love to spill what I have had to deal with in the last 10 years with my health but I will tell you, because of factors such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, along with my weight; I was labeled "morbidly obese" last April.
  4. Bad days happen.  Don't let a bad run ruin your motivation.  Don't let a glance in the mirror or a picture a friend took make you feel you are not progressing fast enough.  A healthy lifestyle and healthy body happens much slower than we realize.  If you feel your run is just not going to happen, walk instead.  
  5. Run occasionally with no limits.  The one thing I love most is when I have plenty of time to run.  I find myself pushing the limits.  It is nice to go for a leisurely run on Saturday morning and find that you can go just a little further when you aren't pressed for time.
  6. Run occasionally with limits.  I found when I started back to work this school year that if I wanted to run in the mornings before work, it would have to be within an allotted time so that I could get back home, clean up, and get to work early enough for duties.  I had gotten used to running with no limits and realized that my pace was as slow as some walkers speed.  The time limits helped me to increase my speed.
Goals reached...
  1. Set new goals.  Don't settle for one goal.  Strive for excellence.  See how far your body can take you.  Once I reached my 5k goal on a regular basis my options were to set a speed goal or set a distance goal.  I chose distance.  My next goal was 10k.  I do 10k on a regular basis before work...don't ask what time I get up in the morning.  It is ridiculous.  
  2. Register for a race.  I am running a race in November, an 8k for Wounded Warriors.  It keeps me motivated for two reasons.  One I have paid for it and it cost a bundle to run because it is a fund-raiser.  Two because I am doing it with friends, for a friend.  Even if I don't win, I have already won!
  3. Make longterm plans.  Start thinking about what you will do during the holidays, when bad weather happens, through the long winter months.
  4. Run with friends.  You could probably do this just fine in the beginning.  I felt this was a very personal thing and that I would either slow someone down or someone would not be able to keep up the distance.  Now, I think I am ready for a running buddy.  My pace is better and I feel I can keep up with the distance...just don't ask me to push a baby stroller...that's for Wonder Women!
  5. Injuries.  That is when you can rest.  Take it easy, see a doctor if necessary.  I hurt my ankle a few weeks ago, running in the dark on a road and I stepped off in what I thought was a driveway to avoid a car in the wee hours of the morning.  Only I stepped in a hole.  I finished my run but the next day it wasn't pretty.  It didn't hurt to walk or run but it did hurt.  Let injuries heal, rest and then keep moving.

I am sure I am forgetting something I tried and that there is more great advice out there!  I am still a beginner but today I reached my current goal..13.1 miles.  That did include my walking so my next goal is a complete run for that distance.  Good luck!  Share your thoughts, ideas and tips with me.  


  1. Awesome! Thanks Aimee! My sister (in Utah) and My daughter and I (in SoCal) have been doing Ease into 5K program since early June.She is already doing 5k, my daughter and I are a bit behind her since she hurt her ankle and then I hurt mine, then school started and we had to adjust our schedules. But we are back to the program on Monday. :) Thanks for the tips! I emailed this to my sister to read as well.

  2. Great list! I am a huge fan if the C25K program too. Cool has some great stuff for more experienced runners too.

    The only thing I woud add is get good (which probably means a small investment) shoes that fit. Go to a running store - not Dick's and get properly fitted!

  3. Thanks Heather! There is a link to above. Everyone told me to get fitted for shoes and I still haven't. I plan on it. I tried on a hundred shoes and used my best judgement. I am anxious to see if being fitted will make the difference everyone says it will.

    1. So the key to getting fitted and why they ask you to walk back and forth in front of them is that some people have a neutral foot motion (normal), some have a pronated foot motion (internally rotating/flat arch) and others a supinated foot motion (externally rotating/high arch). There are different running shoes for each of these 3 types of people. Getting the right type of shoe for you can greatly increase your chances of not getting injured by running in the wrong type of shoes for your foot type.

  4. Great tips for newbies! I've been running off and on this past month, so hard to fit it in, but I'm determined to run in a 5k! I think consistency is key! I'm definitely printing this out to encourage me and so I can reference back on!

  5. Heather, I tried to reply this morning but I don't it went through using my phone. I linked up to the CoolRunning website above for others. Also, I have never been fitted for shoes. Everyone told me to get fitted before running but I was scared of the price. I tried on about 100 shoes before I settled on the pair I have now. So far so good but for my next pair, I am getting expert advice. It probably would have saved me some sore muscles in the beginning. :) Thanks for reminding me to add that.

  6. Please let me know how it goes Monday! :)

  7. Consistency is key. If I miss a run I feel like I pay for it later. So, I punish myself for missing it when I could have just found a way to make it happen. Happy Running!

  8. Love, love LOVE these tips for beginners. I did my own couch to 5K training a few years back & know that this info would have been helpful. Glad you are sharing with others. It's great to inspire!!!

  9. Good shoes are a must! I was wearing my "walmart special's" that were nearly 2 years old and starting having a lot of pain in my shins. So glad I listened to my cousin and her husband ( a podiatrist) who told me to invest in some good ones. I haven't had a single problem with my shins since! My knee however.... but I blame that on volleyball! :-)


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