There’s no doubt that running is one of the most simple and accessible forms of exercise out there. However, if you’ve never run before or have taken a long break from it, it can feel intimidating to lace up and hit the pavement. To help ease some of those nerves, you should become familiarized with the basics information and follow a beginner’s program. If you have any underlying conditions, it’s always a good idea to get clearance from your doctor before getting started.
When it comes to gear, you won’t need much. But, a well-fitted pair of shoes can be game-changing when it comes to comfort and injury prevention. If possible, visit a specialty running store where an expert will give you recommendations based on your feet and running technique. Beyond that, you’ll only need some comfortable exercise clothes! If you’re running outdoors, be sure to follow some basic tips for dressing in hot or cold weather.
Before you get started on your first run, become familiar with the run/walk method. Most beginners use this method because they don’t have the cardiovascular endurance to run for extended periods. The run/walk method involves running for a short period and then taking a walk break. Over time, the goal is to increase the time spent running and reduce your walking time. Beginners should aim to run for 10-30 seconds, followed by a 1-2 minute walk. That cycle will repeat for the duration of the run. Once you build up your endurance, increase your running time to 1-5 minutes before taking a 1-2 minute walking break. You’ll want to build up to where you can run 5-10 minutes with only a 30 seconds to 1-minute break.
Once you’ve gained some confidence, you can consider finding a race to run in. Most in-person races are still postponed, but there are plenty of virtual races. A fixed race date will help you stay focused and keep you on a regular running schedule. While a beginner can run any race with enough training, I’d advise starting with a 5K (3.1 miles) because it’s less intimidating than a longer race. It’ll also be made up of more fun and relaxed runners. Below is a basic training plan that will get you 5K ready in 7 weeks.
Tuesday: 30-minute run/walk
Thursday: 30-minute run/walk
Sunday: Long Run (listed below)
Below are the weekly distances for the long runs
Week 1: 1 mile
Week 2: 1.5 miles
Week 3: 2 miles
Week 4: 2.5 miles
Week 5: 3 miles
Week 6: 3.5 miles
Week 7: 5K Race
Remember, you can always use the run-walk method instead of running the entire distance on these long runs.