How to Start Running: Beginners and Restarters Guide

Kicking off a running routine can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to it. There’s so much information out there on how to start running, with each source claiming to have definitive answers. Even if you’re familiar with running and have merely taken a hiatus, it can be challenging to get back into the groove.

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran, it’s important to start slow and stay consistent to help you improve. A gentle yet effective running program will ease you into your new running routine with minimal risk of injury and a maximum guarantee of sticking at it. Tackle things at a pace you’re comfortable with – you can always pick up the speed once you feel stronger and more confident.

A balancing act

If you’re familiar with our fitness philosophy here at 8fit, you’ll know that we promote the importance of balance when it comes to working out, as well as embracing challenges. Though we encourage HIIT as an optimal workout style, we also firmly believe in exercise variety. So we always recommend getting in other forms of exercise (running, strength training etc.) You can still incorporate running on top of your HIIT sessions, as the combination of mid- and high-intensity exercise will contribute to your overall physical health and mental well-being. On that note, let’s get our cardio on with a good old-fashioned run!

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How to start running

There’s no denying there are a host of excellent running programs out there for varying levels. As it can all be a bit overwhelming to navigate, here is some simple advice and a running plan to help you get to grips with how to start running. Remember, slow and steady wins the race, manage your training intensity and build up your speed gradually, so you don’t burn out – you want to be able to enjoy yourself! The same goes for those of you returning to running after a long break.

Running tips for beginners (or those starting again)

Set the right pace

One of the biggest rookie mistakes when it comes to running is going too fast from the get-go. It’s true that going for a run implies speed, but try to pace yourself. There’s no universal pace to run at, as each person is unique and your pace will depend significantly on your current fitness level.

When it comes to pace, using the talk test is a useful and straightforward method to gauge whether you are going too fast or slow. The aim is to run at a pace where you’re still able to hold a conversation comfortably.

So if you’re huffing and puffing and can’t even manage a few words, then you’re probably going too fast. On the other hand, if you’re still able to sing a song at the top of your lungs, then it’s likely that you’re not going fast enough.

It’s a fine line, but an important one, as you still want to push your body to stimulate continual development, so make sure to increase your pace as your level improves. This will ensure that you keep getting fitter and avoid plateauing.

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Find the right footwear

Picking the right pair of sneakers plays a crucial part in the quality of your run. We’re not saying to forgo aesthetics, but it’s more important to make sure that you have a supportive shoe. It should be designed for medial movement and be adequately cushioned to support the repeated impact on your arch, ankles, and knees when running.

The fit should also be just right, as anything too big or too small will cause major discomfort. The best would be to get your shoes fitted at a specialty running store. Quality sneakers can be quite pricey, so if you’re on a budget and what you’ve seen is too expensive, write the information down and go online — you’re sure to find some good deals on last year’s models. This way, you’ll save a ton of money without skimping on quality.

How often and how long should I run?

This question is a tough one when you’re figuring out how to start running, as it depends on your current fitness levels. As we mentioned earlier, it’s best to start slow. We suggest starting out with three runs per week, beginning and ending each run with a five-minute walk. If you’re entirely new to running, then we would suggest walking at a high pace for the duration of your session (20-30 mins) to begin with, then gradually adding running intervals.

If you feel that you wouldn’t pass the talk test, then wind the pace down to a walk until you’ve caught your breath again — then get back to running.

Your beginner running program

If you’re ready to take the leap and want to learn how to get better at running, give this beginner running program below a go. Follow this carefully designed running plan and experience yourself transform from newbie to a more experienced runner in four weeks.

Applicable every week:

  • Warm up: Take 3 minutes to transition from a regular walk to a power walk.
  • Cool down: Take 3 minutes to gradually dial it down to a regular walk.
  • Frequency: Go running around 3-4 times per week, every other day.
  • Mix it up: On 1-2 of your running days off, do a HIIT, yoga or pilates workout.

Week 1

  • Warm up
  • Run 2 mins, walk 2 mins
  • Repeat 7 times (~28 mins total)
  • Cool down

Week 2

  • Warm up
  • Run 3 mins, walk 1 min
  • Repeat 7 times (~28 mins total)
  • Cool down

Week 3

  • Warm up
  • Run 4 mins, walk 1 min
  • Repeat 6 times (~30 mins total)
  • Cool down

Week 4

  • Warm up
  • Run 5 mins, walk 30 secs
  • Repeat 6 times (~33 mins total)
  • Cool down

Week 5 and beyond

Continue to work on your running routine by adding 3-5 minutes more of running to your sessions (every couple of weeks), and decrease the walking time until your routine is more running than walking.

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HIIT-it!

Knowing how to start running is one thing, but if you’re looking to take your running to the next level, then complement your runs with HIIT workouts. The following exercises can be done before or after a run, as well as on your days of rest.

Jumping Jacks

 

Muscles involved: Calves, quadriceps, glutes, upper back

Count: Count one every time you return to your starting position

Directions:

  1. 1Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides
  2. In one motion, jump your feet out to the sides and raise your arms above your head
  3. Immediately reverse the motion back to the starting position

Tips:

  • Keep your arms straight at all times
  • Stay light on your feet, and jump as quietly as possible (this means that your core is engaged)

Inchworms

Muscles involved: Hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, abs, lower & upper back

Count: Count one every time you return to your starting position

Directions:

  1. Stand with your feet together
  2. Keep your legs straight, bend at the hips and place your hands on the floor directly in front of your feet
  3. Slowly walk your hands forward, alternating left and right hands
  4. Walk until your body is parallel to the floor in a pushup position and hold for 3 seconds
  5. Keep your hands in place and slowly walk your feet towards your hands, moving only a few inches per step
  6. Once your feet meet your hands, raise your torso from the hips back up to the start position

Tips:

  • Draw your shoulders down away from ears
  • Keep your chin down and neck neutral
  • Engage your core

Lunges

Muscles involved: Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps

Count: Count one every time you return to start position – complete 1/2 the reps or time then switch sides

Directions:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Step forward with one leg, bending the knee to drop your hips
  3. Lower yourself until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front knee is directly above your ankle
  4. Drive through the heel of your leading foot and push off the rear foot to return to the start position

Tips:

  • Keep your neck long, shoulders back and down away from ears
  • Flexibility will improve with time, so aim to increase your range of motion with each step

How to get better at running

Running, like many things in life, takes practice. There will be fun runs, and there will also be some that push you to your limits and challenge you. The best approach is to run according to your mood and how you feel on that given day. On days when you’re feeling energized, take advantage of it and run a bit more than you’d planned to. Then on days where you’re a little more sluggish and low energy, you can take it a bit easier. Whatever your mood, don’t give up and keep running!

For all the other days, the 8fit app has a variety of HIIT workouts to try out. You’ll discover so many different routines to add to your running regime, you’ll never get bored!