The Beginner's Guide to Running

Maybe you’re new to running, or maybe it’s just been a long while since your last run. Either way, use this guide as a way to get back in the swing of things.


The hardest part about running is the first few weeks, when you’re just starting out. Once you’re in the grove of things, it tends to be a whole lot easier to get out the door and pound the pavement. I see a lot of people fall off in the first week or so because they tend to bite off more than they can chew. Don’t let that be you this time around.


Ego is the biggest thing that causes people to fall off early. Just because you ran a marathon 10 years ago doesn’t mean that you’re anywhere as prepared today for the same distance. You have to ease back into things and give your body time to adjust properly. That means that you’ll be starting off slow and easy in the first few weeks.


One of my favorite tactics for getting back into running after a long break is walk-run cycles. These involve repeated cycles of running, followed by a period of walking (recovery). Again, you want to start slow and gradually build your way up. Start with 1 minute of running, followed by 1-2 minutes of walking. Repeat that for 15 minutes your first workout and increase the time by 5 minutes each week.


Using the walk-run cycle, you can also begin to decrease the amount of recovery time (walking) and increase the amount of time spent running. For beginners, I always like to focus on time-based workouts instead of a specific distance. You’d be surprised how much distance you can cover in the walk-run cycles as you gradually build up the total time.


We’ll end with a few additional pointers that you’ll want to keep in mind. Make sure that you’re using actually running shoes to run in. Cross-trainers or other types of shoes aren’t designed to absorb the same type of impact as running shoes. Your joints (and feet) will pay in the long run if you try running with other types of shoes. Try to run on absorbing surfaces, like a high school track or grass path. Just make sure the ground is relatively even and stable. Finally, set a goal early on to work toward. It’s hard to stick with a program if there’s nothing to shoot for.


Jon Griffith specializes in optimizing performance for firefighters & police. Jon is a personal trainer, firefighter, and former U.S. Army infantryman. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and 3 cats.

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