If you seek a more active lifestyle, adding running into the mix is an excellent step in the right direction.
But, the truth is, a lot of people hate to run. It can be tedious and exhausting for beginners, and working past those challenges makes it incredibly easy to throw in the towel after just a few training sessions.
If you are one of those who hates running but are eager to see what this “runner's high” is all about, you probably wonder what type of timeline you can expect before running becomes enjoyable. And you are not alone.
Running, like any other sport, requires you to devote some time and practice to get good at it. Some days will be better than others, but that is all part of the training process.
So, when does running get easier for beginners? Well, it is going to depend on a variety of things. Read on to learn about what you can expect as a beginner running for the first time and get some running tips to make the process more manageable.
Before you commit to a full-fledged training program or sign up for a half-marathon in the near future, you need to take a look at your current fitness levels.
If you are already active, you may find that adding some running into your weekly routine isn't a challenge at all. If, on the other hand, you live a more sedentary lifestyle, you may struggle when first starting.
For the average person, it takes about 6 to 7 weeks of consistent activity to get to the point of running a 5k (3.1 miles). But, that is not a strict timeframe as everyone is different and will adjust to the new activity at different rates.
For the best results, you should devote at least 2 or 3 days a week to running, with 35 to 60 minutes of exercise per session. By doing this, you can increase your endurance over time and help your body to adjust to high-impact activity.
You are likely to feel sore and tired after your first few sessions — and that is entirely normal! The first couple of runs will be the hardest but, if you can push past them, you will be that much closer to really enjoying the full experience.
Practice patience as you begin on this journey, and be prepared to push through some of those initial setbacks. Before long, you might find yourself enjoying running a lot more than you thought possible!
You should approach beginner running as you would any other sport. You need to set a solid foundation to achieve success in your training.
Here are some of the essential running tips to help you get started.
One of the first mistakes in beginner running is having incorrect form.
While running is natural for the human body, it doesn't mean that you will automatically have the correct form. To ensure you have proper form, consider these basic running tips:
You can encourage your body to move with the correct form by jogging in place. Keep your knees high, making sure they come up to your hip height. It will help your feet land under the body. Also, try doing some butt kicks, which will help your body land on the mid-foot.
Running is a full-body workout. All of your muscles will be in use when running, so you need to prepare them pre-running with stretching and care for them post-run with stretching, too.
Stretching is essential because it maintains flexibility, strength, and endurance in the muscles. Without it, your muscles become weaker, tighter, and shorter due to the lack of range of motion.
Take approximately 5 minutes (before and after) your run to stretch out your leg and arm muscles. It will help you to keep a solid form and reduce soreness in the days to follow.
Stretching is a good habit to get into early on and helps to prevent muscle-related injuries from happening. If you don't want to risk a pulled muscle, make sure you stretch before and after running.
Most beginners make the mistake of going way too fast in their first couple of minutes. Not only will you wear yourself out quickly, but you may injure yourself if you are rushing through the motions.
Instead of sprinting or pushing yourself too hard, your best plan is to apply the model of incremental exercise.
Incremental exercise involves gradually increasing the intensity levels. You can do this during the run by increasing the intensity from start to finish. Also, you can do this over time by upping intensity levels with each consecutive run.
This method has scientifically proven benefits. It can improve your endurance performance, enhance maximum workout rate, and expand your oxygen uptake during aerobic exercise.
With the incremental method, you want to start at a slow, jogging pace. It will allow you to find your stride and adjust your breathing so that you can run for more extended periods.
You also can change intensity levels in intervals, which we will get to shortly.
If, after a few minutes, you feel like the pace you are at is a little too slow, you can work on speeding up a bit. At the end of the day, your mileage time doesn't matter when you are just starting. The point is to get your body accustomed to running.
Another big mistake that beginner runners make is assuming that they have to run the entire length in one go.
As a beginner, you need to set realistic expectations for yourself. You cannot run 5 miles without taking any breaks on the very first day — it just doesn't work like that.
One of the top running tips for beginners is to set up intervals of walking and running times. Don't worry too much about the distance you are traveling. Instead, focus on how much time you are moving.
Interval training has numerous benefits beyond just letting you walk to pace your endurance. It can burn more calories and improve your aerobic capacity.
Start by setting a timer for 30 seconds. With each interval, walk for 30 seconds and then jog for 30 seconds. You can play around with these time increments, and you will eventually be able to run without having to walk at all.
This method is a surefire way to build your endurance and help your body grow accustomed to the running lifestyle. Don't push yourself too much initially, and don't be too hard on yourself if you are going slow. Slow and steady has always won the race, and we guarantee that doing this will turn you into a great runner over time.
On the days that you are not running, keep your body moving via cross-training. It will help build up your strength in other ways that will help your running game tremendously.
Cross-training isn't just for beginners, either. Olympic runners, such as Emily Infeld and Collen Quigley, have used it to significant effect as part of their training and injury recovery.
Doing some strength training or resistance training is your best bet. These exercises help strengthen your muscles and prep your body as you continue to increase your running time and distance.
Some cross-training activities that you can pair with running include:
When you start running, focusing on lower body workouts can help you build up the needed muscles to keep you going for more extended periods. Lunges, squats, and leg lifts are all great options and will build a stronger set of muscles.
Cross-training can also reduce your chance of injury and is a good habit for beginners because the intensity levels are adjustable for the runner's fitness level.
Rest days are just as important as active days, so you need to add them into your routine.
It's better to run a few days per week than run every day for one week, get burned out, and not run for three weeks.
With beginner running, your body is going through many changes, and your joints and muscles will need some time to rest in between your active days. Once or twice a week, you need to take some time off of any intense exercise. It will greatly reduce your chance of injury and help you to reach your goals much faster.
If you want to keep moving on your rest days, make sure that whatever you choose to do is low impact. You can go for a walk or a bike ride, but save the sprints for your more active days.
For a healthier lifestyle, these two things should be a primary focus. Running is a type of cardio exercise, meaning your heart will be working hard, and you will be burning a lot of calories during those active times.
Being adequately hydrated is incredibly important on the days that you choose to run. You should try to drink at least a cup or two of water before and after your run to ensure that you stay hydrated.
Nourishment is also essential for runners. As mentioned above, any cardio exercise will burn a lot of calories in a short period. An excellent way to ensure that you are adequately nourished for cardio-based exercises is to fuel up with some carbs before you go on your run.
It doesn't have to be a heavy meal or anything — you need to have something that will keep your body fueled up for the course of your run.
Running is an intense form of exercise, but it is something that so many people enjoy if they devote some time and training to it.
It may take seven weeks to get used to it, but with patience and commitment, you will be a practiced runner. Use our running tips above, such as practicing proper form and applying the incremental method, and interval training, to help your body adjust.
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