I get questions all the time for people that want to start running and they normally include – how should I start? I also get questions or comments of frustrations from people who start to run and end up quitting because they say it is just too hard. Well, there is one simple tip that I give all of them and one I wish someone had given me when I started running!
The Best Single Tip for Beginning Runners
For whatever reason (health reasons, want to be more active, want to run a race, time with a friend or family, etc), you have decided to start running. Good for you! When you mention this to someone you know that runs, they will likely get excited (or skeptical!) and maybe say they will start running with you or give you words of advice.
Run for Time – Not for Speed or Distance
In the beginning, there is really just one bit of advice you need and it will make your new running life much easier and more enjoyable. What is this tip? Run for time – not for pace or distance!
So, what do I mean by this? Many runners end up hurtning themselves or burning out because they try to run 3-5 miles their first few times out or they try to run a pace that a friend runs at or something similar. This is a bad start!
First Goal – 30 Minutes
When you start, your goal should be to eventually run for 30 minutes without stopping. Forget what pace you are running or what distance you have covered – just concentrate on having your legs moving in a running fashion for 30 minutes without stopping.
That could take maybe a couple of weeks of going out a couple/few times a week but it is important to starting your running life and doing it with minimal injury/pain – and even enjoying it.
GPS Watch May Help
As you will read in my experience below, it may help you to use your phone or GPS watch at first to see if you are moving too fast. It could help you to slow down – but if it makes you concentrate on your pace or the distance, put it in the drawer until you reach the 30 minute mark!
When I first decided to start running, I went out and ran for about .5 – .75 of a mile. This was the first time I had really ever run this distance (I had many bad bouts with exercise-induced asthma in my teen years) and I was shocked that I was unable to run any further than that!
It really made me feel down! I could not even run a full mile, what was my problem? So, I thought that running was not for me, my lungs and legs couldn’t handle it and I would be done.
One day, a friend lent me his GPS running watch (this is back in the older days of Garmin so we are talking about a running watch that took up half of my forearm – in fact, it may have been called the Garmin Forearm 101 🙂 ). What I found when I started running again was that I was actually running at a pace that was way too quick for me. I was making the mistake of trying to run the mile fast instead of just trying to keep my legs moving.
First Time Non-Stop Was a 5K
Once I realized that, I slowed my pace down and things started going much better! But, I was still concentrating on running to reach a certain distance or for a certain pace instead of just building up to run for 30 minutes. In fact, my first race ever was a 5K and even in the training leading up to it (very minimal, by the way!), I could not even run for 3 miles without stopping! The day of the race was the first time I ran for 24 minutes without stopping – and I loved that feeling!
If only I had started running with the goal of going for 30 minutes non-stop, I could have had a better run-up to my first race and my first marathon. The book I read to help me get ready for my first marathon was actually the first place that advised me to run for time – to keep running non-stop before working on a plan.
I had often wished someone had told me this so I want to make sure I tell all of you beginning runners out there – you will enjoy your running much more and build up more quickly – with less of a chance of injury – if you run for the goal of 30 minutes non-stop. Don’t worry about speed or distance right now!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and none of this is medical advice. Before you begin running, you should make sure that you are healthy enough to do it. If you have asthma, make sure you check with a doctor before beginning to run.