5 Running Tips For Beginners From A Marathon Champion

Let’s be real, when you’re a new runner, running sucks – especially since people aren’t standing on the sidewalk as you trot by handing out running tips for beginners. Really, when you see people running, they look miserable. There they go with no smile, an entirely red face, and possibly a subconscious sign in their eyes that says “help me.” Often it’s those same people that are the first to tell you they just signed up for their next race. Wait, what? Didn’t I just see you sweating your face off up that hill? You like doing that?

And then there’s the actual sensation of running. It’s painful. Your legs feel like they’re strapped to weights and at the same time your air supply is being cut off.  There’s a reason “my sport is your sport’s punishment” became a tagline for running years ago. Again, people like doing this?

The simple answer from a runner’s point of view? Yes.

I am going to make you this promise: If you can push through the first 30 days of the this-sucks-so-much phase, it WILL become easier.

I’ve loved running. I’ve hated running. I’ve run to clear my mind. I’ve run to lose weight. I’ve run to become faster. I’ve run to have “me time.” I’ve run for the free race t-shirts. I’ve run to get to a cool Instagram photo. I can’t list all the reasons why I run, but I can tell you, you won’t regret starting.

So, to make it a *bit* easier for you here are my running tips for beginners!

Find your Why

Running is a special and unique sport because there are an infinite number of reasons to run. Almost everyone has a different “why.” Having a strong “why” makes it easier to get up early or lace up your shoes when the weather isn’t perfect (hello, allergy season!). Having a strong reason keeps you focused, energized and moving forward. Your “why” is your motivation. So, of course, you can’t start without it (which is why it’s the first on my list of running tips for beginners!).

Here are some examples of a “why.” (Feel free to start with one of these examples and make it your own!) Finish a race, improve your weight, feel accomplished, improve your health, have time to listen to podcasts, take a mental break from your day, hang out with friends, prove that you can, etc.

Make Goals to Break Goals

You’ve got to start somewhere. I like to start with making three types of goals: the daily wins, the reach goal, and the big dream. The daily wins are small goals that can be accomplished daily, like simply lacing up and getting moving. Nothing keeps you motivated like feeling like you are winning each and every day. My reach goals are always realistic goals that are achievable in the next few months. My big dreams are little seeds that I plant now, with hopes that if I start climbing the mountain I can get there someday (hello, Olympics!). Dream big!

Be your Biggest Cheerleader

This is one of my favorite running tips for beginners: Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. Be positive, be encouraging, be supportive. Not every day is going to be awesome, but try to quickly brush off the not-so-great days and give yourself another shot tomorrow. I have had many runs where I stop, catch my breath, walk home and tell myself, “Okay, today wasn’t my day, that’s alright, let’s try again tomorrow.” Be your own biggest fan!

Avoid the Lone Wolf Syndrome

Running can be lonely at times but there are many ways to be supported by a group. For example, schedule time to meet up with friends or visit a local running group. Running specialty stores do a great job of offering free runs where people of all ability levels can gather. Another good option is to register for a training program. There will be a financial cost associated, but nothing holds you accountable like a coach and a group of motivated runners. If those aren’t viable options, consider joining Strava, a social media platform for runners and cyclists. You can follow your friends, upload your activities, and give kudos to encourage others – and hopefully they’ll do the same for you. Having a supportive community is important and  tops the list in running tips for beginners.

The Name of the Game is FUN.

Running is not brain surgery and it’s not a punishment – it really is a gift when you can break through the initial phase and reach a point of enjoying it. That’s the key: ENJOY IT! Play whatever mental tricks in your head you need to in order to make it fun. How fast I can make it up that hill? Time for a new episode of my favorite podcast! Oh good – an excuse to wear some cute new workout clothes! Can I run 2 miles consecutively? Whatever you need to do to make it fun, do it, because that’s the name of the game!

For more running tips for beginners and runners of all levels, follow Keira on Strava or Instagram or read her mention in the New York Times for her tenacity in the 2018 Boston Marathon.