5 Running Tips for Beginners

By Victoria Scavo,
For Active.com

One of the great things about running is that it is a sport you can start at any age and at any stage of your life. So where do you start? You can just lace up your shoes and walk out the front door, but it is also important to take some precautions so you don't injure yourself. Use these five beginner running tips to start off on the right foot.

1. Get Good Shoes

If you want to start running, you have to start with the proper running shoes. Many running stores offer a service to help determine what type of stride you have so you can get the appropriate shoe. Do you run on the outside or inside of your feet? Are you a heel striker, a midfoot striker or do you run on the balls of your feet? Do you have a high or low arch?

All these factors need to be taken into consideration so you can buy the correct shoe and prevent injury. Good running shoes cost between $75 and $100, but it's worth the investment.

2. Begin Gradually

The best way to begin running is to ease into it. Many people start running too hard too quickly and end up discouraged. If you progress steadily in your training, it will produce a positive result and encourage you to run more.

Start with interval training. Warm up with a five-minute walk; then alternate between running and walking. Find out what run/walk intervals work for you. The first month, you will be building a base for your runs.

A good way to begin is by running for one minute, then walking for three: Sustain the pattern for 20 minutes. Repeat that three times the first week, with rest days in between so your body can recover.

As you build strength, you can extend your running periods and shorten your walks. After a month, you should be able to increase to a five-minute/half-mile run interval and a three-minute/quarter-mile walk.

There are also some great online training programs that can help keep you on track and get you to a goal of running 3 miles in 10 weeks.

3. Set a Goal

Whether it is distance, time or weight loss, decide what you want your overall goal to be. Do you want to run a 5K by the spring? Do you want to be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping? Do you want to run three times per week? Do you want to lose five pounds in five weeks?

This will give you something to work toward and something to celebrate at the end. You can also set smaller, attainable weekly goals to provide motivation.

Another good tip is to write your goal down and post it where you can see it every day. This way you will be reminded constantly of what you want to accomplish.

4. Get a Running Buddy

Many people try to run by themselves when they start out, but running with a group or partner helps. Find a running buddy or join a running club in your area. Most clubs have all levels of runners, including beginners.

Running clubs also meet on set days and follow a training schedule that mixes in different types of runs, such as tempo runs or long runs on the weekends. This will allow you to learn more about the sport as a whole.

If you have a partner, or are part of a group, at least a couple of your runs each week will be consistent. This will make you less likely to miss them since you have someone — or an entire group — to meet.

Also, mark your runs on your calendar and start making your plans around them rather than vice versa.

5. Prevent injury

Cross-training is a great way to help prevent injury when you start running. Your legs have many muscles that need to be strengthened to help provide balance and support while you run. It is also important to have a strong core to keep you stabilized.

The basic squat will help to strengthen your hips and work the inside and outside of your legs. Squats and lunges will help to save your knees by strengthening the muscles that surround them and helping to reinforce them when you run.

The one-leg-balance-and-touch exercise is a great way to strengthen your ankles, work your core and focus on your balance and stability. Try this by standing on one leg and slowly leaning forward until you are able to touch a designated spot in front of you; then, slowly return to a standing position.

Calf raises are another good move that canbe done while climbing stairs. Stop on your way and do 200 heel lifts. Or try jumping rope for another variation.

These exercises can be done all in one day or as part of a cross-training workout. Or, add one or all of them onto a day with a shorter run.

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Fara Rosenzweig is a lifestyle editor for Acitve.com.