If you have never done any serious cardio, then running can and will suck.
I remember as a kid the very first time I had to run the infamous “pacer test” ( if you don’t know what it is look it up) and afterward I felt that I was going to have a heart attack or my heart was going to explode.
But I honestly shouldn’t be surprised that I initially was terrible at running. When starting any new activity, or exercise you rarely are amazing on your first try.
Hence why you need a plan of action when getting started. It doesn’t have to be this crazy plan with a million steps, but a simple running plan is sufficient.
For instance, nobody is good enough to be in major league baseball after playing one day of tee-ball or skilled enough to play in the FIFA world cup after kicking a soccer ball around for an hour.
There are plenty of different routes to getting started running, but if I had to restart and be a newbie again here is the running plan way I would go about it before I even start my first run.
Phase 1: Taking Your First Step
This phase is just suppose to help you take your first step, and to get on your feet. No, crazy long runs or intense workouts.
Unless you already have high stamina and endurance (which if you did, then you probably won’t be reading this article), you should instead start at a fairly slow pace and a short distance.
I am not saying you should start with speed walking for only a quarter of a mile, but when you are new to running your body probably is not prepared to run and move around for long durations, and guess what that’s okay.
Lebron James wasn’t able to dunk on his first day of basketball, so you shouldn’t be worried about running at a crazy fast pace for a super long time or far distance.
Ideally, you want to be at running at a slightly challenging intensity (still “enjoyable”), but not too difficult that you want to quit.
To put that last statement into quantifiable terms, 10 to 15 minutes at a pace between 8 to 11 minutes per mile (at a pace that you could still answer a few questions) and you are not completely exhausted and dead at the finish of the run.
If you feel that you can handle a higher starting intensity (maybe you live an active lifestyle or you are that crazy kid that plays a lot of sport), then go for it and run faster and longer just remember to not overdo it.
Have a goal in mind
Are you trying to prepare for a 5K, half marathon, lose weight, or just run faster? Setting yourself a goal makes running feel so much easier because not every day is going to be a perfect day.
It may be cold and windy outside or you didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before, but on those less than stellar days, you want to have a goal to help you push through.
These mental goals are kind of like the light at the end of a tunnel because the worst thing you can think of on those bad days of running is “why am I running”.
Your goals don’t have to be this big extravagant thing (in fact you might be more likely to quit with enormous goals), you just want something that resonances with YOU.
That’s right you, not me.
It could be completing a 5K, losing a few pounds, or running faster. As long as you want it, then you should do it regardless of what others think.
Invest in some shoes
I am not you need to spend $1000 dollars on all new running gear, but at the very least get a decent pair of running shoes especially with advancements in technology.
You don’t see golfers hitting golf balls with hockey sticks (unless you are Happy Gilmore), so why should you be running in just any pair of sneakers. You are just going to get a blister on your feet and shin splints.
Phase 2: Keep Going
At this stage, you are at the point where you are finally in a consistent route of running or walking, and don’t feel the need to quit or give up.
Alright, so you have been mildly running or at least very walking for some time (1-3 weeks), and feel fairly comfortable with what you are doing.
Now you should be focused on building up that stamina while pushing through that breaking point and begin running continuously non-stop. I know this may be a big jump for some of you especially if you never seriously run before, so I have a few tips to keep you motivated during your runs.
- Listen to good music: Something to try and get you pumped up
- Run with some friends: Hey misery loves company
- Remember your goals: This will help you push through that wall
You are at the point that the idea of going for a run is not the worst thing in the world (okay maybe second worst, but still), so it’s time to start fixing your running form.
Improving your technique and posture can running feel so much easier, faster, and most importantly prevent injuries.
I thought for the longest time the best way to train for running is to run harder, but I was wrong. It’s better to run smarter not harder, so that means improving your running form.
This doesn’t mean you should try to change everything all at once, instead focus on just a few things until it becomes natural almost subconscious.
Here are a few basic tweaks you can work on to improve your running technique
- Foot strike: aim for a more mid-foot strike
- Back posture: have a slight forward lean with upper body
- Eyesight: look ahead and stop looking at the ground
Phase 3: The Next Level
Hopefully, at this point, you are actually starting to enjoy cardio (I know that might be surprising), but now you should really focus on taking your running skills to the next level.
Core and Abs
At this phase you probably have the basics of running down where if I ask you to go for a 15-20 minute run, it shouldn’t seem like the most impossible task, so now it’s time to focus on other areas outside of actually running such as your core.
I know it may not seem like your core is that important for running since you run with your legs, but working out your core is still critical if you want to get to the next level.
Your core is what’s going to help you reduce those annoying stomach cramps and give you better posture.
For new runners and even average runners, you don’t need to be blasting your abs for an hour a day seven days a week. Instead working on them for 15 minutes 2 to 3 times a week is sufficient.
A few exercises you can do are
- Flutter kicks
- Russian (or Mason) twist
In the early stages of this running plan, you were just worried about getting your butt off the couch which was perfectly fine.
Now that you are moving around and consistently running, you should be worried about staying healthy. As a result, you want to avoid injuries, so that you can keep your momentum going and not give up on running.
Some simple things you can do is get plenty of rest, stretch your muscles, warm up and cool down.
Okay doing running workouts is where you really can get to the next level as a runner.
These running workouts could be
- fartlek workout
- hill workout
- interval workout
I want to say these types are workouts are very much optional for people who just getting comfortable with running, and honestly, you can still make major improvements or weight loss just by running continuously more often.
However, if you do these running workouts the payoff can be huge, this when your body can really start running much faster, and much farther. Again, be aware to not overdo it because you could injure yourself.