Tips for New Runners

4 Sep

I’m often asked a lot of questions by readers about how I got started running and how they can as well, so what better place to share all of my tips than my blog!

(Before you start any new exercise program, please consult your physician!)

Think You’re Not Ready to Run a Race?

  • Volunteer to work at a race. You can help at water stops or at registration. In the late summer of 2009, I volunteered to work at a Sprint Triathlon. I marked their bodies with their numbers (good way to touch hot men ;)) and helped at a water spot. This race singlehandedly motivated me to register for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I saw many women with my shape finish very strong. I knew that if they could do it, so could I!
  • Sign up for the race anyway. Even if you’re a few weeks in to your training, participate in a 5K. Most allow walkers. This will allow you to get a feel of race day, and it will also ease the intimidation. There’s always going to be other newbies there, too.
  • Try run/walk intervals. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t run the whole time. Run what you can and walk the rest. Some programs have you run 3/1 intervals, or 2/1. (2/1= run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute) I worked my way up to 10/1 for half-marathon training. Walking is OK!

Necessary Gear

  • Get fitted for proper running shoes. The last thing I would want you to do is go out for some runs in your old shoes and risk injury and end up thinking you’re the problem when it’s actually the shoes you’re wearing. If you run in old shoes, you can risk getting blisters, and shin splints might plague you instantly. Any running store with trained staff should be able to give you a free gait analysis. They will record your foot placement as you run on a treadmill. By examining your foot placement, they can suggest some shoes that will work well for you. Everyone has different feet, different foot placement, and different strides, so asking someone else what they wear won’t really help you. You can read about my gait analysis experience.

  • The second most important piece of gear in your arsenal should be a really good, supportive sports bra. Don’t even attempt to cheap out in this department. I personally suggest Moving Comfort. The cup sizes range from A to E. I wear the Fiona style. It has a back closure and adjustable, velcro straps. Not to be all TMI, but I’m a D-cup and the girls don’t move AT ALL in this bra.

Photo source
  • It’s also important to wear the proper clothes, but I don’t want you to spend a lot of money upfront. When you’re in the beginning stages of running, you won’t be running too many miles at one time, so it’s not entirely necessary to wear sweat-wicking clothes. It’s ok to wear the gym gear you already own. We can talk about other running clothes when you start running more miles. However, if you do want to spend the extra money now, purchase some sweat-wicking socks such as Balega or Feetures. Your feet will thank you!

Training Programs

  • The most widely used program for new runners is the Couch to 5K program by Cool Running. has an app to go with it (it’s $1.99, and you can sync your music with the program). There are free apps available as well. The apps will tell you when to walk and when to run. Or you can just print out the program and take it to the treadmill. This program is designed to move you up every week with more time running and less time walking. My advice is to not get discouraged if you find a particular week too challenging. You do not have to move to the next week if you are struggling. Try that week again. Honestly, it took me five tries before I graduated the program. Believe me, once you start this program and find yourself moving forward, you will be amazed with yourself! You’re stronger than you think!
  • Another tidbit of advice- this program was designed by professionals. You only need to run 3 times a week during this program. Please don’t try to get too confident and start skipping weeks or adding more running days to your week. You could over-train and get injured. I strongly encourage you to stick with 3 days a week of running and doing cross-training on other days like weight training, cycling, swimming, etc. Rest days are equally as important as training days.
  • Week 5 Day 3 will most likely scare you. You’re going from 2 8-minute runs to a 20-minute run with no walk breaks. My tip for this- just start out slower than your normal pace and work your way up to a faster pace after a few minutes.

Fuel & Preparation

  • When you first start out, you’re not running enough miles to warrant on-the-go fuel, but you will want to make sure you are properly hydrated before running to prevent cramping. (Your pee should be a pale yellow)
  • Everyone’s stomach reacts differently to different foods, so start now to see what your body can handle before a run. Try to eat low-fiber foods before a run such as white bread, fig newtons, crackers with peanut butter. Avoid juice and dairy.
  • You should eat 1-2 hours before a run, depending on what your stomach can handle.
  • You should ingest protein after a run such as a protein drink. To help recovery, you should eat/drink 1 hour following the run.
  • Stretching- stretching is important. However, I urge you not to stretch without warming up first. Think of it as taking a rubber band out of the freezer and trying to stretch it. Spend about 5 minutes doing a fast-paced walk or a slow jog and then stretch. You should also stretch after you run so your muscles don’t stiffen up.

Other Things to Consider

  • Always carry ID with you when you run.
  • Log your mileage on a site like dailymile.
  • Start out every run a little slower than you think you should be going. Fatigue will overcome you if you start out too fast.
  • Running does not always equal weight loss.


I think this is everything that I wish someone would have told me when I first started running. Come back for more tips on what to wear, what to eat, and what kind of gadgets to buy when you start packing in more mileage.

Does anyone else have tips for beginner runners?


15 Responses to “Tips for New Runners”

  1. Maria @ Asphalt Tales September 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    Great tips, and cannot overemphasize getting fitted for the proper shoes. It is not only a matter of comfort but a good way to avoid injuries.

  2. Jackie Smith September 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    I agree with your tips!

    Also, you when you first start, you might want to die. You might even think you are actually going to die. Keep at it & your body adjusts quickly.

  3. amandasvids September 5, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    Great post! I love all of your tips. I would also say invest in some smartwool socks. Without them, I blister like crazy. They are a must for me to run:-)

  4. JoAnn September 5, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Very well written. Tons of useful information.

  5. Susan September 6, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    Amen on making sure you have proper shoes! When I started running again, I was using a pair of cross-trainers because I wasn’t sure that I would be sticking with the running and didn’t want to spend the $$ to invest on running shoes. What a mistake! I did a 10 miler at the end of July (entered with the walkers since I knew I would never be able to run the whole thing) and my feet were a mess at the end! Black and blue toenails, lost three of them, blisters etc. Not pretty!

    After my feet healed, I went to get fitted for running shoes. Turned out the shoes I was running in were too small…who knew you need to go up a half or sometimes a full size to account for swelling in your feet, especially if you are going long distances! Ended up with Asics Gel Lightening which I love, and some nice Asics sweat wicking socks! Too bad they don’t come with little rockets…I find jogging on the street to be a lot harder than on the treadmill. However, I’ve entered a 5K in two weeks which I am looking forward to.

    Also wanted to comment on the “running does not always equal weight loss”. This is so true. My scale has not budged at at all, yet my clothes are fitting better, my cardio has definitely improved, and everyone keeps telling me I look great and I lost wait. I was telling all this to my doctor and he said that if my cardio was getting better and my clothes were fitting better, then I was converting fat into muscle (which weighs more) and even if the scale wasn’t reflecting it, my body appearance was and I was losing weight the way he wanted me to (fat becoming muscle). He said to try not to get hung up on the scale number so much and to focus more on how I felt and my clothes fit.

  6. Caren McTamney Cronin September 6, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    Great post Andrea! I have a question though, Can you explain your intervals further? I AM a runner and I don’t know what it means when you write 3/1 or 2/1… I do alternate running and walking but always wondered what it means when you write it down that way.

    I wear the same bra, I often have luck finding Moving Comfort for great prices on Sierra Trading Post, you can’t be picky about color but I’ve found them for less than $15!

    I also want to agree that running often does not equal weight loss, I encounter this a lot in my line of work helping people to lose weight. People start running and then they are extra hungry so they eat more thinking that they burned more calories than they actually did. If I walk 3 miles, I burn approximately 300 calories, if I run 3 miles, I only burn 100 more than that. Not a huge difference but huge difference in the hunger it causes, at least for me. Just something to think about for people wanting to run. The thing that can really help this is setting a daily calorie range and journaling your food and NOT adding back in calories that you burn. I lost my 90 pounds eating between 1800 and 2100 calories a day but most women fall in the 1500 to 1700 range.

    Enjoying your blog as usual!

    • runeatdatesleep September 6, 2011 at 10:38 am #

      When I talk about the intervals, 2/1 means run for 2 minutes, walk for 1 minute. Hope that helps 🙂

      • Caren McTamney Cronin September 16, 2011 at 6:46 am #

        It helps a lot! Thanks, I was very confused! LOL! I finally remembered to come back and check your reply.

  7. Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance September 6, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    Helloooo fellow Orlando bloggie 🙂 Just found your blog & I’m excited I did! You’ve got some awesome tips up here

  8. Megan@ On the Road Again September 6, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    Such a great post! I wrote a similar one recently, but I think yours is much more in depth.

    I would add:
    -Checking out local running clubs/groups or finding a running buddy. Having friends to run with makes it that much more enjoyable some days (not to mention they help hold you accountable for getting runs in)

    -Just get out there and run! Don’t be concerned with pace, time, or distance right away unless you’re training for a specific race. Every step/every mile counts!

  9. Carolina @ Peas in a Blog September 7, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    Awesome tips, they’re right on the money. I can’t wait to chat running tonight, will you be at the dinner?

  10. wdwalone September 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    Great tips….One thing I’d like to add – MAKE IT FUN! Don’t make running a chore or something you have to do to live. If you keep your routes varied, your paces varied, your goals in site and hey, throw in some friends running will be fun, encouraging, and part of your lifestyle.

    Also, if you find you don’t like running, that’s okay too. Find something you do like and stick to it!

  11. Emily September 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    Great tips!! I’m with you on the good running bra! And I echo Moving Comfort as a great recommendation.

  12. Jennifer January 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    Thanks for the great tips. The most important tip is to buy the running shoes from specialized dealers to get the right shoes that really fits. But also very essential are high quality running socks which prevent you from getting blisters. I bought some pairs of Balega Zulu Socks and only can recommend them.

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