Running or Jogging for Beginners: Tips on How to Start

7 min read Chris Zibutis

Chris Zibutis
Written by
Chris Zibutis
Head Running Coach - that one person on earth who loves interval runs 🥵

Been thinking about running or jogging for a while now? This easy guide on how to start jogging for beginners will give you that last bit of motivation you need to tie your laces and get going. 

Jogging for beginners isn’t rocket science, but if you consider a few things before your first run, you can make the experience more enjoyable and increase the chances that the habit will stick.

Regular jogging promotes weight loss and gives your body a boost of feel-good neurotransmitters. It can also reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, according to the NHS.

In this post, we’ll guide you through the steps you need to follow to prepare for your first run.

We’ll also share with you useful tips to keep you going and maximize the results of every run.

Ready when you are!

How to Prepare for Running

Let’s start with the basics of jogging for beginners and see how to prepare for a run. We’ll assume that you’ve not had a good run or jog in a while.

To say that you’ve never run wouldn’t be true. Remember all that running you did as a child? Even if you can’t find a memory of it now, your feet remember it. You’ll see that right away once you start running.

Get the Right Running Shoes

The best running shoes for you feel comfortable. You don’t have to overspend on your first pair. Buy quality, not hype. Try out the pair before deciding on it, making at least a few steps wearing it with the laces tied.

The right running shoes for a beginner…

  • Feel light and comfortable the moment you put them on
  • Provide arch support
  • Make your toes happy and bend where they do
  • Have a stiff back

Running shoes will be a recurrent theme in your runner’s life as you should get a new pair every 350–500 miles to prevent pain and injury.

Wear the Right Running Gear

Running means sweating more than usual, so you want to wear clothing that draws moisture away from your skin, a term known as wicking. Buy some activewear if you don’t have any. It’s a good investment and can help you enter running mode the moment you wear it.

Tip: Cotton is not a good choice because it soaks up sweat and becomes clammy and heavy.

In cold weather, put on a windbreaker over long sleeves and wear a hat, scarf, and gloves. Cosmopolitan has a nice visual guide on this. If it’s hot, add a hat or visor and use sunscreen.

Don’t forget about hydration. Take with you a lightweight bottle you can carry or clip to your belt. While running, you want to take 4-6 gulps of water every 15 minutes or else follow the instructions on your sports drink package to stay hydrated.

Select Your Running Course

When you’re getting started, it’s good to stick to paved roads and other flat surfaces. This will make your run easier and reduce the risk of injuries. You can leave more adventurous trails to later.

Can’t or don’t want to jog outside? Hit the track or treadmills at your local gym. Running outdoors takes extra effort, but you can compensate for this by selecting a 1% treadmill gradient.

Use a jogging app to plan your route and track your performance. Running apps can help you keep track of how far and how fast you jog. They’ll also tell you how many calories you burn.

Don’t worry about getting distracted by apps during your run. Just set up the route on your app and then you can forget about it until you’re back home.

Eat Like a Runner

This doesn’t mean fast. It means healthy and with an eye for your total protein intake, which should be higher than average to fuel muscle recovery.

Eat a light, healthy meal rich in protein, healthy fats, and fruits and veggies before each jogging session. This will give you energy without making you feel unpleasantly full.

Also, you reduce your intake of sugary drinks and foods, processed foods, and greasy foods. These don’t pack nutrients or the right fuel for a runner.

Your First Run

Now let’s focus on the practicalities of your first run.

Both running and jogging are aerobic exercises, but running is considered higher intensity than jogging. When you jog, you go at a slower pace. If you haven’t had much exercise lately, you may find jogging easier.

As the NHS advises, begin by walking if you’re new to this. Taking breaks often is also important. You don’t want to go too fast too soon.

During your first few runs, you can alternate between jogging for 5 minutes and walking for 2 minutes for a total of 20-30 minutes. This is a good walk/jog interval for beginners.

Tip: Try taking 1 breath for every 2 strides to help keep your breathing regular.

Finish your jog with 5-10 minutes of walking to cool down. At the end of your session, do some gentle stretches to relax your muscles. Do deep static stretches for 15 to 30 seconds each.

After you finish your jog, drink 410–470 ml of fluids such as a recovery shake or smoothie.

For best results, jog at least twice a week, increasing your running distance by about 10% per week. Running too much too fast could lead to injuries and may take the fun out of running. Slow and steady wins the race.

Running, in the long run, becomes easier if you set a goal or challenge work consistently to meet it. Even a distant, challenging goal like participating in a half-marathon or full marathon can keep you on track. 

Make It a Habit

Your first run or jog is important, but so are your second, third, fourth, fifth jogs and so on.

Developing a running habit becomes easier if you integrate running into your life and build good jogging habits. Here are some tips to help you.

Set a Goal

Make it realistic and long-term. Creating a personalized running plan will make this easier. Check our app for personalized plans that match your goals.

Keep a Diary

Make it a habit to write an entry after every run. Note how your run went and any other thoughts associated with it. Devote a special notebook to this running diary.

Form a Good Habit

Follow the advice of James Clear, author of the bestselling Atomic Habits for establishing a good habit that lasts:

  1. Make running an obvious habit – Decide “I will run at [Time] in [Location].” Write this down in your diary before every run. Add cues to your environment to facilitate your habit.

Leave your running shoes and gear where you can see them, prepare your bottle the night before, and put your runners supplements on the counter where you can’t miss them—you get the idea.

  1. Make running attractive – Run with a friend or join an online running community. Do something you enjoy before jogging to motivate you and turn that activity into a pre-running ritual you repeat every time.
  2. Make running easy – Plan your runs, invest in good running shoes and other useful gear, and don’t push yourself too hard. Always show up even if you only run for a few minutes and don’t complete your run.
  3. Make running satisfying – Track your runs and jogs to get a sense of your progress. Give yourself an immediate reward after finishing such as a healthy and delicious snack or half an hour of listening to your favorite band.

Key Advice Once You Start Running

You’re set up and ready to go. You’re motivated and eager to see results. That’s great. Here are a couple of other things you need to pay attention to.

Warm Up

Never skip warming up. It raises your core body temperature and increases blood flow to your muscles and heart, getting you ready for action.

The good news is that you don’t have to do any complicated warm up. Walking and jogging easily for 10 minutes is enough and you can make this a part of your actual running or jogging session.

Nutrition and Hydration

Avoid heavy meals before your run or jog and bring with you a protein snack or gel and hydration options such as water or a sports drink. Don’t forget about your runners supplements either.

Running Mistakes

Going too fast or running too much too soon, doing the same run over and over again, and not following a running plan—these common mistakes can take the fun out of running. Avoid them.

Running Injuries

Don’t let your heel land first ahead of your usual stride. This is called overstriding and can lead to injuries, plus it may affect your running performance.

Slouching and swinging your arms side-to-side is bad upper body form—keep your hands at waist level with your elbows at your sides. Run tall with your back straight and gazing ahead of you.

Tip: Listen to your body and slow down when it tells you to, and you will avoid most common injuries.

Staying hydrated and wearing the right clothes and shoes will help you reduce muscle cramps and foot injuries.

Cross Training

Cross training helps you become a better runner while avoiding burnout and injuries. Fit cross training to your running plan. 

It can include yoga, swimming, cycling, and strength exercises you do at home. Depending on what you opt for, you can do a cross training session after a run or in the days between runs.

Proper Breathing

Run at a pace that allows for easy breathing. Breathe through both your mouth and nose to give your muscles enough oxygen. 

Breathe deeply from your belly rather than your chest to take more air in. Exhale fully through your mouth.

Cool Down

Cooling down after a run is as important as warming up before it. Don’t stop a run or jog abruptly. Decrease the pace in the last 10 to 5 minutes and then do simple stretching exercises.

Once You Start, Keep Going

Whether you plan to run a lot or only enough to get fitter and shed some extra pounds, keep on at it. 

It’s not just a question of motivation. Having the right running plan, eating well, staying hydrated, and wearing proper running gear makes everything easier.

Track your progress and share it with friends and take pride in those miles that add up. All this while, listen to your body and go as fast and as long as it tells you to. 

You don’t need to push yourself too hard too soon to reap the benefits of running.

Most of all, you want to enjoy the whole experience–the preparation, the run, the recovery. You don’t want to just run. You want to become a runner.

And now what are you waiting for? Get ready for your next run!

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