Now is the perfect time to start dipping your toe into the running waters to see if it’s right for you. If you’re not quite ready to commit to a 5K, but are wondering what it takes to get started, here are a few answers to your new to running questions. We also included a few helpful related articles for you to read that will help you take a deeper dive into each topic.
What do I really need to get started? One of the best things about running is its simplicity. You will need a good pair of shoes, but if you are completely new to running, for your first couple of runs, even a pair of cross trainers or older running shoes will see you through. Head out for a 15 minute run/walk in whatever athletic shoes you have and commit to buying a decent pair of running shoes over the weekend. A good running store can help you determine your foot strike and appropriate footwear, knowing that most new runners will benefit from more stabilization or cushioning (leave the minimalist shoes for the veterans). As you get more committed, a running watch or heart rate monitor are nice additions. As you stick to regular runs, consider adding a GPS or pedometer style running watch or monitor to your list, to allow you to better track your pace and mileage. (Related: When to Replace Your Running Shoes)
What should I wear? Aside from the shoes, just about any comfortable clothing will see you through your early runs. Once you start to add in higher mileage and frequency, runner specific clothing that includes more support, less chafing (you’ll know when you need this), wicking, and better options for insulating during winter runs are nice additions. For winter runs, dress in layers, keeping a wicking later near the body and a wind resistant layer on the outside. You can add in a layer for insulation when it’s cold enough. Dress as though it’s 20 degrees warmer than the actual (plus windchill) temperature, since you’ll be warmer from running.
(Related: How to Wash Your Workout Clothes)
How far should I run? Initially, shoot for time, rather than mileage. Start with a run/walk plan that gets you moving for 20 minutes (including warm-up and cool-down). Add on a minute or two every week until you get up to 30 minutes total. Be careful about adding on too much time or speed too quickly, sticking to no more than a 10% increase every week. While it takes longer to work up to your mileage, it saves you from being sidelined by shin splints or injuries. (Related: Coach Jenny’s Zero to Running Program)
How often should I run? Give yourself at least a day to recover between your runs. Your initial running plan should be two to four days per week. On non-running days, use your indoor cycle or elliptical trainer to reduce soreness or round out your program with yoga or strength training. This continues the benefit of daily activity without introducing too much stress on your muscles and joints. (Related: Best Surfaces for Running)
Have fun! Get started on running now to set yourself up for a healthy and active winter. The most important step you can take is the one that gets you out the door. Enjoy the simplicity of running and feel free to add in more equipment and clothing to reward yourself along the way for sticking to your commitment.
(Related: 5 Ways to Keep Running Fun and Boost Motivation)