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Tips for Beginning Runners

Updated on October 1, 2013

I recently started running. Now, I’ve said that a couple times in my life and every time “recently started running” turned into “that one time I ran once.” However, for the first time ever in my life that hasn’t been the case this time. Yes that’s right, dear reader, this time its been a market success. Buy why?

In essence, that is exactly what this little article is about, identifying the little things that made a big difference in my success this time around. So, if you’re just getting started running, are thinking about running, or enjoy reading about someone starting his running career then stick around and get confortable. Let me hit ya with some knowledge.

Watch Those Toenails

When it came to toe healthcare, I must admit I took a “out of sight, out of mind” approach to the whole thing. When I took my shoes off, people ran in terror from my feet daggers and I was a scourge in the pool. And the day after my first real run I paid the ultimate price. That morning I put on my shoes, took two steps, and wanted to collapse to the ground. My toes ached to the point to the point that it was sheer pain to even walk. Needless to say, that very night I trimmed those nails down to a healthy level.

However, your toenails don’t have to be near as bad as mine to cause some rather unpleasant pain. Remember me calling running a very repetive action? Well that applies here as well. Even a toenail just slightly out of line can cause problems down the line, just ask anyone with an ingrown toenail. And don’t count on how you feel when you run. In my case, I felt absolutely no discomfort while I was running, or even the whole evening afterwards. I wasn’t until the next day that I knew something was amiss.

So make sure to keep those nails at a healthy level. Remember, there’s a few rules you need to follow when trimming your nails

1. Cut your nails short, but leave a little. Don’t cut up to your toes, this can cause an ingrown toenail when it grows out again.

2. Cut your nails straight across. Don’t curve them like fingernails. Curved nails lead to, yep you guessed it, ingrown toenails.

3. Cut your nails when they’re dry. Nails get weak when they’re wet. Cutting them wet can lead to broken and unsmooth nails.

Follow these simple rules and you can avoid a morning of limping after a hard night’s run. One less thing to worry about when you start running.

Put Those Feet in Something Comfortable

For once I can assure you that this is not a case of companies trying to suck more money out of you, running shoes really do make a world of difference. The thing about running is it’s a matter of length, both in time in distance. To accomplish anything you’re going to spend a lot of time and energy in the pieces of rubber under your feet. Running is a very repetitive action so the smallest imperfection can grow into a serious pain down the road. And let me tell you, when you first begin it can be a trying experience. The last thing you need is to add foot and leg pain to your problems.

So, I implore you, give some serious thought to the shoes you run with. And the best advice I can give to make your run as comfortable as possible is this, take your time picking out your running shoes. A good piece of rubber under your soles can be the difference from an exhilarating run and bad back pain and a twisted ankle.

So take your time. I want you to love everything about the way your shoe hugs your foot. Take your shoes for a test run around the shop, try out a couple dozen pairs, whatever it takes to find that perfect match. Sure it might feel slightly silly, but who buys a car without a test drive first.

So be picky. Is one toe pinching? Move on to the next shoe, try a different size. Too narrow, too short? Not your shoe. Also keep in mind the heel. This is where your back will thank you. Make sure your foot alignment feels natural against the ground. Comfort is paramount. And when your feet are happy it makes it that much easier to slip on those shoes and go for a run.

Your Brain is Lazy

It’s too easy to give up when you first start running. When I first started my body was an achy mess. It was a struggle to get out as often as was needed. And when I did, it usually wasn’t for more than a mile or two. I didn’t think I had the strength to keep going.

But here’s the thing, I did. Your brain lies to you. Its like when you skip breakfast and think you’re starving. You aren’t of course, but your brain is used to a certain status quo, and it doesn’t like when things change. So it lies. It tells you you’re starving, it tells you you’re exhausted because it doesn’t like dealing with the strain. It wants to take the easy way out. It wants to give up. So don’t trust it.

My biggest mistake when I started running was being vague with my workouts. I always just went with the “I’ll run till I’m tired” philosophy. It’s a dangerous road. Truth is, you can’t trust yourself, especially when in the middle of your workout. You have to set goals for yourself before you workouts. And stick to it. I would advise starting with the basics, just start with aiming for the minutes you run. But don’t be easy on yourself. You are stronger than you could believe.

And remember! Stick to your workouts. And eat breakfast.

Partner Up

The most useful thing I ever had for running is a partner. There are a number of benefits to a running partner, but the best part is harnessing the positive benefits of peer pressure.

There are positives to peer pressure you ask? Simply put, hell yes! There is no better way to keep you honest than to have someone else going through your workouts with you. You get to be each other’s firm line, not letting the other give up when it gets hard. You have to be the person who sees through the other’s excuses and pushes them to their extreme.

When I started running with another runner my work ethic doubled across the board. I ran twice as much for twice as long. Actually, that means it quadrupled. It’s because it was harder to let the small excuses hold me back when I had someone else who depended on me.

Another part of running with someone is that you gain your own little personal cheerleader. Victory always feels good, but it feels that much sweeter when you have someone to share it with. And that’s the point of running really, to feel better about yourself. If you’re not reaping any rewards, it’s hard to justify the work you’re putting in.

And that’s where a partner can help. It’s not just the high fives and the ecstatic hugging, it’s the positive reinforcement that the running relationship can bring. Its when they say “we’re getting good at this” or “dang, we’re looking good” that the whole running thing starts to come together.


The last piece of advice follows closely with some other advice I’ve given and its this, keep your mind off the game.

As I’ve said, your brain is lazy. The more you try to force your running the more your brain is going to complain and the harder it will be to stay motivated. Here are a few ways to trick your brain into having a good time as you start running.

Look up. This may seem simple, but its powerful. I have a habit of looking at my feel while I walk. I brought this over to running when I started. One day, one of my friends told me that I should be watching where I’m going, not at what I was doing. And you know, it helped. There’s something about not watching your feet trod along the road that just subtracts from the misery of the whole thing. Plus you can take in the scenery. Which reminds me.

Pick a scenic route. This is also a small change that can make for a much more enjoyable experience. Basically, you should run someplace you enjoy being. It’s a simple thing, but if you’re in a happy and beautiful place, you’re be okay with spending a couple hours a week there. Plus, it’ll keep you in a positive mood as you run.

Make a power track. The positive effects of listening to music are pretty well understood by the human race. That’s because there is no better way to disconnect from what you are doing. I couldn’t stress how much easier it is to run to your favorite tunes jamming in your ears. But here’s the advice you may not have heard, you need to be picky about the music you put on your running track. Pick the songs that get your blood moving and some adrenaline pumping through your veins. Get the songs that take your brain away and you can’t help but concentrate on every word being spoken. Running isn't the time for half-heartened tunes.

Now go, go my fellow runners! Get off those butts and enjoy the outside and your increased productivity! Because today is the day you start running for the last time.


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    • HawaiiHeart profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      I could never get into always seemed too hard for me, but I like your tips - esp. picking a scenic route. That would help to make it more enjoyable.


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