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Beginner Runners Tips

Updated on September 24, 2012

Life is not a sprint its a marathon! Train for a half-marathon, marathon, 5k or 10k

Training to run your first 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon can seem like a daunting task but it is not as hard as it may sound. You can train and run a 5k, 10k, half-marathon or marathon. Many races are great for the whole family with kids races, walks and fun runs as part of the race weekend . They are a great way to see the sights and visit fun places.

How I started running!

My passion for running started a bright spring day. With an Aquarium swing, playing that slow bent music of an all too low battery and a colic ridden child half beside himself, I was rummaging my house frantically pulling apart toys looking for batteries I knew did not exist. Then, like a star from an angel, I caught a glimpse of an all but forgotten, shiny new jogging stroller half covered in burp clothes still lying among the pile of yet to be used baby gifts.

What overzealous pre-baby hormones were running through my blood stream the day I picked my registry gifts, I will never know. Maybe it was mothers-intuition in its early stages. Whatever the reason, that decision months earlier set me down a new path. I had not run since college but that day I felt the urge to run. With my 'mommy' sweat pants and t-shirt already on, I threw on a pair of cross trainers and snuggled my little guy into the seat and headed straight out for a run! Like a Forest Gump moment, I was running!

Ok. I didn't make it much past the end of our block. Nine months of pregnancy plus several post pregnancy non-gym months didn't leave me much energy, muscle tone or for that matter stamina to get much past my block. But it settled a colicky child and that was enough motivation to get me back out again. My love for running never began as a mission for health or fitness. It was created as a way to get out of the house, enjoy the sights and sounds of the season, and provide a few moments of mental break from those temporarily insane moments of motherhood.

Some friends, hearing about my running attempts, talked me into signing up with a local group that trained specifically for the Houston marathon and half marathon. I opted for the latter and shorter of the two races feeling that training for 13.1 miles was more than enough with a sleepless 4 month old. In fact, I was not quite sure I could accomplish the feat but felt that life was short and I should at least try. I ran every Saturday with the group, made some new friends and accomplished my goal!

This past weekend, I completed my ninth half marathon, the first for charity where I raised several thousand dollars. Everyone, including my children aged 3 and 5 participated in a race last weekend. I have discovered that running was more than just a way to exercise, it was a hobby. A hobby with so many benefits. It was a mission, it was healthy, it was a way to spend time as an entire family and a way to give to others.

You can run too!

Make running fun

Not a Chore!

When I mention to most non-runners that I run numerous events, I am often greeted with moans and groans about how they hate running. I have also witnessed those same individuals a year later complete a half-marathon or full-marathon. Almost as if some miracle of nature occurred. But turning running into a hobby is really based on a few critical factors.

Have a Support Group - There are numerous running programs and groups all over the country and many ways to train for a race or just to run for recreation.

  • Specific Race Training-There are groups that train for specific races like the New York City Marathon or the Houston Marathon.

  • Running for a Cause - There are groups that train to raise funds for specific charity groups. I will highlight Team in Training later in this article. They have a great training plan and support group.

  • Social Running Groups - Other groups just run socially as a group and may train for shorter local races like 5ks.

  • Impromptu Groups - Even if there is not a local running group in your area that works for you, just find a few friends or family members to get together. My friends even started one group called 'Hot Mammas' that put a few dollars in a pool and met once a week. There was a winner at the end of a specified period to keep individuals in the group motivated to coming to the run/walks.

Have a Plan

Make sure you follow a good training plan. An injury can quickly end or delay your running goals. Many organized groups offer training, schedules, routes, support, coaches and advice on how to run injury free. If you do not have the luxury of an organized group, sign up for magazines or websites such as Runners World where they will provide you with a free training plan based on your current running abilities. Or follow the training plans posted on-line for a specific race. One of my favorite running plans is Jeff Galloway's Run Injury Free website. He has free training plans for various running distances posted on his website.

Whatever your training plan, listen to your body and know your limitations.

Eat Well!

Ok so I completely follow the 'run to eat plan'. But there are a few things that are very important to running successfully no matter what your diet goals are.

  • Avoid running on an empty stomach - Having a small snack or meal before a long run can help you last through longer runs. The average person burns about 100 calories per mile.

  • Hydrate - Proper hydration is critical to staying safe in both cold and warm weather conditions. Make sure you drink about 4-6 ounces of water or an electrolite drink such as Gatoraide every 20 minutes of running time. This article on What to Eat When provides more detailed instructions on the best drinks for your type of run.

  • Replenish - Good protein such as egg whites or vitamin rich fruits such as a banana are great for post runs. And here is a runner's little secret, chocolate milk is one of the best post running items to consume after a run!

For some other eating tips from Runner's World:

The Pack Rules: Eating and Drinking

Foods You Can Use

Dress Right

You do not need much or need to spend much to put together a good running outfit. Depending on your climate the cost could range. No matter what the situation, there are a few things that are key. Keep in mind your climate and current temperatures. Estimate the temperature to feel 15-20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature outside once you are about 1-2 miles into your run.

  • Shoes - While a good pair of running shoes can be key to keeping injuries low and having a comfortable run, if you are just starting out, a pair of decent cross trainers will get the job done. Once you start logging longer distance runs, around 5-6 miles at a time, it will be more important to have a better pair of shoes. Many specialty running stores will analyze your current shoe tread to help you determine the best running shoe for your gait. So waiting on that new $100 pair of running shoes may be wise to invest in once you have a few weeks of runs under your belt. Just make sure your shoe is about a size bigger than your normal shoes size to allow your feet to flex.

  • Clothing - The clothing you select to wear will depend on where you run and the conditions. Indoor, summer and winter conditions can vary greatly. Risks for hypothermia or overheating are real so dressing the part is key to a successful safe run. Avoid cotton and opt for fibers that wick. You do not need to spend a fortune on high priced performance gear, local discount stores offer the same functionality. My favorite place for low cost running gear is Target.

  • Socks - This is my most important piece of running gear and the one I spend the most per inch on. Good, comfy, breathable socks tend to make or break my run. I often run in rainy or cold conditions and keeping my feet warm, dry and blister free makes recovery for the next race more attainable.

Running Gear Articles:

Shoes and Gear Video

Gear That Keeps You Cool

Running Gear Calculator

Running Sock Reviews

Keep Time

A good running watch or running tracking program can help you reach your running goals. Timing devices range from an inexpensive sports watch to gps tracking systems. If you are just starting out, a simple stopwatch with a few features will do. I started out with a simple running watch and now I use an app called Runkeeper on my iphone. It maps my runs, provides charts and has a number other of very handy features for a frequent runner. Research the best item for you and your goals.

Time Articles

Time Machines

"Team in Training is the world's first, best and largest charity sports training program - and the only one to offer a full complement of exciting, sports training options."

Inspire others with a Never Stop Card
Inspire others with a Never Stop Card

Inspire to Never Stop

Click on this photo to see a card to Never Stop. Great for inspiration or to inspire others. I took this photo on a Team in Training run. This stop sign in the middle of the bike path was both humorous and inspirational.

Final Tip....

Run for a Reason

There are numerous charitable organizations that offer all of the advice, support and coaching you need in exchange for raising funds for their organization. I had the recent joy of running and raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through their Team in Training program. After moving half way across the country, I needed to find a new running support group. I had witnessed the "purple invasion" first hand at several half marathon's I attended. In addition, I was eyeing several out of state races. The local group was training for those races.


Here are a few things the group offers:

  • Helping an Incredible Cause - This is an amazing group of individuals. The people who volunteer to run and raise funds range from current patients, parents of patients, friends and family members of those who have fought courageously or lost their battle to a blood cancer to those who just love to run and want to help a good cause. If helping someone else was not reason enough they have added benefits.

  • Coaches - Team in Training offers both walking and running coaches to help you work through your runs. This is key when you have questions, are trying to avoid injuries or need some extra encouragement. They also provide the information you need to know the right clothing, nutrition and stretching you need to keep your runs safe and comfortable.

  • Mentors - They also offer mentors that can help provide you advice on how to fundraise as well as general encouragement.

  • Training Schedule - Part of the package is a detailed training schedule to keep you on track for a big training run or walk.

  • Group Runs - An organized group run is often very helpful for those long runs or days when it may seem to hot, cold or wet to get out. Knowing there are friends and other individuals out there with you makes it worth getting out there.

  • Travel and Registration - In return for raising a specified minimum, Team in Training pays for travel expense and race registration to the race. Typically, it costs an individual a large amount of resources in time and money to fundraise for an activity. This is a nice way to help offset these resources.

  • Fundraising Support - The local office provides you with a great fundraising website, binder, instructions, and seminars to help you make the most of your fundraising.


If Team in Training is not for you, there are tons of other reasons to run that will make it easier and supply you motivation to get out there when you may not feel up to it.

Run for a Friend or Family Member Marathon race courses are riddled with t-shirts of loved ones. New born babies, sick friends, a lost loved one. They range from fun to mission driven.

Local Charities Smaller races often have a charitable organizations they support. Some races are designed specifically around a charitable organization and donate a portion of the race fees to the sponsored charity. Look into local races. If you are new to running or do not want to run long distances, local groups like the YMCA often have 5k races.

National Charities Most major marathon/half-marathons offer options to run for one or more charities. If there is a specific race you would like to run, check out their website to determine fundraising opportunities. There are numerous ones out there like the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the Humane Society.

Running Gear

All you really need to begin running is a good pair of running shoes (for distances of 6 miles or more) and a few breathable running items to wear.

This is where readers and friends can post comments about your lens. We call it the "Guestbook" module. It's up to you to approve or delete comments as they come in.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago


      I like this post as I can relate to it. I retired from a good standard of football two years ago and did nothing. I soon put on 28Ib.

      Last November I made the choice to loss this weight. I had no money so the only thing to do was start running as it was free. Like you I was only able to get around the block which was a mile. I felt like I was going to die.

      I continued to go out and run around the block and slowly it get easier. I then got talking to a friend who also did running and he agreed to start running with me. He soon got me up to two blocks and in to a club.

      Once at the club I soon started running 4 miles. I have not been back to the club for 8 weeks but have continued to run. I now complete 5 miles on a normal run.

      I have joined up to run a 10K. I took the oppertunity to run for Great Ormond Street Hospital as they saved my sons live when he was 8 months old.

      Please continue to keep us informed on what you are doing as I think it is great job you have done so far and you story is one that we can all relate to.

      I have subscribed to your post

      All the best


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have started to run every other day to build endurance but more importantly increase my health and overall wellness. Great lens

    • seashell2 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens... way to go, great commitment! The most I've run is a 10 km. I go to the gym 3-4 days a week and love it! Love being fit and healthy... it feels so good!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens but I'd rather have a horse any day! Walking will for for now. Totally admire your enthusiasm and inspiration!

    • norma-holt profile image


      9 years ago

      You have really done well. In fact you are an inspiration. I love running but my sore feet keep me rather restricted. Top marks

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      9 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Congratulations on those 9 half-marathons!


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