how to start running

5 Tips for Newbie Runners

The most common mistake new runners make is deciding to just go and run. It's easy to do – just lace up those sneakers and head out the door, right? Wrong. Running without building up a base or starting out too fast can lead to injuries and burnout. Follow our tips below to enjoy the run and want to keep lacing up those sneakers.

  • Begin with run/walk intervals. Even if you are fit (go to the gym, take spin classes, etc), running is hard on your body. If you're not used to running, there’s more room for injury and soreness.  that's why we recommend newbies start with a Run/Walk approach. If you're off the couch, start slowly because an injury will only hamper your progress. Your run/walk intervals might be 1/3 (1 minute running and 3 minutes walking). If you're highly active, you might want to try 5/2 or 7/2 intervals.
  • Measure progress in minutes, not miles. When you first start running, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes. Once you hit 30 minutes of run/walk intervals, slowly begin to increase the run intervals by a minute or two each week. Once you reach 30 minutes of continuous running, you can begin to measure your progress in miles.
  • Focus on effort, not pace. During the run intervals, you want to be able to talk without feeling winded. If you start to feel winded, slow down. Monitor how your body responds to the effort during training (i.e. how you feel) as opposed to your minute-per-mile pace.
  • Frequency is important. Aim for three days of run/walk intervals and don’t run/walk two days in a row. The non-running days allow your muscles and joints to get use to the pounding. This doesn’t mean you shouldn't exercise. Go for a bike ride, take a yoga class or adopt a strength-training routine. You want to build up your cardiovascular health, so aim to be active five or six days a week.
  • Invest in the proper shoes. It's true that running is a pretty low-cost, low-maintenance sport. However, there are a few key pieces of "equipment" that require an investment. The most important piece is finding a proper shoe. Not all running sneakers are created equally, nor are all correct for you. Go to a specialty running store (not a store like Sports Authority) and talk to the sales person about your new endeavor and fitness history. Don't be embarrassed! They are there to help you find a shoe you love so you, in turn, will love running.

Getting motivated to run

When you are a beginner runner or just starting to run again, finding the motivation to run or train for a race can be challening. We have jobs, kids, relationships, responsibilites and sometimes going out for that run doesn't fit into our busy schedules. One of the easiest ways to start running or training is to begin with run/walk intervals.

Starting off in this manner is highly beneficial because it:

1) Increases cardiovascular stamina, allowing you to exercise for longer than if you were to go out and only run;

2) Builds up your cardio without injury or discouragement;

3) Allows your body, especially your joints, to acclimate to your new endeavor.

How to Begin: Measure your intervals in minutes and figure out what works for you. If you are off the couch, start slowly- an injury will only hamper your progress. Your Run/Walk might be 1/3 (1 minute running and 3 minutes walking). If you are highly active, you might want to try 5/2 or 7/2 intervals. The goal is to exercise for at least 30 minutes. Aim for 3 days of run/walk intervals and 2 days of cross-training.

Effort: During your run intervals aim to be able to talk without feeling winded. If you start to feel like you are losing control of your breathing, slow down. Monitor how your body responds to the effort during training.  Start and finish each workout with a few minutes of fast walking.


  1. Aim for 3 days of run/walk intervals.
  2. Don’t run or run/walk 2 days in a row
  3. Do at least 2 days of cross-training per week – cardio and strength/flexibility
  4. Take 1 day off per week. Active recovery is okay (foam rolling, easy stretching)

Tools:  We recommend buying the Gymboss because it alerts you, via a beep or vibration, when the interval is up. You can set it for up to 99 intervals and clip it to your shorts or pants. No need to monitor time or remember numbers! 

Location: You can do the run/walk sets on the treadmill or outside. We suggest and encourage as much outside activity as possible because it’s inspiring, invigorating and it most accurately reflects race and real-world conditions. Stick to flat terrain for the first few weeks and add in hills once you are comfortable running for 10 minutes at a time.

We are leading group runs every Saturday at FitRight NW in Northwest Portland at 9am leading up to the Shamrock Run. We lead a run/walk group for those looking to run the 5k race. You get a coach and a group of fun women to run with!

Tips to Start Running

We've heard it a million times before, that running is one of the best ways to get fit and lose weight. So, why isn't everyone out there running or jogging and getting fit? Because running can be daunting and painful and not the easiest activity for people. Many of our clients come to us because running is not comfortable for them or they don't know how to start running. Questions abound: how fast do I run? Am I running correctly? Why can't I run for more than a few minutes?

We firmly believe that everyone is able to run! How you start is very important. We recommend you create a plan or strategy. Here are our top tips for how to start running.

1. Run/Walk - this is probably the most effective way to start a running routine. Begin by walking fast for 5 minutes and then run for 1-2 minutes. Continue with the run/walk for 20 minutes (we suggest 3-4mins walking and 1-2 minutes running for beginners) Experiment with different lengths of running and walking.

2. Map it out - know where you are going. Use Map My Fitness or Google pedometer to map out a route that is 1 mile

3. Get some motivational music - pick about 7-8 of your favorite songs, load em up on your iphone, ipod, etc and head outside. Put a few of the slower tracks first and then build up to the fun, dance songs. Run for the length of your mix (20-25 mins). Here are some of our favorites: Hot Bird Music

4. Take it slow - pace doesn't matter! Start off slow and let your body get use to the new movement.

5. Make it social - find a friend and run or run/walk with them. Put it on your calendar and you'll be less likely to skip it. lululemon stores lead fun runs out of their stores. Find a store near you.

6. Keep an exercise log/journal - keep a record of your runs. Write down your activity - time, run/walk intervals, how you felt and time of day. This is a great way to see your progress.

7. Find a coach who you relate and will help you reach your goals!

We hope this motivates you to lace up those sneakers and get out there.