6 Tips for New Runners

A new runner running in the park

Flickr photograph by Iguanasan

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight and get into shape. Many people attempt to do this by running. Unfortunately, January isn’t the easiest time to start a running regime, which bad weather, short days, and a lot of competing priorities. Indeed, while many new runners start off the month with high hopes, often it is hard to keep it up for even a month, let alone a year.

Here are some tips to help new runners get in to the groove and join the ranks of the running community.

Tips for New Runners

1. Buy new shoes

Go to a proper running store (i.e. NOT Target or Foot Locker) and get fitted for proper shoes. There are several factors, such as your gait and foot type, that affect what kind of shoes you need for running. A running store ambassador will be able to help find you the shoe that is right for you. Don’t be surprised if you are asked to walk, or run a bit before you try on a shoe. Indeed expect it, a shoe that feels good while you are standing around often will feel different once you start moving.

2. Run regularly

Running isn’t a ‘one and done’ activity. It is a habit. To be able to complete a goal race without injury you will need to commit to running at least three times a week, even if it is only for a few minutes a day for the first few weeks. It gets easier with each run, and before you know it you will be looking forward to lacing up your running shoes each day.

3. Speed comes second

New runners often quit because they feel that they are not ‘fast enough’ or can’t keep up with their friends. This is too bad. When you first start running, your body is exposed to many new forces and your muscles and bones need to adapt. By running slowly at first, you will give your body time to adapt and avoid injuries. Before you know it, you will be running faster and feeling much more confident.

4. Join a running group

Most cities have active running clubs or groups. Don’t be intimidated by joining a running club or clinic—they accept runners of all ages, paces and sizes, and love to welcome new members to the sport. Most clubs offer clinics for new runners attempting their first 5 or 10K race. Indeed many of the compression-clad runners you see run by at you local marathon, started off as overweight slow pokes (myself included) in a learn to run clinic. If you want to join a club or clinic, but aren’t sure where to look, ask at your local running store, they will be able to point you in the right direction.

5. Sign up for a race

Perhaps the best way to keep commitment to running is to sign up for a spring race. Most cities offer a 5 or 10K run in either April or May. By signing up, paying the registration fee— and letting your friends and family—know about it, you will have the personal, financial, and social incentives to keep training throughout the winter.

6. Just do it!

There is a reason this Nike slogan is so popular. The only way to become a runner is to get out there and try it. Indeed it is impossible know if you can do it if you don’t even start. You don’t need to run a marathon, or even a kilometer on your first try. Start with running to the end of a block, or for a single minute and build gradually.

Your Turn

What is one thing you wish you knew before you started running?

About Yuri

I'm Yuri and I'm in a hurry to lose weight, get fit, and have fun doing it! This blog is a chronicle of a once fat guy's journey to fitness while training for a marathon—and beyond. You'll also find running-related gear review, links and inspiration.
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  1. Blake Elizabeth Sachs

    These are great tips for a newbie runner!

  2. My thing: injuries happen.

    Sure, there are serious ways we can avoid injury (not increasing mileage too much, rolling, stretching, cross training, etc). But in all reality, injuries simply happen. Take it in stride. Plenty of recovery time, follow docs orders, don’t get back in to it too fast. I always tell myself that I want to run for the rest of my life. Pulling back for a bit while my body heals is nothing in the long term… and helps make sure there will be a long term!

  3. The thing I wish I knew before starting to run was how important nutrition was. I learned the hard way on a few early runs. Now, I know better (or so I’d like to think!)

    • Good advice as well! For me the pendulum has swung both ways… from not realizing the importance, to over relying on gels and sports drinks to get me through my runs. I’m now seeking balance trying to eat a ‘runner friendly holistic diet’ on a daily basis and reduce my reliance on ‘processed energy’ gels during some training runs to train my body to better access its fat stores, etc. Come race day, however, I still use gels and sports drink for the extra edge!

  4. Along with a good pair of shoes ladies will need a decent running bra, even if you think you don’t because you’re small . They don’t have to be expensive, Target and Walmart have good ones at a decent price. Trust me, the “girls” will thank you.

    • Good advice, and please forgive the oversight, as it isn;t something I’m too familiar with 😉 (although i must admit when I first started running, and before I lost weight, I was tempted to try on… )

      For men, the equivalent advice would be to invest is some decent ‘running’ underwear. While most shorts have liners, they can often chafe of ‘loosen’ and tend not to offer too much support. Also, when running in cold weather ‘run-derwear’ adds a comfortable layer of insulation

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