Running Workout for Beginners

With New Year’s just behind us, so many of us are diving into new workout routines. One popular choice is running, since it’s one of the few workouts that requires nothing but sneakers and space. Plus, here in Powder Springs, mild winter temperatures mean we can often enjoy new year runs in the great outdoors. Sounds perfect, right?

Unfortunately, when people first get into running, they make a lot of mistakes—training too fast, too heard or too often. And that leads to injuries. Want to start the new year on the right foot without getting hurt? Check out sports podiatrist Dr. Alvin Cowans; running workout for beginners and get ready to train safely!  

Running Workout for Beginners: Why Stance Matters feet running on pavement

Before you go out and invest in expensive sneakers or other running gear, take a moment to work on your running format. Ideally, you should move with an upright posture, keeping your shoulders squared over your hips. In this position, you can minimize pressure on your feet, legs and knees, thereby reducing your risk for injury.

Now, Make Your Schedule

If you’ve never run before, don’t expect to go from your couch to a 5K in days. Instead, ease yourself into this new type of movement. Start with a manageable distance—not more than 1 mile, but less if you’ve been fairly inactive. Try alternating between a brisk walk and a slow jog, gradually jogging for longer periods until you feel comfortable with the distance.

Take rest days between each running session, and stick at one pace or distance for at least a week before increasing your distance or speed. On that note—don’t bump up both at the same time. If you’re trying to build speed, stick to the same training distance. Or, if you want to run farther, maintain a steady, comfortable pace. And each time you’re ready to push yourself farther, make those increases gradual, instead of dramatic, to avoid overloading your muscles, bones and tendons.

Now, what happens if you try a new speed or distance and you experience pain while you’re training? Don’t push through or feel obligated to stick to your rigorous new routine. Instead, take a day off and get back to the previous distance or speed that felt good for your body. Then, after your pain has resolved, you can try another increase in a week or two, once your body has gained strength and feels ready.

Running Workout for Beginners: Don’t Run Too Fast

Once you’ve gotten a bit more comfortable with your runs, you may want to tackle other run-based workouts. And, whether you’re at a Burn Boot Camp or an Orange Theory class, you may be tempted to crank your running pace up to your maximum capabilities. But that’s a mistake. Why?
The faster you run, the more pressure you put on the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones that support your runs. And that can leave you in pain, while increasing your risk for a running injury. As a result, it’s important to gradually build up to a higher training pace—as we suggested earlier—so your body has the chance to build the strength and aerobic endurance necessary to support a faster pace.

Top Tips to Protect New Runners from Injury woman running at sunrise

In addition to following our running workout for beginners, these 6 tips will help keep you injury-free as you dive into a new exercise program for 2023.

1. Always incorporate resistance training

Whether working with body weights or dumbbells, adding strength training to your routine supports and strengthens the muscles and ligaments that let your body to run. Aim to strength train at least once a week, if not more often.

2. And practice cross-training, too.

Runners love to run. But it’s important to try other forms of cardio—whether that’s Zumba, the elliptical machine, or even a vigorous yoga class—to continue building aerobic strength without overloading your running muscles.

3. Match shoes to your body

Go to a running stores and ask for help finding shoes that match your body’s anatomy. Whether you have high arches, flat feet or a typical foot structure, your perfect shoe is out there. And it should feel great the first time you try it on!

4. Always hydrate

Drinking water before, during and after your runs can help you steer clear of muscle cramps and other side-effects of dehydration.

5. Mix up your training locations

Try running outdoors and on the treadmill—in this way, you’ll encounter a wide variety of training surfaces, strengthening your feet and making them more adaptable to future changes in your routine.  

6. But never train through pain

When you experience pain, that’s your body trying to tell you that something’s wrong. If you ignore that message, your pain will likely get worse—and what may be a minor injury could become a major problem that keeps you sidelined for months. Instead, take a few days off of exercise if you experience pain during a workout. Then, if you’re not feeling better in a few days, make an appointment to come in for a comprehensive exam that will rule out injuries.

When you follow these tips along with our running workout for beginners, you’ll be practicing safer training. And that should add up to fewer—or no—running injuries. But sometimes, even the best-planned running routine leaves you in pain. And if that happens to you, come see your podiatrist in Powder Springs, GA. We'll get you back into running as soon as it’s safe to do so.

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