Road Runners Club of America

Growing the Sport of Running Since 1958

Take the First Steps

When you first start running you might not be able to run that far or for too long without taking a break to walk a bit. Don’t let that discourage you! The more you run, the better you get. So how do you get started?

Find a Running Club

The great thing about running is you can almost always find someone to run with and somewhere to run. The RRCA maintains a database of clubs around the country. Many local running clubs offer beginning running programs that teach you the beginning fundamentals of running as both a sport and a habit.

If running with a group seems intimidating consider working with a running coach one-on-one until you feel more confident in your running endurance to join a group. Learn more about working with and finding a coach.

Start with the Run/Walk Method

Now that you have the support to get you going, you need to make sure you don’t overdo it when you first set out. You should start out with an initial goal that gives you something to look forward to and something you can accomplish.

Is there an upcoming 5k race that you might want to run by yourself or with friends/family? Running a 5k is a great goal for a new runner. You should plan to build up your running for 10-15 weeks before running the 5k. Remember, you want to give yourself enough time to build a base of miles so that you don’t risk injury. Find an event. If you have not been running it is discouraged to go “from couch to marathon”. Instead be realistic and build up from “couch to 5K” then progress to a 10 K or 10 mile event followed by a half marathon then determine if you are ready to tackle the marathon distance. By building up to the marathon distance over the course of a year or more will help ensure a more positive experience, reduce your chance of injury, and will help establish running as a lifestyle as opposed to being a one-off goal.

The best way to build your base if you are not in the best of shape or have not incorporated any running into your life in a while is to use the run/walk method. If you have not run in years, start with walking and continue the activity until you can walk for ten to twenty minutes minutes consistently. Then switch between running and walking. This method allows you to run for a bit and then walk for a bit and then repeat. You might only get in a few minutes of running the first few times, but don’t let that get you down. It takes time to build up.

You should not run more than three to four days per week (including a long run, which may only be one mile at first) when you first start out. You should not be working out everyday since your body needs at least one to two days to recover. Building up to be able to run a 5k or more is a journey not an immediate activity.

When you structure your workout, you need to include your warm-up, which might include walking a bit just to loosen up. However, as your running progresses you’ll probably just start off by running a bit slower than your normal pace to make sure you don’t injure yourself by going too hard too soon. Your warm-up will be followed by your run. When you finish your run, remember you still need to cool down and stretch before you can call it a day. Cooling down should consist of slowing your run to an eventual walk so that you can get your heart rate back down to below 100 bpm. You don’t want to just stop running and sit down because you body needs to be eased out of an exercise state.

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Road Runners Club of America