Fortunately, running is one of the least gear-intensive sports you can do. That said, getting some good running gear before you start will help make your training more comfortable and safer. If nothing else, at least get a good pair of running shoes.
Running shoes come in all shapes and sizes so you might be wondering which ones are for you. Some are specially designed to cushion the impact on your body created by running as well as absorb the shock. Some are completely minimalist, with almost no padding between your foot and the ground. Which shoe is right for you depends a lot on your own biomechanics, including where your foot first connects with the ground.
Experts recommend a midfoot strike as the most efficient and least likely footstrike to cause injury for most people. If this sounds like you, you could get away with a shoe with less padding. But when you run, if your feet fall in a heel-to-toe landing pattern, you may wish to explore more heavily padded running shoes that are built to absorb shock.
In any case, be sure to get well-fitting shoes that are neither too tight or too loose. If in doubt, visit a running shoe store and have the associate help you with a shoe that will fit your body.
Next, you’ll want to get good running clothes to keep yourself dry and cool or warm, depending on the environment you’ll be running in. Moisture-wicking fabric helps sweat evaporate off your skin, keeping you cool in warm climates and warm in cold climates.
There are even socks made specifically for running that wick away moisture from your feet as you run. For safety on the roads, consider investing in some bright or reflective clothing or stick-on reflective patches, especially if you intend to run close to dawn or dusk.
Also, make sure that your headphones allow enough ambient noise through to maintain awareness of your surroundings––or better yet, purchase some bone conduction headphones that keep your ears completely open to hear traffic. Lastly, consider a flip belt, fanny pack, or hydration belt to hold your phone, keys, and potentially even a small water bottle.
Depending on what type of run you’re doing on any given day, you may not need to eat anything special. A steady-state, easy-to-moderate run that is less than 60 minutes in duration shouldn’t require any extra fuel.
But if you plan on 60 minutes or more of steady-state running or a shorter but more intense interval run, it might be good to eat a snack or small meal with carbs at least one hour before you begin running. Yes, carbs. They’re not always the enemy!
Carbohydrates provide your body with quick energy. Now, we don’t mean you should down a donut before your run (while we won’t judge, we think you might regret it when side stitches set in!), but you’re best off choosing a healthy complex carb like a small bowl of oatmeal.
One tip that will improve your performance in any fitness endeavor you pursue: stay hydrated throughout the day and drink whenever you’re thirsty. This doesn’t mean you need to be chugging down multiple gallons of water per day––in fact, that can be dangerous due to the resulting depletion of electrolytes.
Aim for about 60 to 80 ounces of water a day and add more depending on how much you’re sweating when running. One easy way to make sure you’re getting enough water is to monitor the color of your urine. Dark yellow means you might need more, while a light yellow or clear color means you’re on track.
If you really want to get into it, you can judge your sweat rate by weighing yourself before and after a one-hour workout and then replenishing with 16 to 20 ounces of extra water per pound that was lost.
If you have any health conditions, get your doctor’s go-ahead before starting a running program. Start slow and with limited mileage, especially if you’re not used to exercise. Two to four sessions per week of 20 to 30 minutes in length would be a good place to start.
Walk at first, then progress to jogging at a slow pace. Your legs need time to get used to the extra demands of running and your lungs need time to build up capacity for running. CardioCast’s 20-minute and 30-minute Walk & Jog workout classes are a great way to progress from walking to running.
They will challenge you to build up cardio and muscular endurance, and eventually, you’ll be able to increase your mileage and speed to the point of doing a 30- or 45-minute steady state-run or interval run.
The biggest advice we can give to beginner runners is don’t overdo it! Increase your time and mileage by less than 10% per week––or better yet, 10% every two weeks––to ensure you give your body time to adjust. Stretch, drink water, and listen to your body, backing off or skipping a day if you need to in order to prevent injury. The goal should be to build a long-term, sustainable, and healthy habit.
Make a schedule and stick with it
Whether you’re running for exercise or training for a race, you need a beginner running plan. A running schedule is essential. It’s best to pace yourself evenly throughout the week; don’t pack your first few days with a lot of miles and then slack off the rest of the week.
Again, two to four runs per week is a good place to start, alternating run days with recovery days or other types of exercise. Once you’re able to sustain a 30- or 45-minute jog or moderate run, consider mixing some speed work into your plan through interval runs. Interval runs will help boost your aerobic and anaerobic performance. In other words, they’ll help you get fitter faster.
But again, as with everything in the running world, don’t overdo it! One or maybe two interval runs per week combined with mostly steady-state runs or other forms of low-intensity aerobic activity like walking, using an elliptical, or casual cycling will be a powerful combo in building your fitness. Don’t forget a day or two of recovery and add in some basic strength training and you’ll literally be off to the races!
One last thing before you take off on your next (or maybe first!) run: check out our Run Guide to learn how to optimize every part of your body when running! Proper form is critical in ensuring you work out efficiently, don’t get hurt, and make the most out of your time spent running.