Six Universal Running Tips

This week I had dinner with a girlfriend who is thinking about getting into running and perhaps even signing up for her first 5K. I immediately responded, “Of course you can do that!!!”

But I well remember when I felt utterly hopeless when it came to running. And when conquering my first 20 minute run felt like I had just climbed Mount Everest. What I’ve realized about running is that it’s all relative when it comes to training and goals, and even now, I feel somewhat daunted as I think about working towards my first 10K and perhaps even a half marathon. The conversation made me think about my top tips for new runners, which I then realized translate to seasoned runners as well. Here are my six universal running tips. I’d love to hear if you have others to share!

1. Get real shoes. I can’t emphasize enough how important proper shoes are. If you run in the worn out old kicks you use for Sunday errands, yard work, and occasional outings to the gym, you’ll probably feel a lot of aches and pains if you go for a run in them. Get yourself some real running shoes (I recommend going to a running store for a consult) so you don’t injure yourself out the gate.

2. Work towards doable goals. I highly recommend Couch to 5K for new runners. Personally, having “run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes” on an officially prescribed running plan made it seem less ridiculous and embarrassing to stop and start when I was out in the world. If you’re a more seasoned runner, make incremental goals related to time or distance.

3. Tune out everyone else while you’re on the road. Related to #2 about feeling embarrassed…just tune other people out. I know some people fret about looking silly by starting and stopping, but just focus on hitting your own internal goals on your runs (I have more to share on this topic in a separate post!).

4. Sign up for a race. Few things motivate like a firm date on the calendar. I typically look for runs using Cool Running – use the advanced search option to drill down based on location, distance, etc.

5. Enlist a friend. Running with friends is another great motivator, both to pass the time, socialize, and offer moral support. My husband and I recently ran our first race together and it was awesome! I offered to run my girlfriend’s first 5K with her. If she takes me up on it, I’ll be happy to run step by step to encourage her to the finish line!

6. Remember that your running journey is unique. It can be tough not to compare yourself to others, but remember that your running journey is unique, whether it relates to how fast and far you run or what works for you regarding fuel and hydration. There are lots of great resources out there to give you the building blocks to inform your running journey; the fun part is tweaking and adjusting and making it yours!

What are your favorite running tips for new and seasoned runners?

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  1. Sarah aka MainlineMom /

    I think you’ve pretty much nailed it. I would add a few solid initial investments. If you have an ample rack like I do, invest in a REALLY good sports bra. It’s worth it. I also can’t say enough about wicking fabric over cotton…I worked out in cotton for YEARS until I found a bargain bin at Target with some tech tee’s for $5 each. I bought two and my life was changed forever. Performance fabric doesn’t have to be expensive, I buy nearly all my tops, jackets, and even cute running skirts at Target.

  2. I have to second the Couch to 5k recommendation. It really works! I wrote about my own experience with it here: and moved on to “One Hour Runner” and have a 10k race tomorrow and my first half marathon in March. I can run 10 miles without stopping which I would have never imagined a year ago when I started running. I’d only add that the running community is AWESOME and welcoming. I felt like an impostor at first but everyone treats you like a runner even if your pace is a 13 minute mile. You are lapping everyone on the couch, as they say. Also, sometimes laying your gear out the night before is a big help. I lay my shoes, clothes, etc. out and set my alarm for 5am so I can run before my husband leaves for work. At first getting up is hard but it is worth it. Try running outdoors if the treadmill feels difficult, by the way. I prefer adjusting my pace myself and looking at houses and the sights as I run in the neighborhood. A 5K breezes by that way but if I try to run on a treadmill it feels endless.

  3. These are awesome. I can attest to good shoes. They can be expensive, but they last and are so worth it!!

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