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Running for Beginners: 5 Simple Tips for Success

By Staci Amend
December 17, 2014

Looking for an easy way to up your activity ante? Running is one of the most accessible workouts on the roster. Most healthy adults can do it, and (weather permitting) you don’t typically need anything other than your running shoes, a level surface and a good attitude.* But as with any exercise regimen, it’s important to set realistic goals. These 5 simple tips may not get you ready for your first marathon, but they’ll get you on the path to healthy running habits.

1. Set smart goals.
We’ve all heard the old adage “slow and steady wins the race,” and it’s especially relevant here. Experts agree that measuring distance or pace isn’t as important for beginners as simply running for a set amount of time without stopping. If you’re brand-new to this activity, 30 minutes is a reasonable goal to shoot for over an 8-week period—keep reading to find out how you’ll get there.

2. Take it easy—really.
Trust us: there is truly nothing to be gained from getting to your goal sooner! Particularly with a high-impact activity like running, rushing is only a recipe for injury and disappointment. It’s important to be patient with yourself, and let your body adjust gradually to this activity. You will start by running a bit, then walking a bit… and gradually increase the amount of time you’re running. That’s it!

3. Set a schedule.
Much as planning is essential to weight loss success, scheduling is key to maintaining a regular running regimen. IDEA: when you’re planning your weekly Jenny Craig menu, take a few extra minutes to schedule your running outings for the coming week. Set daily reminders in your phone, then set aside an hour on Sundays to make a fresh playlist with songs that stoke your motivation.

4. Fuel up.
If you’re not exercising within two hours of a meal, be sure to have a Jenny Craig Anytime Bar or a small apple with eight ounces of water prior to your workout. This will help you stay motivated and energized throughout your run—and make you less likely to indulge in something unhealthy afterwards.

5. Increase gradually.
Now here’s the really cool part. Your workouts can always be 30 minutes, not including 3 minutes of walking warm-up and cool-down. All that will change over the next few weeks is the number of minutes you spend running vs. walking. Here are sample workouts for weeks 1–2.

WEEK 1
MON, WED, FRI, SAT:

Walk 2 minutes. Run 1 minute. Repeat 10x.
TUE, THUR:
Walk for 30 minutes at a comfortable pace.
SUN:
Enjoy a rest day.

WEEK 2
MON, WED:

Walk 1 minute. Run 2 minutes. Repeat 10x.
TUE, THUR:
Walk for 30 minutes at a comfortable pace.
FRI, SAT:
Walk 1 minute. Run 3 minutes. Repeat 7x.
SUN:
Enjoy a rest day.

Over the 8-week period, your running time will increase incrementally until you’re running for the whole 30 minutes. When you’re comfortably running 30 minutes without stopping, you can experiment with running a bit faster. Good luck, and happy trails!

*Consult with your physician before starting any exercise regimen.

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