The internet (present blog included) is full of all sorts of running advice, training plans, tips and tricks, and methods to improve your running.
But when you are starting out, it can often be overwhelming to sort through all the different kinds of training techniques you “need” to implement in order to get faster or stronger. When you’re just starting with running – at least for the first 2 months – it is actually in your favor to ignore a lot of the running advice out there.
In particular, it’s not worth your time to pay attention to:
- Fartleks and other forms of interval training. Until you’ve figured out how to pace yourself as a runner, and what “easy running” versus “all-out sprinting” really means for you , interval training is only going to confuse you. Instead, focus on building up a good, steady pace you can maintain for 30 minutes or longer, before moving on to playing with different kinds of pacing.
- Hills, track, or trail training. Unless you live in an area where you cannot avoid going up and down hills or through forests, adding alternative running to your workouts until you’re comfortable running basic routes on flat ground is only going to add stress to your already stressed leg muscles. If you add in challenges like big hills too early in your training, you run the risk of injury or burnout before you’ve even started.
- Running form or cadence. While there are certain running form best practices generally accepted by most runners as facts – such as engaging your core and not clenching your fists – the reality is running form and cadence are matters of personal preference, and nobody really knows what’s best. The hard-and-fast rules tend to change every few years anyway (just see the debate about barefoot running for an example). For the majority of people, once you’ve established a pattern of running regularly, your body will figure out what’s best on its own. Once you’re comfortable with your own movements, you can try different things out for yourself (like increasing your cadence) and see what feels best.
- Fueling rules. Eating and drinking are contentious subjects anyway, and even more so for athletes, so fueling is really an area where one must test and learn, instead of following anyone else’s must-dos or don’ts. But when you’re just starting out, chances are that however you choose to eat, your body will handle it just fine, so don’t spend too much time stressing about eating or drinking in the first few months of becoming a runner.
Running is fun, and it feels great, and discovering how amazing it is should be your primary focus if you want to sustain the habit long-term. Worrying too much about technicalities of training will only distract you from learning the basics of this sport. Take your time to establish the habit, listen to your body, and when you’ve built up a solid baseline, then you can try out new things and take your training to the next level.
Written by Varia Makagonova.
- The WalkJogRun guide for beginner runners
- Study: Beginners should ease into running (very) slowly to prevent injury