A Beginners Guide to Running

Blog Post Written by InstaRunClub Member: Dana Baglivo

When they say “couch to 5k, 10k, etc.,” they are literally talking about me. When I started running, I was doing no other form of exercise, and there is not a drop of athletic blood in my entire body. I was quite literally on the couch. But, something in me wanted to run, so I did. As I started setting goals for myself, and actually accomplishing them, that’s when I started falling in love with it. For a long time I had a dream of running a half marathon in Disney world. I would research runDisney and stalk their website, watch YouTube videos of other people running in Disney, but then I would just put it in the back of my mind because I truly never thought I’d be able to run 13.1 miles. But one day in June 2019, after about 4 months of consistently running, I decided to register for the Disney Princess Half marathon. I decided this would be my “why”, my reason not to quit, and my reason to keep training. I had plenty of time to train, and I was going to commit to it. And in February 2020, I did it- I ran my first half marathon. I even completed the Fairy Tale challenge which is a 10k and half marathon on back to back days. That day, I thought about myself a year prior, and how that version of me would’ve laughed if you told her that she would run a half marathon in a year. I truly never believed I could do it, but I did. And I’m here to tell you, you can do it too!!

If you have been thinking about starting running, whether just for fun, for exercise, or to race, I have some beginner tips for you that really helped me. (Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional or an athletic trainer. These are just tips from one beginner runner to another!)

1. Intervals!!!!!!!

This is probably my biggest tip when talking to other beginner runners- when you are starting out- use run/walk intervals! I swear on this method and truly believe this was the only way that I was able to run that half marathon. Even though I’ve been running for a while now, I still use run/walk intervals for some longer runs. A great resource for this method is the Jeff Galloway training programs. You can check these out for free on runDisney’s website. For example, you could start out running for 10 seconds, walking for 30 seconds, and repeat that for the length of your run. As your fitness increases, you can increase your running intervals and/or decrease your walking intervals!

2. Follow a plan

Whether you are training for a race or just running for fun, I would definitely recommend following some type of running plan. It helped me to have somewhat of a schedule and a plan for how long or how far I was going to run that day. It also helped me to improve my running because most plans have time and/or distance progression built in. The beginner plans by Jeff Galloway mentioned above are a great option. When I first started, I used an app and followed their beginner plan. There are tons of apps out there as well as free running plans online! Find one that works for you and your schedule! 

3. Set short term, achievable goals

Short term goals really really helped me to love running. After doing run/walk intervals for a while, one of my first goals was to be able to run for 15 minutes straight. I was so pumped when I achieved that! Once you achieve your first goal, set a new one! The awesome feeling I would get when achieving even small goals really got me excited about running and helped motivate me to keep going. Long term goals are great too, like training for a race or distance, but I would definitely include shorter term goals as well to keep you motivated and excited about running.

4. Run at YOUR own pace

THIS THIS THIS 🙌🏼 DO NOT- I repeat- DO NOT compare your pace to others. This is something I have struggled with a lot, and still sometimes struggle with. I am not a fast runner by any means. I would compare my pace to other runners and wonder why I was so much slower. However, I have learned to remind myself that I am still doing those miles, I am still putting the work in, and I should be proud of that pace I have worked so hard for. It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow you run, we all end up at the same finish line! Be proud of your pace!

5. Get good running shoes!

I cannot stress this enough!!! I struggled with shin splints for a while when I first started. Not fun!!! Then, I went and got fitted for running sneakers and insoles at a running store, and it was like magic! My shin splints felt much better pretty quickly after switching to my new shoes and insoles. I definitely recommend finding a running store near you and going to get fitted. Good running shoes can be pricey, but if you are planning to stick with it, it is sooooo worth the investment. Trust me!

6. HAVE FUN!

The most important thing I can tell you about running is to enjoy it. Remember why you started running- maybe it was to achieve a goal, run a specific race, or to run with friends or family. Whatever that reason is- let that be your joy. If you ever come to a point where you are dreading going out for that run- take a break. Don’t push yourself so much that you start to hate it. I recently took a month long break from running, and it was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. I was lacking motivation and dreading every run. I felt like I was running because I had to, not because I wanted to. So I took a break. And guess what- now I’m back and loving running more than ever! I just needed some time to step back and remember why I love running so much.

7. Finally- If you run, you are a runner!

One last piece of advice I will leave you with is that if you run, you are a runner. It took me a very long time to believe that I was a runner. But after immersing myself in the Instagram running community, I have learned that if you run, you are a runner! Whether you run ultramarathons, or run to the corner of your block and back, you are a runner, you are part of this awesome community, and you belong.

I hope these tips inspire you to get out and set and achieve your goals, whatever they may be. You can totally do whatever you set your mind to! If you’d like to follow my running journey, you can follow me @danagoesthedistance on Instagram! I’d love to be your virtual running friend!