10 Things I Wish I Knew as a New Runner

Mix Things Up

Like a good pot of stew, the more variety in your new running program, the better you'll feel, and the more success you'll have along the way. Because running is a high-intensity, high-impact activity, it's wise to alternate a running day with a cross-training day, and mix in a variety of workouts like strength training, Zumba, cycling, or classes at the gym.

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If you're new to exercise, you can start with a run-walk or walking routine three times per week on alternate days and add more activities if you get inspired to do so. Give yourself breaks in between your runs to allow your body the time it needs to recover and grow stronger along the way. Optimal recovery is every bit as important as running is for fitness and performance.

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One of the first things you'll hear when you start to run is your breathing rate. That's because it takes a lot of energy and strength to move your body forward from here to there while running. Your heart begins to pump faster in an effort to get more oxygenated blood to your running muscles. The secret is to use your breathing rate to guide you rather than your running pace.

More: Breathing Tips for New Runners

Let Your Body Be Your Guide

Everyone learns to run at different rates. For some, it takes weeks and for others, like myself, it may take months (and months). The key is to listen to your body rather than trying to keep up with your buddy. Your body will talk to you if you're pushing too hard, first with fatigue (tired or sore legs), then with declining performance (can't run as far or as fast) and eventually, if you don't modify your plan, with aches and pain that can turn into injuries that halt your running program.

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When you start to feel fatigued and have aches and pains, it means something needs to be adjusted. It could be that you progressed too quickly and need more time to adapt at a certain level, or that you may be running too fast too soon. Either way, it's wise to tune into your body and be open to making adjustments.

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