A new runner has a lot to think about: What shoes should you wear? How far should you try to run? Will running hurt? What if you can't make it to the end of the block—should you give up? Will people look at you funny? Should you sign up for a race, and which one?
But, one question most new runners don't usually consider before they commit to a training plan is: Are you really a beginning runner? Furthermore, what level of beginner are you? The answers to these questions will not only help you select the training program that's appropriate for your current fitness level, but they will also help you make smart decisions, such as what race to run and when, that will lead to progression.
Take this quiz to find out what level of beginner you are. If you haven't run a step before or in 10 years or more, you might need to experiment with a run/walk approach for a few weeks to discover how your body adapts to the new form of exercise before you take this quiz.
1. How much running experience do you have?
a. I've never run a step before in my life
b. I haven't run since I got chased on the playground in grade school
c. I ran a few miles a week in high school during soccer/basketball/lacrosse, etc. practice and games, but I haven't run since
d. I used to run 3 to 5 miles a few times a week when I was single, but haven't had the time to run since I started a family and work full-time. Now that my kids are a little older, I want to make time for running again
e. I like to hike, swim and work out at the gym, but I haven't really tried running before and would like to add it to my fitness regimen
2. Why do you want to start a running program?
a. A few of my friends signed up to run a marathon for a charity, and they asked me to join them
b. I want to lose weight, and I think running could be a good way to do so
c. I can't afford a gym or fitness classes, but I want to get in better shape
d. I haven't run in several years, and want to get back into it
e. I want to be healthier, get in shape, and run my first 5K this year
3. How much time each week are you willing to commit to running, and improving as a runner?
a. One hour or less
b. Two hours
c. Three hours or more