Running may be one of the most straightforward sports to learn, but for beginners, improvement is far from easy. Newbie runners hit roadblocks—figuratively and sometimes literally—as they try to improve their form, performance and speed.
Here are five keys to help newbies during the early stages of training:
Don't Get Discouraged
Rome wasn't built in a day. If you're a rookie runner, you won't be ready for your first 5K tomorrow, either.
Results rarely come as fast as desired. It takes hard work and patience to become a seasoned runner, and the early stages are the toughest. Don't get discouraged if you can't run as far or as fast as you originally envisioned.
Beginners should simply slow down if they fatigue quickly, according to Jeff Gaudette, the founder of the online coaching and training website RunnersConnect.net.
"There is no shame in running slow," Gaudette says. "Our culture says that farther or faster is better, but in running, that's not always the case. For beginners, running slower is actually better."
If you're running and you need to take a break, start walking. When you're ready to run again, hit your stride. Take things slowly while your body adjusts.
Listen to Your Body
The effects of distance running on the body often come as a surprise to beginners.
Sore body parts—calves, shins, knees and more—are inevitable. The rigors of running also increase your risk of injury. For newbies, it's important to listen to your body.
"If it's something that loosens up as you continue to run and it feels better as you go, it's probably just regular soreness and something you can push through," Gaudette says. "If it gets worse as you run, then it's probably some type of injury you need to back off and pay attention to."
Don't be afraid to push through soreness, but understand when you may need to rest a potential injury.