You've been running all year, picking up the pace, hitting a few hills, maybe even entering a race or two. And now, your improved fitness and confidence has inspired a friend to try running and she's asking you for guidance.
As a recent beginner, you can certainly relate to her excitement and anxiety over learning the ropes. But it is easy to forget what starting from scratch felt like, and if you push your buddy too hard too fast, she may get discouraged and quit.
Here's how to gently introduce newcomers to running so they'll come back for more. (Make sure you find the best running partner for you before you both begin training together.)
Pick the Spot
Choose a flat, quiet route in a park or on a bridle path where you can run side by side safely. If you'll be running on the road, pick a quiet one.
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Set the Pace
Begin with a ratio of five to 10 seconds running followed by 50 to 55 seconds walking. Monitor your friend's breathing—during the run segments she should be able to talk easily; if she starts to huff and puff, slow to a walk. This workout should be no longer than 15 minutes.
Make a Plan
Have her do the above workout two or three days a week. After a week or two, she can add a few minutes to each session while keeping the same run/walk ratio. Once she's up to 30 minutes, advise her to add 10 to 20 seconds to the run segment and subtract the same amount from the walk segment. Every other week, she can increase the run and decrease the walk until she's at her ratio of choice.
Make sure you both follow The 10 Laws of Injury Prevention to avoid a stall in your training.
Stoke the Desire
Keep your friend's enthusiasm high by searching out new routes to run together. After she's been running for a couple months, throw out little challenges: Pick up the pace a few times, tackle hills, run off-road, and set a date to run a 5K. The variety will boost her motivation and fitness—and yours, too.
Once you've convinced and converted a new runner, try some of these Challenging Group Running Workouts together to boost morale and fitness.race.