Running is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and stay healthy, but it can seem overwhelming at first. As a longtime casual runner, I’ve used a basic approach to increase my running distance over time.
The hardest part of running is getting started. After a long break from running, I’ve often felt discouraged thinking about past achievements and how much work it will be to get back to them. For you as a new runner, the thought of running a whole mile may seem impossible. Rather than letting your mind get the best of you, the most important thing is just to start running. Find a track or a treadmill, and just run. Once you’re too tired to continue, stop and see how far you’ve come. Set that as your benchmark. Say to yourself, “From now on, I will run at least this far every time I run.”
Improving your Distance
Once you’ve completed your first run, your next goals should be to run consistently each week. In general, 3-4 times per week is the ideal. Don’t try to run every day, that can lead to injury or to exhaustion, which will only leave you discouraged. For each run, try to increase the distance.
If you are running less than two miles starting out, it is reasonable to increase by one tenth of a mile each time you run. If you can’t complete that every time, it’s okay. Remember that the goal is to improve; if you could run ten miles from the outset, you likely wouldn’t need any advice! Here are some other tips to help you improve.
Treat two miles as the goal. Whether it takes you weeks or months to get there keep improving steadily, increasing your distance by one tenth of a mile at a time. Once you’ve reached this goal, it’s time to set some new rules. In general, try not to increase your distance by more than 10 percent per week. Very often, runners running 2+ miles feel that they can rapidly increase their distance. Sometimes they jump from two to as many as five miles at a time over the course of a few weeks. Avoid that temptation! Increasing too much too quickly only leads to injuries, which will set you back to square one by the time you recover. By increasing at a steady 10 percent per week, you can build your stamina without hurting yourself.
I hope you found this guide useful as you begin or improve on your running journey. If you can follow these two rules – tenth of a mile, ten percent – there’s nothing stopping you from reaching your running goals, whatever they are.