How to Get Faster at Running When You're Just Starting Out

How to Get Faster at Running When You're Just Starting Out

Running is a fantastic way to improve your fitness and overall health. Whether you are just starting out or looking to increase your speed, this article will provide you with valuable tips and strategies to help you get faster at running. From setting realistic goals to fueling your runs, we will cover all aspects of becoming a faster runner. So lace up your running shoes and let's get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Set realistic goals and create a running schedule to stay consistent
  • Incorporate interval training and hill training to build endurance and speed
  • Join a running group or find a running buddy for motivation and support
  • Listen to your body and avoid common mistakes like skipping rest days
  • Fuel your runs with proper nutrition and hydration, and reward yourself for your progress

Why Running is Awesome

Benefits of Running

Running has numerous benefits for both your physical and mental health. It is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness and burn calories. Regular running can help you lose weight, strengthen your muscles, and improve bone density. It also releases endorphins, which are known as the 'feel-good' hormones, helping to reduce stress and improve your mood.

If you're looking for a cost-effective way to stay fit, running is a great option. You don't need any fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and some comfortable workout clothes.

To summarize, the benefits of running include:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Weight loss
  • Stronger muscles
  • Better bone density
  • Reduced stress and improved mood
  • Cost-effective fitness option

Running Gear You'll Need

When it comes to running, having the right gear can make a big difference in your comfort and performance. Here are some essential items you'll need to get started:

  • Running shoes: Invest in a good pair of running shoes that provide proper support and cushioning. Your feet will thank you!
  • Moisture-wicking clothing: Choose clothing made from materials that wick away sweat to keep you dry and comfortable.
  • Sports bra: For women, a supportive sports bra is a must to minimize discomfort and provide proper support.
  • Socks: Opt for moisture-wicking socks to prevent blisters and keep your feet dry.

Remember, the right gear can enhance your running experience and help you perform at your best. So, make sure you have these essentials before hitting the pavement!

Finding the Right Running Shoes

When it comes to finding the right running shoes, it's important to consider a few key factors. Comfort should be your top priority. Look for shoes that provide a snug fit without being too tight. Cushioning is also crucial to absorb the impact of each step and protect your joints. Additionally, support is essential to prevent injuries and maintain proper alignment.

Another important consideration is your foot type. Are you an overpronator, underpronator, or neutral pronator? This will determine the type of shoe that will best support your feet. You can visit a specialty running store or consult with a podiatrist to determine your foot type.

Once you have an idea of what you're looking for, it's time to try on different pairs of shoes. Walk around the store and even jog a bit to get a feel for how they fit and perform. Don't be afraid to ask for assistance from the store staff, as they can provide valuable insights and recommendations.

Remember, finding the right running shoes is a personal process. What works for someone else may not work for you. Trust your instincts and choose a pair that feels comfortable and supportive. Happy running!

Getting Started

Setting Realistic Goals

When setting realistic goals for your running journey, it's important to consider your current fitness level and any previous running experience. Start by assessing your current abilities and setting small, achievable goals that will help you build confidence and momentum. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your running skills! Here are a few tips to help you set realistic goals:

  • Start with time-based goals: Instead of focusing on distance or speed, aim to run for a certain amount of time. This allows you to gradually increase your endurance without putting too much pressure on yourself.
  • Track your progress: Keep a running log or use a running app to track your runs. This will help you see how far you've come and motivate you to keep going.
  • Celebrate milestones: When you reach a milestone, whether it's running a certain distance or completing a race, take a moment to celebrate your achievement. Rewarding yourself along the way can help keep you motivated and excited about your progress.

Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and have fun while you're at it!

Creating a Running Schedule

When it comes to creating a running schedule, it's important to find a routine that works for you. Everyone is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Set realistic goals: Start with small, achievable goals and gradually increase your mileage or time.
  • Mix it up: Incorporate different types of runs into your schedule, such as long runs, speed workouts, and recovery runs.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body feels and adjust your schedule accordingly. It's important to rest and recover when needed.

Remember, the key is to find a schedule that you enjoy and can stick to. Consistency is key when it comes to improving your running performance.

Warming Up and Stretching

Warming up and stretching before your run is crucial to prevent injuries and improve performance. It helps to increase blood flow to your muscles, loosen up your joints, and prepare your body for the upcoming workout.

A good warm-up routine can include dynamic stretches such as leg swings, arm circles, and walking lunges. These movements help to activate your muscles and increase your range of motion.

After warming up, it's important to spend a few minutes stretching. Static stretches can help to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness. Focus on stretching your major muscle groups, such as your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors.

Remember, warming up and stretching should be done at a comfortable pace. Don't rush through it or push yourself too hard. Take your time and listen to your body.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Don't bounce while stretching. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds and breathe deeply.
  • Avoid overstretching. Stretch until you feel a gentle pull, but not to the point of pain.
  • Stay hydrated before and after your warm-up and stretching routine.

Tip: If you're short on time, prioritize a quick warm-up over stretching. It's better to get your muscles warmed up than to skip it altogether.

Building Endurance

Start with Walk-Run Intervals

When you're just starting out with running, it's important to ease into it gradually. One effective way to do this is by starting with walk-run intervals. This means alternating between walking and running during your workout. Walking allows your body to warm up and prepare for the more intense running intervals, while running helps build your endurance and cardiovascular fitness.

To get started with walk-run intervals, follow these steps:

  1. Set a timer for your desired workout duration. This could be 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or any other length of time that feels comfortable for you.
  2. Begin by walking at a brisk pace for a few minutes to warm up your muscles.
  3. Once you're warmed up, start running at a comfortable pace for a set amount of time, such as 1 minute.
  4. After the running interval, return to walking for a recovery period. This allows your body to catch its breath and recover before the next running interval.
  5. Repeat the cycle of running and walking intervals for the duration of your workout.

Remember, the key is to start with shorter running intervals and gradually increase the running time as you build your endurance. Listen to your body and adjust the intervals as needed. Happy running!

Gradually Increase Your Running Time

Once you've built up your endurance with walk-run intervals, it's time to start gradually increasing your running time. This is an important step in improving your overall speed and stamina. Listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard. Start by adding a few minutes of running to each workout, and then gradually increase the running time as your body adapts.

To keep track of your progress, you can use a simple table like the one below:

Week Running Time
1 5 minutes
2 7 minutes
3 10 minutes

Remember, the key is to progress gradually. Don't try to increase your running time too quickly, as this can lead to injuries. Take it slow and steady, and you'll see improvements over time.

Tip: If you're finding it difficult to increase your running time, try incorporating some interval training into your workouts. This can help improve your endurance and make it easier to run for longer periods of time.

Incorporate Hill Training

Hill training is a great way to build strength and improve your running performance. Running uphill forces your muscles to work harder, which helps to increase your endurance and power. It also helps to improve your running form and technique. So, how do you incorporate hill training into your running routine?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Find a hill that is challenging but not too steep. You want to be able to maintain a steady pace without feeling like you're going to collapse.
  • Warm up before tackling the hill. Start with a light jog or some dynamic stretches to get your muscles warmed up and ready to go.
  • Start with short intervals of running uphill. Aim for 30 seconds to 1 minute of uphill running, followed by a recovery period of walking or jogging downhill.
  • Gradually increase the duration of your uphill intervals as you get stronger and more comfortable with the challenge.

Remember, hill training is tough but rewarding. Embrace the burn and enjoy the feeling of conquering those inclines!

Improving Speed

Interval Training for Speed

Interval training is a great way to improve your running speed. It involves alternating between periods of high-intensity running and periods of rest or low-intensity running. By pushing your body to work harder during the high-intensity intervals, you can increase your cardiovascular fitness and improve your running performance.

One popular method of interval training is the Tabata protocol, which consists of 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for a total of 4 minutes. This type of training is intense but effective in improving speed.

Another effective interval training method is fartlek runs, which involve varying your pace throughout the run. This can be done by sprinting for a certain distance or time, then slowing down to a comfortable pace, and repeating the cycle. Fartlek runs are a fun way to mix up your training and improve your speed.

To incorporate interval training into your running routine, you can follow these steps:

  1. Warm up with a few minutes of easy jogging or walking.
  2. Choose a distance or time for your high-intensity intervals, such as 400 meters or 1 minute.
  3. Run at a fast pace during the high-intensity intervals, pushing yourself to go faster than your usual pace.
  4. Take a short rest or slow down to a comfortable pace during the recovery intervals.
  5. Repeat the cycle of high-intensity intervals and recovery intervals for a desired number of repetitions.

Remember, interval training should be challenging but manageable. Start with shorter intervals and gradually increase the intensity and duration as you get stronger and more comfortable with the workouts. Happy running!

Fartlek Runs for Speed and Fun

Fartlek runs are a great way to improve your speed and have fun while running. The word 'fartlek' is Swedish for 'speed play', and that's exactly what it is. During a fartlek run, you alternate between periods of fast running and periods of slower running or walking. This type of workout helps to improve your cardiovascular fitness and build endurance.

Fartlek runs are flexible and can be tailored to your fitness level and goals. You can choose to do shorter bursts of speed followed by recovery periods, or you can mix it up with longer intervals. The key is to push yourself during the fast segments and then recover during the slower segments.

Here are some tips for incorporating fartlek runs into your training:

  • Start with shorter fartlek runs and gradually increase the duration and intensity as you get stronger.
  • Use landmarks or visual cues to determine when to speed up or slow down. For example, you can sprint to the next lamppost and then jog until you reach the next tree.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment with different speeds and intervals to keep things interesting and challenging.

Remember, the goal of fartlek runs is to have fun while pushing your limits. So go out there, play with your speed, and enjoy the thrill of the run!

Sprinting Drills

Sprinting drills are a great way to improve your speed and explosiveness on the track. These drills focus on short bursts of intense effort, helping you build power and agility. Here are a few sprinting drills you can incorporate into your training routine:

  1. Acceleration Sprints: Start from a standing position and gradually increase your speed over a short distance. Focus on driving your knees up and pumping your arms to generate maximum power.
  2. Flying Sprints: Begin at a jogging pace and gradually accelerate to your maximum speed. Maintain your form and stride length as you reach your top speed.
  3. Ladder Sprints: Set up a series of cones or markers at increasing distances. Sprint to each marker, starting with short distances and gradually working your way up. This drill helps improve your acceleration and speed endurance.

Remember, sprinting drills should be done with proper warm-up and stretching to prevent injuries. Start with shorter distances and gradually increase the intensity and duration as you progress. Push yourself, but listen to your body and avoid overexertion.

Tip: Incorporate sprinting drills into your training routine 1-2 times a week to see improvements in your speed and explosiveness on the track.

Staying Motivated

Join a Running Group

Joining a running group can be a game-changer for your running journey. Not only will you have a group of like-minded individuals to motivate and support you, but you'll also have the opportunity to learn from more experienced runners. Running with a group can make your runs more enjoyable and help you push yourself to new limits.

Here are some reasons why joining a running group is beneficial:

  • Accountability: When you commit to running with a group, you're more likely to show up and stick to your running schedule. Knowing that others are counting on you can be a powerful motivator.
  • Variety: Running with a group allows you to explore new routes and locations. You can discover hidden gems in your city or town that you may not have found on your own.
  • Safety: Running in a group provides an added layer of safety, especially when running in unfamiliar areas or during early morning or evening hours.

Tip: Don't be afraid to reach out and join a running group in your area. Many groups welcome runners of all levels, so don't worry if you're just starting out. It's a great way to meet new people and improve your running skills.

Find a Running Buddy

Finding a running buddy can be a game-changer for your running journey. Running with a friend not only makes the experience more enjoyable, but it can also help you stay motivated and accountable. Having someone to chat with during your runs can make the time fly by and distract you from any discomfort or fatigue.

If you're looking for a running buddy, here are a few ways to find one:

  • Join a local running group: Many cities have running clubs or groups that organize regular runs. This is a great way to meet fellow runners who share your passion.
  • Ask friends or family: You might be surprised to find out that someone you know is also interested in running. Reach out and see if they'd like to join you.
  • Use social media: Platforms like Facebook or Instagram often have running communities where you can connect with other runners in your area.

Remember, finding a running buddy is not just about finding someone to run with, but also about building a supportive and motivating relationship. So don't be afraid to reach out and make connections!

Reward Yourself

After all the hard work you've put into your running journey, it's important to reward yourself for your accomplishments. Treating yourself for reaching your goals can help keep you motivated and give you something to look forward to. Whether it's indulging in your favorite dessert, buying a new pair of running shoes, or taking a day off to relax, find ways to celebrate your progress.

Here are a few ideas to reward yourself:

  • Plan a fun outing with friends or family to celebrate your achievements.
  • Treat yourself to a massage or spa day to relax and rejuvenate your body.
  • Buy yourself a new running gear or accessory that you've had your eye on.
  • Take a break from running and enjoy a day of rest and relaxation.

Remember, rewarding yourself is not only a way to celebrate your hard work, but also a way to recharge and stay motivated for future runs. So go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Skipping Rest Days

Rest days are crucial for your body to recover and repair after intense workouts. While it may be tempting to push yourself every day, overtraining can lead to injuries and burnout. Rest days allow your muscles to rebuild and strengthen, reducing the risk of injury and improving your overall performance.

Here are a few reasons why rest days are important:

  • Muscle Repair: Rest days give your muscles time to repair and rebuild, which is essential for growth and strength.
  • Injury Prevention: Rest days help prevent overuse injuries by giving your body time to recover and reduce inflammation.
  • Mental Refreshment: Taking a break from running can help you stay motivated and prevent mental fatigue.

Tip: Listen to your body and take rest days when you feel tired or sore. It's better to take a day off and come back stronger than to push through and risk injury.

Ignoring Pain or Injuries

When it comes to running, it's important to listen to your body. Ignoring pain or injuries can lead to more serious problems down the road. If you feel any discomfort or notice any unusual pain during your runs, it's crucial to address it right away. Taking the time to rest and recover can prevent small issues from turning into major setbacks.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid ignoring pain or injuries:

  • Pay attention to warning signs: If you experience persistent pain that doesn't go away with rest, or if you notice swelling or inflammation, it's best to consult a healthcare professional.
  • Don't push through the pain: While it's normal to feel some muscle soreness after a tough workout, sharp or intense pain should not be ignored. Pushing through the pain can worsen the injury and prolong your recovery time.
  • Cross-train and strengthen: Incorporating cross-training activities and strength training exercises into your routine can help prevent overuse injuries and improve overall fitness.

Remember, your health and well-being should always come first. Don't ignore pain or injuries, and take the necessary steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable running experience.

Not Listening to Your Body

When it comes to running, it's important to listen to your body. Your body knows best and will give you signals when something is not right. Ignoring these signals can lead to injuries and setbacks in your running journey.

One common mistake that runners make is pushing through pain. While it's normal to feel some discomfort during a run, it's important to differentiate between normal muscle soreness and actual pain. Pushing through pain can worsen an injury and prolong your recovery time.

Another mistake is not taking rest days. Rest days are crucial for your body to recover and repair itself. Skipping rest days can lead to overtraining and increase the risk of injury.

It's also important to pay attention to your energy levels. If you're feeling fatigued or constantly tired, it may be a sign that you need to take a break or adjust your training intensity.

Remember, your body is your best guide when it comes to running. Listen to it, take care of it, and it will reward you with progress and improvement.

Fueling Your Runs

Pre-Run Nutrition

Fueling your body before a run is essential for optimal performance and energy. Eating the right foods can help you avoid feeling sluggish or fatigued during your run. Here are some tips for pre-run nutrition:

  • Carbohydrates: Consuming a meal or snack rich in carbohydrates a few hours before your run can provide the necessary fuel for your muscles. Opt for whole grains, fruits, or vegetables.
  • Protein: Including a small amount of protein in your pre-run meal or snack can help with muscle repair and recovery. Consider options like yogurt, nuts, or lean meats.
  • Hydration: Don't forget to hydrate before your run. Drink water or a sports drink to ensure your body is properly hydrated.

Remember, everyone's nutritional needs are different, so it's important to experiment and find what works best for you. Listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. Happy running!

Hydration Tips

Staying hydrated is crucial for runners, especially during longer runs or in hot weather. Proper hydration can help prevent muscle cramps, fatigue, and dehydration. Here are some tips to help you stay hydrated during your runs:

  • Drink water before, during, and after your run. It's important to start your run well-hydrated and continue to drink fluids throughout your run to replace what you lose through sweat.
  • Consider carrying a water bottle or hydration pack. If you're going for a longer run, it's a good idea to bring water with you to stay hydrated along the way.
  • Pay attention to your urine color. A pale yellow color indicates proper hydration, while dark yellow or amber color may indicate dehydration.

Remember, hydration is key to maintaining your performance and overall well-being as a runner. Make sure to prioritize it in your training routine.

Post-Run Recovery Snacks

After a tough run, it's important to refuel your body with the right snacks. Protein and carbohydrates are key to helping your muscles recover and replenishing your energy stores. Here are some ideas for post-run recovery snacks:

  • Greek yogurt with berries and a sprinkle of granola
  • Peanut butter and banana on whole wheat toast
  • Chocolate milk

These snacks provide a good balance of nutrients and are easy to digest.

Remember, it's important to listen to your body and give it the fuel it needs to recover properly. Don't forget to hydrate as well!

Dealing with Challenges

Running in Bad Weather

Running in bad weather can be challenging, but it doesn't have to ruin your workout. Rain, snow, or wind may make it tempting to stay indoors, but with the right mindset and preparation, you can still have a successful run. Here are some tips to help you conquer the elements:

  • Dress appropriately: Wear moisture-wicking and breathable clothing to stay dry and comfortable. Layer up if it's cold and consider a waterproof jacket if it's raining.
  • Protect your extremities: Don't forget to wear a hat, gloves, and socks that will keep your head, hands, and feet warm and dry.
  • Adjust your pace: Be mindful that running in adverse weather conditions may slow you down. Focus on effort rather than pace and listen to your body.

Tip: If the weather is really extreme or unsafe, it's okay to take your run indoors on a treadmill or find an alternative workout. Safety should always be your top priority.

Overcoming Mental Blocks

When it comes to running, sometimes our biggest obstacles are in our own minds. Mental blocks can make it difficult to push through and reach our goals. But don't worry, you're not alone! Here are a few tips to help you overcome those mental hurdles:

  • Visualize success: Picture yourself crossing the finish line or achieving your running goals. Visualizing success can help boost your confidence and motivation.
  • Break it down: Instead of focusing on the entire run, break it down into smaller, more manageable segments. Set mini-goals along the way and celebrate each milestone.
  • Find your mantra: Come up with a positive phrase or mantra that you can repeat to yourself when the going gets tough. It can be as simple as 'I can do this' or 'One step at a time'.

Remember, running is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Don't let your mind hold you back from reaching your full potential. Keep pushing forward and you'll be amazed at what you can achieve!

Dealing with Plateaus

Plateaus are a common occurrence in running, and they can be frustrating. You may find that your progress has stalled, and you're not seeing any improvements in your speed or endurance. But don't worry, plateaus are just temporary setbacks, and there are ways to overcome them.

One strategy to break through a plateau is to mix up your training routine. Try incorporating different types of runs, such as interval training or fartlek runs, to challenge your body in new ways. This can help prevent your muscles from getting too comfortable and encourage further improvement.

Another approach is to set new goals. Sometimes, plateaus happen because you've reached a certain level of fitness and need a new challenge. By setting new goals, whether it's running a longer distance or improving your pace, you can reignite your motivation and push past the plateau.

It's also important to listen to your body. If you're feeling fatigued or experiencing pain, it's crucial to give yourself time to rest and recover. Pushing through a plateau while ignoring your body's signals can lead to injury and setbacks.

Remember, plateaus are a normal part of the running journey. Stay patient, stay consistent, and keep pushing yourself. You'll break through that plateau and reach new heights in your running performance!


In conclusion, getting faster at running when you're just starting out is all about consistency, patience, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Remember to listen to your body and take rest days to avoid injury. Don't be discouraged by slow progress, as every step forward is a step closer to your goals. With time and dedication, you'll be amazed at how much faster and stronger you become. So lace up your shoes, hit the pavement, and enjoy the journey of becoming a faster runner!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I run when I'm just starting out?

When you're just starting out, it's important to give your body time to adjust to the new activity. Aim to run 2-3 times per week, with rest days in between to allow for recovery.

Should I stretch before or after running?

It's best to warm up your muscles with dynamic stretches before running, and save static stretches for after your run when your muscles are warm and more pliable.

What should I eat before a run?

Before a run, aim for a light meal or snack that includes carbohydrates for energy and a small amount of protein to aid in muscle repair. Avoid heavy or high-fiber foods that may cause digestive discomfort.

How can I prevent running injuries?

To prevent running injuries, make sure to listen to your body and not push through pain. Gradually increase your mileage and intensity, and incorporate strength training exercises to build muscle and improve stability.

What should I do if I feel unmotivated to run?

If you're feeling unmotivated to run, try changing up your routine by exploring new running routes, listening to music or podcasts, or setting small goals to keep yourself motivated. Remember to be kind to yourself and take rest days when needed.

How long does it take to see improvements in running?

The time it takes to see improvements in running varies from person to person. With consistent training and proper rest, you may start to notice improvements in your endurance and speed within a few weeks to a couple of months.

Can I run with a cold or when I'm sick?

Running with a cold or when you're sick is generally not recommended, as it can put additional stress on your body and potentially prolong your illness. It's best to listen to your body and prioritize rest and recovery when you're not feeling well.

How do I stay hydrated during long runs?

During long runs, it's important to stay hydrated to maintain performance and prevent dehydration. Carry a water bottle or plan your route near water fountains, and consider using electrolyte-replenishing drinks for longer runs.

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