In times when a great deal of change makes everything different at once, people’s needs evolve quickly, and behaviors adjust to keep pace.
Perhaps that’s why there are so many new runners out on the road. Running fulfills many of our new needs at once – it’s a great way to blend regular exercise with a quick change of scenery, all while maintaining a safe social distance.
If you’re new – or returning – to running, you may be wondering if you’re doing it right.
If you’re getting what you need out of your new running routine, there’s no way to be “wrong.” But in case you’d like a little guidance, we’re here to help.
So, let’s start with just the basics.
Setting a Target Distance & Pace
If you’re just getting started (or restarted) as a runner, you might be wondering how far or how fast you should go.
As with any form of exercise, there’s a tendency to overdo it at the beginning. And just as sure as putting too much weight on a bench press or playing soccer for four hours on your first day can leave you too sore to work out again for a while, running too far and too fast can leave you sidelined for longer than you want. To avoid the initial impulse to overextend yourself, it’s best to begin with manageable goals.
Since everybody’s different, there’s no set answer for ideal distance and pace.
Start with a 30-minute walk or very easy jog. Time yourself for 15 minutes, then turn around and come back. You can download a tracking app beforehand to measure the distance you’ve traveled, or just plot out your route later to find out.
From here, you can either shoot for increasing distance or decreasing time, as you gain a level of comfort. Add distance up to 5 minutes each trip at the same brisk walk pace. Or add pace up to a level of exertion where you’d still be able to carry out a conversation.
A lot of beginners practice the walk-run-walk method, where instead of running or walking for the entire duration, you alternate at regular intervals – say ninety seconds of walking then 45 seconds running – and adjust the ratios toward more running until you’re able to sustain a jog throughout.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re not doing anything wrong and there’s no set mark other than getting some good exercise.
Of course, if you try it the easy way a few times and feel too bored to stay motivated, you can try pushing a little harder, and take it extra easy the next time.
Just don’t shoot for a new world record on your first time out. A slow, sustainable pace is the best way to enjoy your run.
And keep in mind that it’s okay to stop and walk if you need to!