This is a list of actionable beginner running tips.
In fact, these same strategies helped one of runners improve their marathon finish time by 47 minutes in 6 months.
So if you want to start running full or half marathons injury-free, you’ll love this list of tips.
Let’s dive in.
1. Prioritize Intelligent Training
Research at Harvard University estimates that running injuries occur in up to 75 percent of runners annually.
In this same PubMed study, lower body injuries ranged from 19% to 79%.
Running injuries happen to beginner, intermediate, and advanced runners.
Whether you’re simply researching a beginner marathon training plan for the first time, training to qualify for the Boston Marathon, or running down your dreams of a three-peat Gold medal performance in the Olympics, this applies to EVERYONE.
How to you train intelligently?
2. Avoid ALL Generic Workouts & Template Schedules
I shout from the rooftops (not literally) to please give your best effort to follow these suggestions.
And then you’ll see for yourself that you can run your entire life and be injury-free.
Sounds crazy, right?
Here’s the raw truth:
Running does NOT cause injuries.
Stupid training (examples: generic workouts and template schedules) causes running injuries.
Don’t lie to yourself. If you’re a beginner, be a beginner. Be humble and be honest.
And most importantly, you must be willing to learn AND apply these strategies immediately. If not, you’ll be injured.
3. Embrace The Beginner Runner Mindset
In Zen Buddhism, the Beginner’s Mind is a concept which means “attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions.”
Similar to a Zen Buddhist student practicing the Beginner’s Mind, a beginner runner must embrace their new running journey with openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions. If not, you’ll have an injury in no time.
You must be different from the majority of injury-plagued runners if you want to run injury-free.
The best part about injury prevention through an intelligent beginner marathon training plan? You’ll achieve your most ambitious goals faster. And have more fun!
4. Be The Black Sheep In A World of Injured Marathoners
Most runners get injured and I don’t want you to be another statistic.
To run injury AND pain-free (soreness is unavoidable, obviously), you need to approach your running, training, and racing differently than the majority of runners.
Craziness! The excellent news for you is that you do not have to be one of the many runners constantly struggling with injuries. Be different.
How? Simple. Don’t do what everyone else does.
What’s that? Most runners, not only beginners, pick random races and follow generic workouts and cookie-cutter template training plans.
5. Signup For Your Marathon Today (& Start Training Intelligently ASAP!)
Setting goals helps everything. When you signup for a race, you’ll feel the motivation to train hard. By signing up for a race, and being intelligent about your race schedule, you are more likely to train smart. By committing to a specific goal, and preparing hard AND smart, you’ll be consistent. See, with smart training, you progress gradually.
By progressing steadily, you’ll let your body (and mind) absorb the normal workout stimulus. So don’t just commit to any race. Be humble about where you are and where you want to go in the long run (not the actual workout). Gradual progression gets faster results, in both the short-term and long-term.
Whether you’re a beginner runner preparing for your first race, or a professional runner trying to get to the next level, commit to running a race 6 or more months from now. There’s plenty of races and here are some links to brows them:
6. Invest In A Custom Training Plan (NEVER Follow A Cookie Cutter Plan!)
Don’t put your health in the hands of a google search. Humble yourself and ask for guidance from a professional. Make sure they design a custom beginner running plan for you.
Running faster and farther takes time. Accept the fact that you must be very patient. If not, you will get injured.
Being a beginner runner is NOT an excuse for being foolish. Many beginner runners use being new to the sport as an excuse to not be intelligent.
7. Embrace The Elite Athlete Mindset
Everyone has the potential to unlock an elite athlete mindset that world-class performers often possess. And no, that doesn’t mean everyone should train like a world-class Olympian or that you need great genetics. Far from it.
Positive self-talk, imagery, determination, and personal responsibility for healing may all contribute to a shorter rehabilitation time. Visualize yourself coming back from injury and accomplishing all of your goals.
Find the positives in everything, and turn your weaknesses in other parts of your body into strengths. If an injury is keeping you from running at the moment, hold a plank or perform some strength training exercises with your upper body. Develop your core or upper body. Improve your nutrition or add some new healthy lifestyle habits.
There are always ways to improve and train; sometimes, it just takes creativity and flexibility of mindset. This section cannot be stressed enough.
8. Be Patient Getting Back To Running
Are you already injured? Unfortunately, many of you are reading this and currently injured. Ouch.
Not injured? If you’re not injured, feel free to skip ahead.
Injured? But if you are injured, go back in time before you got hurt, read this post, and actually apply it. I am only joking. But seriously, I want you NEVER to get injured again.
You probably love running and hate being injured. To run injury-free, you must fully heal the injury or you’ll re-injure yourself repeatedly.
So you’re feeling the pain of ITBS . . . or maybe your plantar fasciitis is acting up . . . or it could be shin splints are the culprit of your pain and reduced performance. Maybe something worse like a stress fracture.
Whatever the injury, to come back stronger than you were before, you MUST fully commit to your recovery with your whole mind, body, and spirit. Injury recover, and prevention too, is a marathon. It’s NOT a sprint.
This process all starts with you and your belief that you will overcome your injury and come back stronger than ever. But you must be patient.
9. Track All Of Your Runs No Matter How Fast Or Not-So-Fast You Run
When recovering from injury, it’s important to keep track of every progression or improvement you make. By doing so, this will help motivate you to reach your end goals and will allow you to witness your progress. Need help with tracking your numbers? You’ll love our free training tracker.
Celebrate the big victories, and take note of every small stride you make, even something as simple as increasing the number of reps you can complete with good form in a strength exercise.
The more you progress, the stronger your positive imagery may become, and you will be able to visualize yourself coming back more clearly and viscerally.
A beginner’s running progression should be very gradual. Plus, by seeing it, you’re better able to see your progress and can avoid overtraining.
By monitoring how your body feels during training, you can see how much you are increasing the demands on it. Our free training tracker will make that easier.
Related: Our free calories calculator helps you better understand your nutrition needs. You may also find our Vo2 max calculator helpful.
10. Trust R.I.C.E
Whether you’re injured, or just sore, you can utilize the good ol’ R.I.C.E. technique.
- Rest: Allow your body some time to rest so it can encourage the healing process to take place and repair the damaged tissues naturally.
- Ice: Ice can be used for pain management, as needed. When applying ice, you want to leave it on for 15–20 minutes, with 40 minutes off between each icing session.
- Compression: Using a compression wrap on a swollen extremity can encourage blood flow back to the heart and help reduce swelling. These compression wraps may be left on during the day but should be off while sleeping.
- Elevation: There are always ways to improve and train; sometimes, it just takes creativity and flexibility of mindset. This section cannot be stressed enough.
The R.I.C.E. technique means Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Sometimes it can be referred to as P.R.I.C.E. if you add Protection. There’s some other variations too like the Price Is Right. Just kidding. Great show, though.
11. Prioritize Injury Prevention
Committing to a custom training program and prioritizing injury prevention go hand-in-hand. Not just with your beginner marathon training plan.
The majority of injuries seen in professional runners come from overuse.
There are several different ways for athletes to train smart (i.e., gradual progressions in your training program, running on even surfaces that do not produce an unnecessary force on your lower legs, and giving yourself adequate rest in between training sessions).
Keeping track of your progress with a training tracker significantly help you in engaging in smart training. You’ll be able to know when you need to slow down a little, and when you need to pick up the intensity.
12. Get To Know Your Body
I’m sure everyone has heard of the phrase “No pain, no gain.” While that may be true in specific contexts, in general, if you are experiencing pain, that’s your body’s way of telling you that something may be wrong.
It’s essential to listen to your body type and know what its limits are. That also goes with understanding the difference between feeling sore and being injured.
Getting to know your body is indeed a lifelong journey. Not just something you need to focus on while you complete your runs from your beginner marathon training plan.
It’s important to know your limitations as a runner, and it’s also important to know when to push yourself in your marathon training schedule.
But there’s a catch.
Don’t justify skipping a workout just because you’re feeling some muscle soreness. Find your balance and what works for you.
Hold yourself to a standard of excellence.
13. Warm Up & Cool Down
Warming up before running will allow blood flow to increase and reach your muscles and tissue, which prepares your body for the training session.
Allow your body to cool down after all of your workouts in your beginner marathon training plan. Everyone’s cooling down period is slightly different, so find what works best for you.
A popular cool downs for beginner runners is this: a good old 5–10 minutes of walking.
A cool down will allow your body to come back to equilibrium at a steady rate. It also flushes the metabolic by-products of the workout back into circulation. This way, your body will be more ready to go by the next session.
14. Switch It Up
Cross training is excellent for maintaining cardiovascular fitness, working out different muscle groups, and preventing injury.
Switching it up works in conjunction with training. A properly designed marathon training plan should actually integrate some variety.
Resist the urge to blame the sport of running for your injury. Consider the cause of your injuries and reevaluate your approach. By utilizing the prescribed practices in this blog, by training smart, and by committing your mind, body, and spirit, your recovery from injury will not be “wasted” time.
You can come back stronger!
Scott Fishman is the founder of AllWorldU. He’s coached hundreds of athletes on 6 continents. Some of his clients include coaches, trainers, physical therapists, doctors, and elite athletes.