9 Ways to Help Beginner Runners

9 Ways to Help Beginner Runners

women running
Brand X Pictures

When you first got started with running, you most likely had a running mentor or friend who encouraged you and provided some help. Are you ready to pay it forward and assist some newbies with getting started?

Here are some tips for how to introduce a friend or relative to running and make it enjoyable for both of you.

Start with walking.

Older Couple Running

Some newbies will try to go right into running, find it difficult and then give up. If your friend is a total coach potato and starting out a beginner fitness level, it's better that she walks to build her stamina before she tries running. Have her walk for 30 minutes every other day. Once that becomes easy, she can introduce running.

Graduate to run/walk.


Encourage your friend to start with just 30 seconds or one minute of running and three minutes (or more if he needs it) of walking. He should gradually increase the running time and decrease the walking time. Using a run/walk approach will allow him to build his fitness and endurance without getting burned out. Recommend continuing the 30 minutes every other day schedule to avoid injuries and allow for recovery time. He could always do cross-training on the non-running days. 

Keep it slow.

Couple running

Remind your newbie that she should keep her running intervals at a slow pace. She should keep it at a conversational pace, which means she should be able to talk in complete sentences when running. If she starts feeling out of breath, she should slow it down.

Share running resources.

Woman on computer

Recommend running books or websites that helped you when you were a running newbie. If you had success with a beginner training program, like a run/walk schedule, share it with them.

Do a race together.

Three women running
Yellow Dog Productions

Having a race date circle on the calendar is a great way for both of you to stay motivated. Find a short distance race, like a 5K, that your newbie runner could be ready for. Even if you decide not to run the race together, your friend will appreciate having your support before and after the race.

Also see: How to Find Local Races

Offer running shoes and gear assistance.


Non-runners may feel a little overwhelmed picking out the right running shoes or gear. Take them to your favorite running gear shops, encourage them get a running gait analysis and help them navigate the shoe, clothing and gear choices. Make recommendations on the types of water bottles, watches, socks and running clothes that work for you.

Also see: How to Choose the Right Running Shoes

Run with them.

Two women running
Chase Jarvis

You don't have to do every run together, but try to buddy up occasionally. If you decide to run with your friend to give her some company, don't try to push the pace. If she's huffing and puffing, slow it down. This is not the opportunity to show off what a great runner you are. If you're coaching a newbie runner virtually and you don't have a chance to run with her, see if you can help her find a running group or training program in her area so that she has others to run with.

Celebrate milestones.

Group running
Christopher Futcher

Remember how great you felt when you ran a mile without stopping for the first time? Check in periodically to see how your newbie is doing and acknowledge her milestones and accomplishments. When she reaches a big goal, like completing her first 5K, surprise her with an inexpensive reward, like a new pair of running socks. Or take some pictures at the race and make her a small photo book to remember the day.

Also see:  5 Ways to Celebrate Your Running Progress

Talk about your mistakes and struggles.

women running
Brand X Pictures

Sometimes your new runner will struggle with staying motivated or completing runs. Let her know that's all part of the process and tell her about times when you've had difficulty staying motivated or finishing a run. Knowing that you've also struggled at times will help her feel more relaxed and less frustrated with running.

Also see: 14 Things Every New Runner Should Know

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