When Does Running Get Easier?

Woman running for exercise
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"I started a "learn to run" program three weeks ago and I thought running would be easier by now. I'm still struggling through the run portions of the run/walk workouts. When does running get easier?"

This is a very common question among new runners and there isn't one answer that fits everyone, since beginner runners sometimes struggle for different reasons. It takes time to build cardiovascular fitness and for your body to make physical adaptations.

Many new runners find that the turning point is when they can run continuously for 30 minutes. At that point, they start to feel more comfortable and confident.

So, it takes a little bit of patience to build up your fitness and get to a point where running feels easier. Stick with it, and soon you'll look back and realize how much progress you've made. In the meantime, there are some things that you can do that will help make running more comfortable and enjoyable.

1. Don't worry about your pace.

Beginner runners should run all their runs at an easy, conversational pace, which means that you can talk comfortably (in full sentences) with someone as you're running. If you're not able to maintain a conversation (or sing a song if you're running alone), slow the pace or take a walk break.

2. Make sure you're breathing easily.

Another way to control your pace is to make sure you're not out of breath.

If you find yourself huffing and puffing at any point during the run, slow down and try to take some deep breathes. You should be breathing deep from your belly, not taking shallow breaths from your chest.

3. Find "beginner-friendly" running routes.

If you're running outside, don't make things even harder on yourself by running on a hilly course.

As a beginner, try to stick to flat, car-free courses, such as bike paths or a running track. Even if you have to drive to a beginner-friendly course, it's worth the effort. You can tackle the hills once you've built up your fitness and confidence.

4. Watch your form.

Keep your shoulders back and practice good posture. If you’re leaning forward, it’s much harder to breathe and you'll feel winded much sooner. Staying upright will keep your lungs open so you’ll breathe much more efficiently. Stay relaxed and make sure your shoulders aren't creeping up toward your ears.

5. Use your arms.

Your arms should be in a relaxed position, at a 90-degree angle as you're running. Rotate them at your shoulders. As you pull one arm back, pull the other one forward. Your arms help lighten your legs' workload by helping to propel your body forward, so use them.

6. Increase your mileage and running time slowly.

As you're increasing your distance or the time of your running segments, make small jumps so your body can adjust to the increase in stress. Avoiding doing too much too soon will also help you prevent running injuries.

7. Win the mental battle.

Some beginner runners are actually physically fit enough to run a certain distance, but they don't have the confidence or mental strength to push themselves farther.

In many cases, it's simply "mind over matter." Try to distract yourself by playing mind games, choosing new running routes, or running with other people.


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