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How often should I be running?

New runners have a tendency to overdo it, so here's how to avoid the most common beginner blunders

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Many people are taking up running for the first time in a long time, or the first time ever. Running is one of the simplest sports (that’s the beauty of it) but it’s also difficult to get into because of the high risk of injury. If you’ve found yourself hitting your local trails for the first time in a while, you might be wondering if you’re going about becoming a runner in the right way. Here’s some advice from Mile2Marathon coach and marathoner Rob Watson on how to avoid the most common pitfalls of the new runner.


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Watson explains that the majority of beginner injuries come from overuse. “They comes from starting out too fast, because people have the mentality that they can go all in right away.” Especially if the new runner is coming to the sport from an athletic background, they may have a strong cardiovascular system but their legs need time to catch up. Just because you can complete a workout, doesn’t mean you should. “Almost every workout that you do at the gym, you’re working to failure,” says Watson. “But with running, if you do that, you’re asking to hurt yourself. The first three weeks of running are all about being patient. You need to keep telling yourself, less is more.”

How to start running

Watson recommends that runners start with walk/runs and work their way up from there. “If you have a clean injury history, you can be a little more aggressive than if you’ve had extensive injuries. Your first week, you could get out for a run once or twice, maximum, and never two days in a row. You need to recover.”

Between those runs, Watson says runners shouldn’t be lifting heavy either, because in the first few weeks of running there needs to be an emphasis on recovery. 

How much is too much?

When they’re getting started, runners should measure their runs by time on their feet, as opposed to distance covered. “I think 75 to 90 minutes worth of time on your feet per week (three 30-minute sessions, for example) is tons. Maybe you’re not running that entire time, part of it could be walking. It’s all about getting your body used to the movement of running.”

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Let go of your ego

If you’re coming from a sports background, it can be easy to assume that your athletic history has prepared you for running. While it has, in many ways, it doesn’t negate the need to build slowly. Watson says patience is the key to your first three weeks as a runner. “Just because you can do more, doesn’t mean you need to be doing more. When you start running, you’re laying a foundation. Keep it easy and consistent for three weeks and see how your body adapts to the new exercise.”

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