Running for beginners


Photo courtesy Erin Chang

Senior Erin Chang goes on a run to prepare for her first half-marathon.

I started running around a year ago, and have not looked back since. As someone who did high school track and hated almost every second of it, and up until last year had never run more than two miles, I am here to help you find the fun in running as well. 

Running has amazing benefits for your mental health. “Running can control stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension…help boost the brain’s ability to minimize and slow cognitive decline that begins after age 45…help people experiencing anxiety feel calmer…can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance…can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia… make you more productive and have more energy… and can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards,” according to

In addition to the mental benefits, running also comes with physical benefits. Running “helps to build strong bones, strengthens muscles, improves cardiovascular fitness, burns plenty of kilojoules and helps maintain a healthy weight,” according to

Before I share my running tips, I want to stress the importance of having a positive mindset. None of the tips I have given on running will work if you do not go into each run with a positive attitude and a desire to get better, have fun and achieve your goals. Personally, I have found starting each run with a designated distance and not allowing myself to change that distance on the run works well. Also, complaining outloud or in your head will only make it worse. You want to do this for yourself, no one is making you, so there is no need to complain. 


The top five most important tips I have for anyone who wants to start distance running are: 


  1. Create a routine that works for you. I have tried to get into running for years and every time have burned out and stopped completely after about a week. What I did different this time is create a routine that I enjoy and is catered around my needs. Running only one day a week and increasing my mileage from my old 1-2 miles to my current 10-20 miles is what I found works best. 
  2. Go slow. Running longer distances can seem extremely daunting and impossible at first, but running at a conversational pace can ensure that you are finishing your run with the intended distance.
  3. Push yourself. Each time you increase your distance, it might seem like you aren’t ready and won’t be able to do it or you might want to give up during a run. I am here to tell you that you can do it. You are never going to be able to increase your distance if you keep making mental excuses for why you are not yet ready, so pick a distance, maintain a comfortable pace and go for it. 
  4. Run with a friend. Going for runs that are 10+ miles can take around two hours so having someone to talk to is really helpful. Also, having a friend will push you to work harder and strengthen your friendship. 
  5. Set short-term and long-term goals. Having both short-term and long-term goals will give you more of a sense of purpose to your runs, which can help push you to work harder. Also, achieving and increasing the difficulty of your goals can show improvement and growth as a runner. My first short-term goal was to run a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles. Now, I can say that I have run three half marathons and am training for my next short-term goal, which is to run a full marathon, 26.2 miles. A long-term goal I have is to complete a half iron man and eventually a full iron man, which is 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running. 

With all of the benefits that come from running, it is sad to see how many people have negative thoughts toward it. It makes me feel more productive and be more productive throughout the day, energizes and makes me feel more awake, and makes me feel accomplished. Go for a run, you got this!