Jogging Tips for Beginners

Woman running in park

Whether you're a beginning jogger or you've been jogging miles for years, following some jogging tips may help you prevent injury and keep your routine fresh. Though jogging is a fairly natural exercise, there are techniques and tricks you can use to have a better jogging experience.

Tips for Joggers

Jogging is a good way to build up cardiovascular endurance and strengthen your heart. Avoid injury by following proper form and setting yourself up for jogging success.

Start Slowly

If you're a complete newbie to jogging, be sure to start slowly. Going all out too soon and too quickly will likely sideline you with injuries. You may need to start out with a walking/jogging workout - you'll do more walking at first, interspersed with jogging. As your stamina improves, incorporate more jogging and less walking until you're jogging the majority or all the way. A pre-formatted routine like Couch to 5k can help you build up your jogging tolerance over time.

Warm Up

A good warm up will help avoid injuries and make for a more comfortable jog. Avoid static stretches, but instead do dynamic stretches that mimic the movement of jogging. Here are some ideas for warm-up moves before a jog:

  • Brisk walk
  • Hamstring curls
  • Knee lifts

Maintain Good Posture

To maintain a comfortable jogging position, fix your eyes straight ahead on some point on the horizon. Keep your eyes to the front and avoid looking down at your feet. Your back should be straight and not slouched forward. Make sure your shoulders stay relaxed and fluid instead of tensed up. Your arms should fall loosely to your sides, elbows bent but not locked. Swing your arms forward and back, not across your body. Be sure your hands are not clenched tightly into fists; they can be cupped, as if you're holding something delicate that you don't want to break.

Breathe Freely

Take note of your breathing every so often. If you find yourself not inhaling and exhaling fully, concentrate on taking full breaths. You may find it helpful to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Some joggers find it helpful to time their breaths to their steps - such as four steps equals an inhale and another four equals an exhale, or whatever number best works with your lung capacity.

Jogging Shoes

Because your knees and feet can take a pounding from your jogging routine, the best place to put a significant investment is in your shoes. Buy the best quality running footwear you can afford and plan to buy new shoes every time your current pair begin to wear out - this may be anywhere from every four to six months. Consult with a knowledgeable sales associate, if possible, to make sure you buy shoes that conform to your feet's unique shape, whether you have flat feet, high arches or a neutral arch.

Running Surface

Maybe you've seen other runners jogging in the street instead of on the safe sidewalk. In case you're wondering why, many joggers find asphalt softer than concrete, thus being easier on their knees and joints. If you're plagued by shin splints and tendonitis, consider a softer running surface. You may have to resort to grass or track if asphalt is too tough on you. Treadmill jogging helps take some of the impact off your joints, yet is considered by many to be monotonous.

Terrain Considerations

Jogging uphill can significantly increase your workout load, but do so safely. Take shorter strides and lean forward as you go uphill and use care when running downhill so that you don't trip and fall. Varying the terrain of your jog will vary the intensity of your exertion, making for a better workout.

Scenery and Trails

It can become boring to see the same view every single time you run, so consider this jogging tip and choose a different route every so often. You may want to run in specific areas on specific days of the week, or make it completely random. Check for jogging trails in your area; these trails are made to be accessible, safe, and pleasant for joggers and can help you stay out of the way of typical jogging hazards like traffic or construction.

Runners running in charity run at park

Weather Safety

Don't let cold weather stop you from running, but dress the right way to protect the most vulnerable parts of your body, such as your face, neck and hands. Wear layers on your upper body and use a hat, gaiter or scarf, and gloves. In the summer, avoid jogging during the hottest hours of the day, typically 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to lessen your chance of heatstroke. Wear sunscreen regardless of the temperature and skip your jog if storms are in the forecast.

Listening to Music

Jogging to the tempo of music can help keep your pace on track and make the experience more enjoyable overall. It's important, however, to not listen to music so loudly that you don't hear the world around you; keep the volume low to where you can hear your music while also being able to hear a person approaching behind you. Invest in some wireless headphones to help you avoid getting tangled up while jogging.

Foot Strike

If you hope to make the transition to running, or you simply want to use your body as efficiently as possible when jogging, analyze your foot strike. Where does your foot first land when it hits the ground? Most likely, you have a heel-toe strike where the heel takes the brunt of the impact when jogging. Transitioning to a forefoot strike will help you speed up your jogs, though it will feel awkward at first if you're accustomed to a heel-toe strike. If you're not concerned about speed, toy with different foot strikes to see what feels most natural and helps you avoid injury.

  • Heel-toe strike: The heel hits the ground first, followed by the toes. This is a common foot strike, but not necessarily the most efficient.
  • Forefoot strike: The heel may never even hit the ground in this foot strike. It's the best foot strike for serious runners.
  • Mid-foot strike: The foot lands evenly with each step with this foot strike. Some joggers find it difficult to feel light on their feet with this strike.

Cool Down and Stretch

Don't abruptly stop jogging - work toward a slower tempo and stretch before considering your jog complete. Static stretches after your jog will help elongate your muscles and increase your flexibility. Focus on stretching the lower body, but do some stretches for the upper body too.

Jogging Tips to Lose Weight

Maybe you're taking up running to drop some pounds. These jogging tips may help you reach your weight loss goals:

Frequency of Jogs

Run 20-60 minutes at a time. You may need to begin with 20-minute jogs, but working your way up to 45 minutes to an hour will help you shed pounds more quickly. Be sure to incorporate recovery days in your week to help you avoid injury; you can take these days off, or go for a leisurely walk, or participate in stretching or yoga.

Intensity Matters

Maintain intensity for steady-state cardio or vary your intensity for interval work. Not working to your target heart rate won't net you the same benefits as getting to 50-75% of your maximum rate.

Dietary Considerations

Jogging alone will not help you lose weight; you need to combine your jogging with a caloric deficit to see real results. You should also aim to eat nutrient-dense foods that will best fuel your body for your jogging sessions. Stay away from empty calories.

Add Resistance Work

Having stronger bones will help you avoid injuries and make you a better jogger. Twice a week, do some strength workouts to complement your jogging and help your body burn calories more efficiently.

Useful Tips for Joggers

Jogging can be an enjoyable part of your exercise routine. Jogging is fairly intuitive, yet it doesn't necessarily feel easy to everyone. As you increase your stamina, you will find jogging becomes more enjoyable and you may find yourself signing up for races and competing with other joggers and runners.

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Jogging Tips for Beginners