Teach a Friend How to Run

How to help your friends start running.

You’ve been running for months, picking up the pace, hitting a few hills, maybe even entering a race or two. And now, your improved fitness and confidence has inspired a friend to try running and he’s/she’s asking you for guidance. As a recent beginner, you can certainly relate to their excitement and anxiety over learning the ropes. But it is easy to forget what starting from scratch felt like, and if you push your buddy too hard too fast, they may get discouraged and quit.

Here’s how to gently introduce newcomers to running so they’ll come back for more.

Pick the Spot Choose a flat, quiet route in a park or on a bridle path where you can run side by side safely. If you’ll be running on the road, pick a quiet one.

Set the Pace Begin with a ratio of five to 10 seconds running followed by 50 to 55 seconds walking. Monitor your friend’s breathing–during the run segments they should be able to talk easily; if they start to huff and puff, slow to a walk. This workout should be no longer than 15 minutes.

Make a Plan Have them do the above workout two or three days a week. After a week or two, they can add a few minutes to each session while keeping the same run/walk ratio. Once their up to 30 minutes, advise them to add 10 to 20 seconds to the run segment and subtract the same amount from the walk segment. Every other week, they can increase the run and decrease the walk until their at their ratio of choice.

Stoke the Desire Keep your friend’s enthusiasm high by searching out new routes to run together. After they’ve been running for a couple months, throw out little challenges: Pick up the pace a few times, tackle hills, run off-road, and set a date to run a 5-K. The variety will boost their motivation and fitness–and yours, too!

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