How to Become a Better Runner: 10 Tips for Getting Started

Ready to get running? You've got this! Before you hit the pavement, here are some helpful tips to get started on going the extra mile or training for the next big marathon in NYC! Learn where to run, cross train, join a running group, and more at NYC Parks.

1. Pace yourself

You don't need to run 10 miles on your first day! Take it slow. Commit to a running program that will give you enough time to pace your training with no pressure. Start by walking your route; pick up the pace with a light jog, introduce short interval runs, then add long-distance runs to your routine. How can you tell if you need to slow down? When running, you should be able to hold a conversation. If you can't, try scaling back to a light jog or brisk walk. 

Best Parks to Go for a Run 

Keep and track your pace while enjoying the outdoors by running in a park! Our parks are perfect both for short jogs and long-distance runs. Opt for the outdoors at some of our best and most scenic parks, from boardwalks and waterfronts to trails, loops, and running tracks. Discover places to run in NYC Parks

2. Run with a group

Need some motivation? Join a running group! Running with others with the same goal in mind helps you keep on track while feeling like you really are a part of a community. You'll learn even more tips about becoming a better runner from your experience and peers. Find a free running group at NYRR's Open Runs

3. Add cross training to your routine

Going the extra mile requires extra strength and flexibility. You'll need to build agile muscles to power your speed. Many runners build strength and flexibility by joining a weight training program, practicing yoga, swimming laps, or by adding cycling to their routine. Explore Cross Training for Runners at NYC Parks

4. Go for longer runs on your day off

Give yourself time to develop endurance. Don't put a lot of pressure on yourself to go for a long-distance run on a busy day. Schedule your longer, faster-paced runs on your more leisure days, so you can really commit to the time and pace it takes to go the extra mile without exhausting your body. 

5. Train at an incline

Marathons in New York City are less flat than outsiders might think! The city’s bridges and hilly roads present a challenge to distance runners. By training on hills, you can learn how to use and conserve energy in time for the big run. Some of our favorite hilly areas to train are: Highbridge Park in Manhattan, The Greenbelt on Staten Island, Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Forest Park in Queens. Or, try out our hiking trails!

6. Listen to your body

Before starting any physical training or workout, you must consult your physician for guidance. 

As you train, pay attention to how your body responds to the texture of the road, trail, or running track, how the weather affects your motivation, which songs get you pumped to keep moving, and how the intensity of your training makes you feel after your workout and on rest days. Keep a running log and make adjustments as you go. 

7. Eat well and hydrate

Drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthy foods help to fuel your workouts. You can shop for healthy, locally-grown organic fruits, vegetables, and seasonings at GrowNYC's greenmarkets year-round. Find a greenmarket near you

8. Find relaxation

Rest days are important for recovering and pacing yourself to prevent injuries. Mental health is just as important as your physical health. Sleep well and practice mindful contact with nature, or add mediation and breathing exercises to your day. Learn more Coping & Wellness Tips

9. Get used to crowds

Most popular marathons in New York City may be intimidating to many runners. By running in crowded areas, you can learn when to feed off the energy of others, and how to set your own pace to avoid burning yourself out early. Central Park is one of the most popular running locations in the city—and of course, it’s home to the famous NYC Marathon finish line!

10. Get to know your running course

Research where you'll encounter uphills, downhills, turns, and huge crowds along your route, so you'll be prepared for what to expect and learn the landmarks for keeping the right pace. 

Good luck!

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