Starting a new exercise regime can be intimidating at any age, but jogging seems to be especially daunting to some people. Maybe it’s the aerobic, lung-aching element or the fear of turning your knees to mush.
However, it’s totally possible to learn how to jog at any age if approached with the right tactics. In this article, we have a wide range of tips and tricks to help make jogging fun and doable. But first, let’s start with the basics.
The best way to learn how to jog is to follow a training plan. This article outlines everything you need to know about learning how to jog, from good form to what to do post-run. We also include a sample body weight workout and some other essential jogging tips.
Your first week of running, focus on doing two to three runs of 20 minutes. For beginner joggers and those new to exercise, alternate between one minute of running and one minute of walking for the duration of the run.
For those who already exercise semi-regularly, alternate running for three to five minutes, walking for 90 seconds between run segments.
For more advanced exercisers who are new to jogging, aim to run for half the total amount of time, so 10 minutes for a 20-minute run, walk for 2 minutes, then run for another 10 minutes.
To approach your first month of jogging, you’ll use the same tactics you did during your first week with a focus on increasing your running duration between walk breaks.
The run-walk method is a great way to build your endurance and running longevity, so don’t hesitate to use it for as long as you need to!
For your first month, you can break up each week into the following exercise routine:
This may look like a lot, but don’t get discouraged! Some of these workouts only take 15 to 20 minutes. We’ll get into more detail on each of these components below. For even more detail, check out our beginner’s running program. It uses this exact schedule and explains every workout in step-by-step detail with video and written tutorials.
To learn how to jog, you also need to learn how to pace your jogs. If you’re doing run-walks and are completely smashed after each run section, you may be running too fast.
To learn proper pacing, there are a few tools you can use. If you have access to a treadmill, that can be a great way to learn about pacing because it sets the pace for you. Otherwise you can use a heart-rate monitor or cadence tool.
Coach Nate goes into detail here about how to change your cadence for better runs:
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into some tips to make your jogging experience a positive one.
For beginner runners, learning proper running form can feel daunting or confusing. While there is a certain running technique that we’ll break down for you, remember too that the more you run, the easier it will feel.
Before you go out for your first run, buy running shoes that properly support your feet and have a wide enough toe-box. The most important factors to look for in a new pair of the right shoes are comfort and stability.
A good warm-up usually consists of some dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretching, unlike static stretching, means we lengthen and warm the muscles by repetitive movement in multiple planes of motion, like doing leg swings or hip circles in a lunge.
Dynamic stretching both activates and relaxes the muscles without excessive tension. Especially for those tight hamstrings and hips that many of us get from sitting, dynamic stretching can help us safely find some release.
By gently lengthening and shortening the muscle fibers through a dynamic stretch, you prepare your body for a more intense activity like jogging.
The rotation between activation and relaxing of the muscle actually mimics the motion of running! Without a proper dynamic warm-up, you risk your muscle fibers tightening up too quickly and causing cramps or, even worse, injury.
Here’s a quick warm-up you can do anywhere with just your body:
You went for your jog and got your body nice and warm, much warmer than it is normally. Your muscles were firing and your cardiovascular system was working hard.
A cool-down brings your body back to normal levels, returning the body to what’s called “homeostasis.” Doing cool-down movements signals to the muscle fibers and lungs that they can now relax and return to normal.
Cool-downs also help release overly-tight muscles. If we don’t soothe these tight muscles, our bodies might overcompensate by using other muscles to perform an activity, which leads to overuse and then, if it continues, pulled muscles or tendonitis. By consistently cooling-down after workouts, you’re reducing the risk of injury.
Here’s a short but effective cool-down you can do after any workout or run:
To a new jogger, you might be confused about the difference between strength training and mobility training. In simple terms, the biggest difference is strength training focuses on maintaining and building muscle mass, while mobility training improves your body’s range of motion and movement efficiency.
For strength training, exercises like push-ups, squats, planks, sit-ups, burpees, and lunges are prime examples of strength training moves.
For mobility training, since we run in only one plane of motion (forward), mobility training keeps our body strong for all types of movement. Mobility work includes doing things like running form drills, dynamic stretching, foam rolling, and strengthening exercises with resistance bands.
Consume Quality ingredients 80% of the time
You may already know the so-called “80/20 Rule” that advises eating unprocessed, wholesome foods 80% of the time and leave 20% for those less nutritious but yummy treats.
The 80/20 eating guidelines work whether you are focusing on weight loss or simply wanting to ensure you eat a healthy, balanced diet. For weight loss too, make sure you are eating proper portion sizes of each food group.
Hydrate Consistently Throughout the Day
You may not think an easy jog will require that much extra hydration. But studies show that any amount of exercise – especially sweaty cardio – requires extra hydration and electrolyte replenishing to bring our bodies back to normal. Remember, our bodies are 70% water!
Listen to Coach Elizabeth break down hydration in more detail here:
Sometimes the easiest way to accomplish a goal is by preparing yourself what’s ahead. So I’ll be completely honest with you: you won’t be motivated to do your workout every day. In fact, some days you absolutely won’t want to do it. That’s okay!
Even professional athletes who get paid to workout don’t feel motivated sometimes. The most important thing is to understand that you don’t need to feel motivated to do a workout.
Whether you’re dealing with soreness or just a bad mood, just accept bad days for what they are. Do the workout as best you can, and move on.
The best way to make jogging a habit is to stay consistent. Use music playlists, podcasts, and social connections to help you stay inspired through the harder days. Using a running coach (like the coach access you get on The Run Experience app) can also help you stay motivated.
For those in a younger age group, ages 20-35, the biggest tip is to avoid overtraining. While you may feel like you can handle increasing your mileage quickly or running far distances from the get-go, we’ve seen too many people get injured from doing just that.
Take rest days, cross-train, and spend at least one day a week focusing on strength training rather than making every day about running.
For those in the early/middle stages of life learning how to jog, you should place a special emphasis on mobility and stability. When we take a hiatus from exercise, more often than not our time is spent sitting down, getting tight hips, and weak glutes. Make glute strengthening (read this article for major tips) and hip flexor mobility a major focus of your training and your body will thank you.
Appropriate for any age group, here are 9 yoga poses for tight hips.
We lose muscle mass as we age, so make strength training a priority. In fact, the secret of many 50+ master runners is spending as much time in the gym strength training and working on mobility as they do on their feet logging miles.
Coach Nate has some great tips for beginner runners over 50:
Remember, when it comes to jogging, following a training plan will take care of most if not all of these tips for you. And the smarter your training, the more positive your jogging workouts will be. You’ll be less prone to injury, soreness, and general pain. This way, you can just focus on your improvements!