ProCorner: What Are the Biggest Mistakes New Runners Make?

Not only is it a struggle to actually going running in the winter, but when you’re not sure how to start your training, you might lose motivation to amp up your schedule. 

In this week’s ProCorner, Nathaniel Oliver from Fitness Runs in New York shares some tips for new runners to make it to the finish line:

ClassPass: What are the challenges of becoming a new runner?
Nathaniel Oliver: One of the biggest challenges for a new runner is trying to do too much where you either end up getting hurt or burning out. The trick is to start slow. New runners have to build up, not only endurance, but also the specific muscles that will allow you to run more efficiently.

Always make sure you run at an easy running pace for the first few runs. You really shouldn’t even be out of breath. If you’re a beginner, adopt a simple run/walk program. Simply start to run (after a proper warm up) and when you start to feel tired, walk. It’s as simple as that.

You will be surprised that as the weeks go on, you will be walking less and running more. For the more advanced runner, just go easy and don’t expect to leave off where you were last season.

Another important thing to remember, is that you need to incorporate multiple training modalities into your program. Strength, agility, and flexibility training with classes is just as important as the running itself! 

CP: When do most people get that “runner’s high?”
NO: This experience is individualized and subjective, but it happens with the adrenaline rush that comes when you’re challenging and pushing yourself. There’s a moment, in any program, where you either give up or push through the pain and say to yourself “I got this!” It’s unique and different for everyone, but you’re definitely never too experienced to feel it.

In this last NYC marathon, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to start because it was freezing, and I hadn’t trained in that climate. But, the energy of everyone around me and the whole excitement pushed me through!

CP: What are some big mistakes new runners make?
A misconception about running, is that it’s easy. People may think that because they’re active and already participate in other types of workouts, they can jump right in to it. But running is a whole different animal! You need to check yourself (literally) before you wreck yourself!  

From proper fitting sneakers (please don’t forget to break them in before you go on your first run), to wearing the right supportive clothing (running bra for women and for guys the right supportive shorts). These are simple things that a new runner will forget or just not know. But if these simple things are not in check, you will be asking yourself “why did I ever go for that run?” Many of the sneaker and apparel stores in your area will have helpful staff to guide you in your needs.

CP: When are you ready for your first race? How do you know?
NO: I would say you can be ready for your first race in less than six weeks! Now, let me first start by saying, it would be a 5k race, which is about 3.1 miles long. With a few weeks of running underneath your belt, this distance is very doable for anyone. Remember, if things get bad, you can always use the run/walk method to help you finish your first race.

You want to slowly build up to half and full marathons so that you don’t injure yourself. Now, when it comes to these big races, there is more discipline and commitment involved. It’s important to develop a good foundation prior to deciding to run these distances. This means putting in your miles during the week, as well as weekends.

One last thing, although there are races every week or month, I do not encourage you to race too often. It’s actually the main reason why beginner runners get injured. Listen to your body and know when you need to slow down or go easy. Your body will thank you. 


Nathaniel Oliver, fitness expert, personal trainer, avid marathon runner and triathlete, developed Fitness Runs after spending over a decade delivering customized in-home personal training to some of New York’s busiest executives, actors and models looking to maximize “bang for their buck” with the time they spent on fitness. Nathaniel is certified by The American Council on Exercise and is also a Medical Exercise Specialist from American Academy of Health, Fitness, and Rehabilitation Professionals. Sign-up for his classes in New York.