One of the most commonly asked questions about running is, “how long does it take to get good at running?”
Like everything in life, if you stick to it long enough, you will get good at it. I have been running for over 10 years now, and I can tell you that I absolutely love running. I am thinner, much fitter, happier, and healthier because I run.
Running has been a fantastic stress reliever and helps to get in shape. However, running can be incredibly challenging, both mentally and physically, when you are starting.
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How Long Does it Take To Get Good at Running
Most people usually start to get good at running around 4–8 weeks. The truth about running is that it takes time to improve. You are making physiological changes to your body by running regularly.
There are two main aspects to learning how to get good at running: mental and physical. You will need to train yourself both mentally and physically to succeed in being good at running.
It is essential to remind yourself “why” you want to become a runner and get good at it. Having a strong “Why” will keep you going even when it gets hard, and trust me, it will. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to get in shape? Do you want to live longer and be able to play with your children and grandchildren?
Yes, studies show that runners live longer than non-runners. A study reported that in general, runners have a 25%-40% less risk of premature mortality from any cause and live about three years longer than non-runners.
We will all have different reasons and “why,” but whatever your “why,” write it down on a notepad and review it when things get hard. It will be like the fuel that will keep you going. Find your own reason.
There are five main aspects to physically preparing to become good at running: Strength, Flexibility, Stamina/Endurance, Diet, and Gear. All five aspects are crucial to become a good runner.
- Strength – I am mainly referring to lower body strength here, especially in the thighs (quads) and calves. Developing strength will help you climb slopes better and improves your overall speed. You can workout at home or go to the gym to improve your strength; however, I have found that the best way to develop strength is to do sprints and interval training or even stairs running.
A 2018 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research observed that very short-term sprint interval training on a track or field efficiently improves endurance and anaerobic performance. For instance, you can perform six sprint workouts (three short sessions a week at max intensity for two weeks) to improve your strength and speed.
Cardiovascular cross-training, like cycling, walking, pool running, elliptical, or other machines at a gym helps to build aerobic fitness without the impact of running.
- Flexibility – Developing flexibility is essential to prevent injuries. As humans, we are naturally designed to run. Mainly stretch your back, quads, calves, ankle, and heels. Remember to allow adequate time for stretching before and after the run. Even if you are tired, don’t skip the post-run stretch; it is essential to preserving your body for the next run.
Your shoes and technique can reduce the impact a little; however, at the end of the day, the only real solution is to train the body to withstand it.
Strength-based cross-training, such as weight lifting, yoga, resistance training, and strength interval classes, will help you build flexibility and strength and improve your aerobic fitness.
- Stamina/Endurance – Developing stamina or endurance is relatively easy. Follow the 10 % rule and slowly start increasing your distance per week. The key is to do it slowly. It can be tempting to push further just because your cardiovascular system feels great, but remember that you don’t want to get injured too quickly, especially on the knees.
Increasing slowly gives your body enough time to adjust and get conditioned to running. Your cardio system and muscles probably adapt quickest, while the bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage take the longest time.
The best way to develop your endurance is to follow a prescribed plan.
Cross-training will make you stronger and fitter, which will, in turn, make running more comfortable. It will also give your body a physical break from the pounding while still giving you calorie-burning advantages, and it will provide your brain a break from the monotony of running.
- Diet – Diet is vital for recovery and keeps you energized. Long-distance runners regularly ‘hit the wall’ when their energy reserves are depleted. It usually happens around the 75% point of the race but can vary.
Eating right can help. You can also use food to motivate and reward yourself after a good run.
- Gear – Good shoes are essential to run well and improving run time. Here is are the best running shoes you can buy right now.
You can visit a shop that serves runners to help you choose gear that fits you. Stay away from brand obsession, and remember that everyone’s feet are different.
It would be great if you found the right shoe for your foot. Also, remember to give enough time for your shoes to break in. It usually takes a few months.
If you can’t find a running store near you, you can try an online DIY foot diagnosis tool like Mizuno Precision Fit.
Socks are also important (to prevent blisters), for lubrication around joints and toes, and for avoiding injuries from friction. Also, find running vests appropriate to the climate you plan to run in.Pros Tip: Be careful about your gear. Remember, even the smallest piece of loose thread can remove a layer of your skin when it continuously rubs against it thousands of times over a 50 km run.
Now that we explored how long it takes to get good at running let’s discuss how to become a good runner.
1- Be Consistent
Consistency is key to becoming a good runner. You need to train consistently to improve your aerobic capacity and increase your endurance to run longer than you currently run.
When you consistently train, you will build your aerobic base, increase your aerobic capacity, and strengthen your muscles. Aerobic capacity means how much oxygen your muscles can use.
You should aim for 3 to 4 runs per week for 30 minutes or more. And your goal should be to make one of these runs longer.
2- Don’t Compete With Other
There will always be somebody who runs faster and others who run slower than you. Instead of comparing yourself to others, try to track your progress, not to your running friends who are all faster than you are.
Run for yourself and your own satisfaction to challenge yourself. You are not racing against anyone else, just yourself. Find and set your own goals and “run” against yourself. It will make you enjoy running a lot more
3- Start Tracking Your Progress
Progress takes time and patience. You can’t get better if you don’t keep running. Consistency is key to becoming good at running. You may not see instant changes, but you will see changes. Start tracking your run times, and you will notice progress.
You will get satisfaction by pushing yourself to get good at running.
Improvement will come over time. The only way to improve your running time is to practice and run regularly. Don’t let running stress you out until it becomes unenjoyable.
4- Proper Form
When you start running, try to read and practice as much as possible about proper form. Proper form will help you improve run time and get better results faster. Be patient with your progress. Challenge yourself when you go for your runs.
Incorporate slow runs in your run plans. Once a week, I go for a “slow long” run, which helps me improve my endurance.
It doesn’t matter how slow you are going as long as you keep moving. However, it should be slow enough that you are comfortable keeping a conversation. It will help your endurance and work in speed work. You’ll be improving soon. Find a couch to 5K plan and adhere to it.
It is also to eat properly and get plenty of rest.
How Long Until Running Body Changes?
The answer to this question of how long until running body changes is an immediate mood change. You can start to see instant mental and physical changes after you start running.
A group of researchers has discovered that exercise like running can help you start your day in full force and instantly boost mood. They observed evidence that a consistent positive relationship between physical activity and happiness.
What to read next:
Many people want to know how long does it take to get good at running, and how long does it take to improve run time?
While these are great questions there are not fundamental to your success as a distance runner. Practice, and be consistent, you will get there.
If you focus only on learning how long does it take to get good at running, you may ignore the more critical endurance-oriented workouts. And that means you won’t be able to improve your running.
- Learn how to love running and set SMART running goals and how to accomplish running goals
- Learn how to start running when overweight and out of shape with these easy 11 Simple Tips
- Cleaned up your diet and discovered how to properly fuel.
Please let me know if there is anything you would like to add or share your tips on how long does it take to get good at running.