Running is an essential part of every fitness routine. It鈥檚 accessible to anyone, regardless of athletic ability or equipment, and it seems simple enough, right? Well, yes and no. The basic motion of running 鈥 one foot in front of the other 鈥 is pretty straightforward, but any beginner who鈥檚 ever taken off Forrest-Gump style and barely made it through the first mile (we鈥檝e all been there) will tell you there鈥檚 a bit more to it than that. But it doesn鈥檛 have to be complicated!

Runner couple running on sunny urban footbridge at sunrise

Here, Aaptiv trainer Meghan Takacs, who created three 5K training programs for Aaptiv 鈥 one each for beginner, intermediate, and advanced runners 鈥 breaks down her top three tips for new runners. Read on to find out where to begin and then check out all Takacs鈥 running workouts and training programs in the Aaptiv app.

1. Don鈥檛 do too much too soon. It鈥檚 easy for beginner runners to get excited once they get their first dose of the runner鈥檚 high. 鈥淥ften times, because they haven鈥檛 run too much before, beginner鈥檚 may try to run a lot at once,鈥 says Takacs. 鈥淭hey may think they need to run more in order to get better, but their bodies simply aren鈥檛 ready for such big ambitions.鈥

In order to avoid injury, but still make progress, Takacs recommends running two or three days per week with two days of strength training per week as well, which will build muscle and protect the body. 鈥淚t鈥檚 important for beginners to understand that you don鈥檛 need to run more to run better,鈥 says Takacs. 鈥淎 structured week of running and strength workouts will help you get stronger and faster.鈥

Asian woman running on waterfront path

2. It鈥檚 all about mechanics. If you thought running was just, well, running however you run, think again. It鈥檚 important to feel comfortable while you run, but it鈥檚 even more important to run with proper form. 鈥淎s a beginner, it鈥檚 especially crucial to focus on the mechanics of running,鈥 says Takacs. 鈥淔ocus on the correlation between your muscles and your stride.鈥

If you start a running routine with proper form and mechanics, you鈥檙e more likely to experience a stronger, more injury-free running career, she explains. For more detailed coaching on running mechanics, check out some of Takacs form-focused running workouts in the Aaptiv app.

3. Add variety to your workouts. This may seem odd to those strictly focused on running, but variety is the spice of life and possibly the key to becoming a stronger runner. 鈥淎 lot of beginner runners think they just need to run to get better, so they stick to a steady pace,鈥 says Takacs. 鈥淏ut the more you vary your workouts, the more your body will acclimate to changes and challenges, which is important for runners.鈥

As mentioned above, adding strength training into a running routine is critical for cross-training and building muscle necessary to run better. But you can also simply vary your runs. 鈥淎dd in HIIT workouts, intervals, longer runs, and tempo runs,鈥 says Takacs. Changing up your routine won鈥檛 just help stave off boredom, but it will also help you make progress and achieve smaller goals along your running journey.

鈥淪tarting out running is difficult and mental toughness is the hardest barrier for beginners,鈥 says Takacs. Trying new running styles and workouts will keep your body and mind challenged and inspire progress.

Do you have a great tip for beginner runners? Share it with us @BritandCo and @Aaptiv.

(Photos via Getty)