Host: Dr. Matt Minard

Episode Summary

Dr. Matt Minard is a Physical Therapist who enjoys both the physical and mental benefits of running. In addition, he’s passionate about helping others run safely.

Dr. Minard describes a systematic approach to running for beginners in this episode. He describes three aspects: Programming, Mechanics, and Shoes. He also offers specific tools to help with each of these aspects.

Join the Learn 2 Run Club for training plans, mechanics education on how to run efficiently, and resources for physical therapists or running coaches.

Topics discussed in each episode are (or will soon be) available on the Learn 2 Run YouTube page.

How to get started running with Programming, Mechanics and Shoes

Top Takeaways

  • “Because if we stop every time, it’s uncomfortable, we’re never going to get anywhere; we also don’t want to keep going if it’s going to injure us.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]
  • “If you assess during the process of running, you’ll stop every time.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]
  • “You can have extremely perfect efficient mechanics and still get injured; you can have too much too soon.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]

Episode Highlights

  • [00:56] Today’s topic is PMS.
  • [03:15] What is Tissue Adaptation?
  • [10:04] How to start getting used to the stress of running.
  • [21:36] Mechanics; why are they important?
  • [23:53] What are efficient mechanics?
  • [28:22] Selecting an appropriate shoe.
  • [31:56] The Shoe Intake.

Episode Notes

A Beginner’s Guide to Running: How to get started

The main things to focus on when you start running are PMS: Programming, Mechanics, and Shoes. These are in order of importance.

Adaptation to running

Tired Runner Breathing, Taking Run Break In Park

Adaptation is the process of change where an organism becomes better suited to its environment.

For running, we are looking specifically at tissue adaptation. Tissue adaptation’s goal is to allow the body to adapt to the stresses of running slowly over time without injury. This results in muscle growth, callus formation to help prevent blisters on the skin, increased bone density to counter osteoporosis, and increased resilience in tendons.

We discussed a form of adaptation in the shin splints episode (season 1, episode 4). Bruises to your bones are caused by the continuous impact of the foot on the ground when running. Therefore, to avoid shin splints, we need to adapt.

Running Programming

Running dosage

For people who last ran a long time ago, the body needs to get used to handling the stress of running. So one of the programming methods is to control the dosage.

Start with ten minutes, and increase it slowly over time. In addition, it is possible to control how much of that ten minutes involves actual running and walking—for example, 30 seconds of running alternating with 90 seconds of walking in one round. Increase the number of rounds slowly.

To decide when to increase the dosage, consider your pain. You’ll need to be able to separate discomfort from injury.

Running pain scale

Runner leg calf and muscle pain during running

You can use the pain scale to figure out if you should increase your dosage:

  • Red is 5+ out of 10. When you are in the red, step back.
  • Yellow is 3-4 out of 10. Repeat the previous level of exercise.
  • Green is 1-2 out of 10. Therefore, you are in the normal range and can increase your exercise level.

Wait to assess your pain after running or even the next day. If the pain is greater than 5, the exercise should be reduced or avoided for that day. Generally, the level of discomfort should be yellow and decrease as time goes on.


More frequency helps create habits. An excellent program to start is three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), alongside light walking on the other two days.


The final piece of programming you’ll want to focus on is intensity.

To measure your intensity, we recommend using the “talk test.”

  • Gear 1 is a level of effort where you can hold a conversation while running.
  • Gear 2 allows you to say a couple of words between breaths.
  • Gear 3 does not allow you to say word while running.

This method may not be advisable for starters as they cannot hold a conversation at any pace. Hence, Dr. Minard recommends a different approach, “rushing.”


Rushing, like the talk test, involves three levels of effort:

  • First level- No rush.
  • Second level- You are barely on time for an appointment, so you need to move faster.
  • Third level- You are already late and are moving quite fast.

By following an incremental schedule, you can successfully help the body adapt to running.



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Mechanics is the second aspect of building adaptation. It is possible to have efficient mechanics and get injured if you try too much too soon.

The first reason to work on mechanics is to create a buffer for when injuries occur. Additionally, it helps to increase your speed because any movement not aligned with the goal of forward motion will slow you down.

Three aspects of efficient mechanics:

  • Arm swing
  • Leaning forward or hinging at the ankles
  • Gliding (push with the tush)

Of the three, gliding is the most important and can be worked on through the tennis ball-necklace method. The goal is to adjust your running mechanics to make the ball sound quiet and move less.

Shoes for new runners

The last aspect of adaptation a beginner runner should focus on is shoes.

The bottom of the shoe can act as a firm of protection, but not if it is too hard or stiff. The idea is to find a shoe with good cushioning but not too much. Higher protection typically results in less performance.

Dr. Minard recommends starting with more cushion and seeing how much it affects your speed. Make changes from there.

As for the brands and styles, Dr. Minard created a shoe intake containing ten questions you can take to a local running shoe store, like Omega Sports, to select an appropriate running shoe.

To choose the right running shoe, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • What is your running experience? Brand-new runners need more cushion.
  • What are you training for? Knowing the distance to be run helps in picking the right shoe.
  • What surface are you training on? For example, a treadmill may be better for a less cushioned shoe than outdoors.
  • What is your injury history? For example, a shin injury may reveal a need for more protection.
  • Is there foot pain? Cramming the foot into a narrow shoe can cause foot pain.
  • Look at your old shoes for signs of breaking down. The wear can reveal running technique errors.
  • What is the shoe’s date of production?
  • How satisfactory was your previous shoe?

When trying on new shoes, always wear your old shoes after trying on the new ones to compare how much difference is involved.

Learn 2 Run

You can download the five-week Running Program for Beginners. You can also take advantage of The Tennis Ball Necklace Experience and The Shoe Intake Form.

The Learn to Run System is available online and contains three levels: mechanics, tissue adaptation, and oxygen consumption. DM him “Adapt” to get $100 off for The Learn to Run System.

The free Learn 2 Run Courses:

To vote on the next topic that will be discussed, follow Dr. Minard on Instagram or send him an email.


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