How to Start Running: A Beginner’s Guide

*By Christi Shingara*

Photo: Clemens van Lay

I wasn’t always into running. In my teens, I actually hated it and have not so fond memories of running the dreaded mile in gym class, which I thought was absolute torture. Playing basketball in high school incorporated lots of running, mainly in the form of sprints, so I got my exercise that way.

But after high school and as I started my first year of college, I knew I needed to maintain good health by exercising, so I decided to make running part of my daily routine. I started out slowly and then progressed gradually. Now after years of running, I still feel like I can’t live without a good run at least once or twice a week.

If you are looking to make running part of your daily regimen, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Find Your Motivation

Motivation is the key to doing anything. If you have a good reason to run, even if it is just to stay in shape, then the chances of you making it a habit are pretty high. My motivation to run is that it not only keeps me in great shape, but also taking my workout outdoors and being in nature makes me feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Most of all, running helps lower my stress. I feel great after a good run and notice that any stress or anxiety I may had before the run is greatly reduced.

Start Out Slowly

I can’t stress this enough. When I say start out slow I mean start out slow. This means first get into a good walking routine. Walk for about 30 minutes or more and if you enjoy that and think you can start a slow jog then go for it. It might feel like it is taking a long time to build up to your goals of maybe running a few miles but starting out slow will not only help you progress, but will also be healthier for your body, especially your heart.

Stretch it Out

This is also an important point. Do some good stretching for 15 to 30 minutes before your run. This will help loosen your muscles and joints and help your body get ready for that intense workout. It is also important to cool down and stretch afterward as well. Your joints and muscles will thank you later and the next morning won’t be too painful with soreness.

Progress at Your Own Pace

You don’t need to run 10 miles in the first week. And you don’t need to run the upcoming marathon that your friend signed up for. What you do need to do is you. That means progress at your own pace and challenge yourself in a healthy way. For example, maybe you have been walking 30 minutes to an hour each day and would like to progress to jogging. The goal might be to jog for about 5-10 minutes and then walk and then start running for another few minutes and then walk again. This is a great way to gradually build up to your goals without hurting your body in the meantime.

I come from a family where bad knees are hereditary and running is certainly not the best exercise to do with bad knees. I don’t have bad knees…yet, but with that in mind I try not to run on hard surfaces such as paved roads. I also don’t have a marathon in my future. Not saying I couldn’t do it, but I just think of the aftermath of it all and how hard it is on your body. Do I really want to say I did a marathon and then in a few years not be able to run at all? No thank you! I want to be able to run as long as possible and taking the right precautions now, may allow me to be running into my golden years.

Selecting the Right Shoes

Another thing to think about if you are ready to get out there and run is shoe selection. Walking shoes are different than running shoes. Cushioning, heel height and flexibility of the shoe are just some the key differences. There is nothing worse than running with shoes that don’t fit properly. Here is a previous post I wrote about selecting the right running shoe.

Have some run tips for beginners? Let me know in the comments below!

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