Running is one of the best ways to exercise and get in shape. It requires minimal equipment and gear, it can be done almost anywhere, and you don’t need lessons.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. One benefit of running is you can get a great workout in a short period of time. But this is because running requires you to be both aerobically fit and to have great stamina. It’s especially hard at the beginning when your body hasn’t become accustomed to running.
In order to start running – and keep running – you need to begin with the right mindset, gear, and preparation to position yourself for success.
With the running tips we’ve listed below, you’ll be on the right track!
1. Get Good Running Shoes and Clothes
One of the joys of running is that it doesn’t require boatloads of gear. But you will need a few things to be comfortable and avoid injury.
So what do you need?
The most important piece of gear is a good pair of running shoes. Now is not the time to dig out your worn, dirty 4-year-old shoes from the back of your closet. Make sure your shoes are in good condition and are designed for your unique foot and stride profile.
If you’ve never been fitted for shoes, go to a running store and invest in a quality pair. Running shoes fall into the “you get what you pay for” category. For a little extra money, you’ll be comfortable and your shoes will last longer.
Wearing the wrong running shoes, or old and worn shoes – your feet will hurt, you might develop blisters, and you could potentially injure yourself and not be able to do any type of exercise.
For clothing, make sure it’s athletic gear that is moisture-wicking. This will help you stay dry and cool during your run.
And this includes running socks! Cotton socks are uncomfortable to run in and likely to cause blisters. A good pair of running socks (like Feetures!) fit snugly to prevent hot spots and rubbing.
In colder weather, you may want to get a pair of pants or tights as well as a breathable jacket to stay warm. Hats and gloves are also a must. Just remember that you warm up quickly running, so don’t overdress or else you’ll be hot and sweaty during the run.
2. Make a Running Plan
Make sure every run has a purpose. If you’re new to running, this is especially important. Your runs should be challenging – BUT they can’t be too hard. Overexerting yourself can cause burnout, make you discouraged, and/or cause injury.
You also want to increase mileage slowly. Do this by gradually increasing the length of your runs over a 3 week period, followed by a week of shorter runs to give your body a rest.
Training plans are a great way to start running (we have a free couch to 5k at the bottom of this article). Most have neatly mapped out workouts. You’ll know how far and how often to run. Like many things in life, setting a goal and following a plan greatly increase your chances for success.
3. Find Some Good Running Routes
Look for wide roads with minimal car traffic. Parks and walking paths or rail trails are great places to run. Ideally, find a scenic route that will motivate you to get out there. If these are close to your home, perfect, but don’t be afraid to travel to a more runnable locale.
Map My Run often has good routes already chosen by area runners. Or use gmap pedometer to map and measure a route.
Treadmills are fine, but be warned: they get boring quickly. Ask seasoned runners who lovingly refer to them as “dreadmills.”
4. Change Your Mindset
Maintaining a steady running routine requires forming new habits. Know this going in and you’ll be ahead of everyone else.
The best way to make running a habit is to start small and gradually increase both your distance and how often you run.
Make your first run so easy anybody can do it. Go for five minutes. Run for 30 seconds and walk for 30 seconds. Repeat five times. That’s it.
Build on that. Go for six minutes the next day. And so on.
5. Keep a Running Log
There are several ways to keep track of your runs: write them down in a notebook, calendar, or journal; use an online run tracker; or use a GPS watch or smartphone app that will measure and record your runs.
Keeping a log is an essential way to monitor your progress. When you are new to running, looking back and seeing how far you’ve run – and how much longer and better your runs have gotten – will motivate you to keep going.
A running log will also help you look back on your runs and find out what’s working and not working. Feeling sluggish or getting hurt on a regular basis? See what workouts you’re doing and adjust.
6. Use Mental Queues to Make Running Easier
Take the excuses out of skipped runs. Make them as easy as possible.
First, schedule them into your day. Find a time that works best for you – first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, evenings – then schedule your runs for that period and make them a priority.
Secondly, get your running clothes and shoes ready ahead of time. Put them out before going to bed or leaving for work in the morning. They’ll be ready when you’re about to go running. Put your shoes in a noticeable spot – this acts as a visual cue to go running.
7. Remember that Everyone Was a New Runner at Some Point
If you feel tentative or self-conscious about running, remember that everyone was a new runner at one point. If you find veteran runners intimidating, remember that they were new runners once too. You’ll soon learn that experienced runners are happy to help and offer tips to those just starting off.
And if you feel like non-runners are staring at you? Just remember, they only wish they had the gumption to start running.
8. Check With Your Doctor
We would be remiss to say that you shouldn’t start running without speaking to your doctor first.
Done slowly and carefully, almost anyone can run. But it can also be physically intense – especially when first starting out. So best to discuss with your doctor if you have any concerns.
If you are interested in a more structured training program, we have a free Couch to 5k Training Plan you can download below. Use the form to get a PDF version for free. Our training plan even makes it easy to do this Couch to 5k on a treadmill!