Here's How To Start Running, Stick With It and Maybe Even Enjoy It

Running isn't everyone's best friend. In fact, while some people are totally gung-ho on the whole idea, others are sitting there like, "NO WAY!" But that runner's high is just among some of the amazing benefits this type of exercise provides. And if you're sitting on the side lines wondering when you'll ever want to lace up your sneaks and pound the pavement, perhaps you just need a little boost. Let this serve as your starter kit, with helpful hints from two running coaches: Jason Fitzgerald, USATF-certified running coach, 2:39 marathoner, and founder of Strength Running; and Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc, CSCS, personal trainer, and managing director and owner of JK Conditioning in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

1. Your first move: Set realistic expectations for what running will actually be like.

How to start running and actually like it.

“I think new runners might hate running when their expectations aren’t met,” says Kawamoto. “People usually like things they’re good at. Running is no different.” ​

2. Invest in high-quality running sneakers.

 “Generally, shoes in the $70–$100 range are just fine,” Fitzgerald says.

3. Absolute beginners should start with lots of walking.

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Both Kawamoto and Fitzgerald recommended starting small. Kawamoto recommends one minute of brisk walking, followed by one minute of jogging, repeated 10 to 15 times.

4. But if you have some background in a cardio activity, you can start with something a bit more challenging.

If you already incorporate cardio in other ways, like hitting up flag football Sundays, Kawamoto says to start with a slow and steady 20- to 30-minute run.

5. Do not go hard or go home.

Do not go hard or go home.

Fitzgerald recommends starting your run slow and controlled, being mindful of the three C’s of easy running: comfortable, controlled, and conversational. This will prevent discomfort.

6. And don’t stretch before you run.

And don't stretch before you run.

According to Fitzgerald, static stretching  “has actually been shown to increase the risk of injury and reduce performance if done before a run.”

7. But definitely warm up with about five minutes of bodyweight movements.

How to start running and actually like it.

How to start running and actually like it.

Your run will feel better if you make sure to warmup before hand, just make sure you're not doing static stretching. Fitzgerald’s three-minute dynamic warm-up will “prepare you for your run by lubricating joints, increasing heart rate, warming the muscles, opening capillaries, and getting the central nervous system primed for running.”

Watch the full video with all the moves here.

8. Plan to run two or three days per week.

Fitzgerald recommends that new runners begin by incorporating running three days out of the week. Once you’ve been running for four to six weeks, you can add an additional day of short, easy running to your week.

9. Take a rest day between running days.

Take a rest day between running days.

Fitzgerald says to space your runs evenly throughout the week to ensure that you have proper rest and recovery from the last run you did.

10. Stick to one longer run per week, and add a mile to it every two weeks or so.

How to start running and actually like it.

Don't get ahead of yourself, as increasing your mileage too soon will just make way for a miserable run. Fitzgerald says to add about one mile to your long run every two weeks or so.

11. Mix in at least a little bit of strength training.

Strength training is recommended by both Fitzgerald and Kawamoto as a means to reducing the risk of injury. Try doing a 10- to 15-minute bodyweight strength workout after every run. “This strategy will limit the risk of injury and increase strength so that running is a lot easier. A runner-friendly core workout or hip-strengthening routine is a great place to start,” Fitzgerald says.

Here’s a seven-minute bodyweight workout from Fitzgerald’s site.

12. After you’ve run three or four times, start adding strides to the end of your runs.

How to start running and actually like it. How to start running and actually like it.

Sounds scary, but really they're just 100-meter accelerations that take about 20 to 30 seconds each. Start by jogging, increase your pace until you reach about 95 percent of your max speed, and then gradually slow to a stop. Rest for 45 seconds to 90 seconds between each stride.

13. Once you’ve mastered strides, add a speed workout into your schedule.

After about six weeks of consistent running, Fitzgerald suggests incorporating a more structured speed workout. “[N]ot only will runners get in better overall shape, [but] pace variety can contribute to injury prevention (so long as the workout isn’t too hard) and faster running reinforces proper running form.”

14. Don’t worry too much about speed or distance, just focus on being consistent.

How to start running and actually like it.

After finding a groove and being consistent, new runners “will find they need to walk less, their breathing comes easier, and there isn’t as much soreness,” Fitzgerald says.

The great thing about being new to running is that it won’t take a super-long time to start seeing some serious gains in your performance. “After a few months, runners can start running long runs of five to seven miles and do a weekly faster workout,” Fitzgerald says.

15. Use an app to note your progress/brag about your greatness.

How to start running and actually like it.
How to start running and actually like it.

Note your time, distance and how you feel after each run. This will allow you to see the progress you've made, and allow you to become aware of any patterns.

16. If you’re running to lose weight, keep in mind that your calorie-burning potential will change over time.

How to start running and actually like it.

“Running a 30-minute loop at a given pace on day 60 will burn fewer calories compared to running the same 30-minute loop at the same pace on day one,” says Kawamoto. With that said, as time goes on, you'll need to either run the same but limit your calorie intake, or either run longer distances or do higher-intensity workouts.

17. Set small winnable goals. (Eyes off the big prize.)

How to start running and actually like it.

“The big goals are important but they can sometimes make you feel like you’ll never get there and it’s pointless to try,” Fitzgerald says. Take note of the small wins and use them to create a habitual running routine.

Were these hints helpful enough to get you to lace up and hit the pavement?
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