The act of running has always sounds and looks a bit intriguing. Seeing other runners out the roads bursting with endorphins and sweat and loving every minute of it makes the sport look quite appealing. The thought of learning to run becomes quite tempting, and before you know it, you’re ready to start running.
But if all these runners seem to love their sport so much, why does it feel so painful in the beginning?
I have certainly been there. When I first started running, I questioned everything I was doing. I wanted to know if running was bad for the joints, and if not, why my knees ached after every run. And why did I always get these painful side stitches? Not to mention the fact that it felt like I could hardly breathe with each step.
If you’re just starting to run and are finding yourself plagued with doubt, pain and insecurities, it’s important to know that you are not alone.
Just about every beginner runner experiences aches, pains, side stitches, breathing struggles, and so much more. Those feelings of doubt and insecurity are entirely normal as you begin to learn a new sport.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishing goals, soaking in endorphins, and putting your health first. But in order to get there, you first have to begin.
Luckily, learning how to start running is a relatively straightforward process. After the initial worry, doubt and questioning, you’ll find yourself settling into a running groove. Each step starts to feel easier, and before long, you’ll be completing distances you never thought were possible.
This beginners guide will tell you everything you need to know to start running today. You’ll learn the necessary steps to get started, how to create a running habit, and what to do to start running without getting injured.
Here’s how to start running today.
6 Steps to Start Running for the First Time
Find your running motivation.
One of the most common obstacles for beginner runners is finding (and maintaining) the motivation to run. Oftentimes, someone attempts to start running but quickly gives up due to the discomfort they experience on the first few runs.
Understand that the first few times you try running, it is going to feel uncomfortable. However, remind yourself that it won’t take long for this discomfort to fade, endorphins to kick in, and rewards begin to pile up. Find your motivation to get started running – whether it be to lose weight, improve your health, learn a new hobby, or anything else – and remind yourself of this each and every day as you begin.
When running starts to feel hard, remember why you got started. Channel that initial motivation and use it to carry you through the difficult moments. Powering through the first few runs will likely provide you with unexpected endorphins and satisfaction which will propel you to continue.
Start running slow and short distances.
Many beginner runners give up the sport quickly when they find themselves struggling to breathe or keep going. If you’ve started running and are having difficulties continuing, slow down. One of the biggest mistakes beginner runners make is starting out too fast!
Start slow and steady, and remember that this pace won’t be your pace forever. Cut yourself some slack as you start running and take things extra slow. If your breathing feels labored, take a walk break or slow things down.
Try not to push yourself too far or too fast in the beginning. Start running by going just one loop around your neighborhood, and gradually increase the distance as you feel more comfortable.
Alternate between running and walking.
It’s rare to hear about a beginner runner who is able to run 7 miles the very first time they head out the door. Trying anything for the first time usually means that you will have to start small, and running is no different.
An excellent strategy to use when you start running is to alternate between running and walking. Set a goal for yourself to run 0.1 miles and then walk 0.1 miles, or run for 5 minutes and walk for 3. Whatever goal you set, make it small in the beginning.
Alternating between running and walking is a great way to increase your endurance when you’re just starting to run. If your body is struggling to keep going, take a short walk break to settle things down. Remember that you are a runner whether you run 2 miles before walking or 0.1 miles. Time is key when learning to run, and eventually your running distance will increase without you even trying.
Get fitted for running shoes.
Once you’ve been running for a period of time and have decided to stick with it, it’s time to get fitted for running shoes. While a majority of the expensive running gear you see is not necessary, having a quality pair of running shoes is a must.
Head to a local running store to get fitted for your shoes instead of ordering online or buying based on appearance. Quality running shoes may sound expensive, but they are a worthwhile investment if you’re planning to continue.
These shoes provide the specific support your feet need to keep your body healthy and avoid injuries as you start running and racking up the mileage.
Increase your running time.
Once you’ve started running and have a few runs under your belt, it’s time to start increasing your running time. If you’re using the run/walk method, now is the time to increase the length of your running interval but keep the walking interval the same.
If you’ve been running consistently with no walk breaks, see if you can increase the amount of time you run at once.
The key to increasing running time is to do so gradually. Increasing your run by just 5 minutes a day may not sound like a lot, but after just two weeks you might find that this adds up to more than 5 miles at a time! Take things slow and increase your running time by just a minute or two each week, or simply add a small distance to your overall running interval.
The difference between those who start running and give up and those who continue on to love it is ultimately consistency. Anyone who starts something for the first time usually knows that it is going to be challenging in the beginning.
When you start running, understand that there will be a few obstacles to overcome. Remember to take things slow and listen to your body. The key to running success is maintaining consistency over time. Even if you are just running for 2 minutes at a time, make a point to get out there and complete your run consistently.
Running is a life-changing sport, and it doesn’t take long to really create a positive impact on your life. Making the decision to start running might be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make, as long as you stick with it. Remember that all beginner runners struggle, but the struggle never lasts.
More tips to start running:
- 5 Mistakes Beginner Runners Make – and How to Avoid Them
- How to Overcome the 4 Biggest Running Obstacles
- 5 Ways to Make Running a Habit