How to start running: a guide for people who never have

Perhaps, for your entire life, you’ve been the person who often exclaims that you HATE running. You’ve never discouraged other people from doing it, but you’ve always been very clear: it just isn’t for you. You’ve always been comfortable in your skin and haven’t ever really needed to exercise.

Then it happened. You aren’t 21 anymore, and you’ve started to notice your body betraying you in small ways. The flight of stairs leading to your office has started chewing into your very being, and you’ve started huffing and puffing up them. You had to run after your child the other day and suddenly couldn’t keep up with their tiny legs.

Whatever the reason may be, you’re starting to consider giving running a go. You want to see if you could, because you really haven’t ever tried. But you’re scared, and you don’t know how.

Don’t worry – we have put together a few tips for beginner runners of any age or fitness level. We can’t guarantee that you’ll be a pro in a few weeks – that just isn’t the way it works – but we can promise that it’ll open up a world you’ve never known, and that you’re free to explore more if you want to.

Recruit another team member

When you hold yourself accountable to someone else, whether it’s your dog or a friend or partner, it helps you to go for the run because you feel too guilty not to. Running with someone else is also infinitely more fun than facing this challenge on your own.

Take it easy

Don’t attempt to start off with a sprint. When you first start running, include a lot of brisk walking and slow jogging. Even just starting with a brisk walk for ten minutes at the beginning of your run will help build your endurance. Your body will tell you when it’s ready to pick up the pace. Listen to it, and take it easy.

Consistency is key

Decide what your routine allows and stick to a running schedule that fits into your life. If you can consistently go running three times a week, stick to that routine, rather than overdoing it one week and skipping the most of the next week because you’re sore. You want to build a habit, and habits demand consistency.

Don’t ignore injuries

If you’re only just starting to run, you may very well encounter small injuries along the way, especially if you start out too enthusiastically. Don’t ignore the pain and think that it will go away by itself. Always have little niggles checked out by a professional, or you won’t be able to keep the habit going consistently.

Any seasoned runner will tell you: there just isn’t anything like it. Few things match the thrill of setting a new personal best, and the fact that running unlocks oodles of feel-good hormones doesn’t hurt either. Get in touch with your nearest Run/Walk For Life branch to join a running family that has your back with every stride.