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How to Start Running When You Aren’t a Runner

Believe it or not, it’s easy to start running. All you need is a good pair of shoes, and you’re ready to go. But, running can be an intimidating sport, and finding the motivation and confidence to get started—and stick with it—is challenging. That’s why we’re sharing our top seven tips to help you begin running, even if you don’t think you’re a runner.

1.    Make a plan.

Before you lace up, it’s important to set a goal. Whether it’s a frequency, time, or mileage goal, have a plan to achieve it. Running is an individual sport, and consistency is key. Luckily, there are many resources and apps, like Couch to 5k, that will give you a schedule, hold you accountable, and help you see it through to the end.

2.    Don’t skip the warm-up.

Even if this is your first run or your hundredth run, properly warming-up is crucial to your success. Walking for a few minutes and doing dynamic stretches before you hit the pavement will reduce your chance of injury and improve your form and performance. Not sure where to start? Check out this five-minute warm-up routine from Runner’s World.

3.    Alternate between walking and running.

As a newbie, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to run long distances right off the bat—you’ll need to build up your endurance. Alternating between walking and running can help increase your stamina and boost your fitness levels. And, this is something experts recommend to keep doing as you become a more advanced runner. Incorporating walking intervals into your runs—even when you aren’t tired—has countless benefits.

4.    Pace yourself.

You may not be running a marathon just yet, but the phrase, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” is a good mantra to have. Your body will need to adjust to this new type of exercise, and starting too fast can increase your chance of injury and limit your progress. Focus on maintaining a pace where you can easily hold a conversation, not hitting a PR. 

5.    Occupy your mind.

While many people run to clear their minds, that’s not the case for everyone. Running can be monotonous, so it helps to have a distraction as you get your steps in. Running with a friend, catching up on your favorite podcast, and listening to an upbeat playlist are all things you can do to keep your brain busy on the go. 

6.    Remember to cool down.

Cooling down is just as important as warming up. It may be the last thing you want to do, but getting in a post-run walk or stretch is a step you can’t skip. Cooling down helps lower your heart rate, bring your breathing levels back to normal, and allows your body to begin the much-needed recovery process efficiently. Next time you log a run, try this short and effective cooldown routine.

7.    Prioritize recovery.

Running isn’t something you should do every single day. It’s a full-body workout, and your muscles will need a day or two to repair and recover. Neglecting recovery can make you prone to an overuse injury and impair your form. Use your off days to rest or do other workouts you enjoy—your body will thank you in the long run.