How To Get Started Running

I feel like a perpetual new runner. I’ve started and stopped running so many times in my life, I’ve lost count. If anyone knows how to get started running, it’s me.How To StartRunning

I took a break from running when graduate school and working full-time became too much to add running into my schedule. After a cross-country move and settling into new job, I wanted to start running again and found that I felt like a brand new runner again. Every step felt like it was hard, breathing was an effort, even the two-mile loop around my neighborhood was too much. I had to return to the basics of when I first started running. In case you’re new to running too, I want to share some of what I have found important in my many seasons of being a new runner.

Get The Gear

When I first started running after graduating from college, I’m pretty sure I was still using the shoes I had in high school gym class. (Mind you, they probably didn’t get much use there.) I threw on whatever I had in my closet and starting running.

My first “real” running shoes!

When I started my first training program–Running 101 at the Burke Potomac River Running store–I learned the importance of being fitted for the proper shoe. There is such a wide variety of running shoes, but picking what’s best for YOU isn’t always easy. Thankfully, there are many helpful people at running stores around the country that can help find the right shoe for you based on your running preferences, if you overpronate or underpronate, and how your foot strikes the ground.


Speaking of shoes …Big thanks to Under Armour for outfitting
me and other race ambassadors
with the Charged Bandit 2,
which is designed for a balance support and comfort 

After your shoes, you want to make sure that you’re properly attired from feet up: comfortable, non-blister causing socks, pants that will keep you warm when the temperature drops, a sweat wicking top to keep you dry, a supportive sports bra for the ladies. Again, you don’t need any of this to run, but it does keep you comfortable and more likely to continue running if you’re not suffering from chafing from cotton tees and blisters from the wrong socks.

Join a Training Program or Find a Workout Buddy

Running is always more fun with friends, and having a group to meet up with helps  with motivation and accountability.

Ladies from the PR Distance Training Program at the 2013 Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World
Ladies from the Potomac River Running Distance Training Program at the 2013 Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World

Adam wrote an excellent post a few weeks ago outlining many reasons to join a training program.One of my favorite reasons is the built-in support system. I know on Sunday mornings (as well as for track workouts during the week) there will be coaches and other runners out on the trail. I might not be able to keep up with their pace and run with them, but being able to smile and cheer on the other runners makes a huge difference in how I feel when running.

If you’re using one of the free virtual training programs presented by Under Armour, it can be helpful to find a running buddy. You’re less likely to hit snooze on your alarm clock when you know a friend is waiting for you to hit the trail.

Use a Run-Walk Method

I know Holly just wrote about using run-walk training programs, but I think it bears repeating because this is one of my personal favorite tips as a new runner. When I first started running (in those high school sneakers), I used the treadmill in my apartment’s gym and followed the the Cool Running Couch to 5K program.  This allowed me to gradually build up my running time and increase my endurance.

I trained primarily on a treadmill when I first started the Couch to 5K program
I trained primarily on a treadmill when I first started the Couch to 5K program

When I took time off from running, I knew I would use the same Couch to 5K program to ease back in once I returned. While I would have love to jump right back into running, I knew that might lead to injury if I increased my running too quickly. So I used the program to jump start my return to running. I also like to use run walk training when I’m feeling overwhelmed in my training.

Learn to Rest, Not Quit

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your training, it’s probably a sign that you might need a rest day. Rest days are incredibly important and should be considered an essential part of your training program. Some brand new runners may get very excited by their training plan and go out and run 4 or 5 days a week; however, they might find that they’re feeling sluggish on their runs or lacking motivation to head out the door. Quality runs should be the priority in your training, balanced with enough rest.

If you want to work out an extra day, consider integrating some cross training like swimming or biking. One of my new year’s resolutions is to add cross training into my training to help prevent any injuries and burnout.

Find Your Motivation

Everyone has different reasons for lacing up their running shoes and taking that first step. These reasons can change as you progress in your running or they can change on a daily basis.  Maybe you’re a charity race participant, and your motivation is to run for your supporters and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Maybe you’ve conquered the 5K and 10K distance and are ready for your next challenge. Maybe you want an excuse to show off the cute running gear you just bought.

Chocolate is also a great motivator!

Chocolate is also a great motivator!

Whatever gets you out the door, find what works for you!

If you’re  a new runner, what questions do you have?

If you’re not new to running, what advice do you have for new runners?


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