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Life Hack: 9 Ways to Start Running

Timothy Takemoto | CC
Timothy Takemoto | CC

Some of you know I joined a gym in January and, as a quick update, it’s been great! I’ve stayed accountable with my workout buddies, gotten to know a few of the other gym members (as well as the owner, who’s super helpful), and overall taken the panic and anxiety out of joining a gym in the first place.

However, now that I’m getting regular strength training, I need to work some cardio into my routine.

Sure, I hope on the treadmill and speed walk a couple miles, but what I really miss is running, which I haven’t done since last summer…

…and, given it’s been that long, I feel a bit like a newbie.

So, how do I get started again? The same way any newbie runner would!

1. Wear Proper Gear

Unless you’re running at a gym, running is basically free — except for proper running gear.

Sure, you can run in whatever clothes make you feel the most comfortable (all those fancy Dri-Fit tops and bottoms aren’t really necessary), but I’m a firm believer in running shoes tailored to your specific needs. I didn’t realize how important getting fitted for running shoes was until I suffered a stress fracture a few years ago because I was running in shoes designed for basic workouts — not running. Fortunately, there’s a special walking/running footwear store in my area that analyzes the way you walk/run (specifically, what your feet do when you walk/run) and then recommends shoes for your needs. As it turns out, my feet overpronate, meaning I needed shoes with more stability. I haven’t had a foot injury since.

Check around with footwear stores in your area to see if any of them offer such services.

2. Strength Train

Endurance is the backbone of running (especially any distance running or races), and strong muscles help with endurance as well as preventing running injuries.

You don’t necessarily have to hit the weight stacks to get in some good strength training. Check out Active’s 10 Running-Specific Strength Training Exercises to get started with quick and easy moves like one-leg heel raises, backward heel walking, and pistol squats.

3. Stretch

Stretching is just as important as strength training — except you need to do it before and after you run, every time you run. Stretching warms up your muscles as well as help prevent injuries.

Not really sure how to get started stretching? Check out LIVESTRONG’s The 8 Best Stretches to Do Before Running.

4. Choose Your Running Path Wisely

If you’re running outside, be aware of your surroundings.

This might mean:

  • Avoiding dangerous or isolated parts of your city.
  • Running in well-lit areas if you must run in the evening.
  • Paying attention to the weather (not everyone enjoys, is cut out for, or is even safe running in rain, snow, or icy conditions.

Also, expect the unexpected — and then avoid it. For example, I was once “attacked” by a playful yet giant German Shepard puppy who escaped his yard when he saw me run past. I managed to escape with just a few scratches, but I learned not to run past that house again.

5. Properly Fuel and Hydrate Your Body

Yeah, yeah, yeah — you should always properly fuel and hydrate, but paying attention to food and water becomes even more crucial when your pushing your body harder than normal.

Runner’s World provides a great list of foods that let you eat your water, and Fitness gives tips on what to eat if you’re training for any race.

6. Set Goals for Yourself

Maybe you want to be able to run a certain distance, or maybe even a certain distance within a certain time.

Shoot, maybe you’re planning on entering a 5K, 10K, or even a half marathon.

Whatever the goal, set one for yourself so you have something to keep pushing for (and ultimately be even prouder of!).

7. Get a Running Buddy

Admittedly, this one isn’t for everyone. It’s not for me. I prefer to run alone. I don’t even like running on a treadmill at the gym because, like I said, I like to be alone (and I prefer to run outside).

However, if you’re OK with running with others, do so! Get a running buddy to help with factors like:

  • Motivation.
  • Accountability.
  • Socializing.

Keep in mind, you don’t always have to run with your buddy to get running buddy benefits. You can still check in with him or her on days when you feel like running alone.

8. Start Slow

Ah, we finally get to start running now!

The most important part about finally getting started is to start slow. Consider your current physical health condition. Maybe you need to start walking first, then move to a brisk walk, then start jogging at a slow pace before you move into full on jogging or running. You might even talk with your doctor before you begin any sort of walking, jogging, or running regimen.

I swear by programs like the Couch-to-5K Running Program. Each session takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes and takes you through a mix of walking, jogging, and running until you’re ready to run on your own. It’s what I used to prepare for my first 5K and I highly recommend it.

Also, joining a running class is a great way to start slow and move to a longer distance and faster paced run (not to mention, a great way to meet and socialize with new people!).

9. Keep Going!

As with any exercise routine, you’re going to hit a wall at some point. You’ll get bored or discouraged and wonder, what’s the point?

The point is both maintaining and energizing your physical and mental well being. Period.

If you get bored, switch up your routes, your music, or — again — join a class or get a running buddy. And, if you get discouraged, just remember: No matter how slow you think you’re going, you’re lapping everyone still sitting on the couch!


How about YOU, sweet readers? Are you planning on starting a running program and, if so, what are some tips you’ve come across? If you already run, what’s some running advice you can offer newbie runners?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Life Hack: 9 Ways to Start Running

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2015). Life Hack: 9 Ways to Start Running. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 16, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Mar 2015
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