How to Start Running the Smart Way

Five easy steps to begin your running journey.

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One of the most satisfying experiences we get to have in our profession is watching people transform. The physical transformations can be amazing, but what is even more rewarding for us is to watch a person go from saying things like, “I hate running,” or “running is boring,” to “I love running!” and “running is the best part of my day!”

More often than not, what makes these attitude transformations possible is the way people start running. Start too fast, push too hard, or set unrealistic expectations, and you’ll never shake those negative views. But if you follow these five easy steps to begin your running journey, you just might wake up a few days from now loving to run as much as we do!

Step 1: Get the right shoes. Running shoes can be a big investment, but the right pair can make all the difference in your running experience by keeping you healthy and pain free. Every runner has a different stride, foot plant, and running shoe needs. A good running store will do a “gait analysis” in which they look at your running form and get you into the right shoe. Coming home with a new pair of shoes to begin your journey is a great feeling!

Step 2: Walk, run, walk. Starting out too fast and doing too much too soon are the two biggest causes of injury and burnout in new runners. It is better to start slowly and build up gradually. If you have 30 minutes to exercise, start with five minutes of brisk walking. When you feel ready, try running for one minute before returning to a walk. Walk as long as you need to between one-minute periods of running. Soon you will be ready to run for two minutes at a time and then three. Within just a few weeks you could be running the majority of your 30 minutes and feeling great!

Step 3: Run by time, not distance. 30 minutes of exercise is 30 minutes of exercise—no matter how far you travel. You will go farther with less effort as you get into better shape.

Step 4: Eat and drink plenty. Hydration is a key element to successful running. Your body will want extra fluids to rebuild and get stronger after each run. Likewise your body will need to be fueled with a balanced and healthy diet.

Step 5: Sign up for a race. Find a local 5k race that is at least six weeks away and sign up. You’ll feel a surge of motivation the moment you get your entry confirmation, and having a goal to work toward will keep you motivated to get out the door and train.

That’s it! You are ready to run and more importantly enjoy the process. We wish you all the passion and enthusiasm this sport has to offer. Enjoy the process and don’t forget to wave at other runners you meet along the way.

By Run the Edge for MyFitnessPal

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This piece was originally published on on April 2, 2015.