How To Start A Running Habit When You're Totally Out Of Shape
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I want to start running, but I hate running and am really out of shape. How do I start?

Here are a few tips that got me to add miles to my days and enjoyment to my life.

1. Walk before you run.

If you haven't exercised in a while, or you're in the shape I was in, start with the basics. This will keep you from hurting yourself, and from getting discouraged. I wouldn’t really start jogging until 20-30 minutes of walking is very easy. You should also consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen. This is a great time to revamp your nutrition plan, so you can also check out my tips for getting healthy on the cheap.

2. Invest in a good pair of shoes.

I'm all about saving money and living minimally, but a bad pair of shoes will ruin your joy of running before it takes hold. I prefer the minimalist and barefoot style of shoes. If you're going to start with them, walking before you run will save your calf muscles a world of hurt. Trust me on this one.

3. Measure.

I think beginners should start on treadmills, because it keeps time and pace for you. This makes recording progress easy, helps keep you motivated to go a little further and a little faster, and makes it simple to go just a bit further or faster. If you're not a treadmill person, there are apps, measuring tape, watches, pedometers, and entire websites dedicated to this. I suggest going with cheap or free until your needs dictate otherwise.

4. Explore home.

I learned more about my college town while running than I ever did while doing anything else (partying). I found a great bike shop, a movie theater, my new favorite restaurant, and a library branch that had a book I wanted!

5. Weather the elements at least once.

This is a good litmus test to see how serious you want to be. If you enjoy a run in a summer rain, and a winter storm, you might need to schedule your first race. If you try it and don’t like it, keep running as a form of stress relief on nice days. At the very least, you'll form a mutual camaraderie with any other rain runners you see.

6. Race at least once.

If you're deciding to become a dedicated runner, or if you just enjoy doing it occasionally, there are races for you. The feeling of running with large groups is surreal, the volunteers are wonderful, and variety of racer is astounding. The best part is the small entry fee usually nets you a t-shirt, a snack at the end, and the profits go to charity!

7. Don't ignore your body.

No matter what ails you during a run, there's a solution, and your body is the best at telling you what it need. Tightness, weakness, trouble breathing, soreness. Try yoga or stretching, strength training, Tabata (high-intensity interval training), better rest and nutrition. Our bodies send amazing feedback signals; we just have to interpret them correctly.

8. Figure out your why.

Whether it's getting healthy, looking better, stealing second in the company softball game, or completing your first race, your goal is important. Not everyone needs to be able to run a marathon, so if that's not your goal, don’t train like it is.

Running is a great activity, and it can benefit you in many ways. You need to know why you do it, for yourself. This is why I suggest running in the elements and racing once — this just might just help you find another reason to run!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Eric Zarnesky is a formerly morbidly obese party animal, turned Army Special Operator. He is currently trying to decide what to write in this bio. If you are interested in what he is doing now, have questions, comments, suggestions, or just feel like bothering a stranger you can send him an email at ericzarnesky@gmail.com, or look him up on Facebook.

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