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These 5 tips can help anyone become a runner.

Running may seem like the easiest activity to master. After all, isn’t it as simple as lacing up your sneakers and moving your legs at a pace that’s faster than a walk? In essence, it is. But if you are new to the sport and want to enjoy it while not getting injured, it takes a bit more than that to do it right.

If you’re new to running, whether because you’ve otherwise been sedentary or you just prefer other activities that aren’t running, here are a few tips to start you on the road to this versatile activity:
  • Think about your goals – Knowing what you hope to achieve from running and why you want to do it can help you feel more connected to the activity. With some solid motivation behind you, you’re more likely to stick to a new activity, even on the days you’re not quite in the mood. Whether you want to train for a 5k, build your stamina or relieve stress, your goals will help keep you going. Write them down!
  • Get the right gear – Sure, there’s not much that’s needed to run, but it is important to get the right gear. When buying running shoes, it’s best to have your feet checked at a running store. They’ll look at how your foot hits the ground and will evaluate your running stride before recommending a shoe. You’ll also want to get some comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing. Don’t forget to wear reflective gear if you’re running when lighting conditions are low. And don’t skip the sunscreen, even if it’s cloudy out.
  • Don’t skip the warm-up – Before you start running, your body needs a few minutes to get itself ready. Do some dynamic exercises, such as brisk walking, squats, leg hops, arm swings or yoga poses, to get your muscles warmed up and your blood flowing. Save the static stretches for after your run, when your muscles are already warm.
  • Slowly increase pace and distance – Sometimes people are so motivated that they do more than their bodies are capable of and then pay the price with injuries and burnout. It’s best to start slow and gradually increase your pace and/or distance over time. Begin with an easy pace – one at which you can still talk while running. Do intervals of running at this pace between intervals of walking. As the running portion feels more comfortable, increase the amount of time you’re running compared to walking until you can eventually run the entire distance. Try not to increase pace or distance by more than 10 to 15 percent per week.
  • Follow a training plan – Although one of the beauties of running is that it’s an unstructured activity that doesn’t require much planning, you can still benefit from following a training plan. The type of plan you follow will depend on your starting fitness level and goals, but following a plan can help you work up to where you want to be in a way that’s more likely to keep you focused and less likely to result in injury.

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Date Last Reviewed: March 14, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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