How to Start Running (and Not Hate It)

Holland Newton


Running Tips for Beginners

Do you have friends that run? (You’ll know if you do because they talk about it all the time.)

Why? Because they’ve fallen in love with running. 

I know what you’re thinking.

“How could they love running?! It’s so freaking miserable!!”

Everyone everywhere

If you’ve tried to get into running and found yourself doubled over gasping for air, you’re not alone. In fact, that’s probably the typical experience for most people the first time they go. And the second. And the third. Etc.

So what’s the secret? How do I start running without all the side stickers and wheezing?

Get ready because we’ve put together our 8 best tips for running without hating it.

Are you ready? On your mark, get set, GO!

Running is always better with friends.

Running is always better with friends.

Tip #1: Use the buddy system

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that any sustainable fitness habit needs to be enjoyable. And what’s more fun than hanging out with a friend?

Find an accountability buddy to go with you. Good company makes the minutes tick by faster and the run flow by more naturally. And when you feel like skipping a day, having a workout buddy will add just a smidgen of positive peer pressure to make you rethink it.

Plus, there’s safety in pairs. If one of you falls and hurts yourself, someone is right there to help.

Not sure where to find a running buddy? Many local running stores hold free community runs open to people of any pace.

Tip #2: Stop running

Seriously, don’t run.

I know this doesn’t sound like it makes sense. But the most common misconception about running is that runners are out there sprinting as fast as they can go.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, many professional runners advocate for “low heart rate” training where you try to keep your heart rate from going up too high.

If you’ve tried running in the past and found yourself constantly out of breath and stopping to rest (or walk) then you’re pushing yourself too hard. Next time you go out, slow down and try to find your SUSTAINABLE pace. Ask yourself, “If I couldn’t stop or walk at all, what speed could I maintain for the next couple of miles?”

Still struggling? Walk! Most good training plans allow planned walk breaks in your first weeks!

Tip #3: Be chatty

Okay so you’re going with a friend and trying to maintain a sustainable pace. But do you still find yourself out of breath? You’re probably still pushing too hard.

Try this. In order to make sure you’re going slowly enough, try to keep a conversation going with your running buddy. If you can’t talk because you’re struggling for oxygen, you’re pushing too hard. Slow down.

Woman running with headphones

Listening to music or a good audiobook or podcast is a great way to forget that you’re exercising.

Tip #4: Listen to something interesting

Some people do best with beats pumping into their ears. Others prefer to get lost in a podcast or an audiobook. Either way, listening to something interesting will help divert your attention away from your own discomfort. 

If you listen to music on Spotify, look for playlists with a beats-per-minute (BPM) that matches your pace (e.g., 150 BPM, 180 BPM, etc.).

Just make sure you maintain your ability to hear your surroundings. You need to know if a dog is barking or a car is honking at you. Try wearing only one earbud, or headphones with a “transparency mode” that lets outside sound through.

Running shoes

The right shoes can make a huge difference in your running comfort.

Tip #5: Think carefully about your shoes

There was a lot of internal debate about this one.

On the one hand, we just want you to get started. Don’t let having just the right shoes be an impediment.

On the other hand, many of the common aches and pains in new runners can be solved with the right pair of shoes – and what constitutes as “right” varies for every pair of feet.

In the end, we think you should just get started BUT be aware that any discomfort in your feet, legs, and even your torso MIGHT be addressed with better shoes.

When you’re ready to pick out some shoes, find a local running store and ask them to help you.

Nothing compares to trying on multiple pairs of shoes in the store, all specifically chosen by an expert for your specific needs. If you can bring in an old pair of shoes – from working out, walking around, doing chores, or otherwise – your local running store can even use their wear pattern to guide you toward the best kicks for you.

Looking to save a few bucks? Ask if they have any older shoe models, which come at a discounted rate.

Tip #6: Don’t trust the thermometer

When you start running, your muscles heat up and your blood starts to pump faster.

To compensate, dress for weather that’s 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. If it’s 50° outside, dress as if it were 70°. If it’s 70°, dress as if it were 90°. 

Does that seem crazy? When in doubt, layer up and plan on shedding some clothing. If it’s genuinely cold outside, throw a hoodie on top and do your first 15 minutes near your house. That way, when you start to overheat, you can toss the hoodie into your house. 

Set some fitness goals so you have something to work toward.

Set some fitness goals so you have something to work toward.

Tip #7: Make a goal

Whether it’s to make it around your block without stopping, finish your first 5k, or simply get out the door consistently, a goal that gets you excited will keep you on track!

At Virtual Running Club, people often choose from our virtual races and challenges to set goals. Because these events can be finished on your schedule and unique timeline, they’re perfect for new and veteran runners alike.

With events like the Get to Sesame Street Challenge and other cumulative mileage challenges, participants have completed more miles than they ever thought possible.

Tip #8: Remember that you’re choosing short term discomfort over long term regret

Generally speaking, discomfort isn’t dangerous, it’s simply not comfortable. Now and then, when you feel like you just have to stop, remind yourself that you’re actually just fine… merely uncomfortable.

You’re ready to start running without hating it

So that’s it. If you follow these tips, we believe you’ll be well positioned to finally get into running and not hating yourself. Just try not to talk about it too much around your less-fit friends. 😉

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