The great thing about running is it can be done by anyone, anywhere. Although it can feel a little intimidating at first, all you need to make a move is a pair of good running shoes and some determination.
Granted, no one walks outside and immediately crushes their first few runs like a seasoned pro. However, there are some strategies you can use to make your miles easier — and keep up with the habit once you’ve started. Here, experts weigh in:
START WITH TIME INSTEAD OF DISTANCE
When beginning a running routine, trying to run a specific distance can feel super difficult. “Instead, I recommend starting with blocks of time,” says Heather Hart, exercise physiologist. “Start with something like 10–20 minutes. It takes a lot of the pressure off trying to hit a specific distance, and is an excellent place to start.”
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO WALK
Whether you’re running for 10 minutes straight or tackling a quick two and giving yourself a break, you’re still a runner. Using run/walk intervals, especially at first, is a great strategy to build endurance. “Taking walk breaks will delay fatigue to your muscles as well as keep your heart rate lower,” says Hart. “Mentally, it’s much easier to break your run into 1- or 2-minute intervals, rather than thinking about running for the entire ‘big picture’ time or distance.”
FIND A RUNNING BUDDY OR GROUP
Finding a friend to pound the pavement with can make things a lot more fun. Even better if you can find someone — or a group of runners — with a bit more experience. Research shows working out with a “more capable” partner can encourage you to work out longer.
“Accountability is everything,” says Timothy Lyman, director of training programs at Fleet Feet Pittsburgh. “Knowing you have people waiting on you will help ensure you keep your running consistent.”
GEAR UP SMART
Running is already difficult enough. Make it easier by finding gear — from sneakers to long sleeves — that works for you. Today’s running picks offer certain tech like sweat-wicking, wind protection, blister control, cooling or heating … the list goes on, but it’s all made with a runner’s comfort in mind.
When it comes to choosing your go-to shoe, it definitely helps to seek an expert opinion. Head to a local sneaker specialty shop, where they can analyze your stride and help you find an option that fits your individual needs.
MARK OFF YOUR RUNS
Another good accountability tool is a visible reminder of your completed runs. Mark up every running day on your calendar, stick it somewhere so you’ll see it several times a day, whether it’s the fridge or bathroom mirror. “After you complete each run make sure to mark it off on your calendar,” says Lyman. “This helps form a habit, making you more likely to continue running.”
POST IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
In addition to scheduling runs with others, you can find other ways to make yourself accountable. Social media is a great tool for encouraging accountability by sharing your workouts. You can log your runs in MapMyRun, join a challenge like You vs The Year and post updates on Facebook and other social media platforms. “By announcing to your friends and family that you are running — and even better, have a specific running goal — you’re much more likely to follow through on your workout plans,” says Thomas Watson, UESCA-certified run coach and founder of the Marathon Handbook.
PRIORITIZE IT LIKE A MEETING
Studies have shown that building time into your daily routine for exercise makes it much more likely you’ll actually follow through on the exercise, and continue on your exercise schedule. “Treat your runs like a non-negotiable business meeting,” says Watson. “stick them in your daily calendar and abide by them.”