11 Simple Tips to Start Running When You're Out of Shape

Updated on May 13, 2018
Kaitlyn Lo profile image

Kaitlyn has a background in psychology and writes articles that teach you how to lean on your body, mind, heart, and on those around you.

Some love the feeling of the ground under our feet and the wind in our face as we run, while others hate running and get bored at the monotonous movement as our body struggles to keep going.

But running doesn’t have to be boring and shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it right. In fact, when we’re out of shape, running can be an easy way to start building an exercise regimen. Here’s how to start.

1. Know Why You Want to Start Running

Whether it is to lose weight, feel healthier, grow stronger, or wanting to complete a marathon, your goal in starting a running habit is important and will affect your training regimen. So before you invest in any running gear, know what you’re striving to accomplish.

By Tirachard Kumtanom. CC0 Creative Commons.
By Tirachard Kumtanom. CC0 Creative Commons. | Source

Poll: Your Goal

Why do you want to start running?

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2. Invest in Running Shoes

Yes, you can run in any old pair of shoes, but if you’re planning to include running into your regular workout routine, you need to buy a pair of shoes that will provide the right kind of support. Running can be hard on your joints, so the right shoes will help protect you and prevent injury so you can run more comfortably and for longer.

By JESHOOTS.com. CC0 Creative Commons
By JESHOOTS.com. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

3. It's Okay to Walk First

When you haven’t exercised in a while, your lung capacity may not be the best, so if you jump head first into heavy-duty running, you may feel discouraged when you start hurting and getting out of breath. You may also risk injuring yourself because your muscles aren’t used to the exercise.

So start walking at first. Walk a little faster than you would normally so your heart, lungs, and muscles still get a workout. Then as your body adjusts to the new cardio pace, you can start with a slow jog. From there, you can continue to up the pace as your comfort level increases.

By Tobi. CC0 Creative Commons
By Tobi. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

4. Stretch After, Not Before

It may seem a little counterintuitive, but stretching before running isn't a good idea. It can increase your risk of injury and reduce your performance. So, if you need to warm up your muscles, it's better to start with a walk or some strength training.

By Max Nikhil Thimmayya. CC0 Creative Commons
By Max Nikhil Thimmayya. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

5. Explore Your Neighborhood

Whether it’s because you stay at home too much, always drive from A straight to B, or if you’re the type of person who would get bored of running in place on a treadmill, go for a run around your neighborhood. Explore the area around your home while you’re jogging. You may discover a new favorite cafe, bookstore, or find something beautiful that you never knew was so close to home.

By Tirachard Kumtanom. CC0 Creative Commons
By Tirachard Kumtanom. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

6. Track Your Progress

That being said, it may be beneficial for you to begin your running habit on the treadmill because it will help you experiment with different speeds and help you get a feel for how you like to run. A treadmill will also record your progress, which may help motivate you to push a little harder when you start to feel tired. Alternatively, you can invest in a fitness tracker that will also give you more insights into your fitness and progress.

By picjumbo.com. CC0 Creative Commons
By picjumbo.com. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

Did You Know?

Running strengthens your bones. A study by researchers at the University of Michigan found that just 12 to 20 minutes of running three times a week increases the density of our bones.

7. Listen to Your Body

Running should feel good, and while you may struggle a little, it should never feel painful. If you feel pain, weakness, or have trouble breathing, slow down or stop. Take a break or even take some time off to build up your muscle strength and review your nutritional habits to make sure you’re fueling your body correctly.

By Burst. CC0 Creative Commons
By Burst. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

8. Give Yourself Time

If you’re running because you want to lose weight, it’s important to maintain a realistic mindset. In the first couple of weeks, you won’t see much change in the mirror because most of the positive effects of running begin internally. Your muscles, tendons, and bones are getting stronger, and your body is learning to become more efficient at keeping itself oxygenated by growing more blood vessels.

So be patient with yourself and allow your body the time to adapt to a new exercise routine. Don’t go too hard too soon or you’ll risk getting hurt.

By Public Domain Pictures. CC0 Creative Commons
By Public Domain Pictures. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

9. Eat Well

When you start running, you need to make sure that you’re adapting your nutrition and diet to support and fuel your body. Because you’ll be using significantly more energy and are working out your muscles more, make sure you eat enough protein and complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help your muscles heal and grow stronger so you can run for longer and faster as time goes on.

Also, don’t shy away from healthy fats. Your body requires fat for normal function and to maintain cellular health. Unsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and virgin olive oil are all great sources of healthy fats.

By Trang Doan. CC0 Creative Commons
By Trang Doan. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

Poll: Favorite Exercise

What's your favorite form of exercise?

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10. Weight Train

Strength training will reduce your risk of injury and can prepare your body for an easier and more enjoyable running experience. You can choose to do strength training on your days when you’re not running, or do about 15 minutes of weight training after every run.

But, like any exercise, be cautious, use correct form, and never lift heavier than you feel comfortable lifting. If you choose to lift weights after a run, be extra careful because you may already be feeling tired and may not be able to do as many reps or lift as much weight as you would normally.

By Victor Freitas. CC0 Creative Commons
By Victor Freitas. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

11. Join a Race

Even if you aren’t planning on becoming a marathon runner, it’s a great idea to participate in a race or two. The experience of running with a large group of people can be hugely motivational. Meeting other runners can also help you build a support network that will help you improve and stick with your running routine. You may even find a new reason to run!

By Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons
By Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 KV Lo


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    • profile image

      Bobbi- Little Miss Blog 

      24 months ago

      These are some helpful tips! I want to start running and needed some direction on getting started. I never realized the importance of stretching afterwards!

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      Having a good choice of running shoes is the part that I like the most. There are types of shoes for specific activity. Nice article by the way

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      I did not know that you shouldn't stretch before running! Good tips to know, thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      La Shell 

      24 months ago

      My issue is wanting to hit the field or track and become the best runner in no time at all. I also have puma shoes that are NOT good for running. I just need the commitment.

    • profile image

      Sheila Price 

      24 months ago

      Thanks for all the great tips! I want to get back into running, but I had problems with my knee in the past. I'm glad you stressed the importance of listening to your body and investing in some good shoes!

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      I haven’t been running in years because of an injury. I’m excited to use this to get back into running!

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      I'm actually really into Yoga but running and walking through my neighborhood are great ways of getting to know people and feel connected to my surroundings. Love this Post

    • profile image

      Monidipa Dutta 

      24 months ago

      Thanks for sharing that with us. This is really a valuable information. But unfortunately I can't run anymore after my accident. I loved running..

    • Kaitlyn Lo profile imageAUTHOR

      KV Lo 

      2 years ago

      @poppyr Wow! That's a great achievement! Thanks for sharing that with me. I know how hard it is to make yourself run when it's not your preferred physical activity. So congratulations for following through!

      Thank you for reading and I'm glad you found it useful. :)

    • poppyr profile image


      2 years ago from Enoshima, Japan

      I dislike running, but I challenged myself to a half-marathon in 2014. After a few months of training, I did it with about half a minute to spare but stopped running after that. It is a good way to get fit and keep weight down. I just feel embarrassed jogging around where people can see me, especially as I'm paler and heavier than most people here, haha.

      This is a great article on how to get into running, and very useful for those interested in becoming better at it. Thank you for sharing.


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