Steps To Take Before You Start Running

So you’ve plumped up over the holidays and have decided you’re going to jog off the flab. Bear in mind that there’s more to starting your new career as a runner than just lacing up your cross trainers and scampering in circles around the neighborhood. Rush into the hobby the same way you did that pecan pie on Sunday and you could burn yourself out.

A Yoga.Eat.Run post tips wannabe runners should keep in mind before they start:

* Buddy up. The great secret of running, especially at long distances, is that the activity is incredibly boring. Finding someone to slog through the miles with you will provide motivation — you will subtly compete and hold each other accountable — and keep things interesting.

* Take it slow. Keep the distances short and the pace slow in the beginning. If you make your first runs hellish experiences, odds are you won’t want to come back for more. When you get tired or start to cramp up, slow down or take a break.

* Don’t turn into an icicle. The pity of inspiration for a New Year’s running resolution is that it hits in winter. It’s cold out there, and failing to layer on enough clothing will turn your run into more of a frigid waddle. Don’t forget to cover your ears with a beanie or hood.

Running 101 For Beginners [Yoga.Eat.Run]


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  1. chefboyardee says:

    Running is not boring. If you’re bored, YOU’RE boring. Running is a beautiful way to commune with nature and your community.

    That said if you absolutely MUST have something to do, put some podcasts on your mobile device and learn while you run.

    • Night Cheese says:

      Thank you. No one asked for your opinion, Phil! Make a playlist that is synched to your warm-up, run, and cool-down that kicks up when your run gets going and it can be quite fun. Or just enjoy the sites and sounds around you, it’s a great way to practice mindfulness.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      If you’re bored, YOU’RE boring.

      Words I have said to my nephews, and various girlfriends, many times.

    • SouthernCanuck says:

      +1…. People always tell me I’m crazy for running without music, but I quite enjoy just letting my brain shut off for a while and getting in touch with my surroundings…

    • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

      People who attack other people for having different opinions about something they like are boring. So there.

      And actually, running is pretty effin’ boring.

      • chefboyardee says:

        First, I wasn’t directly attacking anyone, I was making a general statement.

        Second, it’s true – so I stand by it.

        Third, attacking someone wouldn’t make me boring, it would make me mean. Which I am not. Ok, sometimes. But not in this case.

        Fourth, if you can’t take enjoyment from being outside, pumping your body full of serotonin and endorphins, getting in touch with the world around you, and generally enjoying nature…I feel sorry for you. Running itself might not be fun, but the experience that goes along with it can be, IF you want it to be.

        • SteveZim1017 says:

          some of us don’t live anywhere near “nature” unless city streets and noisey busses are considered nature. Some of us use the music to drown out the urban noise

        • BorkBorkBork says:

          Running is straight-up the most boring thing I’ve ever done. Way too slow for me. So I switched to road biking and it actually gets my endorphins flowing plus it’s better on my joints.

        • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

          Oh shiza I was being fun and uh whatever. I get the draw of working out. I’m actually a 7 day a week yoga practitioner for the last 10 years and teach as a hobby when I’m not dodging rockets in Afghanistan.

          But yeah, running really is boring, for me at least. 6 years in the Marines taught me that.

    • Potted-Plant says:

      I wish i could use an iPod for music, but the only time I can find time to run is early morning or after dark. A lone woman running on poorly lit streets with headphones on is an invitation for assault. Without anything to listen to and not much to look at, even the guy from the Cuervo commercials would be bored with running.

      • Shouhdes says:

        I think a woman outside of the kitchen is prone for assault.

      • newsbunny says:

        There are headphones that are kind of open in the back, allowing you to hear what’s around you. Let me see if I can find a link for you. I usually run with one ear on, one ear off. I look dorky, but that’s okay.

      • chefboyardee says:

        Just wear one earphone. I have over the ears, and in the ears, and both work perfectly fine for single-ear running. I’m a 30 year old male, and I run this way because I like to know what’s going on around me.

    • deadandy says:

      The leads are weak? YOU’RE weak!

    • Masamune_X says:

      “Running is not boring.”

      “…you absolutely MUST have something to do…”


  2. dwtomek says:

    YMMV with the buddy system. Usually someone in the buddy system will be holding the other back. If you are the one proposing the buddy system, it’s likely you’ll be the one holding the other back. At least that’s the way it has always worked for me. I do make my own motivation at home though.

    • ARP says:

      I think it depends. If you’re trying to really push yourself, then yes, there will inevitably be a weak link. But if you’re doing it for moderate exercise (or to keep exercising), a buddy is better at keeping you motivated.

  3. agent 47 says:

    I love to run, but my treadmill broke back in October and I just don’t have the cash to get a new one just yet. I’m bummed about all the progress I’ll be losing. :(

    • Cat says:

      Check Craigs list, your local classifieds, and thrift stores in about 2-4 months, as people give up and return to their old ways.

      In the meantime, visit every gym in your area that offers a free trial membership. That should should give you about 2 months.

    • ARP says:

      Are you opposed to running outside? You really don’t need all that fancy gear. Just get some cheap long-johns, some quiet running pants from target or your local TJX store, hat and gloves from resale, and a cheap softshell coat. That will get you buy in most weather conditions.

      • agent 47 says:

        I’m not a fan. If it’s not breathing in car exhaust or skunk spray, it’s contending with stray dogs and the joint pain caused by running on hard pavement. It’s such a miserable time every time I try it. The cold air really burns my throat too.

        I guess I’d just rather run in a more controlled environment.

        • ChuckECheese says:

          This’ll scare ya: A marathoner friend of mine was diagnosed with COPD last year. He’s a lifelong nonsmoker. I’m guessing it’s the soot and fumes he inhaled all those years training on Phoenix streets. Poor guy.

  4. ganzhimself says:

    I find it’s a good way to exercise my two labs. They love to go out for a run with me. It’s a great way to get outdoors and get some fresh air.

  5. Cat says:

    Try walking before you try to run.

    • SerenityDan says:


    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Yes, for sure. Once you can walk at a good pace, then add short bursts of slow running (30 seconds or so) every few minutes. Up the time you spend running gradually. The average person simply can’t just go out and run straight away.

    • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

      The Couch Potato to 5k program is brilliant fun.

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      Good advice. Start slow and build up.

      And little things count. e.g. take the stairs vs. the elevator.

    • duffman13 says:

      Great advice, and here’s some more.

      I’ve been a runner for the better part of 15 years now.

      The biggest thing I can say about getting started with it is to get fitted for proper running shoes based on your footstrike and running style. You only need to do it once and then will know what you need from that point forward. I suggest at least looking and talking to the salespeople at a running specialty store.

      Improper shoes can lead to lots of pain, even when just walking. Yes the cushiony ones feel nice, but you stand a good chance of injury if you’re a mild to severe pronator and giving you shin splints (ask me how I know). If you are heavier you almost certainly need a support-biased shoe rather than a cushined one

  6. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    For my motivation, I usually chuck a brick through a store window and grab some merchandise. Works every time.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Running outdoors is expensive for beginners. I have plenty of hats, coats, and boots. I can’t really run efficiently in any of them. And when it’s bitterly, bitterly cold, you don’t even want to walk. And I know my limitations. I hate running because I don’t find it enjoyable, even when I’m reading a book or watching a movie. I stick to walking at a brisk pace or doing the elliptical because it’s less annoying.

    • Cat says:

      pecan pie on Sunday?

    • Night Cheese says:

      It’s totally different in the south. Winters here are mild and are great for running, I never need more than two layers but can usually get by on one. The biggest expense was a good pair of shoes. Summers are excruciating and my running usually diminishes.

      • Martha Gail says:

        I’m in Texas and I love running in the summer after the sun goes down. It’s still hot and I sweat like crazy, but the sun isn’t beating me down. Just make sure to drink plenty of water and wear fabric that wicks moisture.

      • Naeva says:

        Same for me, in the South. I have MS, so running outside from around May to September is really just not doable. But during the winter, it’s nice and easy.

  8. mazda33jdm says:

    at least they used a image from bear delaware.

  9. Coffee says:

    Before I start running, I think it’s a good idea to start training for a marathon.

  10. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Don’t forget, you don’t have to run faster than everyone else. You just have to run faster than the slowest person when trying to escape the wolves.

  11. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Never once in my life was I able to ‘run’. I thought walking our Sibe had prepared me, but I was wrong. Tried to hike a mountain yesterday, but failed miserably. My weight is down to 385 but I’m still not as spry as I used to be, being over 50. Got some new year’s resolutions to do.

    • Cat says:

      #*%!? (385 IN ALL CAPS) I’m hoping that was a typo, but I have the feeling it’s not… You’ll kill your feet trying to run at that weight. Start on a stationary bike and try to bring yourself under 300 before getting “serious” about walking.

      Seriously… get busy, anything is better than nothing. I lost 30 lbs 2 years ago, on my way to 50lbs, when I fell off. Now I have to start all over again.

      We don’t want to lose a happy tinfoil cat.

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

        I lost over 50 pounds a couple years ago… but I found them again. My 17 year old son has just lost about 50 pounds in two months and he was only 180. He’s doing the ketogenic diet (zero carbs, just non-starchy veggies, fat and protein). He and his brother had no problem reaching the top of the mountain. I’ve been talking with dieticians and doctors about it.

        • allknowingtomato says:

          I can personally report that a ketogenic diet has been effective for me and my mother. if you’re looking for more anecdotal information, as well as links to studies and portrayals in the popular media, there is a subreddit (r/keto) devoted to the topic over at at your weight/age, i must recommend checking with your doctor first (though many doctors may give overly conservative advice on this point, as the whole refined-carbs-are-probably-worse-for-you-than-saturated-fat thing bucks older schools of thought).

          If you can get access to a pool, swimming is another great way for higher-weight people to get exercise without completely wearing down your joints. i’m shopping around for cheap access to a lap pool for this exact reason.

    • StarfishDiva says:

      To hell with running for you, if you are looking to lose weight, get a recumbent bike. It has worked 35 pounds off my frame in three months and all I do is peddle my ass off, while on my ass, and watch Cake Boss on Netflix. That’s it.

      Now that I’ve added Complete Nutrition, protein shakes, and strength training, I’ve since finished Cake Boss and watch Ace of Cakes… I suppose not the BEST motivational videos, but I just like seeing all the purty things them crazy Yankees do with the fondant and modeling chocolate…


      Also, the three bit dessert rule has been a godsend. Three bites, savor them, push it aside. I still get my “naughty girl” on.

      I’m feeling more and more like Jessica Rabbit everyday, except with loose skin…. stretch marks, and mousy brown hair…..Oh…..well at least my blood sugar isn’t spiking any more.

      Long story short, recumbent bikes are great on the joints and brilliant for us lazy bastards. :)

    • ARP says:

      HTC- Running probably isn’t for you (at least not yet). You’re going to kill your lower body joints. I would try walking, treadmill, stationary or recumbent bikes, swimming, elliptical trainers, etc. Start slow. If you say, hike a mountain, you’d get discouraged if you can’t, and will hurt the next day. Try to do something small everyday, even its it’s taking a 10 minute walk around the block.

      While doing that, keep your calorie intake the same or lower. Work on small substitutions of foods if you haven’t already (club soda or diet soda for regular, Greek yogurt for sour cream, low fat ground beef for higher fat, skim milk for regular, etc.). These little things can add up.

      We’d like HTC around as long as we can.

  12. scoccaro says:

    Be careful not to get burnt out. I ran 3 miles everyday for 2 years and now i dread trying to go for a run. Try mixing it up, maybe running one day and biking the next.

  13. Brontide says:

    Take it slow. Running all out limits your ability to run further which is where real fitness and endurance improvements are made. Running too fast will result in premature fatigue and invite injury. Once I learned to slow down I was able to take my running from 12 miles a week all the way up to where I am now, 42 miles a week. Save your racing for the races where it will do you some good.

    Personally I find running to be great by myself. I have 2 kids and the hours I spend running every week are “my time”.

  14. MrObvious says:

    I used to enjoy running, but then I took an arrow to the knee.

  15. aloria says:

    If you’re attempting to do this for weight loss, find out how many calories your workout *actually* burns and be mindful of the fact that increased activity can make you more hungry. The ~300 calories you burn during a half hour of jogging isn’t going to make you lose fat if you follow it up with an extra snack or two because you “earned it.”

  16. BennieHannah says:

    Running isn’t for everyone, or most people, really. Runners, it seems to me, are a breed apart, and while I admire them, I can’t join them. Luckily there are many forms of exercise, and I like long brisk walks listening to podcasts or on my treadmill reading a book. An hour a day, even if it’s broken up into two or three smaller sessions keeps me feeling and looking great. I also take the dogs to the dog park and circle the track with them, and in the past I’ve volunteered to exercise dogs at various shelters — you can spend three or four hours there without realizing where the time went! I’ll never be someone who enjoys vigorous exercise or sports, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep fit on my own terms.

  17. Cat says:

    Helpful site for planning a walking / running route:

  18. ARP says:

    RE: stretching. The science has changed a bit from when I was a kid. You should not be stretching “cold.” You should run slowly for a bit or walk quickly and then stretch. Many runners don’t stretch at all before a run (as you’re probably not pushing your ROM that much), and only stretch a bit afterwards.

  19. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    Try yoga. Even though it’s full of hippies who want to hug you and talk about the “Universe” it’s way better than listening to someone humblebrag about “training for a marathon” or some other such nonsense.

    Plus, I really like hugs.

  20. Belle says:

    I stared bicycling to work. It’s great motivation for me as I have to get there or get fired!

    • Potted-Plant says:

      Cycling is much easier on the body than running. Just pick up an issue of Bicycling and an issue of Runner’s World. Chances are good the main article in Bicycling will be about new equipment or a cool route no one’s heard of. The main article in Runner’s world will probably deal with treating an injury that most runners get at some point.

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      I love the adrenalin rush I get from biking. And +1 on the joints thing. I’m a 25 yr. old with troublesome knee issues and biking is the way to go for me.

      Besides, running is incredibly boring to me.

  21. Clyde Barrow says:

    When I began running years ago I started out by doing cardio exercizes in my living room to a program on the tv. This got my body toned and got the muscles and tendon’s ready for running. If you haven’t done any cardio, it would be wise to start out this way because you’ll be surprised at how difficult it is to do this and how bad of shape your heart and lungs are in. It takes time to ramp them up for running.

    I also learned how to stretch properly to mitigate injury. Doing this allowed me the time to look into shoes and other clothing so I didn’t rush into buying some inappropriate. A lot of prep should be taken before running otherwise you’ll hurt yourself and quit. I did this for 2 to 3 weeks before taking off on the streets for my first run and it helped.

  22. viriiman says:

    I started using a Couch25k app on my phone and that’s been working wonders.

  23. ajlei says:

    I like using RunKeeper (iOS app). It has different settings for beginning running, or even for other workouts. And it tracks how far you’ve run, how long it took, your mph, etc.

  24. RavenWarrior says:

    Hey I know exactly where that sign came from! It’s from a shopping center in Delaware.

  25. u1itn0w2day says:

    You have to walk before you run, literally.

    Warm up before running by walking a bit. Prepare or train for running by walking for a week or two at different paces and distances. Throw in basic stretching program that emphasizes the quads and hamstrings. And find a good pair of running shoes for you. You have to try on several pairs and manufacturers. Should be snug but not tight fit. Really shouldn’t be much working in to do.

  26. muzicman82 says:

    I saw this post and know exactly where that sign is.. In fact, I’m about 4 miles from it now.

  27. Jesse says:

    There’s always the Couch to 5K regiment where you slowly build up to 5K runs (3.1 miles) over 9 weeks.

  28. loggg says:

    I could never keep up a jogging program for the sake of exercise. I need an errand. I’ll jog up to the library, or a sub shop, or the grocery at the corner, and jog back. As for boring, yes, if you don’t do any thinking while jogging. I like to think while jogging.

    And the whole time, I’m constantly reminded how hostile our society is to pedestrians. Huge, busy streets to cross, and blind alleys behind “privacy” fences. The very name “sidewalk” shows where our priorities are. Can’t we have a “walk”? Cars are king, pedestrians are losers, and sweat and body odor is gross.

  29. Paularado says:

    Step One: Read or listen to “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall and get totally inspired to run.

    At least that’s what happened to me and at least 3 other people I know last year. The audio version is super.

  30. Paularado says:

    Step One: Read or listen to “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall and get totally inspired to run.

    At least that’s what happened to me and at least 3 other people I know last year. The audio version is super.

  31. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Steps To Take Before You Start Running:

    1. Sit back down.
    2. Have another beer.
    3. ???
    4. Profit.

  32. Kuri says:

    I plan to take up some biking instead.

  33. gaya2081 says:

    I went from barely being able to run 60 seconds in august to running 16 miles last week, with my longest run at 6 miles on Christmas day. I have a 1/2 marathon end of April and planning on running the Philly marathon next year :)

    c25k is the way to start!!!

  34. NCB says:

    I’m lucky that I have the perfect neighborhood for walking/running.I’ve been a walker for years after developing foot and knee trouble running 20 years ago in the military. A size 6.5 foot on a 5 foot 8 inch female body screws with the physics of running.
    I just added swimming and biking to ease the joint problems. I’ve also just been diagnosed with cough variant asthma after a respiratory virus (non smoker despite growing up in NC) and it’s also exercise induced to a certain extent so now I have to take my inhaler before exercising but I’m still going at almost 52.

  35. Ed says:

    If you don’t run now and want to start, the last thing you need is a running buddy. You shouldn’t run over a quarter mile the first run and you should be months before “slogging through the miles.”

    The comment on the website saying you need shoes is also asinine.

  36. soj4life says:

    Imagine being able to be magically whisked away to… Delaware