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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

This semester I made a choice to do something I never thought I would do again. I voluntarily paid to run in a race.

This all started back in August when I decided I wanted to challenge myself to get back into running. I was curious to see if I could stick with it for longer than a week or two. As an ex-cross country kid, I am no stranger to running, but I stopped when I got to high school to devote more time to dance. So you could say I am quite far removed from my cardiovascular prime.

Now as a junior in college, there have been several times throughout the last few years that I have tried to start up again. But every time it’s just… So. Damn. Hard.

Well, I’ve finally broken my quitting streak, because for the past two and a half months, I’ve been training for UConn’s Husky Ruck and Run, the annual Veteran’s Day race hosted by Hartford Marathon Foundation, which I completed on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. I survived to tell the tale and you can too.

So, whether you have some experience or are a complete beginner, I’ve got you.

Here are seven of my tips and things I’ve learned from the last few months on how to start running, make it suck less, and actually stick with it.

1. Get actual running sneakers

This might seem unnecessary but your feet will thank you! This is so important in preventing injury, and truly the biggest game changer in sustaining your body through this new activity.

There are so many brands to choose from that it can feel overwhelming, luckily there are stores all over dedicated to fitting people with sneakers to best support your individual needs.

A good running shoe store should have staff that can watch you walk around and measure your feet to see what style would be best for you. I recommend looking at reviews before going to make sure they provide consulting services. Fleet Feet is a great example of what to look for, located in the West Hartford area. There are many things to consider such as arch shape, ankle inversion and eversion in your gait, and how much cushion and stability you want in a shoe.

Most running shoes are between $80 to $150, but almost every brand and style can be found online with further discounts (put that student ID to use!), so once you get fitted check out online for possibly better deals and more color options. If you’re gonna splurge on anything, let it be this.

2. Dress accordingly

Whether you’re running outside or inside, fabric material can make a big difference in comfort! A common saying among runners is “cotton is rotten.” This is because cotton will absorb any moisture your body is producing and trap it against your skin. Hello, chafing and heavy sweaty clothes. No, thank you!

Try to wear any workout clothes made from materials like polyester, nylon, or spandex to keep you cooler and more comfortable. You can find cute workout clothes anywhere, but some of my favorite affordable finds are those from Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Aerie!

As the winter months draw closer, it’s important to protect yourself from the elements if you’re running outside. Dressing for cold weather runs may be a bit of trial and error, but a handy rule of thumb is to dress for about 20 degrees warmer than it is outside to accommodate for generated body heat. In anything colder than 40 degrees there should be no skin showing to protect you from windburn and potential frostbite.

Always layer thin breathable layers such as active-wear quarter-zips and long sleeve performance shirts as opposed to one thick layer. And don’t be wary of hats and gloves! They make all the difference, and you can always take them off if you get too hot.

While you may be tempted to only run indoors during the winter months, a run outside can be just as enjoyable (and feel very cathartic) when you’re equipped with the right gear!

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3. Warmup and Cooldown every time

A five second quad stretch and a touch-your-toes isn’t gonna cut it bestie!

In my pre-run routine, I like to incorporate dynamic stretches like squatting, lunges, and kicks, as this helps to warm up and lengthen your muscles. While it’s okay to do static stretches on “cold” muscles, this can increase your risk of injury. After your dynamic stretches, this is where to incorporate your static stretches. Make sure to spend at LEAST 10 whole Mississippi seconds on each muscle group!

After your run, repeat those static stretches again! Running is a high-impact sport, and stretching afterwards will not only feel good, but your tomorrow self will thank you for getting ahead on that lactic acid circulation which will help alleviate soreness. Additionally, rolling out your legs will feel amazing post-run, especially as your body gets used to this new activity.

Muscle roller sticks are a great option for a handheld device that will let you control the amount of pressure and exact area targeted by the roller. A foam roller is a classic option that utilizes your own body weight for a deep and intense massage. Lastly, for the bottoms of your feet, I love using a lacrosse ball, they are the perfect size and hardness of any household item, and much cheaper than a fancy foot massager.

4. start with interval training

If you take anything away from this article, let it be interval training! This is the missing link that I had never incorporated into my prior attempts at getting back into running, until this time around.

Interval training is a type of workout that alternates between high intensity and low intensity exercise, i.e. running and walking. This often looks like (x number of minutes running) followed by (x number of minutes walking), then repeat for desired length of workout.

My very first run back in August consisted of (one min of running) followed by (one minute of walking), for a total of 10 minutes overall. Over time, I increased my duration spent running and was able to go for longer periods of total time. For beginners who want to build endurance, this is a fantastic way to get moving without the daunting notion of running without breaks.

If you want a “schedule” or recommendations on interval running, the “Couch to 5K” is a very popular program that should pop right up in Google Images when looked up online.

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5. Slow tf down

Another huge piece of advice: SLOW DOWN!

When you’re just starting, your focus should be on building endurance, not speed! After working up some endurance with interval training, you’re ready to start going for uninterrupted runs. These are challenging at first and are often accompanied by the mental block of feeling like you can’t go any farther. But you know what will make it easier? Going at a comfortable pace that doesn’t make your heart feel like it’s gonna burst out of your chest.

Trust me I get it, it can feel embarrassing running at a pace that sometimes feels like it would be faster to walk. But being able to run for 15 minutes at a jog is much more beneficial to your progress than a three-minute sprint that results in you having to stop. You’ll be shocked at how long you can run if you just dial it down!

You might feel tempted to try to speed it up in crowded places whether that be indoors or outside, which brings me to my next piece of advice:

6. No one is looking at you

I promise.

One of the biggest reservations I had about starting up running (especially outside) was the fact that people would see me. Almost everybody hates feeling perceived, especially in vulnerable states of trying something new! Neighbors are nosy, campus is always crowded, and there are drivers everywhere.

But guess what? No one cares about the random stranger they see pass by them for a few seconds. They might look at you for a moment, and then they’ll move on with their day. Just like you do when a random stranger runs by you!

Running is not flattering, just ask anyone who’s ever had their picture taken mid-race by a well-intentioned parent. The good thing is, nobody cares. Pinky swear.

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7. Listen to something good

You’d be surprised by how well you can motivate yourself to keep going just based on what you’re listening to. I also know many people like listening to audiobooks and podcasts to take their minds off the task at hand and pass the time. For some great pod recommendations check out this other HC UConn article, “10 Podcasts That Got Me Back Into Podcast Listening“! And if you’re running on the treadmill, the world is your oyster when you can prop your phone up. Anything from binge-worthy shows to video essays can make a long run seem short.

Also don’t knock a sad song run until you try it. The author of this article may or may not have listened to “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” the first few times she tried to run 10 minutes straight.


Even if running isn’t something you continue throughout your life, that’s okay! When it comes to exercise it’s nice to experiment around to see what you enjoy and what your body is capable of.

For me, there’s never been a way around getting over the initial “this sucks” when it comes to running. What matters is that you know that it won’t always suck, and that YOU CAN DO THIS!

Megan is the PR/Event Planning Coordinator of Her Campus UConn. She is a junior at the University of Connecticut studying Allied Health Sciences and WGSS, on a pre-Occupational Therapy track. Megan enjoys writing articles about music, crafting, and incredibly niche astrology takes. This past summer Megan interned at Bradley Hospital under an Occupational Therapist, and her dire spending habits were largely funded by her other job in retail. When she's not writing or being a woman in stem, you can find her romanticizing her life through her Spotify playlists while doing one of her many hobbies. Megan's favorite pastimes are reading poorly written fantasy/romance, crocheting, and the gym, where she does more chatting than lifting.