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So You Want to Start Running? Here’s How to Start!

With warmer weather moving in, you may be wanting to spend more time outdoors. A great way to do this is by running! I know it can seem daunting, but it really is a wonderful way to be active and enjoy spring and summer weather. As someone who used to absolutely despise running, I find it quite ironic that I am even writing this article to begin with. I literally used to be made fun of in middle school because I was always the slowest and most awkward runner in P.E. class. However, this all changed last spring when my quarantine boredom led me to start taking daily runs as a way to safely venture out of my home and think about life. I have continued it since moving to college, and I try to run at least once or twice a week. If you are interested in getting started in running or are just looking for more tips, here are my suggestions for how to successfully pick up the new hobby. Also, I have worked at a running store for the past two years, so I am confident in my knowledge and ability to recommend steps to you!

Get good shoes (and socks, insoles, etc.)

If you are serious about running, then I would say that the most important step is to get a pair of running shoes. While it will be a bit of an investment, your feet will be much more comfortable. It is important to run in supportive and cushioned shoes so that you can avoid pain or injuries. When it comes to brands and models, I recommend the New Balance 880, Brooks Ghost, Nike Pegasus 37, Saucony Triumph, Karhu Ikoni and Hoka Clifton. While trying on shoes, you want to make sure that you have about a thumb’s width of space at the front so that you do not feel discomfort in your toes. Also, it is a good idea to purchase an insole to place inside your shoes. With these, your arches will be extra supported and the shoe will be more tailored to your foot. Some great insole brands are Curex, Powerstep and Superfeet. I suggest that you get measured at a local running store where they will tell you the height of your arches. I also really love Balega and Feetures socks because they provide additional arch support through multiple arch bands. Lastly, if you are planning to run more than a couple of miles, then it is important to carry food or drinks that will give you added energy so that you do not get too fatigued. There is a wide variety of options, so I recommend buying a few and trying them out during different runs. Find what works best for you and then stock up at your local running store.

Make a killer playlist

Although it may sound unimportant, I found that having a good playlist to listen to makes a huge difference on my runs. However, it doesn’t have to be music; you could also listen to a podcast, audiobook, or radio show. Personally, I mostly run to classical music or oldies, but you should try different styles to find what is best for you! I recommend songs that have a faster tempo because they really help me get in the running mindset. It almost feels as if my feet are moving along to the beat, which honestly makes the running more enjoyable. Also, songs are a great way to motivate and track yourself. For example,  I typically try to run for one complete song, then rest for another.

Find your running preferences

Obviously, there are many types and ways to run, so it is crucial to understand your preferences. Whether it be on a treadmill, track, pavement or trail, you should figure out what works best for you and your body. Furthermore, it is smart to rotate the locations and difficulty levels of your runs so that your muscles can be used in different ways. I prefer running outside on a trail or pavement, but I also occasionally run on a treadmill. Also, you should identify what distances and inclines are best for you. It is a good idea to push yourself with these factors, but you do not want to injure yourself. Because of this, I recommend starting relatively easy and going from there. Additionally, you may want to download a running app such as Strava or Runkeeper so that you can keep track of your time and progress.

Be realistic in your goals

Don’t start and immediately set out to train for a marathon.  You don’t want to overextend your body and possibly cause pain or an injury. A lot of training and persistence goes into longer runs, so you should start small and eventually add difficulty or miles when you think you are ready. Find a track or path that you can take regularly and add to it to mix up distances. Then, find a local 5k and train for that. If that goes well, start training for a longer race! It’s important to know the limits of your body and understand the goals that you can realistically set for yourself.

For me, running was an acquired taste. I hated it in the beginning, but I have begun to enjoy it more. I have even started to look forward to my weekly runs, which seems absolutely crazy to me. If someone would have told me that I would become a runner in college, I never would have believed it. Even though I am by no means a good runner, it has been especially cool to track my progress as I grow in my endurance and ability. It has honestly been incredibly beneficial for me, and I am really proud of how I have grown both physically and mentally. However, running isn’t for everyone, so it’s okay if you don’t enjoy or get anything out of it. There are plenty of other activities that you can do if you want to be more active. Nevertheless, if you want to become more of a runner, I hope that this article helped you.

Abigail Weiler (She/Her) is currently a Freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she is majoring in Political Science and minoring in International Studies and French. In her free time, she loves traveling, watching movies, running, keeping up with politics, and spending time with her dog named Heidi. She can almost always be found watching Parks and Rec, listening to Stevie Nicks or Carole King on repeat, working on her handmade earrings business, or encouraging people to vote.
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