How to Start Running.....

Updated on July 31, 2010
J.J. asks from Plainfield, IL
14 answers

I have always thought I would enjoy a jog or going for a run but have never done it. I used to belong to gyms, biked and did classes but never running. I have not done much at all for the last 5 years (since we had children). Like most moms, all of my free time seems consumed by work, cooking, cleaning and our beautiful children. I would really like to get back in shape. I want to feel healthy and strong like I used to. My question is - how do I get started? Do I just get up an hour earlier, hop out of bed and head out? is there a better way to do it? Walk first then run? How much time do I need to warm up? Should I stretch first? What about cool down and stretching after? Does the shoe matter? What kind is best? I dont want to spend a fortune on shoes but I understand the importance of the right equipment. :-) thank you for your help!

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answers from Chicago on

Another vote for the Cool Running couch-to-5k program! It's excellent for beginners. With this program, you won't need to worry about warming up much since you usually begin with a 5 minute walk before you do any running for the entire program.

Stretching - do a google search on 'dynamic stretching'. These are the types of things you want to be doing for your body prior to your walk/run. Static stretching (the old-school stuff you learned in gym) is better for after you've completed your workout.

Shoes - I am not sure what's out there in Plainfield, but if you can get to a running store do it! New Balance stores are good and their staff is knowledgeable about foot strike patterns (how your foot hits the pavement when you run) and appropriate footwear. Runner's Edge in Wilmette (unfortunately probably a hike for you) is an outstanding store.

Asics (brand of shoe) has a great online guide:

Avoid mall stores like Foot Locker or Champs UNLESS you know exactly what type of shoe you need to buy. The people who work there are typically clueless teenagers and really, do you want to trust your feet to someone who is mainly interested in fashion and not form?

I was running 25+ miles a week before I got pregnant last year and had to stop everything completely. Had the baby in December and started running again in April. Since I was starting from scratch, I did the couch-to-5k and really liked it. I have now finished the program and am running 3 miles 4-6 days a week with my goal of doing the Palos Half Marathon in May. If you're a true beginner, only do the program three days a week with one day of 'rest' in between. You can cross train on those rest days: walk, elliptical, bike, etc. The first few weeks of c-2-5k are fairly easy and then week 3 or 4 comes along and wallops you - don't get discouraged! Just keep pushing through.

Good luck and feel free to msg me with other questions, if you want support, etc. I love to see new moms join the running movement - you'll feel great AND you'll be an awesome, healthy role model for your children.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

couch to's awesome!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I also have been doing couch 2 5k, it is hard for me, I am heavy and unfit, and it is slow progress, but it is the best fitness program I have used - ever - I have the ipod app, and it is so cool!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

stretching is very important, or you will wind up with a pulled muscle. especially if you aren't already running. When I was in the military they had us warm up by stretching Some of the most common ones are to bend your knee, hold one foot behind count to 10. do 3-5 times each side... put foot flat on ground, other foot a couple feet ahead and bend at the knee so back leg stretches... again hold 10 seconds and repeat for each leg. do the "butterfly" stretch~ sitting down, put feet flat against each other so your knees are bent and off to the side... pull your feet towards your crotch until you feel a good stretch, use your elbows to push on your knees a bit and lean forward (stay in your comfort zone) Start off at a brisk walk-easy jog for about 5 minutes until your heart rate gets going, then start your run. Make sure you BREATHE!!! that's the hardest part about running (to me) lol. End your run with at least 5 minutes of easy walking to let your muscles cool down, then stretch out again.

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answers from Dallas on

Good for you! I just started running, also. I'm doing the Couch to 5K program and loving every minute of it. I just finished Week 3 Day 3 tonight. I get to start Week 4 on Sunday. That means I only have 6 weeks left :)

You have to run when timing is best for you. I wait until my husband gets home. We eat dinner, play, bathe kids, put them down. Somewhere between 7 and 8 I head out to the middle school track (just my preference) and run. I go every other day. If I know I will be doing something on the evening of my scheduled run then I go that morning. It is so hot here so daytime running is out of the question.

There are different podcasts you can download to your Mp3 player that will tell you when to run/ walk instead of timing yourself.

Check out for info on the program and C25K for a great forum

Good luck and if you decide to try C25K please PM me if you would like an accountability partner.

Most important thing to start....pick a day to start and stick with it. After that pick a schedule and stick with it. Most afternoons I feel like I don't want to run, but once I get out there it's great

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answers from Las Vegas on

What I usually do is walk at a brisk pace for about 5 minutes first and, once you are all warmed up, stop and stretch for a bit. Make sure that you stretch out all of your leg muscles including your calves and shins, and also your chest, back and arms. Once you are all stretched out, it will make running more comfortable. When I first started running, I would run for 1 minute, walk for 3, and then, each week I would add more time to the running time and then eventually decrease the amount of walking that I did. And then, when I was all done running, I would walk for a bit to cool down and stretch again.

You may want to find out if there is a running club near you that you can join. That would be a good way of getting property guidance from people who know what running shoes work best and were once beginning runners themselves. Also, if you google running magazine, and access their website, they have some great articles online for beginning joggers.

Have fun!



answers from New York on

I recently ran a half marathon for the first time. Warming up is definitely a good idea. Either do this by walking at a fast pace, working up to a jog. Or you can start as a jog and work up to a run.
I read some of the other posts. You should NOT stretch before you start your exercise. Your muscles aren't warmed up and if you try to stretch, you could pull something. However, when you are done, it is really important to stretch and stretch good.
As for shoes, if you have a Road Runner sports neat you, I highly recommend going to it. They fit you for shoes that are best for your foot and your stride. if not, Asics are great. But like another person wrote- don't go to foot looker or other mall store. usually has really good deals.
Good luck and please feel free to ask if you have any questions.



answers from New York on

i am just starting out too... i just started walking .. hoping to do that for a month... at a medium pace.. then going for faster.. then someday running... i want to ride a bike in the fall too.... you should do at least 5 to 10 minutes warm up before running.... good luck... as for sneakers.... they have to feel good on you... i've tried some that other people like.. and i don't like them.. i need to try them on and walk around the store... so go and see what outs there and what feels good to you..


answers from Rochester on

You have good suggestions (especially shoes!!!). I am having to taper off since I'm now 8 weeks pregnant, but had started up jogging again, which means for me that I walk fast, then add a jog/run for as long as is comfortable, then walk, etc. I sometimes mark by blocks, telephone poles, whatever works, and carry water. You can create a free account with to find routes you like in your area and to see how far you really are going (I break it up to see how long I jogged total, etc.). I find a jog more refreshing than a walk myself. :)



answers from Chicago on

I started running 2 years ago and it was the most positive thing I have ever done healthwise. I signed up to train for a half marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Team in Training Program. They will train you for a race and in return you fundraise a certain amount for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It kept me accountable because we had group runs every Saturday and I had people to run with. I did their program twice. j

I have since moved here and have not been running as much as I'd like. I've looked for a running club but haven't found one close by yet. I know that the Naperville running company has a training group for the Chicago Marathon and they also had a group that ended a few months ago that was just for beginners. I would suggest going to your closest running store and asking them if there are any running groups they know of. I would also highly recommend getting your shoes from a running store where they can measure your feet and tell you what kind of shoes would be best. A good store will have you run on a treadmill or in the store for them so they can watch your feet and tell you what type of shoe would be best for you.

Also, I was told by my first coach that you didn't really need to stretch but if you did, stretch after the run. My 2nd coach had us stretch after our runs and I was a lot less sore when I stretched. Runners World magazine is a great resource and so is their website. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

My husband is just starting the Couch-to-5K program. I'm a marathon runner, and he is so not a runner at all. It is a great program that's sensible and will gradually build up your endurance. The great part is that it's not very time consuming. You should look into it. Running is so great for you, both physically and mentally. I always feel energized afterward. Good luck to you!



answers from Scranton on

warm up w a brisk walk then run. but watch because running is hard on the ankles. a few years ago i started running and after 3 days could hardly walk because it did a number on my ankles. even after running 1 time my ankles hurt. i bought an eliptical, much easier on the ankles.


answers from Cleveland on

Shoes= very important. if you don't have the right kind of shoes you will be in loads of pain. You need the right kind of support. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get good shoes. Try and get some running shoes from new balance. You can get them at payless, famous footwear, shoe carnival etc for not too much money.

Stretch = YES. again if you don't you'll hurt.
I'd also say you should start out walking first. IF you've never been a runner it takes some time for your body to get used to it.

The funny thing is that just going for long walks can actually be just as effective as running. Some people end up actually having knee problems from running too much.

Grab your ipod, mp3 player, cd player etc, find a beautiful area and just walk.
Not only is it great exercise but it is a GREAT break from kids & stress. Hey you can take your kids with if you want. Strap em in the stroller and GO!

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