Starting Out


by John Stanton

As runners, we all have to start somewhere. If you’re a beginner, your early experiences with a running or walking program can make or break your chances for success. Novice runners who approach their training with a “go hard or go home” attitude often experience overuse injuries or just plain discouragement. This is not the recommended way to begin a running program.

As with all fitness programs, start with a visit to your family physician. He or she may recommend that you start by walking or by following a combination walk/run program. Be patient and stick with it—in as little as 10 weeks, you can progress from couch potato to athlete. Just remember to commit to 10 weeks, not 10 minutes or 10 days. The lifelong benefits are well worth the investment.

To get up and running, you will need very little equipment aside from a good pair of shoes. You can run outside on a trail or sidewalk, or indoors on a track or treadmill. It is easy to fit into a busy schedule and provides a wealth of health benefits.

Runners generally fall into one of two categories: the solo runner and the group runner. Solitary runners often have a hectic lifestyle and turn to running as their time to recharge. For those looking to improve their fitness and interact with like-minded people, the group run is a great fit. Running groups like our free weekly Run Club provide a sense of camaraderie, along with a safe and supportive environment. You’ll enjoy the motivation that comes with being part of a group, and all you have to deliver in return is some personal perspiration.

Whether you’re running individually or with others, keep it consistent so you can reap the maximum benefits from your running. Runners can now use technology to monitor their progress and get instant feedback on their speed, distance, heart rate and more. Many reputable websites (including ours at offer tips and training information for beginners.

The secret to any athlete’s improvement is staying off the injury list. Approach your training with these points in mind:

  • Be gentle – to stay injury-free.
  • Be progressive – to gradually become stronger and fitter.
  • Keep it fun – so you’ll be motivated to continue.

If you are smart about your approach and get off to a good start, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can become the adventure of a lifetime.



John Stanton is the President and Founder of the Running Room. He is the author of 10 books about running, walking and family fitness.



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