How to Become a Runner & Actually Enjoy It

June 7, 2015 Updated: June 7, 2015

Like anything, running is an activity where you have to work to make it stick. For example, I thought I couldn’t run more than four miles at a time just five years ago. Then, two years later, I ran more than six times that when I finished my first marathon.

You’ve heard that thing called “runner’s high.” That feeling of giddiness, accomplishment and happiness you get after a good run. Perhaps, you’ve tried and have no idea what this “high” is that runners talk about.

When you stick with running and don’t give up, you will see a number of benefits. You may not get that “high” right away, but there are still many ways running can make you feel accomplished and excited. The most difficult thing about running, however, is sticking to it. There are plenty of people who have the ability to go from four miles to 26.2 miles, like I did. Or go from zero to doing their first 10k or even a half marathon. In order to get to those points, there a few things to know.

(Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
(Donald Miralle/Getty Images)


Get a Good Pair of Shoes 

Good running shoes are costly, but they are what will get you going and keep you going. If you’re running in old or poor shoes, that could easily cause unnecessary injury. Go to a running store and talk to someone who knows their stuff. They will not only be able to hook you up with the perfect pair, but give you some running pointers.

Start Small 

If you are running for the first time, don’t expect to go out and churn out a couple miles right away, or even a full mile for that matter. You have to start somewhere and this is ground zero. Know that you’re not going to be a great runner right out the gate and you’re going to get tired. Remember, breaks are good! Let your body recharge and get back at running. It’s going to be tough, but after a while, it won’t be as hard. If you have a mindset that it will be challenging and will take time, you will be more likely to keep it up and celebrate little victories, which is one of the fun parts of running.

It’s OK to Walk! 

The Couch to 5k program is aimed toward people who are starting running with no previous experience. For its first week, participants alternate walking and running in order to build up endurance. Walking doesn’t mean failure. REPEAT: WALKING DOES NOT MEAN FAILURE! There are people who train for marathons who need to walk during training.

Slowly Add Distance 

If you add distance right away, you’re going to get frustrated and give up. These things take time. Don’t expect to get up to a mile in two days. It’s not going to happen, and if it does, you’re probably going to hurt. In running, there is the famous 10 percent rule. Don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent. The rule is safe for your body and beneficial to your progress. Running is a challenge, but in order to get the benefits, you have to balance between starting slow and pushing yourself.

Listen to Your Body 

Your muscles are going to hurt, that’s just a fact. You’re going from no activity to doing activity a few days a week. But there’s a difference between sore muscles and an injury. If you have a pain that gets worse when you run, that could be an injury. Same with pain that is sharp instead of sore. Take caution if you get these pains. Rest your body and if that doesn’t help, see a doctor.

Don’t Run Every Day 

You will burn out. If your body isn’t used to running, ease into it. The best advice is to start with three days a week in order to help your body to adjust.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others 

Everyone is different in their running journey and ability. The best part about running is your biggest competition is yourself. Your goal is to beat yourself, whether that’s in mileage or your personal best. Your first full mile without a stop to walk is a huge improvement from where you started. Embrace it and be excited about it, as well as all of your other milestones.

Be Patient 

You’re not going to add mileage quickly, and that’s OK. Train your brain to be in it for the long haul and you’ll be able to look back over time and be impressed by your results. 

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