21 Things You Should Know Before You Start Running

So you decided to start running.


You may have a few fears and anxieties, but there should also be joy and excitement on this new venture.

Here are 21 things you need to know before you start to run, in order to help you properly and safely dive into the sport.

1. You CAN Do This

First and foremost, you can become a runner.

Truly, anyone can become a runner.

That is one of the most beautiful aspects of the sport.

2. You Need Proper Shoes

With a strong will and a pair of good shoes, you can become a runner today.

There are a few tools we’ve listed below to help you along the way, but when you start to doubt, remind yourself that yes, you can do this.

Check out our detailed Choosing Running Shoes article!

3. You Need To Ease Into It

While it may be tempting to go out and see just how far you can run without keeling over, we don’t recommend trying that.

It’s best to ease into running as a beginner.

Check out running apps like Nike Run Club and Couch to 5K for programs to help you begin.

4. Running Buddies Are The Best Buddies

A great way to motivate yourself and find even more enjoyment in the sport is joining a local running group.

The friends you make while running really are the greatest.

You’re creating memories while getting fit and enjoying time outdoors – it’s tough to beat that.

5. Buying Running Gear Is Addictive

Forewarning, once you start running multiple times a week, you’ll want to buy all the gear.

From rain jackets to GPS watches to water bottle belts and running tights, buying brand new running gear is addicting.

While it doesn’t hurt to invest in nice, new things for your new routine, it’s also not necessary.

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6. There Will Be Hard Days

Your body is turning itself into a runner so there are bound to be some tough days. Maybe you’re chasing a faster time or you want to start running more miles.

Whatever it is, there will certainly be days you don’t feel like lacing up. However, if your body is healthy, you will thank yourself after.

7. Walking Is Okay

If you need to start out by alternating between walking and running it is a great way to get started.

Using a walk/run method can help your body adjust to the physical demands of running.

In fact, many runners do this and see positive results. If you have past joint injuries, consider speaking with your doctor before you start running and ask if a walk/run method would work for you.

8. Rest

Rest days are a very important piece of running.

Your body is working hard as it builds muscle, endurance and intensity. It needs a rest day to recover. If you skip it, then you are putting yourself at a higher risk for injury.

The best way to take a rest day is to truly rest!

9. Consider Adding Strength Training

Did you know that resistance training will increase your leg strength and enhance your endurance?

According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, three days of resistance training a week will benefit your running. This could be done with free weights, machines or through a fitness class.

10. Everyone Is Prone To Injury

Overworking your body or running with incorrect shoes can lead to injury.

Unfortunately, none of us are superheroes and need to be aware of the risks out there. The good news is our bodies are resilient and we can come back stronger from them.

Listen to your body and you’ll have a better shot at fighting off injury.

11. Races Are The Best Part Of Being a Runner

Easily the most fun piece of running is racing! This may sound intimidating at first, but you’ll learn to love the excitement and hype around race day.

Regardless of if you’re running a 5K or half marathon, there will be a high.

Additionally, signing up for a race is a great motivator as you start running.

12. Treadmills Are a Great Option For Bad Weather

Often referred to as the ‘dreadmill,’ the treadmill isn’t always the most exciting way to get a run in.

However, it is an extremely practical piece of equipment.

When weather is bad or you are in a time crunch, a treadmill can serve its purpose.

13. Although, You Can Run In (Almost) All Types of Weather

If you’re up for it, you can run in rain, snow, heat and wind. Though it is not for the faint of heart!

If you do choose to run in extreme weather, be sure you have the proper gear to keep your body temperature safe.

14. Don’t Skip Stretching – After Your Run

A common mistake many runners make is walking through the door and calling the workout complete.

When you skip stretching you are making a big mistake that can lead to injury and muscle fatigue.

Take ten minutes every day to stretch and your body will thank you.

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15. A Strong Core Is Key To Proper Running Form

Training your core will help with balance and stability, both of which will positively impact your running form.

Try to add in a few minutes of core work a few days a week.

You’ll notice a difference in your running posture as your core gets stronger.

16. Educate Yourself on Hydration and Nutrition as You Increase the Miles

If you are going on a run longer than an hour you need water and carbohydrates to replenish the nutrients you lost. There are many different ways to fuel, whether you reach for a sports drink or a gel.

Choose what works best for you and your body.

17. Stick With It

You may not fall in love with running at the get-go. It can be a tough fitness routine to get in to, but if you stick with it, you’ll see many benefits.

Not only will your body change as you get fitter and faster, but it’s likely your mental health will improve as well.

18. The Runner’s High Is Real

Psychologically, runners may experience euphoria, a feeling of being invincible, a reduced state of discomfort or pain, and even a loss in sense of time while running,” says Jesse Pittsley, PhD, president of the American Society for Exercise Physiologists.

So the runner’s high is real and sounds like something worth chasing!

19. Mix Up Your Run Types

Once you get into a solid running routine, consider changing up your types of runs.

For example, one day do a longer run, the next day a shorter run at a faster pace and the following day sprint intervals around a track. This will help you stay interested and excited about your running.

20. Runners Are Mentally Tough

Ask any elite runner and they’ll tell you the same, running is both a physical and mental exercise.

There will be days you don’t want to go on a run or days you mentally can’t get into the run. A great resource for learning more about the mental aspect and training your brain is Deena Kastor’s book Let Your Mind Run.

21. Did We Mention Rest?

A day of rest cannot be stressed enough! There is no shame in taking a day off and actually is highly encouraged.

Your body will thank you!

Photo of author
Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and playing with his two tiny kids. More at his bio.

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