The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Five tips on how to start your running journey

3 min read
A girl with blonde hair running wearing a dark blue Mary Washington uniform.

Amber Zipfel is on the UMW Track and Cross Country teams.


Staff Writer

If you’ve thought about running but never have, or you tried it and found yourself frustrated, this is your sign to give it a shot. Running can offer so many benefits; it can enhance your mood, improve your health, boost confidence and motivation, reduce stress and connect you to nature. While it may be daunting to begin your running journey, there are ways to make it easier. So, before you start, here are five tips from a collegiate runner, a sales associate at a local Virginia running store and, once upon a time, a beginning runner. 

Tip 1: Figure out the why. So, you have decided to start running… but why? Why have you chosen this activity? Is it to get you outside more? To do cardio outside of the gym? To release stress, or maybe to race a local 5k with your family? As you begin your journey, I recommend sitting down and writing what you want to get out of this activity. What are your goals? What’s making you get out of the house and hit the pavement? Ultimately, knowing why you’re running can motivate you to start—and keep—doing so. 

Tip 2: Research beginner programs and establish your own schedule. While you could just slip on trainers and head out the door for a run, it’s important to make a plan. You can either create a short plan stating how many miles you want to hit each week or a detailed schedule outlining specific dates and goal times for each run. The decision is up to you and what kind of goals you’ve made. You’ll want to create one plan that aligns with factors such as your current fitness level, the available time in your weekly schedule and the number of miles you want to hit. And don’t be afraid to change your training schedule as you work through each week. You may run into an obstacle or two, so you can adjust accordingly.

Tip 3: Get a pair of running shoes. When I started to run, I was wearing shoes that weren’t meant for the activity. Soon enough, I was feeling aches and pains. It’s important to get fitted for a pair of shoes that are specific for running because they’re built with technology that keeps your body healthy and able to run. I recommend trying different shoe brands so you get an understanding of what feels best, as it’s important to start out on the right foot. 

Tip 4: Work your way up on mileage first, rather than speed. As you start out, it’s best to gradually build up your mileage and go for distance, rather than speed. A rule commonly used by runners is to increase our weekly mileage by ten percent. So, if you’re running ten miles this week, add one mile to the following week, making it eleven. While you increase your miles, don’t increase your speed. Running too far and too fast could give you aches, pains and injuries. Your body needs time to adjust before adding something new to the table. 

Tip 5: Try something new during your run to help stay on this journey. While I’ve loved running for over seven years, running can be boring sometimes. If you feel this way and can’t seem to get yourself out the door, try changing one thing from your normal routine. You could drive to a different location, like a new trail outside of your neighborhood, and explore what it has to offer. You could also incorporate a few speedy intervals during your run so you get a change of pace. Just doing even one thing differently can keep you hooked.