7 Ways to Become a Runner — Even If You Hate It

by Maggie Puniewska

Running is like a Real Housewives reunion — you either absolutely love it, or it makes you cringe. But when we found out that just five minutes of running a day could add years to our lives, while also zapping chances of heart disease and stroke, we were more than willing to cut into Netflix and happy hour time to give our bodies some TLC. And to find out how to hit the ground running the easy way, we turned to two top running coaches for their pro tips on how to get in the groove of running and actually like it. Follow their advice, and you'll be off the couch in no time.

You CAN Start With Walking

If you haven't hit the pavement since high school gym class or are even a little intimidated, it's completely OK to start with a walk/run method, says Jason Fitzgerald, USA Track & Field certified coach and founder of Strength Running. In fact, this can help you ease into running and ditch injuries. His trick is to start by first walking for five minutes, and then alternate one minute of running and two minutes of walking. Repeat this pattern while running for longer and longer, until you get to 10 minutes of running then end with five minutes of walking.

If you're already in good shape from other exercise but new to running, "You can start running two to four miles two to three times per week at a relaxed pace. Run by feel and follow the 3 C's of easy running: comfortable, controlled, and conversational," he says.

Don't Worry About Pace

Especially if you are a newbie, watching dozens of runners zip by can be a little bit daunting. But it's important not to compare yourself with others, says Amanda Loudin, RRCA certified running coach and founder of the website Miss Zippy. "I think too many new runners worry they aren't fast enough and try to run faster than they are ready to go, often leading to discouragement or injury. I'd focus more on time, not even miles. Miles and pace don't matter at all in the start and can again be a bit off-putting to newbies who aren't covering much ground to start," she says.

Find A Running Buddy

This rule is simple: Scope out someone who can run with you. "A running buddy is good because it leads to accountability," says Loudin. "You're more likely to get out the door at 6 a.m. to run if you have someone waiting for you!"

Skip The Road If You Can

Your body will adapt to whatever surface you choose so it doesn't matter too much which you pick. "But concrete is the hardest and least variable surface so it can predispose you to more running injuries. Try to find a smooth dirt trail or a cinder walking path. Both will be easier on your body," Fitzgerald notes.

Don't Worry Too Much About The Shoes

Yes, you shouldn't be running in your high-tops or cute boat shoes, but there's no need to invest in a super expensive pair of running shoes, either. "Runners need to wear running shoes, but that's the only 'need' when it comes to shoes. Find a pair that fits well and you feel comfortable in while running. It could also help to review several running shoe reviews so you understand the type of shoe you're considering buying and who it's meant to serve," says Fitzgerald.

Set Goals

Sometimes we jump into a new fitness program but as soon as work, dates, friends, etc. start to pile on, it's tough to be motivated. Fitzgerald's easy solution to staying on track with any new workout program is to set goals. "Most runners like to enter a race about 16 to 20 weeks away so there's enough time to prepare and train. That can be a 5K or longer race, but the most important part is to register and put your money where your mouth is. . . . Then you have to run!"

Do Other Workouts

Even the most hardcore runners aren't always running. As with any workout, you want to make sure you have variety, else you'll be bored and also prone to overuse injuries, explains Fitzgerald. Fit in spin class, swimming, strength exercises, dance, or anything else to keep you from falling off the wagon.

Image Credit: Fotolia/Michael Jung