With a new year right around the corner, people often use this time to take stock of their overall health and wellness. For many, that may mean starting up a regular exercise routine. While there are tons of ways to do that—yoga, strength training, cycling—here at Runner’s World, we’re partial to one activity in particular: running.
However, we totally understand how intimidating running may seem at first—a mile may seem as daunting as a marathon. And, you may not know exactly how to go about lacing up for the very first time or what to expect from your initial outing.
So, we polled our readers via an Instagram post for some insight on the advice they’d give to new runners that they wished they knew when they were just starting out. Here’s what they had to say.
Responses were edited for clarity.
1Don’t worry about your pace.
DAVID JAEWON OH
“A mile is a mile no matter the pace. We all start at different places, so don’t compare your start to someone else’s chapter six. Do it anyway. Consistency is key!” —fabandfitwithrj
“Run slower than you think you should more often than you think you should.” —molritt
“Run at a pace where you can also have a conversation. It’s the easiest way to know what pace is best for you.” —sallison927
“Start slow. If you go too hard too fast, you won’t enjoy it and you’ll quit. Ease into it. Walk when you want to. Exercise should feel good. Aim to feel good, and you’ll keep going because it does.” —rebeccacolborne
“It’s awesome that you are out there running! Speed will come later, just enjoy the fact that you are doing something you’ve never done before.” —crazzano
“Go slower than you think you should. Too many people start out too fast too quickly and then either burn out, get injured, or both.” —the_healthy_monster
“If you need a walk break, take one. Never beat yourself up about not being able to run nonstop.” —runningchef75
DAVID JAEWON OH
“Find the scenery you love and put on a playlist that inspires you. You’ll be surprised by what you can discover.” —lelemodern
“Be happy you made it up and out the door. The only competition is with yourself—it can only get better.” —sarahliciouss
“Find a path or trail or spot you’d like to run, and give it a go. The most important thing is to just give it a try. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing of all. It’s hard to describe what your mind and body feels like when you first run. You may love it or hate it. The only way to know is if you give it a go.” —takeshisergel
“Runners come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t worry that you don’t fit the mold. Break the mold instead. The important thing is to do it for you, your way.” —jkup9
“Do what makes you feel good! I kept trying to do track sprints and find the right ‘runner clothing.’ I don’t like tracks, but I found I love fartleks through town! I also wear a princess headband on long runs because it makes me feel awesome!” —krystinegarcia
“Success isn’t measured by comparing yourself to others. It’s measured by your own effort.” —rosemarie.levy
“Every runner starts the same way: that first stride! Celebrate taking that first step each run, and know that what happens from then on is individual and for you. Love yourself!” —lylie27273Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
DAVID JAEWON OH
“It’s going to be uncomfortable. Your legs will not want to move. You will struggle to catch your breath. No matter what happens, pace yourself and fight through it. Hard work and not wanting to stop will eventually feel easier.” —Berryliangfitness
“On your very first run, expect it to be difficult, but don’t let that deter you. The more you run, the easier it will feel.” —unicorn3.14
“You will HATE hills, but they are incredibly important, so don’t skip them!” —jacobgordonlife
“It’s not always supposed to be easy—keep working hard and don’t give up.” —kynzlei.bassett
“Struggling to catch your breath and very sore legs. Once you learn to naturally regulate your breathing, you’ll never struggle to catch your breath again, and your legs will hurt less the more disciplined you are with your speed and distance.” —jacobdgerome
“It’s going to hurt, but that’s different from being hurt. Don’t be afraid to push through discomfort.” —joshuacdawson
DAVID JAEWON OH
“Have a professional help you find the right shoes!” —jillyrunyon
“Get a decent pair of shoes and preferably from a shop that can tell you about how you run.” —jeroen_haaksema
“Go to a running store for shoes that work for you.” —tommie_runz
“Start by purchasing a pair running shoes from a running store. Run, walk, run, walk, and eventually it will be all run. Enjoy!” —benkobob
“Invest in shoes that actually fit, even going to get a gait check at a local running shop so you get fitted for a pair that works for you.” —urbansavageactive
[The Best Running Shoes For Every Type of Run]5Listen to your body.
“Listen to your body. Soon you’ll know the difference between the good pain that tells you you’re building muscles and getting stronger vs. the bad pain that tells you to stop because you are—or soon could be—injured. Doing some cooldown stretches after a run is a great way to check in with each part of your body to see how you’re feeling. And if you end with feel-good stretches, you’ll build a positive association with exercise that makes you want to get out there and do it again.” —meganbarlog
“Learn the difference between running through muscle soreness vs. an injury.” —j.rivera4
“Run your own race. You can’t take someone else’s training plan and necessarily have it work for you. Listen to your body and figure out what works for you.” —jacquelineevans4450
“Rest days are necessary! And strength training is key to staying injury-free.” —drsarahweimerpt
“Do any type of cross-training to support your whole body. When I first started running a million years ago, I only ran, and ended up with shin splints and a really bad IT band problem.” —westofthepark
“Do the work to support your running! Roll. stretch, strength, recover.” —bekaluv.outside
[10-Minute Cross-Training, gives you five muscle-building routines that take just 10 minutes to get you stronger.]7Be patient and consistent.
DAVID JAEWON OH
“Take it slow and don’t give up! It’s easy to feel like you’ll never be able to enjoy it or be able to go very far, but if you keep trying, you’ll be amazed at the things you can do!” —shafess
“Patience is important on a first run. Listen and feel your body, no matter if it’s 5 minutes or a mile—it’s a start to healthier you.” —thenativerunner
“It’s more important to run consistently than fast or far.” —doopdawson12
“Choose your daily goal, but make sure it is an attainable [goal] that won’t exhaust you from waking up and doing it all over again tomorrow.” —aaroncoon__
“I have had people say to me, ‘I can’t do what you do.’ And the funny thing is, I used to not be able to do what I do. I couldn’t run a ½ mile. It took me over a month of running before I ran my first mile. Running doesn’t come easy. There is work. It just takes getting out there and trying day in and day out. It just takes starting and sticking to it.” —thesoulotraveler
“Don’t get discouraged on the very first run. Treat it as a progressive journey to become a stronger and faster runner by putting in the work on all your intervals, easy, and long runs.” —rntaskmaster
“Always remember one bad run doesn’t define your running journey, just like one bad day at work doesn’t define your career.” —mbt._runs
“Frequency is going to make it easier more than anything else!” —laurvanw
Those who run in foul weather—be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot —are members of a special club of runners who, on the morning of a big run, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a runner who loves the work.” —don_antwaaan9A run is a run, no matter how far or how fast you go.
DAVID JAEWON OH
“Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not a runner—even yourself. If you are out there and both feet are off the ground for only a millisecond in your stride, you’re a runner. Even if you are running slowly, it doesn’t matter.” —ahearns_running
“Just keep going. One step after the other, don’t worry about mileage or speed. Just do 5 minutes, 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, and so on and so forth. It doesn’t matter how slow or how far, just keep going.” —drudleberry
“Don’t put yourself in a box. Being a runner is not based on the watch time or the price of your shoes. Everyone who runs is a runner.” —milesovermedals
“There will be short slow days more than fast ones. There will be tough and good days. Breath in through nose and out of mouth.” —picklesandleather