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How To Start Running + Keep Running (Coaches Corner)

How can you not only start running but learn to love running and keep running? It isn’t as hard as you think–find out how to make a start that sticks with Running Coaches Corner!

If you are new to running, starting can seem both the most simple and yet most complicated enterprise of all time. Trust me.  Many of us have been working out for years, but we all had to start somewhere! 

Last year, I contributed to a similar article for Thrillist, but this post is all me!

How to Start Running and Keep Running

How to Start Running, Love Running, and Keep Running. Stop struggling with running and learn to love it with these tips! @Suzlyfe

There are two approaches to starting to run regularly: one is to just lace up and go, and the other is find a way to sustainably integrate running into your life. I am a fan of the latter, as it will ultimately lead to the former becoming your reality.

1) Find Your Why

Your Why is the reason that you are going to get up out of that comfy, sumptuous bed. Why you are going to strap on trainers, shove you bits into spandex and then a bajillion layers, head to the gym or out into the day/morning/night, and fight for each and every step. It is the reason that you are going to make yourself miserable (and, ironically, learn to love the misery). 

Each person has a “why,” and it is more powerful than any other driving force in your life. There are superficial why’s (because I want to eat a cookie or I want to look awesome at my reunion) and there are deep, meaningful why’s (I want to set a good example for my kids, I want to lower my blood pressure and not succumb to heart disease). But that why is going to keep you going. So whether it is a cookie or reinventing yourself after a divorce, figure out what is going to get you going and repeat it to yourself every morning before you get out of bed.

2) Walk, then Run. Then Walk again.

If you are a brand new runner, you might want to consider a run/walk strategy where you run for 2 minutes and walk for 3 minutes (and repeat). Try for 20 minutes the first week that you go out, and then try to increase the length of your overall session. Then extend the length of your running interval (first aim for even work/rest, then try to get your work interval longer than your rest interval)  before ultimately decreasing your walking interval. This will help you gradually and safely increase your endurance and strength. Gradual, not all at once!

pace yourself shirt

Why focus on gradual or incremental change rather than going out and blasting about? A) you are going to avoid the potentially morale-crushing moment of nearly dying on the side of the road and then realizing you only made it so far (I also covered run walk for newbies in my Holiday Race post), b) you are going to be able to accomplish so much more and be working for an even longer amount of time by incorporating intervals, and c) you are going to avoid injury. 

Think about how lifters build strength: they incorporate sets and rests, building number of reps, sets, and weight. They don’t just go for broke the first time out there and expect the world. Or maybe they do, but I hope that they have a spotter.

3) If You Don’t Ask, You’ll Never Know

Running isn’t rocket science, but it can be quite complicated, especially if you have a finicky body (raises hand). Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Runners love to talk about running, and you would be surprised how many runners there are out there! All runners have a different perspective on running–it means something different to each of us, and we have reached the stage in our running through our own unique avenues.

smitha erica susie phoenix marathon after

Ask around for advice, encouragement, motivation–we are happy to help! It is easy to get overwhelmed, but surrounding yourself with seasoned runners, you will find that you don’t necessarily need to feel that way. Just makes sure that you ask the right people, who can speak your (less experienced) language, not just talk about lactate thresholds and such. 

4) Surround Yourself with Excellent Support

Hire a running coach, or consider joining a running group (there are many beginner running groups that leave from running and sports stores), going to online forums to find running partners, or at the very least, make sure that you are surrounded by people who help you succeed by believing in you and your mission. See if you can recruit others! The accountability of having others involved will encourage you every time that you step outside!

I loved running Ragnar with a group!

5) Shoes

First and foremost, go to a running specialty store and get properly fitted for running shoes. A proper shoe assessment will involve you standing in barefeet, walking, and running in both your current shoes as well as the shoes that are chosen for you. It might even involve video analysis!

Don’t be afraid to invest in your new kicks: the store should have a good return policy that allows you to try out the shoes for at least a month so that you can make sure that you are happy with the product. Above all, properly fitting shoes can help prevent injury, increase comfort, improve running mechanics, and even help you get faster!

Bonus: Learn Runner’s Amnesia

Learn “runner’s amnesia.” Runner’s amnesia means that you try to learn from each lesson and mistake, but you also learn to conveniently forget how awful certain runs were in the past. There will be days when you do everything correctly and yet nothing goes right–acknowledge those runs and then release them, just as you would with less than optimal days in your life. In fact, you will learn that running has many parallels to life! You know better than to get me started on that…

With these tips, anyone can start and keep running! #running #coachescorner Click To Tweet

At the end of the day, don’t over think it. There are layers, but like healthy eating, you just need the basics to get started, then play around with it and see what works for you! Have fun and happy running!

What has been the most impactful piece of advice you have received with regards to maintaining your running?

I am linking up with myself, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Food and Fitness Sunday. 


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  • Reply Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious

    Your why is so important but I find even with that why people still struggle to make it a habit. Finding support and accountability can be so helpful!
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted…One Pan Lemon Garlic Shrimp & Brussels Sprouts {GF, Low Cal, Paleo}My Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 5:10 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You need both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators!

      January 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    Getting support, asking questions, and finding your why are all so important. It can be tough to get started but these are great tips!
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…3 Simple Ways To Improve Your Running In 2017My Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 5:45 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope they help someone!

      January 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm
  • Reply Jamie @ The Mom Gene

    I love this idea. I run because it opens my mind up and relieves stress. I only gave about 20-30 minutes in the morning before mommy duty starts but it’s just enough to get me centered for the day. I’m also really weird about my running shoes…crazy picky loyal to only one kind of New Balance. No other shoe will win my heart…and they’ve tried.
    Jamie @ The Mom Gene recently posted…When the Special Needs Siblings Don’t Play NiceMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 6:11 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hear you there, I used to be 100% Brooks, and then I diverged, and then I was Newton, then Nike, now Mizuno! I’m just a lover πŸ˜€ And I agree–particularly for moms–you NEED that you time.

      January 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm
  • Reply Lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    Spending money on a good pair of shoes is crucial. That is one thing I do not cheap on. Another reason to motivate to get out there running. Do not want those expensive shoes not getting used sitting in my closet.
    Lacey@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…The Journey that will be 2017My Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 6:23 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Haha, SO true! Also… they so prettttay

      January 5, 2017 at 3:02 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner

    I agree! finding your why is key to any exercise success and of course I am all about finding your support/running group. Thanks for the link up
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…How to survive the gym in January-Exercise a little patienceMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 6:26 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Your running group is amazing–I know how much strength they give you!

      January 5, 2017 at 3:02 pm
  • Reply Kimberly Hatting

    Oh gosh…#3–asking questions (and finding people who don’t just talk the technical jargon) is key. I think it’s important for experienced runners to remember they were once beginners themselves πŸ˜‰ Chances are, they’ve been humbled a few times along the way…newbies need to know they’re not alone in their struggles. Great tips!
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…2017 – Focusing on FUNMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 6:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We’ve DEFINITELY been humbled. And if you haven’t been humbled… either you haven’t been running long enough or you have a magic potion!

      January 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    Great advice! The why is so essential! It may change over time, but a why fosters discipline and habit so that you don’t rely solely on motivation, which can be fickle.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…6 Treadmill Workouts for RunnersMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 7:18 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And VERY fleeting!

      January 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm
  • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

    I liken runner’s amnesia to the same amnesia you have after giving birth. Something you are going to learn all about!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…New Year, New Dilemma: Why I’m Not Setting Running Goals This YearMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 7:45 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Haha, just going through IVF so far πŸ˜€

      January 5, 2017 at 3:00 pm
  • Reply Katie @ HungryRunner

    I think support (coaching, running with friends, etc.) and learning to go slow (walking when needed, not being afraid to take the pace down a notch have been the most valuable to me. I love the “runner’s amnesia” tip, too! That one always seems to be the most effective, doesn’t it? πŸ˜›

    January 4, 2017 at 7:47 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I don’t know, I’ve never had a bad run ;D

      January 5, 2017 at 3:00 pm
  • Reply Madhuri

    Loved the article. Being a new runner, I could definitely relate to all the points. Finding a good support group and asking tons of questions has definitely made a difference.

    January 4, 2017 at 7:55 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope you are loving running! What are you currently working towards?

      January 5, 2017 at 2:58 pm
      • Reply Madhuri

        Working towards my first half marathon…. The Philly Love Run in March (yikes!)
        Madhuri recently posted…From 2016 to 2017My Profile

        January 5, 2017 at 4:02 pm
        • Reply suzlyfe

          Oh my goodness! So exciting! Janelle ran that and LOVED it, so I think you have a great race picked out! How is the training going?

          January 5, 2017 at 4:21 pm
          • Madhuri

            So far so good. On good days, I am like yeah I got this! On bad days, I am like good lord what have I done! Haha. So, trying not to put the horse before the carriage and take one day at a time and do my best!

            January 5, 2017 at 7:08 pm
  • Reply Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete

    Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup. Regarding questions: I asked everything from compression to how to blog my nose. I over-thought everything, and I’m glad I did.
    Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete recently posted…A day so good, I might repeat it todayMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 8:07 am
  • Reply Linz @ Itz Linz

    best piece of advice? KEEP RUNNING! realizing not every run will be amazing, but just like most other things in life, it’s a practice and there’s always room for improvement πŸ™‚
    Linz @ Itz Linz recently posted…what to get someone who has everythingMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 8:15 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Geez, what a roller coaster of emotions running is!

      January 5, 2017 at 2:56 pm
  • Reply Jen @ Pretty Little Grub

    Runners amnesia is definitely the only reason I’m training for my fourth marathon!
    I think run/walk is the #1 tip to give a newbie runner. It makes running way more manageable.
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…Intuitive Eating – Reject the Diet MentalityMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 8:23 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And way more enjoyable!

      January 5, 2017 at 2:50 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    I obviously have mothering amnesia along with running amnesia. They must be related. Tequila amnesia fits into this category as well.
    Suzy recently posted…A Different Kind of TripMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 9:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I feel like there is a chicken or egg question in there somewhere.

      January 5, 2017 at 2:49 pm
  • Reply Kelli @ Hungry Hobby

    So many great tips, especially the find your WHY. The deeper the why the more likely you are to keep up with it!
    Kelli @ Hungry Hobby recently posted…How to Make Anti-Inflammatory “Instant” OatsMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 9:28 am
  • Reply Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    Runner’s amnesia. Necessary.
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…January 2017 GoalsMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 10:08 am
  • Reply Ashley - Adventure To Anywhere

    Love this post. The two most important things for me when I was beginning my running journey were support and finding my why.

    At the time, my why was almost like “running away” from some stuff – my dad becoming sick and eventually passing away – running was the only way I could cope with it. It became like my therapy. And as for support – finding people like you and the rest of the running community online was monumental. You guys kept me going. That, and my sweet sweet man running every single one of my long training runs with me before my first Half. He hated every minute of it, but he knew I needed him.

    Happy New Year, my friend. I hope this year brings you all of the joy you deserve.

    January 4, 2017 at 10:15 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      SO many happy new year wishes to you as well, my dear. I am so honored that you include me in the group of people who kept you going and helped you push forward at the beginning. That is the most important and best news I could hear.

      January 5, 2017 at 2:48 pm
  • Reply Janelle @ Run With No Regrets

    These are awesome tips on how to get started as a runner. I love the first tip…you have to know your why! If there’s no purpose, then being motivated to run is extremely difficult!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…December Monthly Goal Recap and January Running GoalsMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 10:45 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I so agree! Otherwise, how will you push through!

      January 5, 2017 at 2:44 pm
  • Reply Lora @ Crazy Running Girl

    Yes! Finding your why is SO important… without it, it’s so easy to fall off from your goals.
    Lora @ Crazy Running Girl recently posted…What to wear in cold running weather [Coaches Corner]My Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 11:32 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And you so need it in the middle of the most difficult of times.

      January 5, 2017 at 2:43 pm
  • Reply Annmarie

    This is an awesome post. Finding my why and surrounding myself with support were huge for me!
    Annmarie recently posted…10 Motivating Songs to Add to Your Workout PlaylistMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 11:45 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think they make a huge difference for all of us, and they keep us going!

      January 5, 2017 at 2:41 pm
  • Reply Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    Ha!! I love the runner’s amnesia tip! Especially for new runners… I think it’s key to keep looking forward and trust that it will get easier.
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…Choose one goalMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Yes yes! Must keep looking and moving forward!

      January 5, 2017 at 2:40 pm
  • Reply Michelle @ Fruition Fitness

    These are great, and everyone needs to remind themselves every now and then! Finding ‘why’ is most important. It is so easy to be influenced by others and lose sight of personal goals. Thanks for linking up πŸ™‚
    Michelle @ Fruition Fitness recently posted…Set Your Goals Up for Success + a bonus worksheetMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 4:13 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you for hosting!

      January 5, 2017 at 2:40 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    “Just make sure that you ask the right people, who can speak your (less experienced) language, not just talk about lactate thresholds and such.”

    YES. A million times yes.
    Rachel recently posted…Special Considerations for Athletes with HypermobilityMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 6:32 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Even I get lost with some people, lol

      January 5, 2017 at 2:40 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ Lauren Runs

    I like your run-walk tip too! And also the runner’s amnesia! I remember hating running during portions of my most recent marathon race, but yes, I’m trying to figure out when I’ll run my next one already πŸ™‚

    January 4, 2017 at 8:33 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Haha yes, you definitely have runner’s amnesia πŸ˜€

      January 5, 2017 at 2:39 pm
  • Reply Emily

    Runner’s amnesia is essential; it keeps you loving running despite those really really awful runs. And getting fitted for shoes in one of my very first years of running really helped me figure out what the right fit feels like.
    Emily recently posted…Why Me Lord? Learning that Life in God is An Incredible MiracleMy Profile

    January 4, 2017 at 9:43 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You hit the nail on the head!

      January 5, 2017 at 2:38 pm
  • Reply

    Like your weekend recaps, I love these posts. They’re interesting, informative and personal. Please keep up the good work here Suzie!

    Laughed at the “shove you bits into spandex” part. I’ll let Lynne tell you about my tiny running underwear……. ha ha ha! (It’s not spandex though πŸ˜€ ) recently posted…Sweet Potato Garlic and Chorizo SoupMy Profile

    January 5, 2017 at 2:25 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Omg, Lynne and I would have the best time ever. One day we must meet (all of us!)

      January 5, 2017 at 2:38 pm
  • Reply Ilka

    Hey Susie – all great tips as usual. I just double-checked this morning one more time and the link is there – so weird! Have a great week!
    Ilka recently posted…Treasure Coast Marathon Training Log – Happy New Year!My Profile

    January 5, 2017 at 6:00 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m glad that it came through! Always so glad to have you here, Ilka!

      January 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm
  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law

    This is the PERFECT post for the start of the year. I feel like I need to print this out and hand it out to all the new runners at the park πŸ˜›
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recent Things: Siri Fails, Post Christmas Depression and Celebrations!My Profile

    January 5, 2017 at 2:31 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Feel free to do so! Or just send them right on over to the old blog πŸ˜€

      January 5, 2017 at 2:36 pm
  • Reply Jenn @ Run With Sole

    These are great! I think it’s really hard to keep running, especially if you don’t truly love it. Having that support network is essential to keep running!
    Jenn @ Run With Sole recently posted…Goals for 2017My Profile

    January 5, 2017 at 9:05 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It really is everything!

      January 6, 2017 at 5:51 am
  • Reply Hannah

    The advice to SLOW DOWN for most runs was key for me – once I discovered it actually is possible to run without huffing and puffing the whole time, it got a lot more enjoyable and consistent.
    Hannah recently posted…One sentence per dayMy Profile

    January 6, 2017 at 3:22 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Startling, isnt’ it? Lol

      January 6, 2017 at 3:32 pm
  • Reply The Weekender 1/7 - Oats & Rows

    […] Killer Pilates Sequence via Greatist How to Start Running & To Keep Running via Suz Lyfe Superset Pyramid Time Challenge Workout via Pumps & […]

    January 7, 2017 at 6:08 am
  • Reply Christy Gerdes

    It took me four years to get over first marathon, I think the runner’s amnesia was slow to set in for that one, but I did my second last fall and am ready for another!

    January 10, 2017 at 5:35 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That means your runner’s amnesia just needed to catch up a bit!

      January 10, 2017 at 6:05 am
  • Reply MCM Mama Runs

    One of the best pieces of advice I got was “walk fast, run slow”. He was referring to handling back to back marathons, but I think it’s applicable to beginning runners as well.
    MCM Mama Runs recently posted…TOTR: Tips for planning a racecationMy Profile

    January 10, 2017 at 7:34 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I totally agree!

      January 11, 2017 at 9:39 am

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