How To Start And Maintain A Running Routine

March 26, 2015

How to Start and Maintain a Running Routine

Here’s a secret: I used to loath the idea of distance running. Why would you go for a run if you can round up a group of friends and play soccer or basketball for an hour? I’d ask myself any time I saw someone running down main street. But fast forward several years and…I actually enjoy going for a run and training for long distance races.

While I’m not an expert on the topic, by any stretch of the imagination, I’ve stuck with a distance running routine for nearly six years. Here are a few things I’ve learned about starting a running routine–and actually sticking with it…

1. Start Small. If you haven’t done much running in your lifetime or if it’s been awhile since you ran farther than a mile or two, it’s best to gradually ease into it. This will help reduce your chances of injury and painfully sore muscles. And you’ll be less likely to quit after a week.

Try jogging for 10 minutes, followed by walking for one or two minutes, and then jog for another 10 (or even five!) minutes. I’m consistently surprised at how much running is required before a five mile jog actually feels good–always more than I expect. And until you feel good running a few miles–no more sore muscles or blisters or just generally feeling crappy after a three mile run–don’t worry about pace. Which brings me to…

2. Listen to your body. Seriously. If you have shooting pain in your knee or your arch is too sore to walk normally or your lower back has been tight for weeks–take a day OFF. Running through any pain that could be described as “sharp” or is sore to the touch could turn into something serious (hello stress fracture). Not only will you be miserable and unable to run for a while, you’ll have a tough time motivating yourself to get back into a routine once you’ve healed.

How to start and maintain a running routine

3. Wear what’s most comfortable for you. Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get different advice on what’s the best thing to wear while running. Some say: the more you spend, the higher the quality. There is definitely truth to that. But I think the most important thing is to wear whatever makes you most comfortable.

I used to love wearing baggy soccer shorts and a tank top, and now I wear tight running pants and a baggy shirt (usually one of Dan’s shirts)–the baggier the better. My pants are Nike Dri-fit sweat-wicking and they’re comfortable, durable, and fit really well. I also have a few Old Navy athletic pants (love this pair) that get a lot of use and are perfect for shorter runs.

What works for one person might not work for you–your comfort is key.

4. Invest in quality shoes. There are countless articles out there on how to buy the right running shoes, and I can’t reiterate enough how important it is get a really good shoe. It took me a while to find the right pair of running shoes, partly because I have prescription orthotics and also because I get blisters really easily. Several years ago, I had the best Asics, but Asics discontinued the style and I didn’t like the following year’s version. I went through a couple pairs of so-so shoes until I recently got this pair by Brooks. These are my first pair of Brooks and are by far the best shoes I’ve ever owned. I’d highly recommend them for anyone looking for a super light-weight (9.1 oz), neutral shoe with lots of cushioning. You can read more about the shoe’s features here.

5. Music/Podcasts/Audio Books/Unplug. About 95% of people I see running listen to something. I’ve tried running with earbuds a few times (years ago), but honestly, I prefer to hear what’s happening around me and I really like to use that time to unplug. Also, I get my best ideas when I’m running (anyone else?). If you are an earbud person, I recommend having your playlist or other listening material together ahead of time so it doesn’t hold you up when you’re ready to hit the road. Here’s a 40 minute Spotify playlist. And here’s a long list of popular podcasts.

How to start and maintain a running routine

6. Hydrate. Have you ever had that gross nauseous feeling right at the end of a run or maybe it hits you 10 minutes after? And I don’t mean when you’re still out of shape that you feel like crap after a workout–I mean when you’ve been running for several weeks, just finished a solid 6-miler and could throw up? Well, I once read that that’s because you’re dehydrated. You have to drink way more liquids when you’re running daily–or exercising, for that matter–than when you’re not. Science says so.

7. Buy a Chafe Stick. I didn’t even know these existed (roll eyes at self) until my cousin-in-law gave me one before I ran my second half marathon (thank you, Erin!), and it was a game changer. This magical stuff will be your best running pal ever. No joke. Don’t wait. Because if you think chaffing on a hot, sunny day is the absolute worst, just wait until you shower!

8. Whatever you do, do not clip your toenails before a run. Big mistake! When you cut your toenails back, soft, sensitive skin is revealed and constant rubbing on your socks while running can lead to blisters. Not fun. Really, only clip your toenails when you know you’re not running the next day.

How to start and maintain a running routine

9. If you avoid alcohol you’ll feel 10x better…obviously, this is a statement that applies to life, but let’s assume most of us are treating ourselves to a glass of wine/beer 3ish nights/week and not planning to forgo our nightcap in the name of running. I noticed, while training for a half marathon, that I felt so much better if I didn’t drink alcohol within a span of 24 hours before a long run. It has something to do with hydration and …alcohol being bad for you.

10. Consider signing up for a race. It’s something to look forward to and will keep you accountable.


Anyway! I could go on, but I want to hear from you! Feel free to share tips, triumphs, horror stories in the comment section!


PS. How To Feel Settled In A New Place and the NYC Marathon.

Images: 1 /  This unflattering picture of me and Dan running in our first half marathon (which also happened to be Dan’s last since it was not enjoyable) cracks me up. It was *brutally* hot that day. All I remember is my feet feeling like they were on fire. 2 / 3 / 4



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