How To Start And Maintain A Running Routine

March 26, 2015

How to Start and Maintain a Running Routine

Are you a runner? How did you get started? It wasn’t until after college—when I left behind organized sports and intramurals—that I took up a daily running routine. That was nearly six years ago, and while I’m certainly not an expert on running by any stretch of the imagination, I’ve managed to keep at it ever since. Here are a few things I’ve learned about starting a running routine—and actually sticking with it…

1. Start Small. If you’re new to running or have been on a break for a while, it’s always best to start small and gradually increase mileage/time as you go. This will reduce your chances of injury and help build muscle at a healthy rate. Plus, you’ll be less likely to quit after a week if you’re not terribly sore.

Starting from scratch? Try jogging for five minutes, followed by walking for one or two minutes, and then jog for another five minutes. I’m consistently surprised at how much running is required before a five-mile jog actually feels good (always more than expected). Also, until you feel good running a couple miles—minimal soreness, no blisters—don’t even think about your pace.

2. Listen to your body. I know you’ve heard this before, but… 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 or something just feels off—take a rest day. Running through any pain that’s described as “sharp” or is sore to the touch could turn into something serious (read: stress fracture). Not only will you be in pain and probably 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 comfortable for you. Depending on who you talk to you’ll get different advice on the best running pants, bras, shirts, socks, etc. You’ll even hear the ‘the more you spend, the higher the quality’ speech, which there is truth to, but the most important thing is to wear whatever makes you most comfortable. And don’t be afraid to switch it up—experiement with different brands and styles to see what you like best.

I used to love wearing baggy soccer shorts and a tank top, and now I wear fitted 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.

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 to buy 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 new version. I went through a couple pairs of so-so shoes until I recently got this pair of Brooks. These are by far the best shoes I’ve ever owned. I’d highly recommend them to 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/Audiobooks/Unplug. Most people listen to something while they run. Music can be a great motivator, and audiobooks can be great distractions on long runs. In the past, I’ve tried listening to music and podcasts during my runs, but I prefer to unplug and hear what’s happening around me. Also, I get my best ideas when I’m running (anyone else?). For those of you who love to use the time to catch up on podcasts, here’s a long list of popular ones. And here’s a 40 minute Spotify playlist.

How to start and maintain a running routine

6. Hydrate. Have you experienced that nauseous feeling after finishing a run or intense workout? Not the feeling we get when we’re still out of shape—we’ve all been there, but the one when you could throw up after a six-mile run even though you’re in good running shape. That’s because you’re dehydrated. You have to drink significantly more fluids when you’re running daily than when you’re not. Science says so.

7. Buy a Chafe Stick. This is a game changer. It will be your best running pal. (If you think chaffing on a hot, sunny day is the absolute worst just wait until you shower!)

8. Do *not* clip your toenails before a run. Big mistake! If you cut your toenails before running it can lead to painful blisters that take forever to heal. Only clip your toenails when you know you’re not running the next day.

How to start and maintain a running routine

9. Curb your alcohol intake. Let’s assume most of us aren’t planning to give up our favorite glass of wine or beer in the name of running. Instead, consider skipping it the night before a long run or tough workout. While training for my first half marathon, I noticed that I felt much better when I didn’t drink alcohol the night before a long training run.

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 picture of me and Dan running in our first half marathon (which also happened to be Dan’s last since it was a tough one!) 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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