How to Become a Runner, One Step at a Time

Not sure how to become a runner? We can help! Credit: lululemon athletica

Most runners I know have said, at some point in their life, something along the lines of, “Running is stupid and only for crazy people.” Shoot, I’ve said it myself. Sometimes I say it in the middle of a run. But you know what? Over the past decade, I’ve slowly (very slowly) but surely learned how to become a runner. And I’m damn proud.

Now, before I started running, I was athletic, but for many runners I know, that was not the case—they were couch potatoes who preferred Doritos and beer to bananas and Gatorade. (Most of them still do, for that matter.) But, little by little, they built up their mileage, learned how to become a runner and in many cases have completed half-marathons, marathons and more!

If you find yourself becoming increasingly jealous of your friends’ Facebook posts about how they had already completed a 10k before you even got out of bed, or even if you’re just looking for an easy way to burn some extra calories, believe me when I say you can do it. Or don’t believe me—I’ve brought in an expert to talk about how beginners (like you!) can start running.

In addition to being one of my favorite people on Twitter, Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In spite of her extensive writing on running and triathlon (Competitor and No Meat Athlete, for starters), she is still unable to use the words “chafing” or “fartlek” in a sentence without giggling, which makes her a perfect fit for FBG, don’t you think?

Tips on How to Become a Runner from Susan Lacke, Running Expert

What’s the first thing someone should do if they want to learn how to become a runner? Are there things they need to buy or a plan they should make? The wonderful thing about running is that it really doesn’t require much to get started: A good pair of shoes, a set of running clothes and a sense of adventure. There’s no need for pricey gym memberships, confusing electronic devices and overly perky personal trainers. (Let’s be honest—you want to punch those folks in the mouth, don’t you?)

In the initial stages, a runner should outline how she’s committed to making this happen. Make a list of reasons why you want to run, identify some sort of structure (“I will run X minutes, X days a week,” or “I will follow this training plan”), and line up resources to keep you happy and healthy while you run.

Most importantly—tell someone, like a friend or family member who will be supportive of your running. If that person’s a runner, she’ll answer all sorts of newbie questions (trust me—you’ll have them!) and give you inspirations and tips. If she’s not a runner, who knows—you may inspire her to start running with you, too!



Comments

  1. Denise Tremaine says

    I am a 51 year old female who, while I was a swimmer in high school and college, never was a runner. When I began to go through menopause, all of a sudden I was 15 pounds heavier than I wanted to be. My husband is a runner, and I decided that I could do it. I did go to a running shoe store and was fitted for shoes – which I agree is a must. I’ve seen too many people that hurt themselves with poor fitting shoes. I started very slowly (I had a couch to 5K program on my iPad)…but ended up running a 5K then did the Las Vegas Rock and Roll half marathon! I’m not the fastest runner, but I have endurance. I actually miss it when I don’t run, and I admit that when I’m running I don’t like it…but I love how I feel afterwards. I truly believe if I can become a runner at 51 that anyone can do it. Start slowly, be consistent, and just do it. You’ll be surprised at how far and fast you can go! Thanks for a great article!

  2. D says

    I would love to run. My biggest pitfall is my foot, walking for a long period of time my flat foot will ache for days, running it happens a lot quicker, it helps when I wrap it but I’m not sure if I could do it for long, and the second obstacle is my breathing, I cannot get my breathing right, everytime we ran during bootcamp classes, I’d get two laps around and by then my breathing got more labored and I would start to panic, I sound dumb. But that’s what happens. I may try to do the walk/run thing to at least build up to 30 mins of running.
    Thanks for the tips

  3. Erin Boyle says

    I think the number two thing to have, besides running shoes, is a great sports bra. I tried running a few times, but no matter how I doubled or tripled up my cheep sports bras, it still hurt to bounce. Investing in a great sports bra made all the difference for me!
    Susan has been a mentor to me for a long time. I just completed my first 5k and never thought I could run the whole time without stopping. But I did, and now I’m hooked and can’t wait to do more!

  4. Jacki says

    I think it’s important to mention being properly assessed and fitted for running shoes. People always complain about their unique foot problems, but it turns out not so many of them are so unique there is not a proper shoe for them. Strengthening foot muscles from USING them will help a lot of foot problems, too.
    If you lack motivation, join your local running club. Most of them have run/walk groups and walk groups, as well as running groups. Ours even offers training programs. In our town the running stores also offer training programs. These programs are GREAT for beginners b/c it totally keeps you motivated and the pace leaders/coaches/other runners are fantastic resources. You’ll be running before you know it. Don’t make another excuse! Become addicted to being proud of yourself.

  5. Angela says

    I am signed up for my first 5k on March 3rd, 2012… I am so nervous and these suggestions help! Thank you.

  6. Raewyn says

    I agree with this. Last October I was unfit and overweight. I started with a group of women training at 3 mins walk / 1 min run x4. This morning I ran 8.5 km and although it’s still hard I’m really proud of myself. We are to race a 10k next weekend and am aiming for a half-marathon on April 15.
    Now I spend my time reading about running also. It is an addiction!

  7. Mary says

    I’m one month into training for a 9K run in late May. I’m definitely on the wrong side of 40 ;-) and I’ve got asthma, so running has always been a challenge. But I figured the run was for a great cause and a couple of my friends were doing it. So I’m on the couch to 5K plan. I’m going to have to repeat week 4 but I’m still pleased with the progress I’ve made. When I started I could barely run for a minute. Now I’m up to a max of 5 minutes at a time and I’ve done 16 minutes total running each day this week.

    I still don’t feel like a runner, but I’m getting there step by step.

  8. Laura says

    I absolutely love running! I typically run to the beach with my dog. She motivates me to get moving and to stay active. Having someone (in my case, my dog Rosie) to run with encourages me to run on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, I fell and sprained my ankle about 2 1/2 months ago. It’s been very difficult for me to get my cardio in as I still cannot run. My ankle is slightly larger than my other and I am still experiencing some slight pain, either from moving it in the wrong way or standing on it for long periods of time. I really want to run again but don’t want to further injur my ankle. I have been swimming laps to compensate, but it just isn’t the same. I would greatly appreciate any advice on how to best rehabilitate my ankle. Thanks and happy running!

    L

  9. Carmen says

    I’m thinking about running lately. Last time I did my back started hurting so I turned to my bicycle. This blog helped me gain some confidence. Now, back to thinking about it…

  10. Lisa says

    I signed up for the WarriorDash and have two months to train for it. I was an athlete in high school and was very much in shape, but my sports-induced asthma tends to hinder me.
    My biggest issue with running is that I get bored very fast, and I find it hard to breathe so I don’t run for long periods. Interval training is starting to help, but my best time for a mile has been 11 minutes (and I was damn proud of that!)
    Any suggestions on the bored issue? I try watching TV at the gym to let the time pass by quicker but maybe I just have a short attention span, lol!

  11. Meg says

    Great article! My mom started running in her 40′s and has really grown to love it. I keep trying to push myself to start running but after developing an anxiety disorder a few years ago, the feeling of my own heart beating scares me. I hope to get over this some day!

  12. Christi says

    Am I a runner? Today, I ran my first 1/2 marathon. I started training in May, followed the marathonrookie website training suggestion, finished in a decent time for a first timer, ran a beautiful route … but I still don’t like running. I never had the feeling I have when I bike, that I am one with my bike and things are running smoothly. I thought by now I would be sold on running. What’s wrong with me?

  13. Dania says

    Oh running. If I had to name something I absoulutely suck at, other than sit-ups, running would be it.
    I really want to become a runner. The main problem for me are my shoes. I’m really bad at finding the right brand for those things…But anyway, I can still run with them.
    So I plan on running as soon as possible. Endurance is my goal! :D

  14. aml says

    I am 35 and have always wanted to be a runner. I have very little endurance and am about 40# overweight. My husband and I are trying to get pregnant (we have 2 children now) and I know getting fit will help. My last pregnancy occured immediately after losing 35#. Unfortunately, I gained it all (plus some) back. I know it’s gonna be hard, but this is a lifestyle I have always wanted & hope I can stick with it.

  15. Terra says

    I am a runner in training. I walked my first 5k 2 months ago. Next week I am in another 5k. My goal is to run something. 1 minute still counts right? Right now I can run for about 2 minutes before I need to walk again, but hey, that’s better than I was at this time last year. So maybe I am a runner, a very short distance runner! Mentioned above: good shoes and good sports bras are needed, and yes they are, but I need a pair of shorts that don’t drive me crazy…I have yet to find one :( So MAYBE I am a crazy, short distance runner. :)

  16. Amber Woodside says

    I’m almost fifteen years old, only five foot six, and four months ago I weighed 215 pounds. I saw this article at a out that time and decided to start walking the two mile loop that circles my subdivision. It took me over an hour and dang near killed me; now four months and 38 pounds lighter, it takes me about half an hour. Thank you so much FBG you changed my life!!!

  17. L. D. says

    Wow @Amber, CONGRATULATIONS!

    About two years ago I would run daily. I felt great and was in the best shape of my life. Since then I’ve been through some lifestyle changes and I’ve gained a lot of weight. I look forward to becoming a runner again, but I get anxious thinking about how long it will take me to reach my former level. I’m committed to trying the steps described here. Thanks!

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