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Everything You Need to Know About How to Start Running

Running can help you improve your health, reduce stress, reach a healthy weight and connect with others.

According to the World Health Organization, adults ages 18 to 64 should complete at least 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week or twice as much moderate aerobic exercise in order to maintain good health. Recent estimates show that over one quarter of adults and three quarters of adolescents don’t meet the recommendations for aerobic exercise.

Running is a great way to get the aerobic activity that your body requires without a gym membership or fancy equipment. You just need the right pair of running shoes and comfortable sweat-wicking apparel to get started.

Our how to start running guide is here to provide the advice, motivation, inspiration and gear you need to start running today, and make it a lifelong habit. What are you waiting for?

Learn more about how running improves your health.

A man and woman smile as they run along a path together

Many newbies make the mistake of trying to run too much too soon, and wind up quitting because they’re discouraged or injured. So, try easing into your new routine gradually. It’s a more strategic and sustainable approach.

If you have been sedentary for a few months or more, start by walking 10 to 30 minutes on a regular basis, and increase that time gradually. Once you can walk comfortably for 30 minutes, you’re ready to incorporate some running (check with your doctor if you have a pre-existing condition that may require you to alter your plan).

Check out our blog content linked below for tips about:

Find Shoes and Gear

It may sound dramatic, but a comfortable pair of running shoes often means the difference between enjoying a run enough to build a healthy habit or calling it quits altogether. Get fit for a pair of comfortable running shoes and socks. Try on several pairs of shoes and run in them a bit to see what you like the best. Watch our video below to find out more.

Learn more about Fleet Feet’s FitID outfitting process (it’s free!).

Ladies, the right running bra is your second priority. A properly-fitted bra will reduce strain on your back and shoulders and eliminate painful chafing. Get the support you need to maximize your comfort and support on the run.

Clothes that are good for running are typically made from synthetic materials, like polyester and nylon, and organic materials like wool. Unlike cotton, these fibers wick moisture away from your skin and help speed up evaporation, so you stay comfortable. With the right apparel, you can run outside in almost any condition.

Here are our recommendations for the best running apparel of 2021.

Build Your Training Plan

How do you know how many miles to run each week, which workouts to do and when you should rest? Whether you're running for mental health, to lose weight and get in shape, to get faster or to conquer a race or new distance, here are some tricks for running without getting injured or burned out.

A balanced running plan has all of the elements listed below.

  • Easy runs
  • Speed workouts
  • Long runs
  • Rest days
  • Strength training
  • Cross-training

Learn more about how to balance your running plan.

Training groups provide a social environment to help you work on your fitness and speed with other runners. Running with others is shown to increase happiness related to social connection. It also has a positive effect on motivation, making you more likely to run faster and for longer distances.

Find a training group near you!

Ready to try a race? Signing up for a race is a perfect way to work toward a running goal. It gives you a specific distance with a deadline to aim for. Whether they are virtual or in-person, races test your fitness in an exciting and motivating environment.

Don’t want to race? No problem. You don’t have to be competitive in order to be a runner. Some people love the simplicity of logging miles with friends, family or their dog as a way to catch up and burn stress. Others prefer to use running as a sacred opportunity to be alone. Do what feels right to you, and make running your own.

Learn more here about how to balance your training, pursue different distances and develop your speed should you choose to do so.

Find Motivation

Setting goals is important when you want to establish a new routine. Find the sweet spot where your goal challenges you but doesn’t leave you overwhelmed and likely to burn out or quit. SMART goals are a popular concept for good reason. They hold you accountable to goals that are realistic and meaningful to you. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Learn more about SMART goals here.

With a positive mindset and meaningful motivation, running can be an empowering, fun experience!

Learn more about setting goals and finding motivation.

Looking for a little motivation? Around 80 percent of people give up on their resolutions within the first month of the new year. Stick to your goals by joining a challenge like Share The Run. Virtual challenges give you a concrete goal to work toward. They're fun and they can help you stay accountable, especially if you join with a friend!

This February we’re teaming up with Saucony to share our love of running and motivate as many people as we can to set goals, log miles and create lasting habits.

Register for a goal of 20 miles (5 miles per week), 60 miles (15 miles per week) or 100 miles (25 miles per week).

Learn more and sign up at runsignup.com/sharetherun.

Injuries and Prevention

In general, runners can end up injured by improper recovery and sudden changes in training. With proper training and technique, most injuries can be avoided. A dynamic stretching warmup and recovery routine is crucial for injury prevention and overall running health. Tools like foam rollers, massagers, braces and more can help your body recover after a run so you can bounce back and keep getting stronger.

Nutrition and Hydration

What you eat matters, and your energy is directly related to the type and amount of fuel that you put in your body. When it comes to pre-run nutrition, a bit of trial and error is required to discover what energizes your run without upsetting your stomach.

Match your fuel to the type of run. Keep the planning simple and stress-free (your gut prefers simplicity, too!). No matter what you eat, be sure to drink plenty of water, which aids digestion and energizes your system.

Learn more about what to eat before running.

What you eat every day is crucial for your recovery and general health. Aim for a balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats from wholesome, nutrient-dense foods.


When you start running you are also likely to burn more calories and may feel hungrier than usual. Be mindful not to go on a hangry binge, but to eat (mostly) healthy foods to replenish your system.

Read more about all things nutrition and hydration, and how it helps to improve your running:

Start Trail Running

Trail running is an excellent way to explore wild places and disconnect, or simply give your joints a break from pavement pounding. Unlike road running, though, running trails takes a bit of extra time and preparation, but the mental and physical benefits are well worth it.

If you’re tackling the trails for the first time, be sure to plan ahead. Know your route and be aware of conditions you may find on the trail. Hills and uneven surfaces make running more strenuous. A good pair of trail running shoes will give you the extra grip and protection you need on uneven surfaces like rocks, mud and snow.

Consider bringing water and calories along, even if your route is on the shorter side. Running on steep trails takes longer than it would on the road, so don’t be caught off-guard, especially if you take a wrong turn. Learn more about the best trail running shoes, and the benefits of trail running, and how to prepare for a trail run here.