Want to Try Running? It’s Never Too Late to Start

If it seems like there are more runners out there than ever before, there are; with gyms closed in many parts of the country, people are taking to the streets to get fit. It’s possible you’re thinking about running yourself, and wondering if it’s a fitness activity that would be right for you. Here’s some expert advice for those wondering whether or not to give running a try.

Running Is an Easy Sport to Start

Endurance running is a great fitness choice because it’s easy to get started. You don’t have to maintain a bike or load up your racquet and drive to a court—you can run from your front door. All you need are a pair of good shoes and the willingness to start slow and keep at it, even if you’re sore the first few times.

You Can Do It Alone

This sounds obvious, but in these times of social distancing, it’s helpful to have activities you enjoy that are easy to do alone. And running is actually easier as a solo sport, especially in the beginning, because you won’t feel pressure to keep up with anyone else. And there’s no one to notice if you need to stop and catch your breath!

There Are Many Ways to Motivate Yourself

You may be thinking about running because it sounds like a good way to get fit and healthy. But you may have another motivation, such as losing weight, or joining in an activity that your friends enjoy. In other words, it doesn’t have to be about the running, and that’s okay.

I spoke with Kaiser Permanente Physical Therapist Brian Soo about this, and he had a funny story. When he first started running, he says, he did it to train for race events – because he wanted the t-shirts! It doesn’t really matter what your motivation is, he says, as long as it gets you out there and lacing up your shoes.

Runners Love to Welcome Beginners

And lots of other people run, so you have lots of support and encouragement. “For a long time I had a boss who ran, and she’d ask me, `How’s your running?” and I’d feel compelled to have an answer for her,” says Soo. “As soon as you start talking about running a 5K or half marathon, you’ll find that lots of other people run too and love to talk about it.”

It’s Okay to Start Slow

When you’re first starting to run, it’s important not to push yourself too hard. For one thing, it’s not enjoyable if you’re huffing and puffing, and if you’re frustrated you won’t continue. But more importantly, you don’t want to get injured, because then you may be sidelined for a long time and lose everything you’ve built up to. So start slow, go easy on yourself, and increase time and distance gradually.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.