How to Start Running When You’re Out of Shape

How to Start Running When You're Out of Shape

Running can be an awesome exercise that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. We know that running is good for your mental health. Many people have the desire to add running to their routines, but they don’t know where to start. Running can be very difficult when you first get started or if you are out of shape.

Thankfully, getting started with running can be easy if you follow the right steps. I learned all of these lessons myself in my own running journey.

If you’re interested in learning how to start running when out of shape, you can follow these tips to help you build up your endurance and stamina. You can enjoy the benefits of running no matter what your starting point is!

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Know Your “Why”

The most important thing to do when you first start running is to identify your “why”. Running is hard, and consistency is even harder. When things get hard, you need to have your “why” clearly determined in your mind. When things get tough, the “why” is what you will need to hold on to to keep going.

For me, my “why” is that I know that running is good for my mental health and helps me to manage anxiety. When I don’t feel like I am in the mood to run, I remember how much better I will feel after I run. This helps me to have the motivation to run even when I don’t want to.

Set a Goal

After you get clear on your “why”, you will need to set a goal. What is it that you are working toward? Do you want to be able to run consistently without stopping for 30 minutes? Do you want to run a 5k? Do you eventually want to run a longer race like a half marathon?

Setting a goal is a great way to identify what you are working towards. What is your ultimate goal? What do you want to achieve? Identifying your goal can help you to see whether you are on track with your fitness routine.

Get Good Running Shoes

As I always say, before you get started running, the most important thing that you should do is get a pair of high-quality running shoes that are right for you. I recommend getting a professional shoe fitting at a running store (the fitting is usually free!). Invest in a pair of high-quality running shoes to make sure that you are getting the best possible fit and support!

If you are looking to save money on running shoes, you can check out my secret hack to save money on running shoes. The right running shoes don’t have to break the bank.

Start Slow

When many people run for the first time, they have a lot of motivation. They are ready to go out and run as hard as they can! This can lead to injury or burnout. When you first start running when you are not in shape, it is critical to start slow. It will take your body some time to adjust.

I learned this lesson through personal experience! When I was in college, I wasn’t exercising at all. I decided to go out for a run, and I literally sprinted around campus as fast as I could. After that run, I nearly passed out and my entire body was sore for a week. I gave up after that run because I thought “Running is just too hard”.

Later, I learned that I had gone about it all wrong. I realized that I needed to start slow and allow my body to adjust. When I did this, I was able to comfortably add mileage and eventually complete a marathon!

Run/Walk Intervals

When you first get started with running, a great way to transition into running is to start with run/walk intervals. When I coach new runners or runners who are getting back to running after a long break, I will typically prescribe run/walk intervals. This helps your body to adjust to running gradually.

Do Some Light Stretching When You’re Done

When you’re done with your run/walk intervals, it’s a good idea to do some light stretching. I recommend stretching after your runs when your muscles are warm, but not before. Stretches target areas that are tight after a run and they can improve your flexibility, comfort, and performance.

Track Your Progress

As you begin your new running routine, a great way to stay motivated is to track your progress. You will notice that over time, you will begin to improve. Running will become easier. You will be able to run for longer periods of time.

If you write this down in a fitness journal or track it using a running watch, it will be easier for you to clearly see how much progress you are making. It can be reassuring to see visible progress and growth.

Be Patient with Yourself

Remember, establishing a sustainable running routine is more like a marathon than a sprint! (no pun intended!) It takes time to see progress and you need to be patient with yourself. Like everything else, you shouldn’t expect huge changes overnight. You will see improvements gradually over time.

The good news is that if you consistently put in the work, you can greatly improve your fitness through running. You can train to run longer and faster. With patience, determination, and consistency, you can build a healthy lifestyle through running!

How to Start Running When You’re Out of Shape

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Interested in getting one on one run coaching and support? Check out my most popular coaching option. I provide runners of all levels and abilities with motivation, guidance, and accountability to achieve their running goals. I believe running can be an amazing supplement to a healthy lifestyle. I use my training, knowledge, and research to help runners progress in a safe and healthy way while reducing the risk of injury.

The Best Running Blogs of 2021

I am super excited to share that Running for Wellness has been included in a list of ‘The Best Running Blogs of 2021’ by fellow running blogger, Runnin’ for Sweets! Maggie is the blogger behind Runnin’ for Sweets and she shares really awesome tips and motivational content all about running! Please go check her site out!


  1. Great tips! I think knowing your “why” and having a goal are so helpful. If you can be consistent, usually it becomes more comfortable and enjoyable!

  2. I needed this today! I started running again a few weeks ago but had to take a week off due to injury. This week I’m starting again!

  3. Tracking progress is so important! We easily forget how we used to struggle and how far we have come since then.
    And if beginners are worried about an expensive running watch, it can easily be done with any timer and running route. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  4. Starting too much too fast is the biggest mistake I see people make in our MRTT group. I am a big fan of run walk intervals

  5. Yes! These are all so wonderful! Getting good shoes, starting slow and being patient are incredibly valuable to the longevity of running. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great advice! When I started (16 years ago), I took things very slow because I was fearful of getting muscle cramps. It took forever to see progress LOL But, in retrospect, it was a good move because I didn’t run too far or too often. And, I definitely didn’t run too fast ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. These are all great tips! I’ve used the run/walk method a few times when coming back from an injury. It’s a nice way to get out there for longer without putting too much stress on your body at first.

  8. Great tips. I appreciate the links to posts on getting the proper running shoes.. this has been my deterrent but I may finally find the right pair and hit the pavement.

  9. Definitely needed to read this today! I have spent the last year trying to get back to where I was with my running abilities; however, I am not necessarily stretching with the same fervor that I was prior. This is a great reminder to stretch, stretch, stretch! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. this reminds me when I was just starting out to run and Im glad that Im still enjoying it up to now. Right shoes really helps a lot.

  11. My husband and I just bought a jogging stroller so we can start to go for a jog when he gets home from work before dinner. He ran cross country all during high school and kept up with it for most of college. I was a very casual runner. I was in decent shape in high school. But after college and a very hard pregnancy/birth I got really out of shape. He’s been going at my pace and we run/walk. It helps to have someone else to jog with me and motivate me!

  12. Great tips! I need to get back into running!

  13. Yes! Run-walk intervals are absolutely key for mental and physical reasons.

  14. These tips are great! Having great run shoes makes a difference in whether or not youโ€™ll stay motivated.

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