How To Begin Running When Out Of Shape

How to Begin Running When Out of Shape


Running is a fantastic form of exercise that offers numerous health benefits. However, if you’re out of shape and haven’t engaged in physical activity for a while, getting started can be a daunting task. Fortunately, with the right approach and mindset, you can begin running and gradually improve your fitness level. In this article, we will provide you with some valuable tips to help you get started on your running journey, even if you’re out of shape.

1. Consult with Your Doctor

Before embarking on any new exercise regimen, it’s important to consult with your doctor, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. Your doctor can assess your current health status and provide personalized advice and recommendations.

2. Start Slow

When you’re out of shape, it’s essential to start slow and gradually build up your running endurance. Begin with a brisk walk or a slow jog for short durations, such as 10-15 minutes. As your fitness level improves, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your runs.

3. Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is crucial when starting any exercise program. Instead of trying to run a marathon within a week, set achievable goals like running for a specific distance or time. Celebrate your progress and gradually increase your goals as you improve.

4. Invest in Proper Running Shoes

Having the right pair of running shoes is essential for your comfort and to prevent injuries. Visit a specialty running store to get fitted for shoes that suit your foot type and running mechanics. Well-fitting shoes can alleviate discomfort and reduce the risk of developing blisters or other foot problems.

5. Warm Up and Cool Down

Before each run, warm up your muscles with dynamic stretches and exercises. This helps prepare your body for the physical activity and reduces the risk of injury. After your run, cool down by stretching your muscles to prevent stiffness and promote recovery.

6. Practice Proper Running Form

Running with the correct form can help you run more efficiently and reduce the risk of injury. Keep your body relaxed, maintain an upright posture, and land softly on your midfoot rather than your heels. Keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and swing them naturally.

7. Listen to Your Body

While it’s essential to push yourself during workouts, it’s equally important to listen to your body and respect its limitations. If you experience pain or extreme fatigue, take a break and allow your body to recover. Overexertion can lead to injuries and setbacks.

8. Incorporate Walk-Run Intervals

If running continuously feels challenging initially, try incorporating walk-run intervals into your routine. Alternate between walking and jogging or running for specific durations. Gradually increase the running duration and decrease the walking duration as you build up your endurance.

9. Find a Running Buddy

Running with a friend or joining a running group can be highly motivating, especially when you’re just starting. Having a running partner can provide support, encouragement, and accountability. You can challenge each other and celebrate your progress together.

10. Track Your Progress

Keep a record of your runs, including the distance covered, the time taken, and how you felt during each session. Tracking your progress can help you stay motivated and witness your gradual improvements over time. There are various fitness apps and trackers available that can assist in logging your runs.


Q: Can I start running if I’m significantly overweight?

A: Yes, running is a great form of exercise for weight loss and overall fitness. However, it’s crucial to start slow and listen to your body. Consider consulting with a fitness professional to create a suitable program for your specific needs and abilities.

Q: How often should I run when starting out?

A: When beginning your running journey, aim for three to four sessions per week to allow your body enough time to recover and adapt to the new activity. As you progress and become more comfortable, you can gradually increase the frequency of your runs.

Q: How long does it take to see progress in running?

A: The timeline for progress varies from person to person and depends on multiple factors such as current fitness level, consistency, and genetics. However, with regular practice and consistency, most individuals start noticing improvements in their running abilities within a few weeks.

Q: Should I stretch before or after my run?

A: It’s best to warm up with dynamic stretches and exercises before your run. Save your static stretches for after your run, as this can help with muscle recovery and flexibility.

Q: What should I eat before running?

A: It’s essential to fuel your body with a light, easily digestible snack or meal before running. Aim for a combination of carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. Examples include a banana with peanut butter, a Greek yogurt, or a small serving of oatmeal.

Q: How do I prevent injury when starting to run?

A: To prevent injuries, ensure you have the correct footwear, listen to your body, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your runs. Incorporating strength training exercises for your core and lower body can also help improve your running mechanics and reduce the risk of injury.

Q: Can I run with asthma or other respiratory conditions?

A: Many individuals with asthma or other respiratory conditions can safely run with proper management and guidance from their healthcare provider. It’s important to have a plan in place, carry your inhaler if necessary, and gradually build up your endurance over time.

Q: How can I stay motivated to continue running?

A: Finding a running buddy, setting achievable goals, and tracking your progress can help keep you motivated. Additionally, participating in virtual races or signing up for community running events can provide a sense of accomplishment and give you something to work towards.

Q: Can running help with stress reduction?

A: Absolutely! Running releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. It can help reduce stress, improve mental well-being, and provide a sense of clarity and relaxation.

Q: When should I replace my running shoes?

A: Running shoes typically last for approximately 300-500 miles, depending on factors such as your body weight and running surface. Pay attention to signs of wear and tear, loss of cushioning, or discomfort. It’s best to replace your shoes when they no longer provide adequate support and shock absorption.


Starting to run when you’re out of shape may seem intimidating, but with the right approach and mindset, it’s achievable. Remember to start slow, listen to your body, and set realistic goals. Over time, you’ll build up your running fitness and experience the many benefits that running has to offer – improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, stress reduction, and a sense of accomplishment. So lace up your shoes and hit the road, and don’t forget to embrace the journey!

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