How to Start Running

Getting started with a running program isn’t hard when you follow a few quick and dirty tips.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #6

Choose running shoes that are designed for running, not walking, golf, tennis, basketball, cross-training, or bowling. If possible, try to purchase your shoes from a running store, which should allow you to take the shoes for a quick outdoor test run (in exchange for your driver’s license or picture identification). Finally, purchase shoes that are comfortable. Running shoes should not feel hard, stiff, tight, or loose. Imagine yourself as Cinderella--you want the perfect slipper--and you’ll be very thankful for that perfect slipper when you’re spending several days per week pounding it on pavement.

Quick and Dirty Tip: If you can afford it, when you find a pair of shoes that really seem to fit well and feel comfortable, consider purchasing two pairs, and then alternate wearing the two pairs on your weekly runs. That technique will ensure that your feet and joints have more structure and support.

Use Proper Running Form

Often, new runners tighten up in the shoulders, as well as the neck and jaw, and do not breathe deeply. Instead, make sure you run with loose, relaxed shoulders, breathe from deep in the back of your throat, and occasionally push your tongue against the roof of your mouth to relax your facial muscles.

Quick and Dirty Tip: Try to take one deep breath for every two steps. If you turn blue in the face, then relax your body, check for tight shoulders, neck or jaw, and try again.

Tape Yourself Running

You can check to make sure you’re using proper running form by asking a friend to video record you from the back and the front while you run. From head to toes, here are three crucial elements to look for on the video:

  1. you should be leaning slightly forward with a tall, proud posture and relaxed shoulders

  2. your elbows should be bent at about 90 degrees and shouldn’t swing in front of your body

  3. your feet should strike the ground with more of the mid-foot than the heel.

If you’re smiling and wearing a cool outfit, you also get style points.

Quick and Dirty Tip: If you’re being recorded, then “dance like nobody is watching.” Pretend the camera is not there and just run as you always run. That way you’ll truly know what you look like when you’re running.

If you follow the tips in this article, then you’ll experience a smooth and enjoyable transition into running. But if you do happen to get foot pain, knee pain, hip pain, or back pain, consider visiting a sports medicine physician to make sure that you don’t end up watching the 5K instead of running it. In other words, don’t run through pain. It’s simply not worth it.

Man Running image courtesy of Shutterstock


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.