Running can be one of those polarizing workouts – you either love it or hate it. I used to dread running when I was younger and would avoid it at all costs. As I got older that slowly changed. Rest assured if I can learn to love running, anyone can, no matter what shape you are in.
It is a well-known fact that exercise is good for the body and the mind. It reduces stress, improves self-esteem, increases happiness levels, and helps prevent depression. Running only enhances these benefits, especially if you run outdoors. If you are out of shape, running is one of the best ways to get in shape, although it is extremely important to ease into it.
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Ease Into Running
If you are out of shape, take small steps to ease into running. Try coupling it with other activities and slowly increase the time you spend running. If you are just starting out, start with 30-minute walks and then build from there. But if you are getting the urge to run, don’t assume that you are ready to go full speed. The time for that will come—and when it does, feel proud of yourself for taking the plunge and challenging yourself.
Easing into running can be done outside or on the treadmill. Choose what you are most comfortable with! Sometimes starting indoors can be easier, safer, and more convenient. I highly recommend at some point though to try running outside. Good weather (sunny day, not too hot or cold) can really inspire you to run further and get some much-needed vitamin D.
Also, make sure to increase your running distance by small increments. Runner’s World recommends not increasing your mileage by more than 10-15% a week.
Try Interval Training (Mix Of Walking and Running)
If you are out of shape it is best to start with walking intervals. In order to be able to run for a long time, it is advisable to start with interval training. Interval training is when you alternate between periods of higher intensity and periods of lower intensity. For running, try switching between walking and running. If you are just starting out running make the walking intervals longer than the running intervals.
One of the great aspects of walking is that you can get the feel of running without the risk of injury. It also gives you a chance to get notice any discomfort in your footwear or shoelaces before they become an issue when you are trying to run. A brisk walk can also be considered low impact steady-state cardio, elevating your heart rate enough for a good workout.
After a few weeks, see how you feel. If your heart rate is under control and you feel ready for the next level, try transitioning into longer running intervals. Interval running, or the “Run Walk Run” approach, is a method made popular by Jeff Galloway. He has a methodology for determining the duration of intervals and is a great option for people out of shape, new to running, or injury-prone. Some people solely decide to run with intervals but if that is not for you, eventually you can reduce and then completely eliminate the walking periods.
The Importance of Strength Training for Out of Shape Runners
Strength training is an essential part of running for any fitness level. It helps to maintain good balance and minimizes the risk of injury, especially for beginners who are new to running or those who are out of shape. The key thing to remember when it comes to strength training is that it should be done gradually and in moderation.
Cross-training is so important no matter what shape you are in, or how much experience you have as a runner. There are many different types to try. This can be anything from functional strength training (lunges, crunches, push-ups) to traditional strength training (dumbbells, barbells, etc.) to even less thought of running strength workouts. Workouts that cause you to be unbalanced by working one side of your body are especially beneficial. Core workouts are also important for running and can include pilates, barre workouts, and even yoga.
Find the type of strength workout you love, and make sure to switch running days with it! My preference for home strength workouts is the fitness app obé. It has so much variety (classic strength, HIIT, sculpt, barre, pilates, etc.) that you can never get bored. You can easily layer these workouts as a warmup to activate muscles prior to running, or to cross-train on a non-running day.
You can try out obé for free. Use the promo code BLISS50 to get a free 7-day trial and then 50% off your first month of monthly membership.
Make Sure You Have The Right Running Shoes
If you are easing into running, it is extremely important to have good shoes. If you are an experienced runner that is returning to running, take some precautions if re-using old shoes. Make sure to thoroughly check the soles. If they looked flattened or worn away, it might be time for new shoes. If you have a running app that records mileage (I highly recommend Strava) check to see how many miles are on them. Most running shoes should be changed after 300 to 500 miles, although if you use them for other workouts or walking, they might need to be changed sooner.
If you are new to running, the most important thing you can get are shoes that fit you and your gait well. Do you pronate? Have wide feet? I highly recommend going to an athletic or running store to get fitted for shoes. As you run more miles it will be extremely important for your shoes to fit correctly or you might start getting pains and potential injury.
Although they might not work for everyone, my favorite running shoes have been Brooks (particularly Brooks Ghost). They are the most comfortable shoes I have owned and have taken me through many miles and races. They are an extremely popular running shoe so if you are looking for somewhere to start, try them out to see if they work for you.
How to Successfully Adopt Exercise as Part of Your Lifestyle
Starting to run if you are out of shape can be challenging, but do not give up. Having a healthy lifestyle is important for your body and mind. With small steps each day it will get easier.
The key to successfully adopting exercise as part of your lifestyle is finding something you love doing. Whether that be running, weight lifting, or playing soccer with your kids in the park. To avoid boredom and make sure you get a full-body workout, try different activities so your body does not get used to one movement. Make sure you choose an activity that suits your current fitness level and be persistent about sticking with it until it becomes a habit.
Related Running Posts
- Tips to Find New Running Routes
- Outdoor Running Safety for Women
- Motivational Tips When You Don’t Feel Like Running
What are your running goals? Write them down and take small steps every day to work towards them.