A 5-Step Guide to Starting Your Running Journey from Scratch

Happy Thursday!  The guest posts continue this week here on the blog since I'm probably buried in packing boxes and wrapping paper by now.  I'm excited for you to read today's post about getting started with running!  This is an area of fitness that I know practically nothing about as I'm not a runner myself, but I know many of you out there want help with starting your running journey.  Well, Judy from Chocolate Runs Judy is here to tell us all about how to get started!  She's a fellow Sweat Pink Ambassador and she's got some great advice, so let's get to it!

Getting started running is the simplest thing in the world, right?  You just need some shoes (or not, if you read Born to Run, soon to be a movie with Matthew McConaughey) and then you just run.  Right?  If you have ever tried to run, and failed, or started and then stopped, you know that for some of us, it really isn't so easy.  But it can be, if you get started running right.

A 5-Step Guide to Starting Your Running Journey from Scratch

1 | Visit your local running store

Almost any runner will tell you the first step to getting started with running is to be fitted for running shoes.  Do you know if you pronate? Have a high arch? Need neutral shoes?  Stability shoes? I thought not.  A good running store will watch you run. They might even have you get on a treadmill and videotape you. They'll ask you if you're training for a race, how often you run, how many miles.  If they don't do any or most of these things, find another store.  And if they don't have a running group (they might), they can point you towards running groups in your area. Definitely make visiting your local running store a priority.

2 | Couch to 5 K (C25K)

If you ask a group of runners how they got started, I'm pretty sure someone will tell you C25K. That's how I got started.  C25K is a very sensible plan that has you running three times a week. It starts you off with short run/walk intervals and progresses you with longer and longer running intervals until you are ready to run 5k without walking at the end of those 9 weeks. And there's an app for that, too (for C25K).  After being injured last fall, I revisited C25K to get back into running after a few weeks off. I ran 2 half marathons in May.

3 | Join a Running Group

I wish I had known that there were running groups when I started to run. I didn't know any runners.  I had just moved halfway across the country. I had no clue. Or I thought that there would be no one who runs as slowly as me (more likely).  For the record, I am a slow runner. My easy pace is 13-13:30 mm (minute miles). My fastest half is 2:46. There are groups out there for people like me, I promise you!  Often there are running groups just for beginners. Don't think you can't join a group because you're too slow, although you may also want to ask some questions (do they have coaches who run with the slower runners? Will you be on your own if you're slower?).

I run with USAFit during the summer. It's aimed at both the beginning and experienced runners. It's a really great group and I highly recommend checking them out if you have one in your area!

4 | Join an online running group

So you say there really isn't a running group in your area? Not to fear. Because there are online running groups, too. Check out Another Mother Runner or Runner's Connect.  

5 | Sign up for a race  

Nothing like a race looming on the horizon to get you actually motivated to run!  And crossing that finish line will really be a confidence booster, I promise you.  Some local races may have training programs associated with them for a minimal fee -- this is a great way to start and meet other runners. Or they may offer a free training plan.  Another Mother Runner has challenges throughout the year, with training plans for a 5k all the way up to a marathon.  And speaking of marathons (or half, or shorter distances), many runners turn to Hal Higdon. I have never personally used his free training plans, but many runners do.  

I'll give you a bonus way to get started: get a subscription to Runner's World or peruse the Runner's World website. They have free training plans, too.

Readers: chat with us!  Have you been thinking about starting your running journey?  What tips of Judy's resonate with you?  If you're a runner already, what tips do you have for beginners looking to start?


Judy is an older, slower runner with a passion for chocolate and half marathons (she's trying to run a half marathon in every US state). She hated running until she started running in her late 40's... ran her first half marathon at 50, and has now run 10 half marathons in 8 states.

You can connect with Judy on her blog over at Chocolate Runs Judy, and follow her running adventures on Facebook & Instagram.