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How to Return to (or Start) Running

Running is one of the best forms of exercise. So why don’t more people do it? Many people say they don’t like running and I believe this is because they simply don’t know “how to run”. So let me show you how.

I’ve been a runner for a long time. I love running. I got into running when I was 13 to lose some weight. It was right around the time I started high school and appearance all of a sudden became very important.


"Running is one of the greatest forms of exercise you can do. And it’s relatively cheap — all you need are a decent pair of runners."

Running is great because it is relatively cheap to do. All you need is a pair of runners. I’ve always preferred the isolation of the activity — to be by myself, with my thoughts; almost as if it’s a type of meditation. But running can also be very social.

I started because we lived right next to an oval. It was easy for me to walk out the back gate and run some laps. I wasn’t real good at it at first. Running half a lap was lung-busting. So I would run half a lap and walk half a lap. I started with just one lap and built my way up to five. From there, I started increasing the distance in each lap until I was able to run five laps straight.

This is the process I’ve followed to help other people start running, and to return to running myself after extended periods of time away from the activity.

How to Return to (or Start) Running


  • Get a decent pair of shoes

No matter where you’re running and what surface that requires you to run on, you need a decent pair of shoes.

I used to work at The Athletes Foot when I was at uni and I found that anything under $100 just wasn’t worth it. You can price shop, but those shoes that are generally around the $150-$250 as their recommended retail price are much better for your feet.

  • Make the behaviour easy to slip into

When it comes to creating a new routine or reinstating an old one, one of the most important facets is the ease in which you can slip into the behaviour.

I was lucky. I lived beside an oval so the behaviour was easy to slip in to. I didn’t have to travel anywhere. If you live near enough to an oval that you can walk to, that’s fine. But if you don’t, leave from your house.

  • Make your start and stop point your house

Choose a distance you know you can achieve but that challenges you.

To get started, I just ran for as far as I could before I ran out of breath.

Note: there is a concept known as oxygen debt when you first doing aerobic activity. This when you start exercising, causing your heart and respiratory rate to increase. There is however, a short lag time between these systems kicking into gear and the delivery of oxygen to the working muscles.

If you feel out of breath in your first few minutes, try to run through it as you pay your oxygen debt back. This experience shouldn’t last anymore than 30-60 seconds. To overcome this, start slow, beginning with a walk and building up to a slow jog.

Once you’ve established how far you can run in one go, practice that. Start with 1:1 or even 1:2. That means, for as far as you can run, take that equal amount of time, or even double that, to walk and recover before attempting it again.

  • Commit to a certain number of days

I’m a fan of committing to five days a week. I don’t like committing to anything on weekends because weekend routines are usually different to weekday ones. And there are more weekdays than weekends. Plus, weekdays are generally more rigid so there are more routines you can use as a trigger for your new behaviour.

The more you can commit to, the better (to a certain extent). If you can commit 10, 15, 20, or even 30 minutes a day, the routine will be instilled much more quickly and effectively.

  • Remain flexible

Working on your flexibility to supplement any form of exercise is beneficial. But I’m referring to flexibility in your program here. If you start to feel tired, tight or sore, take it back a step. Walk if you need to, and don’t be afraid to take a day off if you just need to rest. In the big scheme of things, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

  • Find an app to support and encourage you

Finally, I never used to run with anything in my ears. I thought it took away from the purity of the activity. I did love my heart rate monitor to geek out over the science of my run, but as technology evolved, physiological testing started to merge with music and podcasts. We can probably thank Steve Jobs for that.

There are plenty of apps out there, such as Map My Run, to track your progress and encourage you to stay on track. But my favourite is the Nike Run Club app. These apps are very effective because they create custom programs just for you; and they’re free!

Running is one of the greatest forms of exercise you can do. And it’s relatively cheap — all you need are a decent pair of runners. Many people don’t like running but I believe that’s because they don’t know how to run properly, they don’t know how to create or recreate a routine and they don’t have realistic expectations in the beginning. Enjoy running for what it is. Get out and enjoy the most primitive mode of human transportation in the great outdoors. 

Do you dislike running? What can you do to return to (or start) running?

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

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