How to Start Running When You Are Out of Shape


Running is one of the best ways to get healthy and increase your fitness level, but starting when you are out of shape can be daunting. It does not have to be hard though, all it takes is making the decision to start and commit to working towards your goal.

Set a Goal

The first step in starting to run when you are out of shape is to set a goal. This can be anything from signing up for a 5k to setting a target distance or time you want to achieve. Registering for a race a few months away is a great way to help you stay motivated and focused on improving your runs. If that doesn't appeal to you, try a subscription box that sends you monthly running challenges like Fun Run Box.

Regardless of the goal you choose, make it something that will push you but also something that is realistic. If you are new to running, perhaps choose a 5k or a goal of running a mile or two without stopping.

Create a Plan

Once you have chosen your goal, the next step is to create a plan that will help you achieve your goal. There are many online formulas and apps that can help you get ideas and track your progress, but they are all focused on effort and consistency.

You should select specific days of the week that you plan to run, how long you will plan to run, and where. Having a concrete plan will make it easier to stay on track, and crossing off those milestones will help you stay motivated.

Consider making a plan to run three days a week and then do some cross training like swimming or weight lifting on another day. You also want to work in rest days, as it is important not to overdo it at first, so your body has a chance to recover and build strength.

Make Sure You Have the Right Gear

Now that you know what your goal is and how you are going to work up to it, it is vital that you have the right gear. The shoes that you wear do not have to be new or expensive, but they should be a comfortable and supportive shoe that is meant for running. Socks are important too, as blisters can be very painful and are caused by wearing improper footwear.

To get the most out of your training, you will also need some sort of timer. This can be a standard watch, a GPS running watch, or even just your phone. It just needs to be able to tell you how long you ran for – distance is a plus as well.

Get Started!

The last thing left to do is to go for your first run! Make sure that you stretch before you set off on your run so that you can avoid injuries and warm up your muscles.

To get started, individuals who are out of shape should use the run-walk method. This is a great way to get back into it, and the combinations can vary depending on your fitness level and experience. Beginners should alternate between running for 30 seconds and walking for 1 minute, while experienced runners may opt to run for 5 minutes and walk for 1 minute.

Regardless if you ran one mile or walked a half mile, the hardest part was getting out there and doing it. Remember to fuel your body properly so that it can adjust to your new exercise routine and help you build muscle. Try to eat something an hour before you run to boost your energy, and eat something small within 15 minutes of finishing so that your body can recover more quickly.

Proper hydration is essential as well – drink when you are thirsty but do not overdo it beforehand so you feel too sick to run. Sports drinks with electrolytes are also helpful to recover important nutrients after a run.


This is a great message for young people. I sincerely doubt a 60, 70, or 80 year old, out of shape person, is going to be able to run 30 seconds as a start. Walking a block would be difficult for some. Starting with a goal of gradually working up to a mile, walking, likely be more doable. I’m 75, in great shape, but am able to only run about one minute non-stop, walk a half minute, repeat as many times as able. I am able to do this for 10 miles. Injury free. Once proficient at walking briskly, running a few steps, during a walk, listening to your body, increasing the number of times running during a walk, and increasing time running during a walk would work better for out of shape seniors, imho.
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