A Quick Start Guide to Running

Oct. 5, 2023

man running outside in park Hover image

Each fall, it seems like there is a 5k race every weekend. It’s for good reason. Research shows that even a little running can improve health*. 

“Running has obvious health benefits for your body. It’s good for your muscles, bones, cardiovascular health, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. But, to me, a huge reason to run is for your mental health. It’s challenging, engaging, and an excellent way to combat stress, relieve anxiety, and give you a true sense of accomplishment. Even a new runner can enjoy these benefits. You’d be amazed how good you feel after even a couple of minutes of light jogging. Your endorphins kick in and you simply feel better,” says Joanna Holden, a health and fitness coordinator at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. 

Getting started running can be simple. Before starting any new exercise, check with your doctor. 

Starting with a gentle walk can help you work your way up to a longer run. Walk briskly for 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week. 

After you have incorporated walking into your daily routine, add short periods of running into that time. The Couch to 5k* program helps people start running over the course of nine weeks. 

Experts recommend focusing on frequency and building up speed, stamina and mileage later*.  Don’t worry about how far you run. Move your body, no matter how fast or slow. You can pick up the pace as you improve your health and movement. 

Warming up* gets your blood flowing and wakes your body for movement. Movement-based stretches* that engage your muscles and joints give you a better warmup than static stretches in which you hold one position. 

Jacob Crouch, a health and fitness coordinator at BlueCross, recommends at least a 10-minute warm up routine. Give yourself space to move around. Aim for about 15 to 20 yards for each stretch. 

Crouch’s stretching ideas: 

Remember that running looks different for everyone. Set goals for yourself. This will help you stay motivated and have milestones to celebrate. 

Running with friends or a group can be good motivation. Many cities around the state have running clubs*. If you can’t find one, start one* with your friends, family or colleagues. 

Once you are running regularly, sign up for a race*. Set training goals for yourself so you are prepared for the race.  

A few other things to consider: 

  • Get the right gear*, including comfortable, supportive shoes. 
  • Drink plenty of water. 
  • Aim for frequency with running versus speed or distance. 
  • Fuel your body with proper food*. 
  • Rest* and recover. 

*This is a link to a third-party website. That organization is responsible for the content and privacy policy on its site.

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