How to Start (and Actually Keep) a Running Hobby

It’s easy to understand why: running is a low-cost activity with a low barrier to entry that you can do just about anywhere, with as many or as few people as you want. And all of that’s before even mentioning its tremendous health benefits! 

Running provides the right amount of physical and mental challenge for you to enter a focused and mindful flow state where your lingering stress fades away. Many people share the experience of the “runner’s high,” when feel-good neurochemicals flood the brain after a period of exertion. Plus, running is an age-old method for boosting cardiovascular fitness and losing weight.   

Still, some people are either convinced that they’re bad at running, or they are too intimidated to try. But if you have little exercise experience, or if running isn’t currently your preferred method of exercise, there’s no reason that you can’t learn to pound the pavement. Even a pro runner will tell you: just take it one step at a time. Start today by checking out these beginner tips for taking up running as a hobby. 

Get equipped for running (it’s easy!)  

You hardly need any special equipment for running. But do your future self a favor by investing in some quality running shoes. The overall characteristics of a good running shoe include: 

  • Durability 
  • Flexibility 
  • Ankle support 
  • Comfort (i.e., not too tight or too loose) 
  • A thicker heel to absorb impact 
  • Flatter and smoother sole 

Wearing proper footwear while running will help you avoid injury or pain, plus you’ll feel lighter on your feet and more capable. High quality running shoes are even specifically engineered to help your body in motion recruit more power from your leg muscles. 

Once you’ve got footwear sorted out, you’re all set! You might like to add some items down the line—such as bluetooth earbuds designed for exercise—but those aren’t strictly necessary. The only other thing you should consider as a priority is a decent water bottle (possibly an insulated one to keep your water cold).  

Do a self-assessment and set achievable goals  

Before you do any running, make sure you stretch. Check out this Yale Medicine breakdown of the best pre-workout stretches for runners and the difference between static and dynamic stretching.  

The purpose of your first self-assessment run is to gauge your current ability, setting a baseline from where you can steadily improve over time. So now that you’re warmed up, start small. You can choose whether you want to judge by time or distance. For example, you could try running half a mile, or just running for five minutes. Either way, be sure to keep your pace slow. 

At the end of whatever benchmark you choose, evaluate your condition. Are you feeling energized and ready to do more? Great, that means your baseline should be a bit higher. If you’re feeling fatigued, that’s great too: it means you set a challenging but achievable baseline, and there’s lots of room for improvement! If you’re feeling totally spent, consider lowering your baseline.  

Overall, runners at every point in the spectrum of ability level should set distance/time goals that they can realistically finish without too much wear and tear; then slowly work their way up to longer runs. 

Make time for running and be accountable  

Like any skill that you want to work on, consistency is key for running. One of the tried-and-true methods to help new runners stay the course is embracing the community aspect of running. From entire cross country teams to just two friends motivating each other, having one or more running partners gives you a noticeable boost in confidence and commitment. 

Not only will your consistency benefit you physically, but the social bonds you form simply by running along with someone will round out the hobby into a holistic wellness experience.

Are you ready to Breakaway?

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