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How to Start Jogging

Three Parts:Preparing to StartGetting StartedMaintaining Your Practice

The benefits of regular exercise are by now well known and well documented, and running for 30-40 minutes three times a week can be a fantastic way to build stamina and muscle while losing fat.[1] That all sounds great, but how do you get started if you’re new to running? Read on to find out.

Part 1
Preparing to Start

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    Determine what you’ll need from your running shoes. Running requires very little equipment, but the one requirement it does have--good, supportive shoes--is crucial. Running exerts three- to five-times your body’s weight of pressure on your joints and muscles, which adds up to quite a bit of stress on your lower body.[2]
    • The two major factors you need to take into consideration when figuring out your shoe needs are cushioning and support.
    • The larger your body frame, the more cushioning you’ll need. You can also factor in your particular preferences here: if you like a cushion-like feel, look for more cushion, while if you prefer closer-to-the ground sensation, opt for less.[3]
    • The amount of support you’ll need will depend on the height of your arch and how flexible your feet are. If you have a high arch, your feet are likely less flexible and so require a lesser level of support, while if you have a low arch, you’ll need a higher level of support.
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    Invest in good running shoes. Once you have a sense of what you need from a running shoe, it’s time to go out and invest in a quality pair.
    • Running with the wrong shoes (ie, any kind of shoe not made for running or a worn-out pair of running shoes) is the fastest way to develop an injury and sideline yourself. Running with the right shoes, on the other hand, can help your form, help prevent injury, and extend your running stamina.
    • Go to your local running store to get a pair of shoes custom fitted to you. Running shoes require a small initial outlay that can run anywhere from $60 to over $100, so if you plan to start jogging, figure the cost of shoes into your plan.
    • A number of shoe retailers and brand websites offer shoe finders that will help you pinpoint the right kind of shoe for your needs. But because you may not exactly know your needs, particularly if you’re just starting out, these can be a less-than-precise tool. Your best option is to go in person to a running store where employees can watch your stride and guide you to the best shoe.
    • Don’t get taken in by new and innovative “extras.” You don’t need any elaborate bells and whistles, just a shoe that offers the right amount of cushioning and support for your needs.[4]
    • Because running shoes are functional, always go for form over fashion. Yes, some running shoes come in an appetizing array of rainbow day-glo colors, but remember that ultimately your shoes need to protect your joints and muscles, not dazzle them.
    • Be sure to give shoes a test run before committing. This is another reason going to your local running store is ideal--it will allow you to jog around in your shoes before committing to them. If you buy your shoes online, be sure to buy from a site that will let you easily return or exchange them if needed. Be sure to wear the same socks you plan to run in when testing out shoes.[5]
    • You’ll know you have the rights shoes for you when you don’t experience discomfort during or after the run. If your shoes give you blisters, cause chafing, or make your feet sore, you need to either have the fit adjusted or replace the shoes.
    • You should replace your running shoes after about 350-500 miles (560-800 kilometers), when you see any part of the shoe beginning to wear out, or if the shoes begin causing you pain.[6]
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    Decide where you’ll do your workout. The two major options for runners are of course outdoor running or indoor running on an indoor track or on a treadmill.
    • Take into account the weather where you live, the time of day you’ll be exercising, the kinds of surfaces available for you to run on, and the safety of areas where you’ll be running.
    • If you live somewhere with access to soft, level surfaces, like a college track or a well-tended grass playing field, you can consider those good outdoor jogging options.
    • In addition to offering a soft, level surface, an ideal outdoor running location should be well-lit and fairly popular with other exercisers.
    • If you don’t have access to a safe, well-lit area with a soft, level running surface, running on a treadmill may be more ideal.
    • If you plan to exercise very early or very late in the day, running indoors on a treadmill may be the safer option.
    • Finally, if you live somewhere with extreme weather that may hinder your ability to run outdoors, your best option may be to explore running indoors.
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    Walk. Before you dive into a running routine, begin by walking, particularly if you’re new to exercise or out of shape.[7]
    • Start by walking for 15-20 minutes a day 3-4 times a week.
    • Gradually increase the pace of your walking until jogging becomes the next logical step.

Part 2
Getting Started

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    Stretch before each run. Keeping your muscles limber and flexible is vitally important to avoiding injury and overdue stress on your body. It’s crucial to warm up your muscles before you begin stretching to avoid strain and injury.[8]
    • Before stretching for your run, do a 5-10 minute warmup. Moving from top to bottom (or bottom to top), rotate your joints clockwise and counter-clockwise until they feel loose and easy.
    • After warming up your joints, spend at least 5 minutes doing an aerobic activity that will raise your heart rate, like jumping rope.
    • Next, begin stretching with slow and relaxed stretches. After doing a series of slow stretches, move on to more dynamic stretches like leg raises and arm swings.
    • Once your muscles feel loose and warm, begin your workout.
    • After you finish your workout, spend 5-10 minutes cooling down with more dynamic stretches followed by more relaxed stretches. Doing so will improve strength and flexibility as well as help prevent soreness and muscle fatigue.
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    Pace yourself. When you begin running, even if you’re in shape from another sport, you’re using new muscles and will have to adjust accordingly. So start off slow.
    • On your first few runs, it’s recommended that you run for 5 minutes, then walk for 2 minutes and switch off for the duration of your run. This will give you a good workout while also allowing your body to adjust.[9]
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    Practice the right form. Though most people assume how far and how long you run has purely to do with endurance and determination, having the proper running form actually quite significantly impacts your performance.[10]
    • Avoid heel-striking. When running, many people tend to overextend their leg when striding forward, resulting in an undue amount of heel striking, which is both bad for your form and for your lower body. When you land your front foot, your knee should be above your foot and your shin should be vertical.[11] Imagine how you would run if you had on no shoes at all--you would avoid striking your heel because it would hurt. So when you go running, run with the barefoot model in mind.[12]
    • Keep your upper body relaxed. Consciously keep your jaw relaxed and your shoulders and avoid clenching your hands.
    • Hold your arms in a 90 degree position and keep them there--don’t let them fall out of position on the back-swing.
    • Learn to “run tall.” To help you maintain the right posture, remind yourself to “run tall”--that is, hold your body as though someone were pulling you up by you hair, with a slight forward lean.[13] You want your hips and shoulders relaxed and level and your arms to the sides of your body. To help you get the sense of what the proper position feels like, interlock your hands and rest them on your head, then run. That’s the body position you want to maintain.[14]
    • Keep your arms beside your body. Don’t allow your arms to cross over your body--it’s bad form and it wastes energy. Instead, imagine grabbing belt loops with your thumbs as you move your arms back and forth to help keep your arms parallel to your body.
    • Breathe regularly. Keep an even rate of breathing while running and “breathe with your belly”--ie, take deep breaths into your stomach rather than shallow breaths into your chest. Try syncing your breathing with your steps as you run to help keep your breathing regular.[15]

Part 3
Maintaining Your Practice

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    Set up a regular schedule. Having a regular schedule is key to maintaining an exercise routine. If you find the right time of day and duration and stick to it, you’re more likely to maintain a steady and regular exercise regimen.
    • Look for a part of the day when you have enough time to devote to running without being stressed or rushed.
    • Consider safety as well--if you’ll be running in the dark, wear bright colors and a light; if you’ll be running in an isolated area, do so during the day and always carry a cell phone or other emergency communication device, and consider carrying a can of mace or pepper spray with you for self defense.
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    Let technology help you. There are a range of fitness apps out there that can do everything from track your average speed, distance, and calorie expenditure to turn your run into a game by putting you in the middle of a zombie-survival scenario.
    • Eventually, if you become a more serious runner, you can consider upgrading to dedicated running devices that track your vitals and progress in more detail.
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    Gradually increase your time and distance. As you get into better shape, gradually increase your workouts to help prevent you from getting into an exercise rut.
    • Increase your run by about 10 percent per week. So, if you run 5 miles one week, increase it to 5.5 miles the next.[16]
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    Vary your routine. Changing up your running routine is important to keep your body challenged so it doesn’t fall into a fitness rut. Variation is also vital to keeping you from getting bored or discouraged with your routine.[17]
    • Integrating new terrain can help change up your routine, so try adding hills or stairs to your route.
    • Include intervals in your run. Intervals involve repeatedly alternating between running full out for several seconds followed by returning to a normal pace for several minutes.
    • Alternatively, you can choose a landmark, sprint to it, then return to your normal pace for several minutes before choosing another landmark, sprinting to it, returning to normal pace, and so on.[18]
    • Try running a longer distance at a slower pace. Doing so will vary the kinds of muscles and muscle strength needed to complete your run, which will not only help keep you in physical shape but help keep you from getting bored or complacent in your routine.[19]
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    Get a running buddy. Running with another person is a great way to stay motivated and to hold yourself accountable.
    • If you don’t have any friends willing to join you, look up running-community sites online. Many of them offer services to help connect people looking for a running buddy or looking to join a running group.[20]


  • Keep hydrated. It’s important to drink water throughout the day, not just immediately before or after your workout.
  • If you’re jogging on a running/biking path, remember to stay to the right so that others can pass you.
  • If you run outdoors, be sure to wear bright, visible colors and a light or reflective vest if you’ll be running in the dark.
  • If you’re having trouble keeping yourself motivated, consider running with an exercise partner, joining a running group, or joining an online running community, all of which can help motivate you and hold you accountable.
  • A short, slow run is better than no run! You are still beating everyone on the couch, keep up your spirits!
  • It's much better when you run with a friend. This will help you have a lot of fun while running!
  • Listening to music while exercising has been found in multiple studies to create an increased sense of motivation, distracting the mind while increasing heart rate.
  • Never bend your head down while jogging because It makes you tired faster. Keep your chest and chin up and jog.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Running for Fitness