9 Tips to Start Running (and Stick With It)

Cory Wharton-Malcom was in the middle of a truly difficult time when he started his running journey. His grandmother had recently passed, and he leaned into pounding pavement to process his anger and grief, making it a regular goal simply to make it around his block—not even a mile. Wharton-Malcolm couldn’t have anticipated that decision would ultimately change the trajectory of his life—uprooting the now-45-year-old from London to Los Angeles to take a job as an Apple Fitness+ trainer and write the new book All You Need Is Rhythym & Grit: How to Run Now―for Health, Joy, and a Body That Loves You Back.

“I’ve learned so much through running, but primarily that I can do hard things,” he tells GQ. “I tell every beginner that starting isn’t easy, but embrace that feeling and know that it’s going to be harder before it’s easier. Even when it gets easier, it’s going to seem hard. The training we do isn’t to make running easier, it’s to make ourselves better at managing the hard.”

Looking to start logging miles this summer to reap them for yourself? Wharton gives us his nine top tips for anyone who wants to become a runner.

1. Run your own run.

On any social media app, you can be plagued with stories of other guys posting stats and snaps from their workouts. Rather than indulging in the comparison game, seek to find inspiration from folks who are already on their own journeys, says Wharton-Malcolm. “This is your journey, and your journey alone,” he says.

2. Have a goal in mind.

As with any task work accomplishing, it’s going to take hard work to get to where you want to be. So, whether it’s signing up for a race or simply getting to a point where you can run a 5K without stopping, set the foundation for your new hobby by creating a solid goal.

Also, make sure it’s realistic. “It’s tough as it is, so you want to make sure you’re working toward something that’s actually attainable,” says Wharton-Malcolm. An example: Someone who can already run a mile in 8 minutes could realistically aim to run a 24-minute 5K, and maybe eventually a sub-4-hour marathon. A 30-minute 10k? That would be much tougher.

3. Warm up.

Plain and simple: Warming up can reduce your risk of injury. During a warm-up, your heart rate increases, sending more blood flow (and oxygen) to your muscles. Even if it’s just starting with a light jog before you go full gas, it’s worth mindfully revving your body up.

But we say do yourself one better by integrating some breathwork into the mix to prime your central nervous system for the load on deck, then break into dynamic movements like lunges, squats, and hamstring scoops. “It’s a great way to get your mind and body ready for what you’re about to do,” says Wharton-Malcolm.

4. Follow the Fun.

Every runner we know has learned to truly enjoy it—despite having its challenges, there’s tons of room for fun within running. Whether that’s by getting other friends involved, syncing up with a local running crew, or simple turning on your favorite playlist—upping the fun factor will make the miles go by faster (and, help you stick with it).

5. It’s OK to walk.

In fact, it’s probably a great idea. Most new runners do too much, too fast, and get injured or demoralized. There’s absolutely no reason that walking can’t be a part of your running routine, especially in the early stages. Not only does this approach help to build endurance, but you’ll be able to progress fairly quickly to longer and longer intervals.

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