How To Start Running When You’re Out Of Shape

How To Start Running When You’re Out Of Shape

Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to start running or working out but you’re out of shape. This can happen either because life got in the way and caused you to take a workout hiatus or for other reasons. Injury or illness, for example, can put even the most dedicated runner’s workout regiment into a tailspin.

If you are struggling to get back into the groove of things, there are some things you can do to ease your way back into things.

Find Your Motivation

The first step to getting yourself into shape is finding your motivation. If you want to commit to a program you need to figure out your why. Maybe you want to drop a few pounds. Perhaps you are trying to improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Maybe you have seen your friends posting on social media that they are meeting up for a weekly group run and you thought to yourself, “That looks like fun!”. Whatever your motivation for improving your fitness, figuring out your why is likely to help you stay focused and on track.

Set Realistic Expectations

Make sure you set realistic expectations when you decide to get yourself back into shape. Sure, maybe you could run a six minute mile when you were in high school. That does not mean you will be able to do so today!

If you start out in an exercise plan with unrealistic expectations you are likely to end up hurt or frustrated, possibly both. Overdoing it can be taxing to your health both physically and mentally. Don’t set yourself up for potential failure.

Schedule Workout And Rest Days

Oftentimes when someone is ready to get back on the horse and start working out again they do an excellent job of coming up with a plan but then forget to schedule in rest days. Rest is an often overlooked component of fitness that is just as important as the fitness end.

Giving your body time to recuperate after a weight lifting session, for example, is a key to recovery.  The same is true after a challenging track workout.

Creating balance in your fitness regimen is very important.

How Do You Get Into Running When You’re Out of Shape?

Often people wonder to themselves if they can get into shape by just running.  That depends on what your goals are. Sure, you can improve your fitness by running alone. Your cardiovascular health will improve. You may find yourself dropping a few pounds. There are definite benefits that can be had simply by running.

However, if you are trying to make large gains, you should expand your fitness repertoire.

How To Start Running When Out of Shape?

If you are out of shape and want to start running there are some things you can do. First, know that it is okay to start out walking. Especially if you are an overweight beginner or have underlying conditions.

Start out with a 30 minute brisk walk. If you find you can easily do that, consider adding some jogging into the mix. When you start to jog, can you easily do so for a minute or two? Maybe even longer?

One of the standard methods of beginning to run involves set run and walk intervals over a specific and planned interval.

Run/Walk Intervals

If you are new to fitness overall, you might start with just one minute of jogging every 5 minutes of walking. If you can accomplish that successfully for 30 minutes, it is okay to add a longer jog interval. Try :90 seconds of running and 3:30 of walking.

One of the keys to success is being able to successfully complete the task you are on before adding more run time to the workout. In other words, if you can’t do the last two :90 minute run intervals, don’t jump up to 2:00 minutes!

Easing your way into running through this method will be more likely to meet with success than if you just head out and struggle through a run.

Start Low And Slow

When you do start running continuously you should think of low mileage and slow running. Do not obsess with time and how fast you are moving because it is all part of a process. Once you have a little running under your belt, you can consider adding some mileage.

For example, if week one and two you run (or run/walk) for 12 miles total, you might run 13-14 the following week. Once you are running steady, don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than ten percent each week.


Also, you should not have a large jump in your longest run for the week. As a beginner, you should probably only increase your run distance by 5-10 minutes. As time goes on you can get a bit more aggressive with your training.

Don’t Forget To Warm Up And Cool Down

Newbies often neglect the ever-important warm-up portion of a workout. Getting your body ready to work out is so important. Using some type of dynamic workout includes movement that starts out easy and gets quicker over a few minutes. In addition, you should be including multiple muscle groups. Do not use static stretching on cold muscles as this can result in injury.

After your workout, it is equally important to cool down. Entailing slow and easy movements post-workout, a cool down helps you transition so you aren’t just coming to a harsh stop after the workout.

Consider a Goal!

One thing that helps some people when they ask how to start running when out of shape is having a goal. Perhaps you want to sign up for a local 5K that is a couple of months from now. Maybe your goal is just to run three times each week for the next couple of months.

Regardless of what your goal is, write it down someplace visible. Think about sharing your goal with important people in your life. Sometimes saying a goal out loud is an excellent motivating factor.

Whatever your reasons are for running, join a running community. Even an online community will help you stay focused and offer a place to share victories, ask questions and bounce ideas off of others.