How to Start Running

Tips from a former non runner to a Boston marathon qualified mom of three. 

The idea of running used to boggle my mind. I’d watch my college roommate lace up her shoes and bound out the door for her daily 5-mile run. “You do that without stopping?!” I’d ask perplexed as she returned barely flushed.

Pilgrim Pacer Half Marathon
Running the Pilgrim Pacer Half Marathon in Shawnee, Kansas

I think it was the dreaded elementary school mile test where I declared myself NOT a runner. Kids whizzing by me on the hot black top isn’t one of my fondest memories. Yet, at the end of college, in a rocky spot of life, nearing a quarter life crisis, unhappy, unfit, and unwell, I decided to start walking to clear my head. This eventually led to my transformation into a runner despite my former gym teacher’s disapproval of my slow mile time.

If you find yourself wanting to move your body, clear your head, or get outdoors this summer, running might the new hobby for you! Without the need for much equipment or a gym, it’s a great sport to start at any point in life. Below, I’ll share some things I did at the beginning of my beautiful relationship with my running shoes and the open road.

Wear What Makes You Feel Good 

You don’t need much, but a comfy and supportive sports bra, shorts that allow you to move (I personally like 4” inseams or longer), and a good pair of running shoes. For those places that potentially chafe, body glides, sticks, and creams from a drugstore, supermarket, or online can help you feel more comfortable. As for the shoes, I typically size up an entire size. Feet swell with distance and the extra space will help you avoid discomfort from pesky blisters. When dressing your body, remember if you’re going out for a run, you’re a runner! Wear whatever makes YOU feel good!

When I was working full time, I’d always slip into my running gear I had packed before I stepped out of the building. If I was dressed to run, I was more likely to do it when I got home after a long day. Even now, when I stay home with my children, I find if I put my sports bra on in the morning, it triggers my brain that I’m ready  to run at some point that day!

Start by Picking a Route

Once you have your gear, map out a mile or two route around your house or work. Somewhere safe and accessible to you on a daily basis. If it’s been years or you’ve never run before, just get used to walking it at a pace a bit faster than leisurely. If you find the distance daunting, try listening to music. I typically use a single earbud, so I can still hear my surroundings. It can be hard to incorporate a long walk into your weekly routine, but consistency is key to working up to a run. Shoot for at least three days a week!

Create a Challenge

Eventually, walking will get easier. Ask yourself if you’re ready for a little challenge?! I remember I dared myself to jog down all of the hills that were on my walking path. At first I felt awkward and insecure, but after a few weeks of running down the hills, it became more comfortable.

That’s when I decided to give myself additional challenges each time I set out on my route. Run down all of the hills and continue to the following stoplight. A great way to extend the distance you’re running on your selected route is by adding additional challenges. For example, you could try to run for a minute straight followed by 3 minutes of walking (or whatever time is relative to your fitness needs) for the entire route. Or you could pick a landmark in the distance to run to, such as a streetlight, tree, driveway, or fire hydrant without stopping, then walk for a bit and choose your next landmark.

After consistently challenging yourself for a few weeks, it will come time to ask yourself if can you connect the dots. Can I run this entire route? Start slow and steady, and have a mantra.

Power of Mantras 

Give yourself a positive affirmation when you are working towards each new challenge. A short mantra will get you through the tough spots or when you feel like quitting.

Some I frequently use are You can do anything for a minute! You are so strong! I’m so proud of you! You are deserving of this time! Fight for it! While I repeat these short sentences to myself, I feel empowered by all of those steps it took for me to get out of the door. I admire myself for taking this time for me. When you’re out there taking care of you, be proud of your efforts and shove all negative self-talk to the curb.

Don’t Chase a Time or Distance

A consistent routine will eventually build you into an efficient runner. Don’t worry about your pace per mile. Instead applaud each workout, and trust the process. Speed and distance both come with time. You’ll have days where you feel terriific pounding the pavement  and others where you don’t. But both workouts count! One of my favorite pro runners, Alexi Pappas, stated, “Chasing a dream is like building a sandcastle. Every grain of sand is important, even if you can’t see them all.”

It’s so true. Each step you take is a brick of the foundation you’re building toward your running goals.

Boston Marathon Finish Line

I hope these tips help get you started on a wonderful journey. You never know, one day you may find yourself running the Boston Marathon, too! Running has become one of the greatest and most unexpected loves of my life. Follow along as I continue to share more advice and information about my running adventures around Kansas City.

Happy Running! Rooting for you each step of the way.

I’m Sybil Orman, and currently live in Leawood, Kansas, but have lived all throughout the metro area. I grew up in Olathe, and went on to attend Kansas State University and the University of Kansas where I finished my undergraduate and masters degree in education. Before having children, I spent my days as a high school Spanish teacher in Kansas City, Kansas. Now, I can be found loving on and figuring out life with my 6-year-old daughter, Imogen, 4-year-old daughter, Sigrid, and 8-month-old son, Rory, as well as my 3 dogs, feisty cat, and 3 fish. I’ve been married to my husband, Greg, for nearly nine years. We have experienced two statewide political campaigns and a pandemic together, and I am STILL so grateful we bumped into each other at the gym that summer day 12 years ago. My other true love and constant part of my adult life has been running. My “me time” is hitting the pavement all about town, with run clubs and at local races. You can find me in my craft room, outside trying to keep my garden alive, or researching ways to attract a variety of birds to my feeders.