While growing up I was probably one of the most sedentary people I knew. This was all fine and dandy until I started putting on more weight than I would have liked. I tried a number of ways to burn calories, from basketball, to jumping jacks, to using a jump rope, but none have been as consistently satisfying as running. I began running just about two years ago now, and boy am I glad I did. Not only do I look much healthier, but I feel far more energetic as well. I will admit to you that it was tough getting started, especially since I really had nobody cheering me on at the time besides myself. How did I do it, and how can you follow in my footsteps? Find out below…

1. Figure Out Why You Want To Run

This one is important. For me, I wanted to stop being the only kid who looked overweight in photos and family gatherings. I wanted to fit in at a college where over ninety percent of its attendants were in awesome shape. It was that burning desire to prove to myself and others that I could be one of the “in-shape” people that kept me going, and keeps me going to this day.  It also helps that running is a great anxiety reliever that becomes more effective the longer you do it (this helped a lot during the more stressful times in my life).

2.  Make A Gameplan

So now that you know why you want to run, it’s time to figure out the logistics of it. I can tell you what worked for me, but of course, everyone will be slightly different. First thing’s first, buy some durable exercise clothes, preferably the kind that wicks away sweat easily (you’ll smell a lot better afterwards, trust me), as well as a good pair of running shows. They don’t have to be $200, but shoot for a nice pair in the $50-80 range, as those should last for half a year or more depending on your gait and where you run. Now that you have your gear, pick a day, any day, where you have some free time to go on a run. Go out, and do your thing. I suggest running for as long as you can, without injuring yourself of course. You will be in pain for about four or five days, as you’ve just used muscles you never really used before in your life. The important thing is to not give up. You need to give yourself about five rest days, and then kick it into gear again. This time, it should be easier, and you’ll only need about three days of rest. Keep going and eventually you’ll find that you can run everyday without being in pain the next morning. You don’t have to run every day to stay in shape though; every other day will do the trick if you’re eating a decent diet.

3. Get An App To Track Your Progress

There’s a bunch of apps out there that allow you to track your running progress, so I won’t give an endorsement to any particular one. Just find an app that works for you. These apps are great because you’ll be able to see yourself making tangible running-related gains over time. It’s always a pleasure when I open up my app and look at the total miles I’ve ran in a month, or the number of calories I’ve lost in a week. It’s really just another way to encourage you to keep going, and to not let everything you’ve done previously go to waste by giving up.

4. Find A Running Buddy

So, you’ve started running, made it a consistent part of your daily routine, and track your progress on a fitness app. What else is there to do? Find others to run with! I was skeptical at first about running with someone else, but it turns out it’s one of the best ways to motivate yourself during a run. Two miles might feel like an arduous uphill battle halfway through when you’re on your own, but with a partner, you’ll forget about the pain as you talk about your lives and such while racking up the distance. Trust me, it’s a strange effect, but having a running buddy injects some sort of magical numbing substance into your legs that allows you to go for at least twice as long. You’ll know what I mean when you experience it for yourself…

5. Try To Stay Consistent

Hopefully by now you’ve been running pretty regularly for a couple months at least. From this point, it’s just a matter of staying consistent. Family vacations, work, and other obligations will all fight to keep you away from your new hobby. It’s up to you now to make sure that you can eke out the hour a day it requires to keep it up. Sometimes that means running at six in the morning, or six at night. You’ll find that you might miss a couple days or even a week of runs for various reasons, but as long as you’re able to remember what motivated you to begin with, and plan a day to get back on track, you’ll be fine.

Running isn’t easy, but it isn’t that hard either once you get past the initial pain. Soon enough, you’ll want to run, as you’ll desire both its health benefits and its ability to provide you with some stress relief. Did you fall in love with running later in life, kind of like me? Tell me your story in the comments below!