March 27, 2017

How to Get Started Running for Beginners

So you want to add running to your workout routine! Congratulations – running is fun, energizing, and even social. But what do you need to get started? Is it going to cost you a lot? Is it hard?

Good news. Running is a very inexpensive, easy-to-start sport. You can run indoors on a track or treadmill, or outdoors in your neighborhood. You really only need to invest in good shoes (and a few reflective clothing pieces if running outside at night), and there is gear for every budget. If you can walk comfortably, then you can progress to running.

The Three Things You Need to Start Running

How to Get Started Running
  1. A Place to Run

The first thing you need to decide on is where you will run. This may seem almost too obvious to mention, but it will determine what you buy next. So ask yourself, will you run outside mainly? Is it going to be hot, cold, rainy? If you want to run indoors, do you have a treadmill, gym membership, or apartment gym facilities? Figure out where you think you will do most of your running. Check out local parks for safely lit trails, local gyms for the best deals, and running clubs in your area.

How to Get Started Running
  1. Some Basic Equipment

Now that you know where you’ll run, it’s time to equip yourself. It won’t come as a surprise that running shoes top the list. Proper fit is important here, and many retailers will happily asses your feet and running needs (indoor vs. outdoor) to make sure you end up comfortable.

For outdoor runners, now is the time to think about climate. Windbreaker jackets, reflective belts, and sunblock are just a few of the items you may want to consider. If you plan to listen to music on your runs, there are Bluetooth headphones and phone holders as well.

For indoor and outdoor runners alike, make sure you grab a water bottle or camel pack and stay hydrated!

How to Get Started Running
  1. A Fitness Plan

Now that you have a place to run and the equipment you need to do it, all you need is a workout plan. For beginners, the key is to take it slow. If you have never run before, then don’t expect to go run a mile non-stop your first time out. Start instead with a walk/jog combination, such as: 1 minute walking, followed by 1 minute jogging. Increase your time progressively until you can run 15 minutes without stopping, and then add 5 minutes every week. However, don’t forget the importance of rest and recovery. It’s a good idea to run every other day.

Our 4-Week 5K Training Plan

Need a jump-start into running? Our free 4-week plan is simple to follow, includes rest days, and will provide you with a great guide on your running journey. Use it to train for a 5K Race, or just as a way to increase your endurance and fitness. Check off each day as you run towards your goal!

Download the 4-Week Plan


MIT Recreation has a few great resources for both the new and experienced runner. Our Indoor Track offers year-round running space. Our fitness floors at both the Zesiger Center and Alumni/Wang include plenty of state-of-the-art treadmills. Prefer to run out in the sunshine? Check out or outdoor track as well!

For even more help getting started, consider getting connected with a personal trainer.