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Home arrow Fitness arrow Running arrow 7 Tips on How to Start Running When Out of Shape

7 Tips on How to Start Running When Out of Shape

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: March 17, 2023
7 min read 1794 Views 0 Comments
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Getting in shape with running can be quite challenging, but have you ever wondered what strategies you could explore to do this seamlessly? Let’s find out!

how to start running when out of shape

Learning how to start running when out of shape can seem very daunting, even if you’re not a beginner. First, know that you are not alone. With the right plan, starting to run or returning back with the goal of getting back in shape is achievable.

You are making an excellent decision by choosing to stay in shape by running. Apart from achieving that health goal, you get to improve immunity and blood circulation, strengthen muscles in your body, and boost your mental health.

Read on to learn how to map out a running plan that will get you back in shape.

How to Start Running When Out of Shape?

The key is to start slow. You can set a goal of running 3–4 miles in the first week or two to observe how your body will react as you trace your steps back into a running routine. If this is your first time, you should start with a shorter run interval to help adjust your body.

Try running with some other activities and slowly increase the time you set for your running schedule. It is advisable to increase your mileage gradually as the weeks go by.

One of the most important things to consider when you decide to start running is consistency. So, you need to set small goals and do your best to work toward achieving them step by step.

Deciding to start running after taking a break for some time needs commitment from you.

To effectively stay committed, you need to set small goals. It will influence the plan of your running schedule.

How Long Does It Take to Get Back in Shape?

To determine how long it’s going to take for you to get in shape when you start running, certain conditions need to be considered, including the fitness and health with which you begin.

Getting back in shape means different things to different people. To some who want to lose weight and be healthy, it could simply mean the ability to complete a run without walking.

While persons with a certain time or distance goals might need to achieve their set goal before they regard themselves as one who is back in shape.

According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin, you will be able to achieve enough fitness if you are consistent with your running routine for about 6 weeks.

Most people start seeing significant changes in the first two months of running, depending on how frequent their running time is during this period.

7 Tips That Will Get You Back in Shape

#1 Prepare a comfortable running outfit

A good running outfit will help you run and train more comfortably. Interestingly, you do not need fancy or expensive running gear to be a successful runner. First, getting a good pair of running shoes that is the right fit for you is very important as you start running.

When purchasing a new pair of running shoes, there are important factors to look out for.  Cushioned running shoes are perfect for new runners, especially those who are heavier.

However, cushioned running shoes do weigh more and feel clunkier when you are running. You can try lightweight shoes and select the one you prefer between the two.

Choosing running shoes with reflective materials, especially when you plan to run very early in the morning or evening, is a wise decision. This will aid in easy visibility for drivers and cyclists. Also, think about the surface of your running route: is it a road, track, or trail?

There are good shoes designed for trail running, and they have a thicker thread compared to running shoes for track, treadmill, and road running.

The kind of socks you wear is also important. You should avoid 100% cotton socks. It will be hard to wick away moisture if your feet sweat. Running with socks made of polyester, CoolMax, or acrylic will help prevent blisters.

Go for running clothes that are lightweight and made to move with your body. Wearing comfortable, lightweight clothes may prevent chafing while running. When trying to lose weight during cold weather, wearing technical fabrics will keep you warm and dry.

#2 Try a run/walk strategy

It is advisable to start small when it comes to establishing a fitness plan. So, in the case of running when out of shape, there is absolutely nothing wrong with walking first. Start slow and gradually increase your pace. Fitness is a journey, so there is no need to rush or push yourself to cause injury.

You are not competing with anyone. Remember you are doing this to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

You need to train your body to gradually adjust to exercising, so it is important to pace yourself while making sure you keep track of it.

If you are a beginner and looking forward to being in shape, walking for at least 20–30 minutes daily 3 times a week is highly recommended. However, it is still important to invest in a good pair of running shoes.

Once you notice your body is now cool at walking at a fast pace with a heartbeat of 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm), you can decide to start running.

#3 Balance your diet

If you want to stay in shape, keeping a balanced diet is important. Healthy eating coupled with running is one of the great tips for achieving the healthy lifestyle you envision.

Running needs a lot of energy, but being aware of what and when to eat can be confusing, especially if you are just starting. A balanced diet with adequate carbohydrates will keep you fueled and satisfied.

If you want to start running, you need to make some adjustments to your existing diet. Focus on consuming an adequate amount of carbohydrates, eating enough before and after exercise, and also eating different kinds of fruits and vegetables.

As a runner, your balanced diet should include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Make sure to eat enough calories to sustain your running goals. Each runner’s caloric needs are based on several factors, including body composition, running conditions, daily activity, and resting metabolic rate.

#4 Stay consistent

It can be quite challenging to keep consistency when it comes to adjusting to a healthy lifestyle. Adopting a running habit demands your time and energy. Most new runners quit after a few days of starting to run. If you do not want to end up in the same situation, keeping to the fitness routine is important.

Try to observe yourself to determine how many days you can do in a week, and ensure to do that. If you just want to start running, 3 days is a fair routine to follow. Consider these great tips; you may decide to run on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays to enhance resting days or choose to do any 3 days of the week once you allow flexibility to rest.

Also, always try your best to raise the limit more than the last running time. Walking 30 seconds less than the last time is still a sign of improvement. Be self-motivated and gently push yourself to do better. Your desired goal can’t be achieved in a day, and your consistency is what matters.

#5 Set short-term and long-term goals

Starting to run is a great challenge all by itself, but without the right plan and measurable qualities, it can be hard to realize when you’ve actually gotten that desired body shape.

It is recommended to set short and long-term goals when you start out. It will keep you motivated, and you’ll keep looking forward to reaching your target.

It will also be easy to measure your goals. Few tips like planning to run a mile daily without stopping or running 3 days a week are easy to measure.

You may set a long-term goal for a half-marathon race. A half-marathon may be a perfect running routine; 13.1 miles is a tough enough distance that requires training and commitment. Working toward achieving this can also boost your consistency level.

Another way to stay motivated and consistent is to be part of a running group.

Running on your own may not be fun or too encouraging. So, get running partners from your friends, colleagues at work, or even families. Check and compare running locations and scheduled times. You may even decide to go for a cup of coffee after a run.

#6 Include other exercises

While running will help you lose weight, you can’t ignore the power of other exercises, especially when your body gets used to running and your metabolism declines. Your weight loss goal may experience some shake at that point.

To prevent that from happening and ace your weight loss goal, you may need to consider adding weight lifting to your running plans. It will help you build lean muscle and burn fat.

How much lean muscle you build is equivalent to how many calories you burn. A rise in lean muscle as a result of weight lifting will quicken your metabolism, and the opportunity to still burn calories hours after completion of the exercise is the interesting part.

Aside from that, strength training can help build and maintain muscle mass and strength.

Strength training is also effective at reducing the occurrence of diabetes, back pain, and arthritis.

Alternate workouts can help you gain great fitness and prevent overuse injury as you get started. Apart from weight lifting, other workouts you should consider include squats, kettlebell swings, deadlifts, and lunges.

#7 Track your progress

One of the great tips to stay consistent is tracking your running progress.

It may be a good choice to start your running habit on the treadmill since it will assist you in experimenting with different speeds.

A treadmill will help track your progress, which may raise your motivation once you start losing interest.

Keep track of your progress, including your weight loss, pace, and distance. Jotting down these details can help you keep at it.

A Word From Our Coach

Running is an exercise you should consider when you are out of shape. In the process of getting back in shape by running, make sure to eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated.

To keep up with your running goals, it is important you stay consistent with your running schedule. Also, remember that with enough determination and a goal-oriented mindset, your running goal is achievable.

Your health should be your priority, so if you notice any changes in your body, like faintness, dizziness, or pain, do not hesitate to reach out to a health professional for an immediate consultation.


It is going to be a challenge to adjust your habits and start running when you are out of shape. Remember that a fitness goal is not achieved in a day. You need to keep to various helpful tips recommended above to be a successful runner.

This includes your eating habit, putting on a comfortable running outfit, setting short and long-term goals, keeping up with your running program, trying the run/walk strategy, tracking your progress, acknowledging the importance of other workouts, and making sure to try them out.

Remain self-motivated and work toward getting back in shape with patience.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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