How to Become a Runner in 5 Simple Steps

smiling woman running on Planet Fitness treadmill
With a little patience and commitment, you can begin tallying countless miles on the treadmill.

by Steven Auger

You've likely seen runners stepping off the treadmill at the gym before — reaching for their water bottle and looking accomplished, having just logged a few miles. That runner stepping off the treadmill could be you.

While it may look intimidating at first, the truth is, almost anyone can be a runner. If running is something you've always wanted to do but you're not sure how to become a runner, we've got you covered. Here are five steps to take:

1. Ask Yourself: Why Am I Running?

Every runner has a different reason for running, whether it's for health, competition or simply to escape. So, before you venture out on your first run, Active.com recommends knowing exactly why you're choosing to follow this path. Once you start running, it's important not to compare yourself to other runners.

Giving it a try in the first place is something to be celebrated. Enjoy this accomplishment. Let this experience be solely about you.

2. Dress for Success

Wearing the right clothes while running will simply make the experience better. You want to wear comfortable clothing that's breathable and doesn't restrict movement, Runner's Worldnotes.

Quality running shoes are a must as well. It's worth spending some extra time and money to find the right pair, notes Men's Health. Visit a running specialty store to make sure you find shoes that are the right fit and will last the journey. One of the fit technicians can analyze your gait (the way you walk/run) and determine your arch to ensure they are comfortable. Women's Healthreminds ladies to also purchase a high-impact sports bra for proper support.

3. Choose Your Terrain Wisely

Running can be hard on the body. Therefore, you want to choose your surface wisely. A treadmill is a good option for runners as the surface is more cushioned than pavement and offers the availability to run indoors year-round, no matter the weather. Most treadmills also keep track of your pace, heart rate and calories burned, which can be useful for those just starting out.

As for running outside, Runner's World ranks a flat, even stretch of grass as the best option. Not only is it softer on your legs, but it makes your muscles work harder.

4. Take It Slow

It's exciting to start your running journey. You're making a positive change and it's normal to want to hit the ground running — literally. However, a slow ramp-up is the best approach if you want to see the journey through!

Runner's World recommends starting with regular walks and then adding short running stints. This approach will help you eventually run longer distances while preventing injuries. Start by adding one minute of running for every four minutes of walking. Then, slowly increase your running time at your own pace.

5. Fuel Yourself

Men's Health states that your standard diet should suit you until you start approaching hardcore distances — we're talking a half-marathon or longer. Until then, no need to carbo-load. Hydration is key too. Just do it gradually as opposed to chugging large quantities of water.

Not only is running great exercise, but it can boost your confidence and lower your stress levels. With a little patience and commitment, you can learn how to become a runner and go the distance. As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.