How to Start Running When You are Out of Shape

Running Motivation

If you have been a little careless with your health lately, don’t worry, you are not alone. Last year, I stopped going to the gym and gave up on my diet. I quickly packed on the pounds, and my level of fitness began to drop.

Everybody knows the benefits of being healthy and weight loss, but it is very easy to overindulge. Often, I do not even realize the extent of my unhealthy binges until something makes me realize. It might be getting out of breath walking up a flight of stairs or gasping for air after running for 10 seconds to catch a bus. Whatever it is that has made you realize you need to get back into shape, and it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you are here to do something about it.

Running has many benefits and is a great form of exercise; when used correctly, it can help you shift the pounds rapidly, while monumentally increasing your overall fitness levels. The hardest step you are going to take when getting back into shape, or even into shape for the first time, is the first step out of the door.

In this article, I am going to give you some great tips and tricks for running motivation and guide you in your first few weeks getting into shape.

Why start?

At the center of any successful and unsuccessful attempt at getting into shape, lies motivation. Without motivation, you are never going to stick to your goals. Without motivation, you will not get up on cold mornings to pound the dirt. Unless your motivation and willpower are strong, you are not going to succeed.

Isaiah 41 10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

Staying motivated can be hard though, I get that, so first, I want you to do something for me. I want you to figure out exactly why you want to get back into shape. The umbrella phrase “I want to be in shape” is too broad here. Do you want to lose some weight so you can fit into a nice dress you bought, or do you want to be able to run a half marathon for a charity that is close to your heart?

Find a reason that resonates with you, one that fills you with fire. Write it down on lots of post-its and pieces of paper and fill your house with it. Set your phone background so that every time you open your phone, you see your motivation. Stick it in the back of the fridge, so every time you go to snack, you see it.

Treat yourself to a great pair of running shoes

This is the start of a new healthier you. You wouldn’t enter a formula 1 race in an old knackered car. So, don’t attempt to get a new amazing healthy body in your dads’ old pair of tennis shoes. A good pair of running trainers is absolutely essential, and yes, they do cost quite a lot, but that only adds to the motivation.

A good pair of running shoes are going to do several things. They are going to support your feet in the right way, preventing injuries as well as cushioning your feet from the repeated impact, thus saving your joints.

As well as the protection they offer, they also make running easier. They are designed for the sole task of helping runners, just like a toaster is designed to make toast.

Set realistic smart goals

Perhaps one of the most important things to work on when you start running is your understanding of your own body. You need to know what your body can and can’t do. If you push yourself a little bit too far, all you are going to do is end up is injuring yourself. This puts you out of action for the foreseeable. That extra 5 minutes is not worth 3 missed training sessions.

Start slow, far too often, people go full tilt when they start running. They run 4-5 times a week, don’t warm up or stretch and end up hurting themselves. Then week two, they run once or twice, in discomfort from the previous week’s injuries. By week 3, they have given up, and they hang their new running shoes up for good.

You are not going to be this person.

I advise everyone who is thinking about starting a new running regime to find a good beginner’s plan. The internet is absolutely full of programs designed to get you from the sofa to running a 5k. These plans have been tailored specifically to allow you to hit that goal. If you follow it properly, it will work!

Most of the beginner’s plans start with a run/walk split. You will walk for a set amount of time, followed by an interval of running. Over time, you will phase out the walking periods, to a point where you will not be walking at all during a 30-minute run. Don’t worry, and this happens surprisingly quickly if you are resting properly and eating well.

If you don’t follow a good plan and set your expectations too high, you are going to frustrate yourself. When it comes to a physical activity that requires you to be motivated, the worst thing you can do is to get frustrated. I have been there, I have done it, trust me. Running is a long term activity; there is no defined endpoint. It does not matter how long it takes you to get to your desired goal; once you hit it, you can always get fitter. The main thing is to learn to love it.

Long term running goals

The ultimate goal should be to turn running from an exercise into a lifestyle. To do this, you need to shift your mindset. To begin with, you probably wanted to start running because you were unfit or overweight. So, when you become fit and reach your ideal goal weight, you are going to need to find new motivation.

Luckily, forming habits is not a difficult process. It just requires will power.

Habits take around 60 days to become part of our brain physiology. This means that you are going to have to go on 60 runs. When I read about this, I decided to implement it the next time I tried to get into running.

As well as following all of the beginner’s plans and staying motivated, I also used a whiteboard I have in my office, and I used a whiteboard pen to put 60 ticks on it. Every time I went for a run, I got rid of one tick. This made it into a kind of game. I wanted to get rid of those ticks, and I didn’t want to fail. This helped my long term motivation.

By the time I got to 0, running had become a habit. I got up every morning and actually looked forward to going for my morning run. In fact, without it, I found that I was more tired at work, less motivated, and had a fog around my brain that I couldn’t shift without copious amounts of coffee.

Another great way to stay motivated over the long term is to continuously set yourself challenges that require you to commit. Sign up for half marathons and 5k’s, tell your friends and family that you have done so. This creates a level of accountability. On those mornings that you don’t want to get out of bed, hopefully, the thought of disappointing those who believe in you will be enough to save you.

Use an App

If you take your phone with you when you run, using a running app can really help you track and motivate your runs. Lots of apps come with voice assistance and route tracking. The pre-recorded trainers who will motivate you during your runs can give you that needed boost. It is also great to see your routes and distances plotted onto a map. You can see how you perform day to day, week to week, month to month. Watching this growth is really rewarding and provides a serious motivation kick.

Some great apps are Strava and Nike Run Club.


The biggest tip I can give to you if you are starting out on a new quest for a healthier life is to focus on your habits. Running to lose 10 lbs is a good goal, but it isn’t sustainable. When you lose that weight, what next? Are you done? Of course not.

The quest to be healthy is a never-ending one. You need to focus on being healthy instead of being thin, focus on eating healthy instead of losing weight. These are the changes that will allow you to maintain a healthy body. They will stop you from entering the yo-yo phase. The one where you lose the weight, stop trying so hard, put the weight back on, rinse and repeat.

I really wish you all the best in your journey. Running is an incredible tool for staying in shape, but to most of us, it is more than that. Hitting the road, pushing our limits, and working hard day in day out is good for the soul.

Thanks for reading.

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