Living in one of the fittest cities in the world, Austinites are surrounded by runners, especially during the spring and fall when the weather is ideal for outdoor activities and races are happening almost every weekend. But how does someone who is new to running get started and stick with it?

Follow these ten tips to get motivated, keep moving, get stronger, run faster, and maybe even make running a family affair.

  1. Schedule it
    – Most runners would agree that getting out the door is the hardest part. Make a plan, put it on the calendar, and stick with it. Not feeling it one day? Commit to five minutes and then reassess. You may surprise yourself and enjoy the time outside. If not, try again the next day.

  2. Set realistic goals
    – Running is fun, but maybe not at first, especially if you start too hard. Start with a run/walk regimen as you build a base and work up to consistent running. Plan for training to take at least a month for shorter races and up to three or four months for longer races such as half or full marathons.
  3. Speaking of races…sign up for one – What is more motivating than knowing you HAVE to perform? Registering for a race might sound intimidating, but races are fun, and more often than not, the only person who cares about your time is you. The crowd support and adrenaline rush that come with racing makes running even more satisfying and most participants catch the ‘race fever’ and will sign up for another race.
  4. Slow and steady wins the race– For real! If you want to make it to the finish line uninjured, be conservative with how much you increase your weekly mileage. Aim for adding just 10% to 15% to your total mileage each week until you reach your peak mileage goal.
  5. Consistency is KEY when it comes to running – One day you might feel like Forest Gump and the next you might feel sluggish and ready to quit. Challenge yourself to get out there for a few minutes on the days you plan to run. Consistency is simply showing up.
  6. Dial in your nutrition – Nutrition before, during and after running can impact performance and how you feel. Aim to consume 20 to 30 grams of low-fiber carbohydrates shortly before the run. Bananas, graham crackers and apple sauce pouches are all great pre-run fuel options. For runs longer than an hour, take fluid and carbohydrates on the run. To get the best recovery for your muscles, take in a combination of protein and carbohydrates within thirty minutes of completing your run.
  7. Incorporate Variety within Running – Believe it or not, running is more than the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other. Variety in training makes for faster, stronger athletes with fewer injuries.
    Each week, try to do one run that includes speed, one with hills and one long run. Any additional runs should be done at an easy pace.
  8. Don’t just run – Strength training and cross training are perfect complements to running. This can be in the form of weightlifting, yoga, pilates or other types of endurance cross-training such as swimming or biking. Taking a full rest day every seven to ten days is also good for muscle repair and recovery.
  9. Have fun – Even if you start running primarily to get in shape, you will be more likely to stick with it if you are having fun. Change things up to keep it exciting – try some road races, trail races or running with a friend.
  10. Gear – Although fancy racing shoes may not be necessary to start running, it is a good idea to invest in some decent running shoes to help prevent injury as your mileage increases. Visit any local running shoe store and ask for help with picking out the best shoe for you.

Hopefully, these tips help give you perspective and provide guidance to get you out the door and excited about a new endeavor. Remember to give yourself grace. Every run is not going to feel amazing, but it’s all worth it for the ones that do.


Margaret Low is a registered dietitian nutritionist who lives in Austin, TX with her husband and four children. She works with families, parents and athletes on how to fuel well and feel better. 

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