How to Start Running, Whether You're Out of Practice or a Total Beginner

These quick and easy tips will help you with your form, your breathing, and your pace.

woman tying her running sneakers
Photo: Getty Images/dusanpetkovic

If you've never tried running before—or you let that old running routine fall by the wayside (hey, life is busy and running is hard!)—it's never too late to start. As an equipment-free, full-body form of exercise, running can strengthen your cardiovascular system, increase bone density, and clear your mind. So kudos to you for choosing to give running a try.

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Interval One: 1 Minute

Illustration of a woman jogging
Jason Lee

For this first minute, focus on your form. Roll your shoulders back and down, drawing them away from your ears. Swing your arms in an even front-to-back motion. Keep your head up and your hands relaxed.

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Interval Two: 2 Minutes

Illustration of a woman breathing
Jason Lee

To find your rhythm, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. It may help to count silently while you breathe—in for two counts and out for two, for example. Be sure to maintain a steady pace.

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Interval Three: 3 Minutes

Illustration of a woman listening to music
Jason Lee

To stay motivated while running (and walking), listen to a running playlist full of inspirational music—whatever moves you, whether it’s Van Halen or the Biebs.

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Interval Four: 4 Minutes

Illustration of a woman and a tree
Jason Lee

This is your longest run interval—set mental mini-goals to stay motivated and push through it. If you’re outdoors, focus on reaching a point in the distance, like a tree, stop sign, or familiar building. On a treadmill? Count 10 seconds at a time. Small wins keep you going, Honerkamp says.

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Interval Five: 3 Minutes

Illustration of a woman running
Jason Lee

You’re in the home stretch, so challenge yourself to pick up the pace slightly (to gauge how hard you should be breathing, leave yourself enough lung capacity to sing out loud). At the same time, take longer strides to push yourself.

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Interval Six: 2 Minutes

Illustration of a woman walking
Jason Lee

Keep up the quick pace for the running portion of this final interval, then slow down to a walk for the second half. Turn your head from side to side and roll your shoulders a few times to loosen your upper body, then slow to a stop and stretch your hamstrings, quads, and calves.

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