10 People Who Love Running Share Their Best Advice For Beginners

love running

If you still have PTSD from the days when your gym teacher used to make you run laps, welcome to the club. Although the workout is beloved by millions all over the world, many of whom are willing to wake up at the crack of dawn to compete in marathons, some people can hardly fathom the idea of clocking miles. The truth is, like anything else in life, learning to love running will only happen once you give it a good try.

And, believe it or not, most people who love running — like can’t get enough of it, run every single day, run in the woods, on the beach, on a treadmill, wherever — started in the same place as you are right now: not liking it one bit. Here, runners of all levels share the things that have helped them fall in love with the sport and inspired them to teach others to find joy in it, too. Because not only does it benefit your physical health, from your joints to your heart, but running has also been shown to relieve stress, improve focus, and boost your mood.

Start off slow

“Start really slow so you can just zone out and try to enjoy it, rather than doing it as a struggle. You have to love it first before you make it part of your daily routine. If it becomes an obligation, you’re going to hate it. Do it because it makes you feel good when you’re done and it’s healthy and the sweat is good and all that stuff. I’m scared of the day I can’t run my five miles.” —Susan Sinrich, 55, Swampscott, MA; has been running for 25 years

Set small goals

“Most non-athletic adults believe that running a mile will be a challenge, but it’s really not. The key is to run a mile at your own pace. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, it’s about the completion of the 1,600 meters. I tell people to see running as another milestone on your list of accomplishments. I started with one mile a day from Monday through Thursday, and then on Friday, I would go for two miles. I did that for about three weeks. It always felt good to push myself on Friday knowing that I’d rest over the weekend. That push on Friday and the resting weekend built my confidence. When Monday rolled around, I was running my daily mile a bit faster than the last, and I soon upgraded to two miles a day with a three-mile goal on Friday. This approach allows a person to go from being a non-runner to running six miles a week.” —Dawn Michelle Hardy, 44, Charlotte, NC; has been running for 9 years

Find support

“Running isn't easy. Make sure you have a team, whether it's your family or friends, who support you when you wake up early to go for a run or turn down happy hour to hit the streets. For me, running is very personal. I like to do it on my own. However, when I need to get my butt kicked, I run with Paragon Sports Run Club. They push me to go a little bit faster and a little bit longer than I normally would on my own. Check out on social media or local running stores where run groups meet up and join in. You'll find your tribe and run strong with them. People always say running sucks. It sucks because it’s hard. But when you do hard things, you get stronger. Give running a shot, make it fun, stick to your will, and be consistent. You'll see that in just a few weeks, you'll go from hating it to loving it, because you feel so damn good!” —Michele Gordon, 29, New York City; running for 3 years

Run somewhere interesting

“If you’re in awe of the view around you, you’ll be distracted and less focused on the monotony of running. I love to look at different scenery when I run. I also think running further away is a good idea — you always have to come back, making your distance a little further each time.” —Taylor Frank, 25, St. Marys, PA; has been running for 8 years

love running

Find an accountability buddy

“When I started getting into longer-distance running in college, I hated it. My coach told me to run for 60 minutes, which sounded like hell. I started off with a friend, running for 10 minutes, then walking for three minutes, and built it up until we reached 60 minutes. Over time, we increased the time running and decreased the time walking until we were running for an hour. It’s easier to hold yourself accountable when you have a friend, plus it keeps things fun! When I first moved to NYC, I’d do a three-mile run with a friend after work to catch up instead of going out for a drink. It was a great way to explore a new city — it was free, and I was poor — and a good way to decompress after a long, stressful day.” —Cara Enright, 27, New York City; has been running for 13 years

Make running fun

“I spent many years competitively running in high school and college, which unfortunately took out some of the enjoyment for me. When I decided to get back into it years later, I focused on making running fun. I do this by running with friends, chatting during our runs, listening to music or a podcast I’m looking forward to, wearing new or cool gear, taking selfies and other photos of my surroundings, joining running groups, tracking my runs on Instagram or other apps, and rewarding myself along the way! When you make running fun, you gradually build up your endurance — often without even realizing it — and eventually just enjoy the process. At that point, you won’t need all the extras.” —Melissa Perlman, 36, Delray Beach, FL; has been running for 20 years

Join a running group

“I ran in high school, but kind of hated it. I've been running happily since college, about five to six days a week. My best advice for someone who is looking to not only start running but also enjoy it is to find a fitness group that will hold you accountable and motivate you to continue bettering yourself. There’s a real strength in numbers and having someone or a big group hold you responsible can be so helpful when it comes to waking up early or finding the energy after a long day at work. It's also wonderful to have someone else to suffer through hard moments with and simultaneously celebrate reaching bigger goals. I've found camaraderie by joining free fitness groups like The Most Informal Running Club, Ever in New York City and November Project Oakland in the Bay Area. You can search for a fitness group that works for you through platforms like Eventbrite and Meetup, or simply ask your local running store if they offer group runs — most do! If your runs are social, you'll look forward to them almost as much as you'd look forward to a group dinner with girlfriends!” —Erin Kelly, 28, Berkeley, CA; has been running for 8 years

Don’t be intimidated by experienced runners

“The running community is super open, and you’ll find that the veterans are more often than not very willing to help a novice runner out. I’ve learned a lot of tips from those who’ve been doing this way longer than I have, and the encouragement from others and overall positive environment is extremely helpful.” —Holly Clarke, 33, Los Angeles; has been running for 2 years

Appreciate what you are capable of

“I’ve been a runner pretty much my entire life. I probably run about three to four times a week, have done a couple half marathons and competitive events. Running is my church. For me, it's about the mental clarity I find in the exercise, as well as the physical movement and connection with my body. It gives me a greater appreciation for what I'm able to do and being in running shape carries over to tons of other physical activities. It's a lifelong habit that anyone can pick up. Doesn't matter how long, short, fast or slow you go, I think that anyone can find their rhythm and enjoy their own form of meditation/love of running.” —Julie Riggert, 28, San Diego, CA; has been running for 15+ years

Use it to relieve stress

“Running creates a work-life balance for me. I run every other day to break up the work week and family time. I work at a boutique advertising agency where days can feel long and the work itself is sometimes really challenging. Running can offset this type of stress and helps me feel better on those days. Even if it’s a short run, it’s better than no run at all. Many people don’t enjoy running because it’s ‘boring’ or feels hard on the body. While the latter can be true, running creates a space in your spirit and in your mind that nothing else provides. You have the opportunity to be alone in your thoughts, to feel out the day or your mood, to set a tone in those running moments. You are anyone, anything, and everyone when you run. You are invincible, even during the times when you feel you’re not. Try to shake off whatever is ailing you or celebrate what’s feeling good while you’re running. Sweat it out and bring it on.” —Yolanda Lopez, 37, Redondo Beach, CA