“How To” Series on Running, part 1

A guide for beginning runners.

How to Start Running Now

If there’s on piece of advice I can offer someone who’s thinking about running, it’s find a program and stick to it like glue. No matter how physically fit you are or aren’t, if you’ve never run and you try to do too much to soon, you’ll just end up injured, frustrated, and you’ll likely give up.

Couch to 5K (C25K)

The Couch to 5K program is one I’m sure most of you’ve heard of. Lots of new runners find this program a perfect fit, but don’t let the name fool you, because even if you’re not currently a couch potato, you can still benefit from doing this beginner program. The Couch to 5K program will have you running 30 continuous minutes in 9 weeks, and most people can complete a 5K in less than 40 minutes. The saying is that if you can run at least 30 minutes before your 5K race, your adrenaline will carry you through till the end of the race.

This particular program is just an online guide, so you’ll need a watch or interval timer to help you keep track of your minutes walking and running.

Other programs and stuff for your iPod

C25K App – This is an all-in-one application for iPhone users. The cost is $2.99 and it can be downloaded through the app store for your iPod or iPhone. The program consists of 9 weeks of training runs, and is based on the Couch to 5K program mentioned above. You can listen to your music and it’s also compatible with Nike+.

RunKeeper – This iPhone and Android app is based on GPS. The free version is good, but if you want to have the interval trainer functionality, you’ll have to purchase the Pro version at $9.95. It’s well worth the money if you have an iPhone, because it gives you all the features of a GPS unit, such as Garmin, at a fraction of the cost. The free version works with your music, and the Pro version shows your Playlists right on your RunKeeper dashboard. You can sync your workout with the RunKeeper site, which makes keeping track of your progress a snap.

Nike+ iPod Sport Kit – For the bargain price of $29.99 (or $19.99 if you have an iPhone 3GS) you can be the proud owner of this amazing little piece of technology. When I first started running, I knew I needed something that would keep me motivated, and I do love me some technology with charts and graphs. Nike+ works with your iPod Nano or iPhone, and if you have the 3GS iPhone, the app is already built in. You’ll need the foot pod, and if you wear Nike+ running shoes, there’s a sweet little spot under you insole to put it. If you don’t wear Nike runners, never fear! You can purchase an inexpensive pouch to velcro to your laces.

So what does it do? It keeps track of your miles (or kilometers) based on your stride. Kind of like a pedometer on crack, because it also integrates with your music, has several different pre-programmed workouts, lets you set up customized workouts, choose your playlists, tells you how great your doing, and it may or may not wash your dishes, too.

There you have it. A brief (okay, not really) run down of some of the training programs out there. Check them out and see which one works for you. As I said before, knowledge is power! Just make sure that you find a program before you hit the road, because the one of the most common problems new runners face is injury due to “too much, too soon”. In other words, take it slow. You’ll have plenty of time later to worry about how fast you’re running!

If you’re already a runner, and you have suggestions for new runners, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

Check out our “How To” Series on Running, Part 2, where Bari will bring you information on gear you’ll need for running and the Sisterhood to picks!

  • Lisa_ShrinkingJeans

    The EA Sports Active 5K program is what got me into running in the first place. Scratch that- it was the Sisterhood choosing to do this program that got me going as I am fairly certain I would never have chosen to run on my own.

    Look at me now!

    Other pieces of advice (which I am sur will be touched on at some point):
    – good running shoes are imperative
    – aches and soreness are normal, your body isn't used to doing this
    – don't give up
    – try not to compare yourself to anyone else (I fell into that trap)- there will always be faster runners
    – doing a combination of running and walking is still considered “running” and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise
    – rely on the sisterhood for support!

  • http://lavidalori.blogspot.com/ Lori

    I use the Couch to 5k iPod app and I love it! I'm on Week 6, Workout 2 and this morning I fit into my skinny jeans! Woo hoo!

  • shrinkingjeans

    That is AWESOME!! What a good feeling that must be, Lori! -Melissa

  • http://kyratx-afoodiegetsfit.blogspot.com Kyra (@KyraTX)

    I use the podrunner C25K type podcast. Can't say I'm crazy about the electronica music, but it works. Was just starting week 3 when I had to skip a week due to bad lower back sunburn, but will be starting up again tonight with week 2 do-over.

  • http://oppositelife.blogspot.com Pubsgal

    When I first decided to get into running, I was starting completely from scratch and was still morbidly obese, yet felt highly motivated to do something that would help strengthen my bones and improve my health. What worked for me was starting *very, very* slowly, after getting the doctor's OK. (As in, slower than “Couch to 5K” slowly!) I adapted the Zen Habits' “Beginner's Guide to Running” to my extreme unfitness–I think I did 30 second jog intervals for the first couple of weeks. http://zenhabits.net/beginners-guide-to-running/ Yes, it was uncomfortable and awkward at first. I ran in the pre-dawn hours, since I felt a bit self-conscious about it at first. But eventually, the woman who *never* wanted to be a runner got hooked, and after my first 5K, there was no going back to the couch! (FWIW, the 5K I had in mind when I started was four months away, and this seemed like just the right amount of time for me.)

    I'd advise getting the proper bra…and until you find one that works for you, double-up on the ones you have. (I was dropping a lot of weight pretty quickly and feeling unsure about how well my new habits were going to stick, so I put off investing in new bras for the first few months.) Also, a sports lubricant like Body Glide can be helpful to prevent chafing.

  • http://thesassymama.blogspot.com Heather

    I did C25K – I started last July only able to run maybe 60 seconds at a stretch. And yesterday, I did 10 miles. Anything is possible!

  • Lacey

    As a non-runner, I love the C25K (most days). I am starting to feel like a runner, a slow runner, but a runner nonetheless. Thanks for all the great info and advice.

  • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

    Anything IS possible, girl! We're living proof!!!! MWAH!

  • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

    You are a runner, Lacey! Don't ever sell yourself short!!!

  • http://www.babytealeaves.blogspot.com Christie O.

    i had a hard time calling myself a “runner” but then i decided that if I run, which I do, then yes i am a runner! so are you!!!! LOL

  • http://www.babytealeaves.blogspot.com Christie O.

    LOVED this. honestly, couch 2 5k literally saved my life. i was headed down a really really dangerous path, was obese and rock bottom. couch 2 5k literally took me from couch to a 5k, and 17 pounds lighter, too. so i can't say enough good things about it! a plan is a must! turns out i need a plan to stick to anything in my life, without one i am lost!

  • bekkib73

    Runkeeper is my favorite iPhone app! I've logged over 650 miles on it in the past year (not all running)! There are so many functions of this app that are motivational! And I love the maps after an outside run! The target pace function helped me in my 10K this past Saturday – I knew that I was going to smash the time that I wanted to finish in! I think that alone helped me push harder!

  • bekkib73

    I also used the couch to 5K program when I decided I wanted to try my hand (feet? legs?) at running. I was pretty overweight and wanted to try something new. I loved the program and now (5 years later) still love running!!!

  • Cyleste

    I just found this site (yay!) and am looking to get in to running. I went to go check out the EA Sports program, but the link doesn’t work. Can anyone help me with that?

    • http://shrinkingjeans.net/ Sisterhood of the Shrinking Je

      So glad you found us, Cyleste! I’m sorry that link isn’t working! It’s been several years since we posted it, so I’ll try and see if I can find a good link that works. In the meantime, you can always check out the C25K running app for your phone. It’s the BOMB!

      Christy Mensi
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      Shrinking Kitchen

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen . Eat. Shrink. Drink.