Running Life

A Beginner’s Guide To Running For People Who Hate To Run

running beginners guide

No one is born a runner.

Every human is gifted with the ability to move, but no child comes sprinting out of the womb.

Fine, maybe Usain Bolt. End of list.

Without fail, every time I post an article about running or put up an Instagram story, I’ll get a DM asking about how I became a runner.

I wrote an article about that journey – mostly to stop having to answer the question every time.

Those direct message conversations usually wind down with the person explaining they’re “just not a runner.”

Again, runners aren’t born, and most likely, the problem isn’t with their legs or lungs.

The problem is between their ears.

So, you’re not a runner? When did you decide this to be a fact?

When you couldn’t run a mile in gym class, over a decade ago?

That time you tried to run a few miles in college and ended up walking home?

The one morning you went for a jog on vacation?

How long have you been hanging onto the story that you’re “not a runner?”

If you put on sneakers, go outside every day for two months, and can’t finish a mile without almost vomiting and spend the rest of the day in physical pain, fine, you’re not a runner.

Everyone else is selling themselves on a line of bullshit.

I’m not a coach, professional athlete, or a certified trainer, so this article isn’t about how to be a better runner or the physical act of running.

There are countless articles on that subject. I suggest How To Start Running Today or Running For Beginners.

This article focuses on breaking the mental hurdle of “not being a runner.”

Can you move both legs rapidly? Congratulations, you’re a runner. That’s the hard part.

Here are the next steps to becoming a runner.

Running tip #1- Stay the hell off tracks or treadmills


Running in circles sucks. There’s no quicker way to feel like a hamster or an 8-bit video game character.

Tracks are for running competitions and people with bad knees.

Tracks seem like a day at the spa compared to treadmills.

I hate treadmills. I especially hate treadmills for people attempting to make running a part of their daily routine.

Avoid tracks and treadmills, and find open spaces.

Personally, I like TrailLink. Users can search for running trails in their area, and the website will highlight the type of path (concrete, asphalt, dirt, etc.) and length of the trail.

For beginners, stick to asphalt, concrete, and dirt. Trail running is fun, but you’ve got to crawl before you walk.

Running tip #2 – No music


“But, I need music to run!!”

Actually, you don’t need music to run. Name the last Olympic sprinter who competed with earbuds in.

Music screws with your pace in different ways.

Some songs will make you run faster, exhausting you quicker.

Some will subliminally cause you to run slower.

Songs you’ve heard a million times will make the mind wander to other topics like “why the hell am I running?!? I hate doing this!”


You don’t need music, you need a mental distraction from the fact you’re not yet fond about the act of running.

On your runs, listen to new podcasts. Try learning a language. Talk to friends who don’t mind hearing you breathe heavy and curse at cars driving a little too close to the shoulder of the road.

Find mental distractions that don’t include your music library that hasn’t been updated since the days of Napster.

Running tip #3 – Buy new gear


Think about the last important social event you attended. You probably bought a new outfit.

You thought about that outfit every damn day until the big reveal.

In fact, wearing the new outfit was probably the only exciting thing about going to the reunion, work function, or first date.

New running gear will get you excited to run.

Now, I’m not suggesting dropping hundreds of dollars on sneakers, headlamps, camel packs, and high-performance outerwear.

A new pair of sneakers, comfortable running shorts or pants, and a versatile jacket is all a beginning runner needs.

Opt for gear that works well in all elements.

Here’s why…

Running tip #4 – Stop waiting for the perfect day


Unless your zip code is California or you reside in an area with fantastic weather all year long, you’re going to have to run in the rain and cold.

Toughen up, buttercup. I did.

Running tip #5 – Don’t let numbers be your enemy

Another common gripe from first-time runners is usually along the lines of, “I was so slow,” or “It took forever to run a mile.”

At some point way down the road – metaphorically speaking – numbers will be of some importance. Right now, they don’t mean shit.

Mile times don’t matter. Focus on setting a specific distance and running that distance.

“Today, I don’t care how long it takes, I’m going to run 3 miles.”

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I heard a podcast with @jennakutcher the other day. She gave great advice about inner dialogue being our worst enemy.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ She shared a tip about growing social channels organically – specifically Instagram – and said that she forced herself to show her face in photos every day for 30 days. Kutcher explains that her audience almost tripled in that time. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ If you’ve followed me for an extended period, you know that I rarely show my face in photos. I’ve popped up more frequently over the past year, but for the first eight years of this journey, I NEVER showed my face. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Why? ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I looked too fat, too old, too tired, my beard looked stupid, my hair was too long, my hair was too short, my nose looked punched in, my eyes were bloodshot…I’ll stop. You get the point.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Unless you tell the voice inside your head to fuck off, your inner dialogue will keep you from doing millions of things in this life. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Yesterday, I posted a photo of my face. Here’s one for today. I’m going to do it again tomorrow. I’m aiming for 30 straight days. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ A few of the photos will involve notes. Most will not. Some images will be at the worst moment of the day. Hopefully, the good moments outnumber the bad. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I took this photo of my run tonight. Usually, I’m an AM runner, so I only get to see the giant fireball rise. Tonight, I got to watch it during quitting time. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I’ve got my challenge. Now, what’s your challenge going to be? What does the inner voice always talk you out of doing? ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ It’s time to shut that voice up for good. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ – ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #motivation #faceoff #nofilter #sunset #eveningrun #runner #runningman

A post shared by Chris Illuminati (@messagewithabottle) on

Running tip #5 – Find your motivation


Motivation comes in odd forms. My motivations for running are countless. Health reasons, vanity reasons, feeling guilt, or sometimes just to catch another runner who pisses me off.

Find the true reason for putting in miles.

Use this reason for starting a running routine as fuel to get your ass outside (or on a treadmill if you absolutely must).

Running partners are an excellent motivator to get your ass moving. Join a few beginner running groups on Facebook, follow motivational people on social media, hang out where runners hang out. (Hint – Usually near trails.)

Eventually, the urge to run will come from many different places.

One of my constant motivators is seeing other people run when I’m driving around. I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed a runner in my car and thought, “lucky bastard.”

Even on days that I’ve already gone for a run!

Yup. Runners are a sick bunch. You’ll see.

There’s no better day than today

For a lucky few, the first run is going to feel amazing.

For the rest of the beginners, the first run is going to suck.

Don’t focus on the negative.

Focus on the fact you ran.

Set yourself up to do it again the next day and the next day.

One day, you won’t hate it as much, or at all. I promise.

Thanks for reading! If you like this article, please take a second to like, comment, or share this with friends or random strangers. If you’re new to the website, please take a second to follow me on FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM or TUMBLR.

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