Fall is arguably the best time to start running. And I might be a little biased — I fell in love with running on a cool October morning in San Francisco’s picturesque Golden Gate Park while running (and walking!) my first half-marathon. Prior to that moment, I hadn’t been a “runner”; I could barely maintain a 15-minute-mile pace, which is basically the equivalent of a brisk walk. With these tips and a bit of perseverance, I was able to transform myself from a walker to a full-fledged runner.

Pick a Training Program

This is an essential step to getting started and staying on track. Whether you’ve decided to set a goal of a race or just want to be on a general training plan, getting the structured schedule in place is crucial to helping you become a runner. We have an eight-week walking-to-running program that can help you get started, or you can try one of the programs on fitness apps like Nike+ Run Club, Strava, or ASICS.

Don’t Stress About Speed

Many new runners get hung up on pace and speed. Best advice? Don’t worry about it! You’re just beginning, and this isn’t a race. Focus on getting miles down at whatever pace works for you. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, you just have to GO.

Start With a Combination of Walking and Running

Whether you’re jogging through your first mile or venturing out on your first long run, don’t be ashamed to give yourself a walking break. In fact, you should absolutely be doing a combination of walking and running when first starting out. It can take a while to build up endurance, especially if this is your first form of cardio exercise. Those walking breaks will make your run more manageable and enjoyable, and you’ll be more likely to keep working on your running.

Track Your Progress

When first starting out, download an app to log your runs. Whether you’re using a fitness tracker like a Garmin or Fitbit or just bringing your phone along with you. Tracking your mileage and pace will help you log your ups and downs to see what’s working for you and what isn’t. It’ll also serve as a means of encouragement and inspiration when you start to notice your progress.

Give Yourself a Goal

That doesn’t necessarily mean to complete a half-marathon, but that totally works, too! Your first goal could be to complete a mile without stopping to walk. Starting small will help you build your confidence and get stronger — body and mind.

Care For Your Body

As with any new physical activity, it’s so important that you take proper care of yourself. Go through proper postrun recovery, always hydrate, start to foam roll your legs, and take rest days when you need them. Listen to your body!

Have Fun

Remember that no matter where you are on your journey, you’re able-bodied and you’ve got the gift of physical activity. Enjoy the struggles as much as the triumphs, and remind yourself that you’re doing something great for your body, your brain, and your long-term health.

What’s more is that running in Autumn will make for an ideal outdoor setting. It’s nice and cool, so when you’re feeling sweaty and overheated, the weather won’t exacerbate your already hot situation. You’ll also get the added bonus of beautiful outdoor scenery.

Image Source: OurStyle Photography / Ericka McConnell

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