You got some great new shoes, you made a goal and wrote it down, now it’s time to go running. You should be so excited! You will go running, and it will suck. You will hate every second of it, even if it’s only 30 seconds. You will feel like you’re wearing a lead sumo suit, and your feet will be so mad at you. Hopefully, your lungs will wake up and cry a little. You will question your sanity.

Then, you will stop, catch your breath, and yell into the sky. Yay! You ran for 30 seconds! Or 2 minutes! Yay, yay, yay! You will love yourself a little more for accomplishing a goal. You will be proud that you kept going for the full 30 seconds. You will suddenly feel elated and powerful. Then you will giggle a little that you’re so excited about running for half a minute. Then you will realize that your half a minute is in the past, and another half a minute of running is in your future. You are a runner.

You will want to try again. If you really think you can, go ahead, but don’t don’t don’t go crazy on the first day. Even if you are fit enough to walk 4 miles, running is something different. I believe that if you have a bad reaction in the hours or days following your first run, you won’t ever want to do it again. You might end up thinking that it would be bad for your knees because your knees were overused that first time. Or you might end up with really sore hamstrings, which is actually way more likely than sore knees. You need to be careful, and you need to respect your body, or it won’t want to do what you tell it to. But if you really start small and progress gradually, your body will be so happy.

Step #3: Go Run

Get your comfy running clothes on, and make sure you’re warm enough. (Karee, you know I’m not talking to you. In fact, I’m questioning our decision not to move to Arizona.) Make sure you have gloves and a hat, or at least something over your ears. When I was in my early 20’s, I ran with a folded up bandanna over my ears, like a sweat band. Kinda ghetto, but it worked. Lace up your shoes, go outside, and start walking. You should walk and get the blood flowing for 5-10 minutes as a warm up before you start your run. When you’re ready, get your stop watch, or pick a landmark to run to.

Please don’t try to do a full-out run. That’s for people in races. And mostly only the people who intend to win. I advocate a low shuffle at the beginning, where the main focus is forward motion, not speed. You might not get going any faster than your brisk walk, but that’s OK. It’s all about the motion, the adjustments your body needs to make, and the mental transition. Forget anything you’ve ever heard about how to run. Just let your body do what you did when you were 5. Run for your goal duration.

Slow down and walk some more, and be so happy that you ran! Think about how much you will love running, even though it was hard at first. When you’re done, do some mild stretching. Focus on your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Stretching helps your muscles recover, so don’t skip it.

Write in your running log that you accomplished your goal. Do some stealth bragging during the day. “The sun was coming up right in the middle of my run this morning. It was glorious!” ” I stubbed my toe while I was running today.” “I’m sorry I missed your call, I must have been running.” “I’d love to meet you for lunch. I go running at 11:30, so I’ll bet there at 12:15.” Also, notice how much more cheerful you are after your run.

Next, Step #4: Mix it up
Running Bonus Tip