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People running

We’re always told to make time for exercise, but for many of us, that’s easier said than done. We have responsibilities, and each day brings its own challenges that leave us physically and mentally drained. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to plan and keep to a routine.

Family, work, and errands are important, but so is self-care. To maintain our well-being, we have to try and squeeze in some exercise every week—even if it’s only 30 minutes every three or four days. But what type of activity provides that kind of flexibility?

The oldest exercise in the book—running!

Running is a fantastic way to stay healthy. The benefits of it are plenty, and those who are willing to give it a chance soon learn for themselves how enjoyable it really can be. If you’re skeptical, ask the runner in your life how they feel—they’ll happily share with you what it did for them and what it can do for you.

Running may be a little intimidating at first, especially for those of us who are older or don’t regularly exercise. But everyone starts somewhere—and if you know your limits and put in a bit of effort, you can become a runner, too. Here are three tips to help you get started.

Take It Slow

People who start running later in life may feel an urgency to make up for lost time. We want to run far and finish fast, and maybe if we push ourselves, we’ll get to where we want to be. But slow down! Becoming a skilled runner takes time and training—it’s a journey, not a race (until it is one!)

Don’t put pressure on yourself. If you can’t run, jog, if you can’t jog, walk—but whatever you do, go at your own pace. You’ll meet your goals if you keep at it.

There are many free apps out there to help new runners build stamina and increase their speed. So try an app, study around, and make sure to give it your all!

Unable to safely run outside? High schools often leave their tracks open after hours for the community to use. You can also reach out to a YMCA or a local community sports center in your area for treadmill use. It’s also good to run with friends!

Make Comfort Matter

One of the many perks of running is that it can be very inexpensive—no gym membership or equipment required, just a pair of sturdy running shoes (unless you’re brave enough to run barefoot!) But which shoes are right for you? With so many options, it can be hard to know what to look for.

Everyone is a little different. It will take you some time to experiment. Does a lot of cushion feel right to you? Or maybe you prefer a more minimal shoe? What works for someone else may not work for you! The only way to know is to try them on.

Runner’s World features a helpful guide to finding the right shoes for you. You can also go old-school and visit your nearest sporting goods store to get fitted with a pair. Spend the time finding what feels more comfortable to you—you’ll be glad that you did!

Expensive name-brand shoes not an option? Don’t let that stop you. Secondhand stores such as Goodwill often carry running shoes, usually in like-new condition.

Don’t Overthink It

It’s good to set and pursue goals, but not everything needs to be about achievement. Whether you enjoy running or not doesn’t have to depend on your progress. Choose to run for your health, happiness, and because you want to—not because you have something to prove!

‘What I enjoy most about running is the time to myself,’ said Parker Pillsbury, CCI Staff Writer and runner for over ten years. ‘When I run, I collect my thoughts. I don’t usually pay a whole lot of attention to time or distance. I just focus on myself and how I feel!’

If you make running about your enjoyment and experience, you can’t fail! So every time you put your running shoes on, walk out the door with just one objective—to practice self-care. That way, every run will be a success.

As you run, take a moment to stop, look around, and express gratitude to yourself. Research has shown the positive impact gratitude can have on our mental health.

Good luck in your new journey as a runner!