If you’re out of shape, the idea of running may seem daunting. You know that you’d enjoy the benefits of running – a healthier lifestyle or weight loss, to start – but you just can’t seem to get out the door and do it.

If you find yourself in this position, we have some pointers to help you start running even if you’re out of shape.


The first thing you have to do to start running when you’re out of shape is to figure out your “why.” What motivates you? I’m not great about getting up in the mornings, but I can when I have a big race coming up, and I know that the training is getting me closer to my goal. I don’t always like it, but at the very least I am motivated to get it done.

Likewise, you should figure out why you want to run. The more specific you can be, the better. Write it down, as research shows that people tend to be more motivated if they have written down their rationales and goals.

Just saying that you want to get into better shape might be too vague of a goal. You may need to figure out something more specific. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds before your daughter’s wedding. Or perhaps you want to run a 5k to have a sense of accomplishment during a year that has been kind of rough for you.

No matter what your reason, if you can figure out your rationale for wanting to run, it will help. That reason will always be something you can go back to when you want to make excuses about not running.


I can’t stress this point enough. You might not like to spend money—that’s me!—but shelling out some money for a good pair of running shoes is a great way to keep you motivated. After all, you’ll want to use those shoes that you invested money in!

Additionally, a good pair of running shoes will make your walks and runs more comfortable and enjoyable. It’s important to capitalize on anything that will help you get out the door. I personally was a little unsure of spending a lot of money on running shoes, but it is totally worth it! My feet thank me every time I run.

And, if you’re someone who appreciates new clothing, who doesn’t like an excuse to wear new shoes? Plus, by the time the newness of the shoes has worn off, you’ll like them, because they are familiar and have gone on so many runs with you.

If you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on shoes, consider looking on the sales rack for good brands, or checking out our list of the best affordable running shoes.


Whenever anyone tries to make a lifestyle change, it can be challenging to keep it up. A new habit such as running makes demands on your time and energy. Most people quit their New Year’s resolutions 10-14 days into January. If you want to go beyond starting to run and actually keep running, you’ll need to get past that two week mark.

Studies suggest that it takes 21 days to form a habit. If you can do that – that’s just 9 runs/walks if you’re running 3 days a week – there’s a good chance your habit of running may stick.

The important part is staying consistent. Figure out how many days you’re going to run each week, and do that. Really do that. Three days is a good routine for people who are just starting to run.

You may want to say that you’ll run Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday to give yourself rest days, or you may want to give yourself flexibility so that you can run any 3 days of the week (as long as they aren’t back-to-back) to adjust for weather, etc.

Signing up for a 5k may be a great way to encourage you to stay in shape, as you’ll have a goal to reach. After you hit your goal, don’t slack off! Build on the fitness you worked so hard to develop, and set another goal. Keep up your focus on staying in shape.

Finally, just try to do a little bit more than you did before. Even if you walked 30 seconds less than you did last time, it feels good because you know you accomplished something! At some point, you will max out, but that point is far away, and finding that point is one of the most rewarding challenges in fitness.

Just keep gradually and gently pushing yourself a little bit harder each time, and you’ll soon start to see results. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t have a beach body overnight, but give it some time, and you will.

I used to be a super-skinny thing with basically no muscle, and I started strength training along with running. In just two months, I could see much more definition and actual muscle! That alone encouraged me to keep at it because I didn’t just feel better – I also looked better.