How to Begin Jogging For the First Time

This article is directed at someone who is coming to the idea of jogging for the first time.  Maybe you’ve decided that it’s time to start jogging to get healthy, or to lose weight. Perhaps jogging sounds like a good idea to get your cardio in for the day.  

Regardless, it’s important to start jogging with a plan. Unfortunately, most people who start jogging for the first time or unable to stick with it, and don’t continue. So let’s talk about what you need to do in order to be successful at starting jogging.

Before You Start Jogging, Get the Right Equipment

Getting the Right Jogging Shoe

First you need to get yourself the right shoes and clothing. You aren’t going to jog very much if you are extremely uncomfortable while you do it. For men and women, it is important to get a good shoe that is right for jogging or running.

If you didn’t know,  not all shoes are made equally. Some shoes are meant for walking, and some are meant for hiking. Some shoes are meant for a neutral foot, meaning that you place your weight on your feet evenly as you walk.

Some shoes are meant for people who tend to walk on the outsides of their feet, and others are meant for people who walk on the insides of their feet. If you simply go into a sporting good store and pick out a shoe that looks good, you may end up with a shoe that actually causes you pain in your feet, ankles, knees, and hips.

woman running with sunset in the background

If you are completely new to the idea of jogging or running, there are specialty running stores that you can visit. Some of the best ones actually have a small treadmill and a camera aimed at the feet. They will ask you to take off your shoes and then walk and then jog for a short amount to see how it is that you place your feet. Then they can recommend the best shoes for you.

I did not believe that this was a worthwhile exercise until I tried it. I felt silly, jogging on a treadmill in a store full of strangers, while wearing a sundress.

But it turns out that I run on the outsides of my feet, and the shoes that I had picked actually pushed my weight further towards the edges of my feet, and as a result I tended to roll my ankles more when I was wearing those shoes. I had no idea.

Break in New Jogging Shoes Before You Start Your Jogging Journey

If you are buying new shoes to start your jogging journey, I recommend that you first try and break in the shoes for a week or two before you begin jogging in them. It is one thing if you are already running regularly, and quite another if you are beginning to jog for the first time.

It is very easy for people who are new to jogging to end up with blisters, soreness, or even to injure themselves. Starting to jog in new shoes is a recipe for hurting yourself. Spend a few weeks walking regularly in your shoes until they are comfortably molded around your foot and are no longer quite as stiff.

Comfy Clothes Are Key To Jogging Success

Next, try to get some good running clothes. I don’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money on running clothes. Instead you want to get an idea of what is comfortable for you.

I tend to run in close fitting yoga pants, even when it is sunny out, because I despise wearing shorts that run up between my thighs. I hate that my legs are exposed, and I am constantly pulling or tugging on the shorts to put them where they need to be.

The same is true for the waistband. It needs to stay where I put it, and if it moves around while I am walking or jogging then it makes the experience that much harder.

For men, the issues of clothing or a bit simpler. They can probably do well with a simple pair of shorts and a cotton shirt. Men don’t have to worry about sports bras.

If you’ve never bought a sports bra, it is important to know what is a good fit for jogging. You might find that  a bra that fits well in the store is not enough for jogging depending on your size. Women who have smaller chest tend to have an easier time finding a good sports bra.

If you are trying on sports bras in a store, I recommend that you try jumping around or jogging around the store a bit or even in the dressing room before you buy it. Is it effective, is it comfortable, and do you feel pain in your chest or in your neck and shoulders while you wear it?

It may not be comfortable to wear around the house to do chores in, but as long as it is comfortable while you are jogging, that is the trick.

One thing some women do with larger chest is double up on sports bras. If they have two bras that are almost good enough but not quite, sometimes they find that by layering them they get the support that they need. (I have done this to make the bras that I have go a bit further before buying new ones).

I tend to jog in a loose-fitting shirt, and I wear a hat, because I don’t like it when my hair curls around my eyes or sticks to my forehead. This is personal preference and as you jog more you will get an idea of whether or not your hair bugs you or how you feel about sweat.

I tend to dress in layers and take them off as I go, and wrap them around my waist or tuck them into the back of my pants so that I am comfortable.

OKAY! Let’s Get Started Jogging!

Some Folks May Want to Confer With Their Physician First

When you are looking to start jogging, some people recommend that you confer with your physician before you begin. If you are someone who has struggled with significant health problems or you are an older person, have high blood pressure, have recently had injuries or feel that you are in a position to get injured, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor before you get started.

They may have some good points and some things for you to consider before you begin jogging for the first time. They may recommend against jogging right away, some other ideas to help you get in good enough shape to begin jogging.

Assess Your Physical Shape Before You Jog

Are you ready to start jogging? Let me ask you this. Can you walk for 3 miles comfortably without stopping, and without feeling sore the next day? If you can’t do that, I think it is time for you to first start with walking.  And don’t just go out and bust out jogging if you aren’t able to walk 3 miles. Start with walking daily a small amount.

Walk a mile, and see how you feel. If walking a mile is easy, then walk two. If you can get to a point where you are walking three miles a day comfortably, I think that you would be in a good place to start jogging.

Technical Aspects of Jogging For the First Time

When you start jogging for the first time, try and say relaxed, even if it feels really uncomfortable. Take it slow. Take smaller strides, and try to make them a consistent length, and rhythmic.

woman running in a road race

Check your hands. Are they clenched or loose? If your hands and shoulders are super tight, you are wasting energy. Try and relax your neck and shoulders, arms, and hands, so that they swing freely at your sides. Is your face tight, eyebrows raised, or jaw clenched? Try and relax your face, so that all of the effort you are expending is focused on the jogging and now in other unnecessary places.

Don’t stare down at the ground, even though you are watching the ground carefully for bumps, uneven concrete, or rocks. This cause your posture to push forward, over your knees. Keep your head up.

Pay attention to how well you are lifting up your feet. Some people who are new to jogging struggle to lift their feet up enough, which can cause them to trip and fall. You don’t have to high step like a horse!

Instead, just pay attention to your feet, and if you find that you are struggling to avoid tripping, it is time to walk a bit. All of this strength and agility will develop over time, if you let it.

Your Brain Will Try and Trick You

When you start jogging, your body will start sending very alarming signals to your brain.  If you have never jogged before, your body will try and tell your brain that you are doing something that is too hard for you and that you should stop.

Honestly,  jogging is about 90% mental and only about 10% physical. Your body quickly gets to a point where physically, you could talk for a few miles if you wanted. But the question is, do you want to>? Your brain will try to convince you, as you jog, that you don’t want to.

To prevent yourself from quitting right away, it is best to start jogging in small amounts that your brain can handle. If you have an established walking routine or route, start with doing a walk-jog. If you are on a track, jog the corners and walk the straights. If you are out on the street, jog for a block and then walk for a block.

As you get tired, walk more and jog less, but still throwing a little bit of jogging here and there. If you are on a stretch of road that doesn’t have any markers to help measure distance or to run towards, jog and count to ten, or say the alphabet to yourself.

Most importantly, don’t set goals that you can’t achieve right way. As we talked about earlier, jogging is mostly about the mental aspect. If right away you tell yourself that you are going to go out and jog at a certain per mile pace, it is going to be really hard to keep going out and doing that workout when you fail every time.

Ramp Up Your Workouts Really Slowly

When you first start jogging, I would worry less about how fast you are, and I would worry more about increasing the amount of time you can spend jogging each workout without having to stop to walk.

Depending upon what kind of shape you are in, slow jogging for 30 minutes without stopping might be an amazing accomplishment. This is especially true if you are an older individual, if you have struggled with your weight, or you have never dog as exercise before.

Once you have established a baseline for fitness where you can slow jog 30 minutes without stopping, it is only at that point then that I would recommend that you focus on trying to increase the speed at which you are running.

woman running with lots of sky in the background

When you first start jogging, I think it is a good idea to focus on routes that are flat. If you are not in good shape, pushing up and down hills can be overwhelming and can be too much mentally. If you have not done hills but you want to add hills to your jogging routine, I would first start with walking up the hill.

Or, you can walk-jog the hill up and down until your body gets to a place where you are strong enough and physically fit enough to charge up the hill. Throughout this process you want to pay close attention to how your body feels and what the limits of your body are. Your jog and career will be short-lived if you go out and push yourself way way way too hard before your body is ready to do what you are doing.

Self-Care Will Make or Break Your Jogging Experience

A key component of jogging successfully is to care for yourself before and after. Are people who are new to jogging, I recommend that you spend a lot of time warming up before you start jogging each time. This means that you should not just get out of your car and start running, or leave your front porch and start running.

When you are new to jogging, you should start your workout by walking. Walk for 5 to 10 minutes, slowly and then increase the pace until it is a brisk walk. Take some time as you walk to stop and stretch a little bit. Stretch your calves, quads, hamstrings, and low back.

Then jog some more. If you struggle with flexibility, in the early stages of jogging, it is important to stretch  during your warm up and then extensively afterwards. I don’t recommend that you try to stretch while your muscles are cold, because that can pull on them or even injure them.

Over time as you jog more you will get a better idea for I need to do to get warm enough before you start jogging.

Another part of self-care or joggers is strength training. I think everyone should lift weights at least a little. People who are new to jogging often find that they experience pain or soreness around their ankles and knee joints. There can be several reasons for this, including age, how much you weigh, flexibility, and your strength.

You can’t control your age, that’s that is what it is. Some people find that as they begin jogging and continue jogging that their joints feel better as they lose weight and let problems alleviates itself. Stretching can do a lot to help alleviate joint pain, because often that pain is caused by inflammation in other parts of the body or tightness pulling on those ligaments and tendons.

Another reason though for pain is that your muscles are simply not strong enough to protect your knees and ankles. Overall for running, it is good to establish at least a very basic weight lifting routine where you do weight-bearing exercises to benefit your calves, quads, hamstrings, lower back,  and core area.

woman running with ocean in the background

If you are completely new to jogging and do not know very much about stretching or strength training, rather than diving into multiple discipline fitness, I would suggest that you incorporate yoga into your regular weekly exercise routine.

Yoga is full of most of the components that you will need to take care of your body successfully as you learn how to jog. In yoga, you learn to and focus on stretching your body, develop flexibility, build muscle throughout the body, and improve your posture.

Learn About Nutrition and Hydration for Jogging

If you have never jogged before or done much working out, you need to also learn a bit about nutrition and hydration. When you are jogging, you sweat. Some people like to walk or jog with water or some kind of sports drink like Gatorade on hand. I tend to avoid doing this because I don’t like carrying weight on my back like in a Camelbak, or hold a water bottle in my hands.

If you are jogging for an hour or less, it is unlikely that you will need to carry water on you unless the temperature outside is extraordinarily high. For me, I tend to focus on drinking water throughout the day, and then rehydrate after my workout is over.

If you fail to drink enough water throughout the day, and then fail to hydrate after you workout, the quality of your jogging workouts will decrease. You may struggle with your mental strength, or your muscles and body may feel very tired.

New joggers who don’t drink enough water may experience muscle cramps or even suffer injuries early on in the process. You don’t have to chug water while you workout or afterwards. It is a good rule of thumb to drink your water throughout the day rather than hammering your system with a day’s worth of water all at once, which can actually be dangerous.

As far as food goes, to have a good experience jogging, you want to eat healthy throughout the day. Your body needs calories, vitamins, and protein. This doesn’t mean that you have to change your eating habits dramatically or to increase your caloric intake dramatically.

When you first start jogging, you want to pay attention to how you feel before during and after your workout. During your workout, do you feel like you have energy or do you feel like you are dragging. Do your feet feel heavy? Does your stomach feel really uncomfortable?

For me personally, I have found that eating lightly about an hour before a jogging workout is best for me. I like to have something simple and easy for my body to process such as a banana and toast with peanut butter on it.

From personal experience, I know that I need to avoid dairy products, coffee, and nuts. Those foods tend to sit poorly in my stomach while I jog, and often leads to a complete and total failure in my workout.

Plan a Bathroom Stop On Your Route

One thing a new jogger might be surprised to find is that when you first start jogging, your body may do what it can to lighten up the load. It is fairly common for new joggers  to discover that jogging causes them to need to pee or poop, and sometimes urgently. I’m not sure what it is about jogging that tells the body to do this, but I just know that it happens.

If you can, try and make sure that you have used the bathroom before you go for your jog, or in the early days of jogging, plan your route around a place where you could stop and use the restroom easily. This is especially the case if you jog in the morning after drinking coffee.

Extra Tips for Getting Started Jogging As a Beginner

Here are a list of things that you can do to help ensure that you continue jogging and that you do not give up right away

  • walk, jog, and talk with a friend who is at or near your physical ability. Working out can be very enjoyable when it is social, and if you are huffing and puffing together, you sometimes don’t even realize how much you have done or how far you come. They can also help keep you consistent and accountable for your workouts.
  • If you are walking, you can actually distract yourself by making phone calls and talking to people while you walk. This can really help the time pass quickly and is also a multitasking opportunity.
  • Until you have disciplined your mind to accept jogging, you may need to distract your mind from what it is that you are doing. Jogging can be very meditative, but that often doesn’t happen until it becomes easier. It can help people who are new to jogging to listen to music, or podcasts. Wearing headphones and jogging can be a safety issue, as it means you are less able to hear what is going on around you and you may be distracted. For men and women, this can mean that you are at more of a risk of getting hit by cars on the road. For women, can mean that you are placing yourself at risk of assault,  because attackers off look for women who are wearing headphones.
  • Make reasonable goals for short-term and long-term. Focus on the short-term goals and worry less about the long-term ones. If your goal is to run a half marathon, it can be really hard to feel good about a jogging workout where you only jog for a minute or two at a time. It is easy to feel defeated when you don’t understand how long it actually takes the body to get used to jogging. Make simple goals such as working out for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30 minutes. Make a simple goal of jogging 1 mile without stopping, and then a mile and a half, and then two. Slowly build that distance, adding perhaps only a little at a time, maybe just a quarter of a mile a week.
  • Vary your jogging route. It can be nice to run on the same route because you know where you are and how far you have to go. But in the same vein, it can make it a much more boring experience if you know exactly where you are and where you are going, and that is a prime time for your brain to focus on how much jogging is uncomfortable. Try running in different neighborhoods, in different parts of the city, on the treadmill, track, Street, and trails. If you very up your exercise routine enough, it will never be boring.

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