The simplest way to stay active while isolated: The dos and don’ts of becoming a runner

As the nation settles into a stay-at-home routine, many of us are wondering: how can I stay active? Some of us have exercise equipment at home, but hours of being cooped up inside doesn’t exactly incentivize us to stay inside more. Running, it turns out, is the perfect escape (while keeping that six foot perimeter), and more and more people are lacing up to keep moving.

For those of you who are already runners, you know the joy of a good run. But it can sometimes take a while to get into the sport. If this is your first go at running, or it’s been a little longer than you’d like, don’t worry. We have a few dos and don’ts to make transitioning into running enjoyable and simple.

DO start with a plan. The key to becoming a runner is consistency. If you only run once a week, it’s going to continue to feel difficult for a long time ahead. Start by hitting the trails or pavement three to four times a week.

DON’T start out by doing too much at once. If you’re used to going to the gym for an hour, you might assume that you would replace that habit by running for an hour. But that kind of thinking often results in injury. Instead, start with 15 minutes, or even ten.

DO take your shoes seriously. Whether you have an old pair of sneakers you love, or think some other athletic shoes will do, think again. It is worth the upgrade to get new running shoes to make sure your feet and joints are supported. Plus, almost all of the top running shoe companies offer free returns, so if budget allows, order a few to try on at home.

DON’T feel like you need to run the whole time. Taking breaks to walk is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. Many runners have seen the benefits of using a mix of walking and running to ease the body into the habit of running. When first getting started, it can help to do timed intervals of walking and running, for example: 2 minutes running, 1 minute walking, 2 minutes running, 1 minute walking, and so on.

DO warm up and cool down. Your body will thank you for doing some light dynamic stretching and limbering movements before starting a run. Even walking for a few minutes before picking up the pace can help your body get ready for the workout ahead. When you are finished make sure to stretch out and use a foam roller to help work out the muscles that probably haven’t been used with running.

DON’T keep going if it hurts. Running “through the pain” is not a good idea. If it hurts, walk instead. For your first few runs, try to stay close to home, just to make sure your body is as interested in running as you are. You don’t want to aggravate a new injury by walking three miles home.

DO have fun. There are many different ways to be a runner. Some people love to listen to music, others prefer a little help with their training like the guided runs provided by Nike Run Club app or the Peloton app, and others love to listen to the world around them. You can also be part of a social community like Strava, or use your runs as much-needed alone time, both physically and digitally. However you run, remember it’s not just exercise — it’s any time, any place stress reliever just outside your door.