If you can walk and don’t have cardiovascular or joint issues, it’s highly likely you can run if you’re up for it. No matter where you’re starting from, with a little patience, running can be a healthy, fun part of your life. All you need to get started is desire, time, the proper shoes, and the gumption to take that first step. 

There’s a lot of information out there about running that may make it sound complicated, but it is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other along with a little common sense.

  1. Make sure you’re ready. Before you get going, it’s a good idea to get a physical from your doctor so you can be aware of any potential health problems. Better to find out before you’re in the middle of a run!
  2. Get the Right Shoes. Go to an actual running store where they can observe your gait and outfit you with the right footwear. There are many great shoes out there, but some will work with you and some won’t They vary by support type, shape, and cushioning. Your needs may not be the same as family members or friends. You can’t get a proper evaluation on the internet, so head into your local specialty shop. 
  3. Wear the Right Clothing. Stick with lightweight fabric that wicks moisture away from your skin. Natural fibers like cotton tend to soak up moisture, bunch up, and possibly cause chafing or blistering. When it’s cold, layer up with jackets, headbands, and gloves. If you start off with too many layers, you’ll begin to overheat, so expect to feel a little chilly at the beginning.
  4. Start Out Slow. Whether you’re already active or just getting off the couch after 20 years, your body needs to adjust to a new type of movement. Begin at an easy pace and build up time and distance gradually. Stand up straight, relax your shoulders and hands, breathe through your nose and out through your mouth. Ideally, you should be able to maintain a conversation as you run, or else you may be going too fast. Just go easy—whatever that is for you!
  5. Build Up Gradually. If you’re consistent, your pace will naturally speed up without you even thinking about it. Many people prefer walk-run intervals as they increase stamina. Try a 1-minute walk/run as you work towards 20 minutes. Increase the amount of time you run or the length of your workout. Remember to stay within yourself. This means that whatever you think you can do, most days do a little less. Running every other day allows your body to rest and heal, making injury much less likely, especially for those of us over 40.
  6. Make it fun. Create a running practice you actually enjoy. Some like to run alone, while others like the camaraderie of groups. No matter what your level, there is a friendly group of people running your pace. Experiment with different routes and music or podcasts to keep things interesting.

Bryan Roberson is an ultrarunner and the owner of Breakaway Running. Visit the store at 2109 Madison Ave. and 1223 S Germantown Parkway. Breakawaymemphis.com.