Stephanie Thielen by Stephanie Thielen

Thinking about running? You don’t have to be a born runner or athlete to get started. Running is a relatively inexpensive sport—all you need to get started is a shirt, shorts and a good pair of shoes. Whether you want to run on a treadmill, outdoor track, road or trail, here are eight ways to motivate yourself to run and get you moving from couch to pavement in no time.

Know Your Why

If you don’t know why you want to start running, you are likely to quit before you ever reap the benefits. Whether you want to lose weight, run a race, reduce your stress or have some other reason in mind, running can have a positive effect on your physical and mental health and enhance your overall healthy lifestyle. Know your reason and remember it every time you lace up those running shoes.

Set a Goal

A group of runners wearing white race bibs on various brightly-colored t-shirts, all wearing brightly colored shorts, socks and running shoes. They are running toward the camera.

Now that you have established your “why,” setting a goal will help keep you motivated to run. A measurable goal that you can track and be accountable for can get you where you want to be. Make your goal clear, well-defined and attainable within a specific time frame so you can celebrate your achievement once it’s met.

Have a Plan

If you are new to running, don’t make the mistake of going from zero to a 5K in a few weeks. Follow a training plan that provides you with a systematic approach to move from walking to running, helping you to train safely and, more importantly, stay injury-free. Apps like Couch to 5K or seeking out a personal trainer or running coach can provide you with a step-by-step plan to help motivate yourself to run by getting better at moving one foot in front of the other.

Find a Friend

Four women and a black dog walking toward the camera down a dirt path lined by grass and tall trees in the daytime. All the women are smiling and wearing dark exercise pants and brightly colored tops.

Most things are more enjoyable when you have someone to share them with. Check with your fitness gym or local running store for a running club to join. Running clubs are open to all levels of runners and can offer motivation and support to keep going. Of course, don’t forget to invite your biggest fans and supporters for a fun run around town.

Explore Your Surroundings

While the treadmill at the gym or in your neighborhood are good places to start running, exploring outdoor surroundings can add a whole new and exciting experience to your running workout. Check with your city’s parks and recreation department and state parks for paved walking and bike trails, along with local school districts that have outdoor tracks.

Run for a Cause

While running a race may not be one of your goals, signing up for a race is a great way to connect with like-minded people in the running community and with those who care about causes that are important to you. Choosing an organization that speaks to you and your heart might be one of the most motivating reasons to run.

National organizations such as the American Heart Association and Alzheimer’s Association have local events in many cities, and you will likely find many other events that support local service organizations such as your local food pantry and homeless shelters.

Create a Playlist

Smiling white woman in her 30s wearing a gray tank top is listening to music on her earbuds that are connected to her phone. Her phone is strapped to her upper right arm. SHe appears to be taking a break from exercising by bending over and resting her hand on her upper legs, but below the waist is not shown.

Listening to music while exercising has been found to increase a sense of motivation and boost your exercise intensity. Create a playlist from your own music library, use a streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora, or download the popular Rock My Run app to listen to a variety of music genres that match your steps or goal cadence to help you hit the road and connect to the ground beneath.

You’re Worth It

The most motivating reason to get started running is simply that you are worth it. Running can boost your self-confidence and, with each step forward, you’ll experience physical, mental and emotional benefits that lead to a healthier and happier life.

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