Buy Running Shoes
This seems like a no-brainer, but starting your running with the right pair of shoes can help head off possible injury. The sneakers you've been knocking around in for the past two years are great for just that—knocking around in.
The best thing to do is visit a local independently owned running store, and have them fit you for running shoes. Tell them you're a new runner, not sure what you need, and that you'd like them to analyze your gate to determine the best shoes for you.
More: Your Guide to the Right Shoes
Find a Beginning Running Group
Running with others is one of the best ways to succeed as a new runner. Having the support of others when it gets tough does wonders for helping you persevere. You'll also be breaking new ground and experiencing things you never thought you'd be able to do. Surround yourself with people who can relate to what you're experiencing, and find a group to help you celebrate small weekly gains.
Not all "beginning running groups" are for beginners. I heard about one group that began with close to 100 runners, but it quickly dropped to about 15. Why? The group was doing 100-meter hill repeats during the second week of the program. That's not a beginning running group.
Look for a program that's focused on endurance, not pace or distance. As a beginner, you need to build endurance, not think about how fast or how far you're going. Check if the program includes learning about proper running form, breathing and stretching.
More: 4 Tips for Group Runs
Begin With a Run/Walk Format
I use a run/walk method with my beginning running groups; I feel it's the best way for new runners, particularly new runners coming from a sedentary lifestyle, to succeed at running. There are a variety of run/walk programs available. The beauty of the run/walk is the controlled progression that helps you gradually build a longer running base over the course of the program.
My programs originally began as 10 weeks that started with five 2-minute run/4-minute walk intervals for a total of 30 minutes. Over the years, I've refined my program so that it's now 14-weeks, beginning with five intervals of a 1-minute run/5-minute walk for 30 minutes.
The longer program allows for a wider array of individuals to participate, acclimate and succeed. Each week the run gets longer and the walk gets shorter until the group members are running a full 30 minutes by week 14.
Keep in mind that "group" is a loose term. Remember it's all about endurance, not about pace. I encourage my runners to find their "natural" pace and stick with that. So, as the weeks go by, the group spreads out with some runners way ahead, some in the middle and some pulling up the rear. And that's OK. They all have the same incremental time goals. Some just are naturally faster or slower.
More: 10 Steps to Start Running
Anytime you add new intensity to your current fitness level, whether you're an Olympian or a couch potato, your body will feel it. You need time to acclimate aerobically and muscularly to the new demands you're putting on your body.