ask a runner: getting started

lululemon: ask a runner
Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.
lululemon: ask a runner

you asked...

I am 28 years old and about 20 lbs overweight and have never, ever been a strong runner. I have a dream to experience a runner’s high. How do I get started and what are realistic steps to progress? I would be happy to run on pavement, but living in Banff offers me so many great trails that I am keen to experience at a whole new speed. Thanks for any insight you might be able to offer me.
- Sara

a runner responds

My first recommendation is to find a friend or a beginner’s running group to help get you going. If you are venturing out on your own or with a friend, consider starting with 1 minute of walking and 1 minute of running for 20 minutes. If you cannot complete this, then try a 30 second run with a 1 minute walk. Once you are able to complete 1 and 1s comfortably for 20 minutes, build your time by 4 minutes each run until you get to around 40 minutes. Once you’ve nailed 1 and 1s, try 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking (2 & 1s). Again, go out for 20 minutes your first time, and slowly build your time for each run by 4 minutes. Do not run on consecutive days, especially when beginning, but aim to do this 3 times per week. Once you are running 2 & 1s comfortably for 30 or 40 minutes, then you can begin to experiment with longer run intervals, or shorter walk intervals. The trails are fine, and are nicer on the joints compared to the pavement, so take advantage for sure! Beware that you may encounter more hills on the trails, so you may have to speedwalk up these instead of running during your running interval, and that’s fine! You may want to also pick up a copy of “Running: Getting Started”, by Jeff Galloway. Good luck and enjoy your running experience Sara!


you asked...

I am definitely considering overweight to obese, but I know that running can be one of the best cardiovascular workouts there is. Any advice for the extreme novice who’s overweight and utterly intimidated by a running club filled with uber-athletic types? Also – I have diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis (since age 3) so maybe interval training. Treadmill or pavement? Shoes? I’m completely lost and most resources I’ve found are for people that are already fairly fit. -Kristine

lululemon: ask a runner
"Everybody was a beginner at some point" - Ainslie

a runner responds

I would be very surprised if your local running store did not offer a run clinic or regular run group for beginners. Check out - they have a ton of locations and offer lots of learn to run programs. If you genuinely have not found something in your area, then grab a friend and read my answer to Sara’s question on starting out with running. Do not hide behind your weight or insecurities. Everybody was a beginner at some point, and I know that wherever you are, there are others out there who are also new. As for shoes, head to your local running specialty store, not a big box sports store. They will be trained to assess your stride and will be able to recommend the shoes that will best fit your feet. Be prepared to shell out anywhere between $90 and $160 for a decent pair of runners! I also recommend the same book for you, “Running: Getting Started”, by Jeff Galloway.


you asked...

Hi there, I have tried to get into running for years off and on and can never seem to stick with it. I am really active, however I want to run as I love being outside and travel a lot so it would be great to be able to go running when there is no gym around. Can you give some tips on how to get started? My calves and ankles seem to tighten up 20-30 minutes into my run and even though I’m not tired or winded I need to stop. Any help would be great! Cheers.

a runner responds

Meagan, read my response to Sara’s question for my guide on getting started with running. With regards to the tightness, I would recommend purchasing a foam roller and trying out a technique called SMR (self myofascial release). Start by doing these exercises after every run, or every workout you do when your body is nice and warmed-up. Check out and specifically try the exercises labeled “Gastroc Soleus Stretch”, and “Pereonal SMR Stretch”.


you asked...

I weight train and do yoga, but would like to start running to challenge myself with something new. Any suggestions on how to start? My endurance for running is low and I can usually do ok if I alternate with power walking. Any tips would be great – I need the motivation, and to be told I can totally do it! -Ann

a runner responds

YOU CAN TOTALLY DO IT!! It sounds like you’re on the right track with alternating your power walking, and for more info on the beginner’s guide to running, check out my response to Sara’s question. Also, find a friend with a similar goal, or else join a local run store’s run club – there are always beginner’s clinics. Once you are able to run more comfortably, set a race goal for yourself – a 5km or an 8km race is a great way to stay motivated and on track with your training.


Ainslie is the first run expert featured in our Ask a Runner series. Check out her website to get to know her better:

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This getting started advice is exactly what I needed. Thanks Ainslie!

Comment by sheena — April 30, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

You’re the best, Ainslie!

Comment by Mike — April 30, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

This is incredible Ainslie, thank you so much! I’ve been away from running seriously for the past few years, and getting back into the swing of things can be very daunting. Thanks for the motivation and direction to hit the pavement with gusto again.

Comment by Carolyn — May 1, 2010 @ 8:35 am

Love this!
What a great idea to run in bite sized chunks so it doesn’t become too overwhelming. Going to use this technique most definitely.
Thanks so much!

Comment by Jenna — May 1, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

I recently did my second 1/2 marathon on May 1st with a pretty good time of 2.00, but I’ve seem to have lost my running “mojo”!! I have only gone out once since the race and nearly died after jogging out 1 mile and had to stop!! I was soo bummed! My endurance sucked and my shins were killing me. I felt defeated.
I am planning on doing another 1/2 on July 10. How do I get back into the groove but without setting myself up for disappointment. Is there a training or schedule to ease myself back into the groove?

Comment by cara — May 16, 2010 @ 8:01 am


Thank you for your wonderful advice. It is much appreciated.

Comment by Brooke — May 19, 2010 @ 9:40 am

I want to start running, but I’m very out of shape. I started walking 3-4 miles per day (4-5 days per week) in about 45 minute to an hour 2 weeks ago- and last Saturday I jogged at 5mph for .8 miles. I want to try to do a 5K in March- so I have 5 months. Do you have any suggestions on how to train for that? Should I try the 1 minute walk/1 minute jog/run thing you described above? Please help! Thanks!!

Comment by rak — October 11, 2010 @ 9:57 am

Hi rak! I think the run for 1 minute, walk for 1 minute technique would be a great way to get started. I started off the same way. Now, I like to put in my iPod and run for a song (or two!) and walk for a song. You’ll find it gets easier the longer you do it!

GEC Online

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — October 18, 2010 @ 11:22 am


My take on getting started in running is by walking. Walk 1-3 mi 3-5x per week. When you feel ready, run for a bit then walk again. For the route that you walk, play a game called, “connect the dots.” Each segment of the route that you run counts as one dot. Continue to run each segment a little bit longer each time until all the the dots are connected and the entire route becomes one continuous segment.

That is how I push my times and distances. The technique works for both starting up and pushing distance times and limits.

Hope this helps!


David D

Comment by David D — February 21, 2012 @ 11:13 am

Ainslie and Lulu,

Thank you for the fantastic advice on getting started. This really makes it feel possible and accessible – I’ve never been much of a runner (swam competitively once upon a time many years ago!) but I’m keen to get into it and find a pace I like so I can keep fit, enjoy the outdoors and just get up and go wherever I am. Going out for a run/walk now! :)


Comment by Maggie — March 18, 2012 @ 7:38 pm


I live in Toronto and Im planning on taking up the learn to run program offered by my local community center. Im a novice at running, but motivated to run. Will it be okay to start the program in the fall season (program runs from late september to november) ? I wondering if the chilly weather conditions will deter me from running ?


Comment by Subs — September 17, 2013 @ 8:05 am

Hey there,
I personally love cooler weather running, so whether or not the chilly conditions deter you from beginning will be completely personal. Bundle up and give it a try, you may just love runs in the crisp fall air!

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — September 17, 2013 @ 9:13 am

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