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21 Tips For Anyone Who Wants To Start Running More (Or At All), From Someone Who Went From Hating Exercise To Running Marathons

Growing up, I didn't think of myself as an athlete in any way. Exercise and sports intimidated me so much and I avoided them at all costs. But then, my college RA told me that he didn't even think that I could run two miles — and that lit a fire under me.

Hi! I'm Matthew. And when I tell you that I was not a runner (nor athletic in any way) for most of my life, I am not lying.

Me dressed as a woopie cushion and eating candy

Even slow dancing seemed to be too much exertion for me to handle.

Me dancing awkwardly with a friend from high school

But then in college, my RA told me that he did not think that I could run two miles, and that lit a fire under me.

And so I started training. It was the middle of winter, so I was doing laps around an indoor track at my college, but I was doing it. It was miserable, but I was not about to let someone tell me I wasn't good enough to run two miles.

Well, I eventually ran those two miles. And it turns out that — at least for me — running two miles wasn't actually that hard once I got used to running. Running at the start was low-key miserable, but if I pushed through it, it got easier and easier.

And so then I signed up for a half marathon on an impulse...and was instantly filled with regret. Because thirteen miles is a lot more than two miles. But I downloaded a training schedule and got to work. I ran and ran and ran for about three months and then finally the day of the race arrived and....

I finished the half marathon!!

Until I moved to New York City and went to see the New York City Marathon — because watching the race was a good excuse to day drink with friends. And even though I expected every marathoner to look like a Lululmeon-clad gazelle, I was surprised to see that participants actually came in every shape, size, speed, you name it. For me, it was eye-opening and inspiring.

Runners cross the finish line of the New York City Marathon

And I thought: "If they can do it, so can I."

And again we went back and started training (and this training was more of a bitch because the runs were LONGER).

And so I ran a marathon!

But lest we think it was all fun and games, here is me CRYING while running towards the finish because I was so tired and EMOTIONAL.

the author running in a marathon

The whole experience of doing something that I always thought I wasn't able to was so transformative that I just kept running. I loved how I felt running and how empowering it was. If I could do this, then what else could I do?

I loved running (and running marathons in particular) so much that I wrote a whole book about it to help other people be able to overcome their fears of running as well.

the author holding a book that he wrote

So here I am to tell you that YOU TOO can be a runner (even if you think you can't). If I did it, so can you and here are 21 tips to help you out whether you're looking to run a marathon or just around the block.

1. Start with small distances — even if it's just around the block.

A woman in a gray tank top runs with headphones in.

2. Don't be afraid to walk.

A man in a hoodie holding weights power walks.

3. All you need are shoes to start.

A woman ties her shoelaces

4. Get used to being uncomfortable.

A sweaty woman gasps for air after finishing a run

5. Get an accountability partner.

A man and woman run together on a path by the beach.

6. Don't let your version of what a runner is get in the way of you running.

A woman with gray hair jogs down a road

7. Stretch — before and after.

A woman in an orange tank top stretches on a yoga mat in her living room while looking at her laptop.

8. A 5K is a great starter goal.

A large crowd runs in a 5K race in New York

9. Slowly work up to longer distances. (Remember: there's no rush.)

A man jogs across a bridge

10. Listen to a good audiobook or podcast to make the time fly by.

A woman listens to her headphones while she jogs down a country road.

11. Or use a good playlist to amp you up.

A woman in athletic gear looks at her phone which is connected to headphones

12. Try out a running group.

A group of women smile as they get ready to run

13. Drink water and eat nourishing food.

A man wearing headphones drinks from a water bottle

14. Since running is a full-body sport, try cross training to strengthen all your muscles.

A man uses a rowing machine in his apartment

15. Set aside time for running.

A man runs across a bridge at night

16. Have a bathroom plan.

A row of portable toilets in a parking lot

17. Get good sleep, too.

A woman is asleep in her bed

18. Invest in anti-chaffing products.

A man with long shorts jogs near a river

19. Track your progress.

A man in running gear looks at his watch and smiles

20. Sign up for a race (and tell your friends about it)

The crowd cheers as a man runs by them during an Ironman

21. Have fun!

A group of runners smile with their arms raised as they cross a bridge

I'd love to hear about your experiences with running. Tell me in the comments!