Whether you’re thinking of returning to running, or just getting back into it, these are a few simple Tips to follow to help you meet your training goals while staying injury free. First off, well done! Running is a fantastic sport that is both efficient and effective. Numerous studies have shown that running has a positive influence on both your mental and physical health, as well as stimulating that rush of endorphins fondly referred to as the “runner’s high."

Why start running now?

Think about what inspired you to start running now. Sources of motivation can be thought of as either an internal or external motivators.

An example of an internal motivator would be something like “I want to get in better shape so I can keep up with my kids.” A friend encouraging you to start running so you can do a race together would be an external motivator. Anything that helps get you out of the bed and hitting the pavement is a good motivator, but if your motivation is purely external, you might want to consider finding some personal reasons to Run. Identifying several reasons why you have decided to start running, and want to keep running, will help you stay motivated for the long haul.

Begin slowly and be patient

So, your first lap around the block felt pretty hard: you were sore for several days and felt unusually tired.

Your second run was a couple minutes longer and you were sore again. See a pattern? Depending on your starting level of fitness, getting to the point where running feels easy can take a while (and let’s be honest, running is never really easy). The easiest way to see progress is to have a set route that you can repeat every couple of weeks to see how you’ve improved.

Are you getting faster on your route? Do you feel less tired afterwards? Take pride in the small achievements! Part of what makes running so great—and frustrating—is that there are no shortcuts. No one gets fast overnight, and anyone that performs at a high level only got there through a lot of hard work. Also realize that your body is going through a lot of major changes right now—from strengthening muscles to improving circulation and strengthening your heart.

Even when you’re not actively running, your body is hard at work preparing you for your next run. These minute changes will make you a stronger runner in the long run (no pun intended) but may make you feel tired or sluggish at first.

Parting tips for the beginning runner

The more tangible your goals, the more likely you are to keep putting on those running shoes and heading out the door. Rather than “run more often” or “get faster,” try goals like signing up for a specific 5k or aiming to hit a specific pace or weekly mileage. If you prefer setting bigger goals, like running a marathon, try breaking that goal down into discrete steps to make it feel more do-able and decrease the chances of getting discouraged along the way.

Be mindful of your body and realize that increasing mileage too quickly may lead to injury or fatigue.

No matter where you are starting from, or what your goals are, take pride in becoming a member of an elite group of individuals that are committed to their health and fitness.