From Couch Potato to 5K Finisher

Happy woman running

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4 tips that will get you off the couch and into a successful fitness routine.

It seems as though running has become the new black. 5Ks are in fashion, 10Ks are on trend, and half marathons and marathons are becoming part of mainstream fitness regimes. For those looking to break into the running scene, it isn’t as intimidating as you may think. Whether you’re a seasoned leisure runner or a self-proclaimed couch potato, anyone can reach his or her finish line with the proper training.

1. Gear up

You don’t need the latest and greatest gear or technology to run, that’s the beauty of this sport! However, it is important to feel comfortable. Moisture wicking clothing is key to help keep your skin dry and absorb sweat.

Shoes are another key component to running. There are different types of shoes that cater to different gaits and running strides. Go to a local sports store or running institute to have your gait analyzed. Improper footwear can lead to blisters, discomfort and greater injuries.

Regardless of the type of shoe or apparel you train in it is imperative to run your race in the gear you trained in. Generally, you want to avoid trying something new on race day.

2. Vary your course

You know how the saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life.” That is especially true while training. It is so easy to get bored with the same workout day after day.

Take your training runs through different parts of your neighborhood, or find a trail that has clearly marked running paths. If you’re training inside put together a new playlist to keep the treadmill from getting dull. For longer runs, grab a friend to join you. You’ll not only hold yourself accountable, but also get some quality time with a pal!

3. Cross-train

If you’re new to running it is very important to maintain a cross-training routine. Anything from Spinning, swimming or weight lifting are great options for working out the rest of your body.

Switching up your training has many benefits, from improving speed to preventing injury. Running is a very high impact sport and cross training can counter act the wear and tear on your muscles and joints.

4. Be smart about training and recovery

Starting a training plan is exciting, but it's important not to push yourself too hard at first. In order to avoid injury you should increase your mileage by no more than 10% each week. Get your blood flowing by stretching or jogging in place before taking off to decrease the risk of injury.

How you treat your body after your workout is just as important as training itself. After your run, be sure to stretch, refuel and work out knots in your muscles with a foam roller if you have one. Have a protein and carbohydrate snack or meal 30-60 minutes post-run to help muscles repair and replace the calories you burned.

To make sure your training is as effective as possible be sure to get six–eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Your body gets the most recovery during complete rest.


Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer tracked exercise trends for years, looking for the perfect opportunity to open a studio that would integrate serious cardio into its classes. That dream became a reality when they opened Shred415 in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Follow them on Instagram. Check out Shred415.com for more information.

This article was first published on MariaShriver.com.

To learn more about the benefits of running, look for our feature story, "Running for Joy," in the February, 2015 issue of Live Happy magazine.