How to Start Jogging When Out of Shape: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

how to start jogging when out of shape

how to start jogging when out of shape

Starting a jogging routine can be intimidating, especially if you’re currently out of shape. However, jogging is one of the most accessible and effective forms of exercise for improving your cardiovascular health, losing weight, and boosting energy levels. With some preparation and smart goals, anyone at any fitness level can establish a sustainable jogging habit.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss how to safely ramp up your jogging routine, proper jogging technique, gear and preparation, building a consistent schedule, staying motivated, and preventing injuries. With these tips, you’ll be lacing up your sneakers and hitting the pavement in no time on your journey to better health through jogging.

Getting Started with Jogging When Overweight

If you currently lead a sedentary lifestyle and want to get into jogging, it’s important to ease into the exercise slowly. This gradual buildup in mileage will allow your muscles, joints, and cardio system to adapt without excessive strain or fatigue.

Here are some tips for safely getting started with jogging when you’re carrying extra weight:

  • Walk first. Begin by brisk walking for 20-30 minutes at a time, 3-4 days per week. This will prepare your body.
  • Warm up and cool down. Do 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching before and after walks and jogs.
  • Start with jog/walk intervals. For example, jog for 30 seconds then walk for 1 minute. Repeat for 20 minutes.
  • Limit jogging time to 10-15 minutes at first. Build up duration gradually by 1-2 minutes per session.
  • Jog on softer surfaces like grass or a track to reduce joint impact. Avoid hills initially.
  • Listen to your body. Reduce mileage or rest if you feel pain. Some muscle soreness is normal at first.
  • Stay hydrated and fuel up properly before and after jogging. This aids muscle recovery.
  • Consider losing some weight first through diet. The lighter you are, the easier jogging becomes.

With patience as your cardio fitness improves, you’ll be able to jog longer and faster. But stick to an easy, conversational pace initially. Speed and endurance can come later.

Proper Jogging Technique for Beginners

Effective, injury-free jogging relies on practicing proper running form. Here are key technique tips:

  • Land midfoot or forefoot, not heels. Heel striking can cause excessive impact forces leading to issues like shin splints or plantar fasciitis.
  • Lean forward slightly from your ankles, not waist. Maintain upright posture, eyes looking ahead.
  • Bend elbows at 90 degrees and swing arms close to body – don’t flare them out.
  • Strike ground beneath hips, not overstriding with front foot. Shorter strides are better.
  • Drive forward with each step, propelling yourself forward with your glutes and hamstrings.
  • Increase cadence to take shorter, quicker steps. This improves efficiency and reduces injury risk. Shoot for 170-180 steps per minute.
  • Relax muscles, especially hands and shoulders. Clenching creates tension and wastes energy.
  • Breathe deeply and rhythmically through the nose and mouth. Exhale as one foot strikes ground.

It can take time and practice to perform all elements of good running form consistently. Be patient with yourself while working on areas that feel awkward. Proper technique will soon feel more natural.

Preparation for Jogging Success

To make starting a jogging routine as smooth and safe as possible, invest in the right gear and consider optimal times for running:

What to Wear When Jogging for Beginners

  • Choose proper jogging shoes designed for your foot type, gait, and weight. Visit a specialty running store for help. Replace shoes every 300-500 miles.
  • Wear moisture wicking socks to keep feet cool and dry. Bring extra pair if prone to blisters.
  • Layer breathable, sweat-wicking tops and shorts in cool weather. Shed layers as you get warmer.
  • Protect skin from sun and chafing with SPF clothing or sunscreen on exposed skin.
  • Make sure sports bra fits snugly for women to minimize bounce and discomfort.
  • Cold weather clothing like tights, long sleeves, ear coverings and gloves help when temperatures drop.

Best Time of Day to Jog

  • Morning: Helps energize you and start metabolism. Allows rest of day for recovery.
  • Afternoon: Natural rise in body temperature makes muscles more pliable. Less crowded routes.
  • Evening: Cooler temps, dinnertime eaten, and workday stress relieved. May be busier areas.
  • Avoid peak sun and heat between 10am – 3pm. Higher risk of sunburn, dehydration and heat illness.

Building a Jogging Routine as a Beginner

When establishing a new exercise habit, start conservatively and increase difficulty gradually over several weeks to months. Here’s how to safely progress:

How Far to Jog Just Starting Out

  • First jogs: 10-15 minutes total with walking intervals. About 1 mile distance.
  • Week 2: Increase to 20 continuous minutes. About 1.5 miles distance.
  • Week 3: Work up to 25-30 minutes jogging. Around 2 miles distance.
  • Week 4+: Lengthen time to 45 minutes. Slowly build up distance to 3 miles.
  • Take rest days between jogs and increase mileage by no more than 10% per week to avoid overuse injuries.
  • Run at a conversational pace where you can speak in short sentences.

How Often to Jog Per Week

  • Start with 2-3 jogs during your first month.
  • Gradually increase frequency to 3-4 times per week as your endurance improves.
  • Rest at least 1-2 days between jogs for adequate recovery, especially after long runs.
  • Avoid jogging everyday, which leads to overtraining. Follow hard efforts with easy ones.
  • Listen to your body and take off when overly sore or fatigued. Training consistency over the long-term trumps short bursts.

Dealing with Jogging Fatigue and Discomfort

Burning lungs, muscle soreness and fatigue are to be expected when picking up a new activity like jogging. Here are some tips to push through:

  • Slow down if winded to a comfortable place where you can speak. Walk if needed.
  • Focus on regulated breathing to maximize oxygen intake and relaxation.
  • Run against mental resistance and negative self-talk. Stay positive. The tiredness will pass.
  • Distract yourself with music, podcasts or admiring your surroundings.
  • Refuel and rehydrate soon after jogs to aid muscle recovery.
  • Use ice, gentle stretches, foam rolling, massage, and cold baths to ease post-run muscle soreness.
  • Allow proper rest between jogs. Don’t try to run tired.

With consistent training, your conditioning and stamina will improve allowing you to jog faster, farther and with greater ease. But be patient through temporary discomforts along the way.

Staying Motivated to Keep Jogging

Among the biggest challenges when adopting a new habit is maintaining motivation, especially as initial enthusiasm fades or you hit an endurance plateau. Here are tips for sticking with your running routine:

Helpful Running Apps

  • Tracking apps like Strava or Run keeper log mileage, pace, routes, heart rate and more to chart your progress.
  • Social apps like We Run connect you with other runners for inspiration and accountability.
  • Couch-to-5k apps build up your endurance gradually using run/walk intervals.
  • Apps like RaceMyRun feature audio coaches and music to motivate you on the go.
  • Consider virtual running challenges through apps to provide goals.

Set Process-Based Goals

  • Focus on intrinsic goals like enjoying nature, clearing your head and improving daily versus outcome goals like pace or weight loss.
  • Celebrate small achievements like running 5 minutes longer or faster. Track successes.
  • Run for charity and raise money for a cause that motivates you.
  • Join a running group or find a jogging partner for camaraderie and peer motivation.
  • Sign up for a fun run once you build a base to work towards an endpoint goal.

Preventing Injuries with Jogging

While the health benefits of jogging are substantial, ramping up mileage too quickly can lead to frustrating overuse injuries. Avoid these common pitfalls:

Stretching and Cross-Training

  • Warmup and cooldown stretches before/after jogs enhance range of motion and reduce tightness. Focus on major muscle groups.
  • Yoga improves flexibility, balance, alignment, breathing, and mindfulness – all beneficial for runners.
  • Cross-train 1-2 days per week by swimming, cycling or strength training to give running muscles a break.

Early Warning Signs of Injury

  • Persistent pain during or after runs usually signals a problem. Don’t try to run through moderate to severe pain.
  • Noticeable swelling around joints, feet or legs could indicate impact-related issues.
  • Reduced range of motion, limping, cramping or bruising may precede more serious injuries.
  • Extreme fatigue, declining performance and lack of energy can be signs of overtraining.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, scale back or stop running. Rest a few days and if it doesn’t improve, see a doctor. You can often address minor aches and pains with ice, compression, elevation and anti-inflammatory medication. But don’t attempt to self-diagnose major injuries. It’s better to take a short break from jogging now than be sidelined for months.


Starting an exercise habit like jogging may seem daunting when you’re currently out of shape. But with a gradual buildup in training, wise preparation, and motivation to sustain an ongoing routine, it’s realistic for almost anyone to succeed. Not only will regular jogging help you lose weight and get in shape, it can boost mental health and overall wellbeing too. The tips in this guide will set you up to safely develop a lifelong passion for running, so don’t delay any longer – head out for your first jog today!

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