After months of working from home, you may feel like it’s time to start moving again. With COVID-19 still a threat, you may not feel comfortable going back to your old gym routine. Luckily, solo exercise like running is a great way to build cardiovascular endurance without risking exposure to COVID.

If you’re a beginner, you may wonder how to get started with your running routine. Many new runners think it’s just as easy as lacing up their gym shoes and hitting the road. Finding the best plan for beginning runners can help you create realistic goals and prevent injuries.

One of the most important things to remember as you are getting started is to only run when you’re feeling healthy. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, get some rest. Your run can wait until your body has recovered. Some symptoms that indicate you need to delay your run are fever, cough, sore throat, or diarrhea. If you are experiencing these symptoms or any other signs of COVID-19, call your doctor right away. If you are experiencing any pain, check with your doctor before starting a running program.

Don’t just jump off the couch and start running. If you haven’t been walking regularly, then start with small steps. Park farther away in the parking lot, or take the steps instead of the elevator. Work up to walking for thirty minutes at a time, and then try to run at short intervals. If you feel any pain when you run, slow down or stop.

Run slowly at a pace that is slightly faster than your walking pace. As you run, you may feel like you can’t breathe or start gasping for breath. This is a common experience among beginning runners. This feeling will dissipate as your lungs get stronger. Slow down your pace and catch your breath.

For each stage of the program, you will alternate stages of walking with stages of running. In the beginning of the program, the periods of walking will be longer than the periods of running, but as the weeks progress, you will spend less time walking and more time running. By the time you complete the program, you’ll be ready to tackle your first race.