7 Excuses for not starting to run—and 7 reasons to do it anyway

If you've thought about running but talked yourself out of trying it, we'd like to say this: Snap out of it. Running is simple way to lose weight, tone muscles, and gain cardiovascular fitness. And it doesn't require a gym membership, lots of equipment, or other people to do it with-you just lace up and head out the door. Anyone can run, including you. So if you've ever told yourself that you couldn't possibly be a runner, read on and think again.

1. "I'm too slow."
Sorry, but there is no such thing as "too slow." Watch any race and you'll see people of all ages and sizes running every pace from sprint to walk. Running is running, no matter the speed.

2. "I'm overweight and running will stress my joints."
Shedding excess pounds will make running feel easier and reduce your risk of injury, but you don't have to wait for some magic number on the scale. You can start safely by incorporating running into walks. Begin with five minutes of walking. Then run gently for five to 10 seconds, and walk for 50 seconds. If that's comfortable, repeat the cycle for 10 minutes, and cool down with 10 minutes of walking. Rest the next day. Gradually extend your run/walk cycle until you eventually build up to 30 minutes. Over time, you'll be able to extend the length of the running segments.

8-Week Beginning Runner's Training Program

3. "It takes too much time!"
We hear you, but consider the payoffs of 150 minutes a week of "moderate intensity" exercise, as recommended by the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine. With five 30-minute run-walk workouts per week, you can expect a reduced risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, anxiety, and depression.

4. "I'm just going to get injured and have to stop."
True, runners get occasional muscle and joint aches, but these go away quickly, and won't derail your efforts. You're less likely to get injured if you follow the 'no huffing, no puffing' rule." Run at a pace that enables you to carry on a conversation and you'll pass "the talk test." If you do experience soreness that last more than a few days or sharp pains while running, it's best to see a sports physician.

The 10 Laws of Injury Prevention

5. "I look weird when I run."
You've got good company. Watch any major race and you'll see world-class athletes as well as regular joes with form that greatly differs from the textbook definition. Run the way that is natural for you. When you run regularly, with feet low to the ground and using a short stride, your body will adapt over time to its most efficient motion.

6. "I can't afford expensive new running shoes."
Look in your closet: You should do fine with a pair of light, good-fitting sneakers or walking shoes. "You shouldn't wear cheap, old sneakers that don't fit," says Budd Coates, who has been teaching beginning running classes at Rodale (publisher of Runner's World) for 20 years. "But you don't need to rush out and buy new running shoes, because you're not going to be doing high mileage." But when you're ready, the right pair of running shoes will make your runs easier and more comfortable while adding extra injury-prevention features.

How to Save Money When Running

7. "I'm out of shape and I've never run before."
Just like the millions of couch-potatoes-turned-runners who preceded you. "Beginners all say, 'This seems crazy. Can I do it?'" says Bob Glover, coauthor of The Runner's Handbook and New York Road Runners coach, who taught his first beginning running course in 1973. "I tell them, 'Yes, anyone can do this. Runners come in all shapes and all ages. You just have to take your time, and stick with the program.'"

Have you always wanted to run but have been hesitant to start? If you run now, were you ever afraid to start? How did you get past that obstacle?

Susan Rinkunas is an associate editor at Runner's World, a magazine (and website) that informs, advises, and motivates runners of all ages and abilities-and we mean it. Her blog on Yahoo! Shine offers tips on running technique, nutrition and weight loss, shoes and apparel, and balancing fitness and life.

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