To prevent myself from going completely stir-crazy I have taken up my least favorite form of exercise: running.

I hate running. It’s hard, I’ve never been good at it, and running in place on a treadmill or in endless circles around a track has never been appealing. But it also gets your heart rate up, works your entire body, and is a huge challenge. Since I’m stubborn and sick of feeling out of shape, I laced up my running shoes and trotted out the door.

Since I’m a beginner runner, I’ve collected a few tips over the past couple weeks of what has helped me stay motivated and kept me from quitting. Enjoy!

Tip #1: Running Shoes

I had had the same running shoes since middle school, so to say I needed an upgrade was an understatement. After trying on a few different options and researching sneakers online, I ended up with a pair from Under Armor, one of my favorite brands. These are both lightweight and fit me perfectly, and are great for using weight machines at the gym as well. My biggest tip is to make sure they not only fit your feet well, but that they also will not aggravate any existing injuries you may have and will suit your running style and goals. Remember, the safety of your feet and legs is the most important factor!

Tip #2: Running Apps

Staying motivated and on the same pace is a struggle, I’m not going to lie to you. Enter my all-time favorite exercise app: Zombies, Run! I don’t know about you, but being sucked into a post-apocalyptic world and outrunning zombies is a lot more motivating than trying to convince yourself to just make it to the next fire hydrant. Another huge plus to this app is that it can track your routes, play music from external apps, and even has a chase option where a hoarde of zombies will chase you and you have to up your pace to outrun them or else, well, you die. Whoops!

Zombies, Run! IOS App Store

Tip #3: Headphones

For the love of all things Holy, please invest in a good pair of headphones. I cannot reccomend this enough, because once you find that one pair of headphones or in-ear buds it will make exercising so much easier. I prefer over-the-ear headphones that make me look like I’m in the eighties for two reasons: first, the are guaranteed to stay on, and second, they keep my ears warm on early morning runs. Mine are fromUrbanears, purchased at Urban Outfitters four years ago. Now, I’ve had my pair since freshman year of college, and they are very battered and bruised but still work perfectly. For in-ear buds, I would suggest looking at options in sports stores that have a hook that goes over your ear to keep them in place, because sometimes the suction can de-suck and then you’re trying to catch your swinging ear bud while running and looking like you’re swatting at an imaginary dangling spider. Trust me on this one. You’re going to look ridiculous.

Tip #4: Hydrate and Stretch

Drink water. All the water. When you’re panting and sweaty and dreaming of taking a nap right on the pavement you will thank me. Also, please stretch. I stretch my calves and hamstrings before and then do a 10-minute stretching cycle after each run in order to make sure nothing gets painfully tense. As cool as it sounds, limping around like you’re a pirate with a wooden leg is not as fun as it seems.

That’s all for me! I hope these tips have helped you or inspired you to maybe add a run into your exercise schedule. If you have any other tips and tricks, please leave them in the comments below. I’ve got a collarbone to ice, so I will see you soon!