Good morning.  I’m pretty determined to make this a great day; yesterday was kind of meh.


Nothing particularly nasty happened yesterday – I was just in a funk.  You know, the kind of funks that are remedied by standing in your kitchen, in your pajamas, at 11:45 PM, and eating sorbet straight from the pint.  Smile


Onwards and upwards!


One way to remedy a bad mood:  make a breakfast that is tasty but doesn’t create a dish explosion in your kitchen.  A clean kitchen = a happy Caitlin.


Just Rice Chex, almonds, strawberries, vanilla soy milk.  Such a good combo.


Reader Q&A: Getting Started with Running


Jillian e-mailed me to ask, “I have been motivated to start running.  I would like to experience exercise in a way I never have.  To give you a little background, I grew up riding horses and dancing.  I was always in incredible shape because of my hobbies, which meant I never ever exercised or got the drive to do specifically ‘workout.’  Fast forward 5 years later, I’ve graduated college, have a boring sedentary job, and have gained 20 pounds.  I know that running could be my escape – it could give me a hobby that I could enjoy doing, yet also gets me into shape.  However, I can’t run.  My training ‘routine’ for the past few weeks has been working up to running 1 mile straight.  I have a loop in the neighborhood where I live near the University which is exactly 1 mile.  There are a ton of hills, so it’s taking me a while to get up to running the whole thing.  I’m at about 3/4 running, 1/4 walking.  So, here’s my question.  Am I going about this in a good way?  Do you have any suggestions for someone like me?”

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I wanted to answer Jillian’s question on the blog because, I suspect, after this baby comes out, I will be in a very similar position to her – starting from running ground zero, building my cardiovascular base, and carrying an extra few pounds that I’d like to shed.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to take my own advice in a few months time!


So – here are my suggestions (and I would love to hear your thoughts, too):


  • If Jillian is at the point where she can run 3/4 a mile without stopping ON HILLS, she’s doing really great!  That is definitely not a small accomplishment, and she shouldn’t minimize it.  In a world where people run 5Ks or 10Ks and even marathons, 3/4 a mile seems like chump change, but it’s really not.  It’s a great starting point. 


  • I’m a firm believer in a walk/run program.  For a free online plan, check out Couch to 5K; there are some similarly designed plans in the Healthy Tipping Point book.  A lot of new runners get the idea in their head that taking walking breaks “doesn’t count” as running.  People can feel free to debate this, but I really feel that it’s perfectly okay to take walking breaks (look, we’re not in the Olympics).  At many running speeds, you’ll actually end up faster overall if you take regular walking breaks. 


  • I’ve found that it’s better to take regular breaks (at certain time intervals or distance intervals) instead of taking them when you’re dying and really need it.   If you’re dying, you’re already maxed out.  Try running for 2 minutes, walking for 1 minute (just an example) and repeating. 


  • The reason the walk/run concept works is that it allows you to build endurance and distance.  Jillian may currently max out at 1 mile only because she uses up most of her energy trying to run-run-run the first 3/4 mile.  If she used a walk/run method instead, she might be able to cover 1.5 or 2 miles.


  • My mode of attack for getting back into running shape will be to walk/run three or four times a week.  Over the course of many weeks (i.e. six to eight), I’ll transition to running more and walking less.  Eventually, you may find that you don’t need to take walking breaks at all if you’re running a shorter distance.


  • And lastly, my #1 recommendation for someone who is trying to create a running habit is this… Sign up for a 5K!  It may seem crazy if you can’t run a mile to sign up for a 3.1 mile race, but choose one that is 8 – 10 weeks out, follow a training plan, and I promise that you will be able to walk/run to the finish line. Having a ‘deadline’ is extremely motivational and fun, especially if you can get a friend to train or run the race with you.


For more posts about running and racing:


What’s your #1 tip for someone who is looking to get into running?  How did you become a runner?



  • Christine @ BookishlyB April 12, 2012, 10:25 am

    I simply became a runner because it was the fastest way to burn calories in the shortest amount of time. A few months after casual running I saw a flyer for a 5k, signed up, and was hooked. I moved up to a half within that year, and that’s the disance I’ve stayed at. I think, though, new runners need to make sure they’re cross training and not throwing all their eggs in the running basket- I made that mistake and started getting seriously burned out a few months ago.

  • Faith @ For the Health of It April 12, 2012, 10:26 am

    Ugh – being a novice runner is ZERO fun. But Jillian, you can do it! It all adds up over time. One day you’re feeling like one mile is out of reach, then all of the sudden you’re finishing 6 and feeling awesome about your life. Persistence is key! There are a lot of ups and downs, but you just have to keep on running.

  • Samantha Angela April 12, 2012, 10:30 am

    I get frustrated when people think that taking walking breaks makes you somehow less of a runner than someone who doesn’t.

    That mentality can really put people (experienced runners and novices alike) off from running and /or increasing their distance.

    Walks breaks are my friend and I do consider myself a runner.

  • Morgan April 12, 2012, 10:31 am

    I think signing up for a race is the best way to stick with it. In my case, I wanted to get in shape, so when my baby was 6 weeks old I signed up for a half marathon, I had never run further than a mile and that was in my 5th grade presidential fitness test. I seriously only made it 1/4 mile my first time out. I just found a two mile loop around my neighborhood and kept working at it until I could run the whole thing. It took me about a month of running 4 times a week to work up to 2 miles, after that it was much easier. I finished my first half marathon 6 months after I started running (and I was 30lbs under my pre pregnancy weight)!

    I have actually used this to motivate a lot of people who swear to me that they cannot run to give it a try. I really think anyone can be a runner if they want to.

  • Anne P April 12, 2012, 10:37 am

    Great tips – I wrote a post awhile ago on this topic as well that may be helpful: “Want to be a runner? This post is for you”:

  • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras April 12, 2012, 10:38 am

    I just started running about a month ago, and I’ve been really surprised at how fast I’m improving! I plan to do a 5k in about a month (haven’t signed up yet), and I’m really excited. I’m hoping I end up really sticking with this and eventually end up running marathons and such.

  • Earthy Nicole April 12, 2012, 10:38 am

    I used to say “I can’t run!”, too and I didn’t have the willpower to stick with it until I really, really wanted it. Suddenly shin splints and callused feet didn’t matter because I wanted to run so bad. I used the Couch to 5k program and swear by it. Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t call myself a runner because I walked but after about week 5, I decided I was, indeed, a runner and signed up for my first 5k. That sure was motivating so these tips are great.

  • Whitney April 12, 2012, 10:41 am

    My number one tip for a newbie runner is to not compare yourself to other runners and what they are doing. We all started out only being able to run one mile at a time and eventually you build your base and get up to 20 miles or whatever you are training for. I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me “I don’t see how you run marathons. I could never do that.” And I think yes you can.. it’s just about building up your base slowing and safely without getting injured. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game but we should try not to 🙂

  • Colleen April 12, 2012, 10:43 am

    Great tips Cailtin! I have been struggling with getting ‘back on the horse’ and these tips are just what I needed. There is nothing wrong with walking while running.

  • Ali @ Around the VeggieTable April 12, 2012, 10:43 am

    Couldn’t agree more with every single thing you’ve said here. I hate when people think that it’s cheating or it doesn’t count if you take a walking break for a minute or so. A mile is a mile is a mile.

  • Lauren April 12, 2012, 10:45 am

    1. Sign up for a race! For those who love competition (or performing), this is the only way to replicate that feeling. I’m not much of an exerciser but I’m an excellent competitor.
    2. It’s SUPPOSED TO BE HARD. It hurts. Your legs are tired, your lungs are burning, and you want to curse. So what? You’re not going to die; keep going.
    3. I’m not a huge advocate of the walk/run method. I believe in pushing through pain and mental toughness. But don’t push yourself so hard that you injure yourself or burn out. Pay attention to what you are feeling and thinking while in the moment and adjust accordingly.
    4. Find a friend! I come from a running family so when at home, I have all sorts of people to run with. My most enjoyable runs happen with other people.
    5. Run to and from places. Some days, I don’t feel like going for a real run but I can usually talk myself into running to the grocery store to pick something up quickly (I love the grocery store). I don’t get in a lot of miles on these days, but it’s a good confidence boost and breaking my run in two makes it seem pretty easy.
    6. I’m not addicted to running even though I run far and often. I probably never will be. I have to follow some sort of plan to keep running. I’m jealous of those who “just HAVE to run” but that’s not me. And that’s okay.

  • Erin April 12, 2012, 10:48 am

    I have never been a runner. I had always wanted to be a runner. I have tried, on and off. I’d get on a good little stint (woah, 3 runs a week for a whopping 2 weeks), and then stop. Repeatedly. Because I wasn’t getting better. Because I had too high of expectations. Because I had no real goal or plan.

    But then – this year happened. I moved to a new city and my closest friend was a really good “average runner”. By that I mean she could run like a whole 30 minutes straight at 6.5 on a treadmill without stopping (seriously – I played sports all throughout highschool, was a gymrat all throughout undergrad – but running 30 minutes straight? impossible).

    So anyways – I was jealous and determined. I started with the couch to 5k treadmill plan. But I’m competitive so I didn’t want to follow it, I wanted to destroy it. So 3 weeks in and I completed that sucker. Now, I run my “long run” of 5 to 6 miles every week, which honestly seemed impossible when I started at the beginning of Feb.

    So I guess what I’m saying is if you are determined, and you want to do it, and you stick with it, it will happen. I used to hate running. Now I love it. I love that you can compete with yourself. It’s personal. When you are going farther and getting faster than yourself a few weeks ago, it’s an unbeatable feeling. I used to not be able to run one 10 minute mile on a treadmill, and now I can run five 9 minute miles outside. (Which is unimpressive to some, INCREDIBLE FOR ME – which is what matters in my running). So my advice is keep at it, celebrate even the smallest accomplishments, and just get through the first horrible few weeks!

    • Caitlin April 13, 2012, 10:17 am

      love this comment 😉 you rock

  • Vikki April 12, 2012, 10:52 am

    I would like to add that if she decides running isn’t for her, that is okay too. There are a lot of different types of exercise. My sister-in-law runs. I hoopdance and occasionally walk/run. A friend plays tennis. Another friend gardens and hoopdances. Yet another does martial arts (akido). So if you find that you just don’t like running, try something else on for size.

  • Melinda April 12, 2012, 10:52 am

    I sort of got back into running by mistake. But what really helped me was that I had been doing the eliptical and taking boxing classes for a few months. This had retaught my body how to breathe during exertion. So there’s that.

    But one fateful day, I hopped on a treadmill because I was angry with my boyfriend and had rage to burn…. and I LOVED it. It turned out to be a great way to learn pace. Sure, it can get monotonous, but it really helped with my running confidence. Once I had that, going out for a run in the “real world” was so much easier.

    • Caitlin April 13, 2012, 10:17 am

      I had a similar treadmill experience but I was mad at an old boss. LOL

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 12, 2012, 10:56 am

    I think she’s made great progress so far and should be really proud of herself! If I had to give one piece of advice, I’d say just take baby steps. It’s so easy to fall into a comparison trap with other runners and think that your abilities are of lesser importance, but as the pinterest quote says “no matter how slow you run, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch!” I used to weigh 70lbs more than I do now and although I certainly wasn’t fast when I decided to start running (as part of my weight loss efforts), I stuck with it because I kept noticing small improvements in the way I felt, the way my clothes fit, and my ability to run for longer periods of time. I’m sure if she starts looking for these little things too, she’ll have plenty of reasons to keep going! 🙂

  • Janelle April 12, 2012, 11:02 am

    My #1 tip is wear the right shoes! Which probably means go buy new ones 🙂 I recommend going to a running specialty store or at least a store where they’ll actually analyze your needs instead of just bringing you a size. Your feet can affect your entire body and I wouldn’t want a newbie to quit because of issues that would’ve been prevented by wearing the right shoes.

  • Heather April 12, 2012, 11:10 am

    I am a huge believer in the run/walk training plan, partly because it works. I like to start with a distance (3 miles was what I used when I was starting) and cover the whole distance running and walking. I was eventually running way more than I was walking. That way your body gets used to going for a while and you can see your times overall decrease dramatically as you add more running.

  • Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut April 12, 2012, 11:20 am

    Thanks so much for this! I started running last year, training for a half, but I injured my back at work so had to stop training. This year I signed up for the same half, but tend to get frustrated that I have to take walk breaks.

    Although I’m not unhappy with my overall time for the run, I do feel like I’m “cheating” or that it “doesn’t count.” Thanks for the affirmation!

    I’m also starting a Running for Newbies series (with guest posters who are FAR more experienced than me), so I may link this post in somehow. 🙂

  • Ashley April 12, 2012, 11:22 am

    I would definitely participate in a 5k! There are so many that are great, and I just love it when people are cheering for you! Plus, it’s great to know that you just burned a lot of calories, while most people are just waking up or eating breakfast! I participated in the warrior dash last year for the first time and it was the best one ever! It consisted of a 5k plus obstacles. Anyway, I think you are off to a great start and will continue to progress!! Great job!!! 😉

  • Laura April 12, 2012, 11:24 am

    I would definitly have her up the distance-1 mile won’t build endurance. She should do the loop twice to reach two miles and focus on run/walking that distance and then build up from there.

    • Caitlin April 13, 2012, 10:16 am

      good advice!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats April 12, 2012, 11:26 am

    I totally agree about signing up for a race! A couple years ago I could only run about 3 miles, so I signed myself up for a 10K and it really motivated me to push myself!

  • Emily April 12, 2012, 11:31 am

    Great advice and I agree with all of it! I started running last summer with the 5Kin100days program. What I liked about it (other than having someone to answer to), was Brad added in XX minutes of “fast walking” at the end of every workout so it really helped build the endurance for me as a S-L-O-W runner that Couch 2 5K didn’t have.

    I have trained for 2 back to back halves over the last 7 months (the 2nd one is coming up at the end of April) and I have used the run .5 mi / walk .25 mi. At first I struggled to be able to run a full half mile, but now I can run over a mile straight when I want to challenge myself on a short run! Since this is how I’ve trained, I will be sticking to this interval program for the race, but I know after the race I can work on cutting my walk intervals and upping my run intervals.

  • Patti @ This Starts Tonight April 12, 2012, 11:34 am

    Definitely run/walk! I started running because another woman in my apartment complex began using our one working machine EVERY NIGHT for 2.5 hours, just refusing to get off after the set time limit. It was furious…so furious I piled on every stitch of exercise clothing I had and went running in the freezing air every day. I used Runner’s World’s 8 weeks to a runner program. I could go for an hour on the treadmill, but outside, the 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking day was hard! The best thing about my exercise machine being commandeered was that even if the weather was bad, I still couldn’t use the ‘mill. So I became an all-weather runner pretty quickly. It was hard at first, but now I can run 5 miles without stopping for a walk break. (And run from a place of joy rather than anger, natch. : )

  • Lauren April 12, 2012, 11:39 am

    Walking breaks are totally fine! I think a great tip is decrease your pace – even if it feels like it’s SO slow. You can really build endurance by going much slower than normal. My mom is just getting into running again, and she was able to run 3.5 miles with me during my long run because we were going at a slow pace.

  • Leslie W. April 12, 2012, 11:41 am

    I’m a relatively new runner…I’ve been reading your blog for over 3 years now, and always wished I “could do it”, but was too chicken (and lazy) to try. This Thanksgiving, my sister and I spontaneously signed up for a Turkey Trot 5k. She had been lightly running, but I was going cold turkey (excuse my bad pun!). I was in fairly decent shape from having attended boot camp and Body Pump classes all summer and fall, but running was a different story. I finished the 5k without stopping and after experiencing the runner’s high, I was hooked! I’m not particularly fast, but I used a run/walk method to build my cardio base and now I’m running about 15 miles a week. Just three weeks ago, I finished my first 10k race! It was one of the best feelings of my life! My new goal is to run a half-marathon in October. One mistake I did make, however, was increasing my speed and mileage too quickly. About 4 weeks into running, I developed an unpleasant case of Achilles tendonitis and had to take it easy for a few weeks. It was amazing to me how much I missed running after only doing it for a short amount of time! Thank you, Caitlin, for being my inspiration for developing a new favorite hobby!

    • Caitlin April 13, 2012, 10:16 am

      Aw thanks Leslie! Way to go. I’m sorry you were injured…. It happens to us all, especially at the beginning as you figure out what your body needs. Good luck with healing!!!

  • Caroline April 12, 2012, 11:43 am

    These are great tips! When I started running, I definitely utilized the walk/run program for a few months until I worked my way up to running a full 5k, and have now worked my way up to 6 miles without stopping. Sometimes I have rough days, and still utilize the walk/run idea! It allows me to work out longer then I normally could!

  • shelby April 12, 2012, 11:45 am

    I’m curious as to whether you had a certified coach or trainer develop the training plans you refer to in your upcoming book?

    • Caitlin April 13, 2012, 10:15 am

      Hey Shelby!

      Plans were based on extensive research, feedback from professionals, input from other ‘normal’ runners, and my personal experiences. All the plans included in the books are for introductory level – like your first 5K. Even with extensive research and input, I would never feel comfortable telling someone how to qualify for Boston because i’ve never done it myself. Hah!

  • Jillian April 12, 2012, 11:53 am

    Wow, thanks everybody for all the incredible tips! I will definitely do more run/walking, and up my loop to 2x a workout. I’m trying to take baby steps, because I do NOT want to burn out. I have tried the C25K before, but for some reason, having somone tell me when to run/walk really rubbed me the wrong way. Weird, I know, but true. I do much better if when I’m out I can pick a spot on my route (a tree/sign/mailbox) and run/walk at that point. I apparently like to make the decisions myself. 🙂

    Again, thank you all so much for the tips. I can’t wait to get into better running shape, and have so much respect and admiration for all of you who are avid runners! I can’t wait to sign up for my first 5k!

    • Tracey April 14, 2012, 7:46 am

      When I first started running I did my own version of couch to 5k but I would walk a song on my playlist, jog the next song. Then work up to walk one song, jog two songs, etc. until I was finally able to jog all 30 minutes. Good luck!!

  • Lisa April 12, 2012, 11:58 am

    I love all of this advice! I have never been a runner – I generally hate it. But a friend talked me into signing up for The Color Run in July and it sounded like so much fun that I couldn’t pass it up.

    So now I’m running. The “Ease Into 5K” iPhone app is a godsend. It makes it so easy to complete a workout and I’m not struggling AT ALL like I used to. In fact, when the workout is over, I want to do it again. Also, it tracks my pace and 3 days in, my running pace is a 10-min mile. Not bad for a girl who hasn’t run since high school!

  • Kara April 12, 2012, 12:03 pm

    You have running training plans in your new book? Did you develop those yourself? I’m curious because I thought those required experience in coaching and/or physical training. I know that I’ve done a fair number of running events (however less than your 40 whatevers), but I still don’t feel qualified to dole out advice, especially the kind people pay to get.

    I know your other books have been a compilations of other people’s writing, so I was curious which running coach you worked with to develop 5K training plans?

    • Caitlin April 13, 2012, 10:12 am

      Answer above!

  • Heather April 12, 2012, 4:23 pm

    Couch to 5k! I was literally very much more “couch” than “5k” when I started that program. Overweight, sedentary. And every time I’d look ahead at the workouts and see anything that began with “Run 8 minutes”, I’d panic thinking, “I’ll NEVER be able to do that”. Despite my hesitations, I continued with the program and every time I asked my body to do something new, it miraculously did.

    I was the girl who WALKED with the “cool girls” when asked to run the mile in high school. I will never in my life forget the sense of accomplishment I felt when at 32 years old, I ran my very first mile without walking. The 5k was just a cherry on top.

    • Caitlin April 13, 2012, 10:12 am

      Love this comment.

  • Kamaile April 12, 2012, 4:39 pm

    I’ve used the run/walk (Galloway) method for 5 marathons, 14 half marathons and many shorter races too. I did run 2 of these half marathons without walk breaks and my time was close to when I do run/walk. I am mindful to stay on the right side and make sure I’m not stopping to walk in front of anyone.

    • Caitlin April 13, 2012, 10:12 am

      Hahah that’s the worse – when you’re running and someone comes to a screaming halt in front of you.

  • Shannon April 12, 2012, 7:35 pm

    I used to the C25k program in the past and it worked very well! I took a running hiatus while I was pregnant and now that my son is 8 months old, I think it’s about time I get back into it 😉 Thanks for the motivation – I just signed up for a 5k!

    • Caitlin April 13, 2012, 10:11 am

      Oh good luck!!!

  • Luv What You Do April 12, 2012, 9:39 pm

    I am totally into strawberries right now…just did a whole post on them. Your breakfast looks great!

    If you want to start running, my advice is get fitted for a good shoe before you start!

  • Hillary April 13, 2012, 7:06 am

    I started running much the same way. I was in college, 45 lbs overweight, and my roommate urged me to come jogging with her one day. Jogging for me at the time meant making it to the mailbox at the end of our street before I needed to take a walking break. But I kept up with it, and by the end of the semester, I was running (no walking breaks!) the full 2 mile loop around our neighborhood!

    I just ran my second half marathon last month. If I can do that, I truly believe any one can. It takes time and patience, but it’s possible.

  • Kristen April 14, 2012, 5:00 pm

    Kind of freaky reading this question since I grew up dancing and horseback riding as well! The idea of actually working out was insane to me because my fun activities kept me in amazing shape. Fast forward to freshman year of college where my bad habits led me to be 20lb heavier: eating EVERYTHING in the cafeteria (all access fro-yo mmmm) + lots of drinking+ no working out = bad news. I managed to work most of it off and graduated 15lb lighter but then I got my first job and the pounds came right back on. One year ago after some ups and downs in my weight I decided to throw out the scale just start doing something to help myself feel better. I joined a bootcamp class and committed to going twice a week…baby steps 🙂 Well bootcamp class led to reading some healthy living blogs (like this one! shared by the owner of the bootcamp program) and took a look at how I was fueling my body (you mean a whole bag of chips won’t help me do sprint drils??!!). Consistent exercise (with an awesome trainer), more veggies/fruit in my diet and portion control have helped me more than I thought it could. My clothes look better, my energy is way higher, I sleep better, I’m more adventurous with trying new things as I trust my body can do it (or at least give a good effort), I’ve become a better cook (LOTS of trial and error)…and it all started because I finally convinced myself that I didn’t have to run a marathon, I just had to do SOMETHING for myself. I’m still not a ‘runner’ by any means (shin splints + horrible ankle sprain put that on hold) but I can carry a 25lb weight up and down the stairs to Coit Tower four times in a hour and I can do ‘real’ pushups….and that makes me feel pretty bad ass 🙂 Stick with it Jillian!

  • Sarah April 15, 2012, 8:08 am

    I’m also a new runner, and I’ve been training using the “Run 10k app” on my iPod touch. Just plug in, turn on your favourite playlist, and the nice lady will say “run now” or “walk now.” Ive gone from walking 1:00, running 4:00 to running 5, walking 2:00. The key is to be consistent – at least three runs per week. Good luck, Jillian!

  • Katy @ HaveYouHurd April 16, 2012, 1:44 pm

    My #1 tip for running would be to KEEP GOING! Getting into a routine is sometimes the hardest part of exercising. For the first 3 weeks it will seem like such work but after that you will feel worse for NOT running.

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