Running is a great way to get in shape since you can do it almost anywhere, and signing up for a 5K  is one of the best ways to ensure you stick to your new workout goals. If you're new to running, however, there's nothing worse than slipping on your brand-new sneakers and setting out full speed, only to be out of breath a mere minute later. Staying motivated and encouraged is an important part of learning to love your new hobby, so whether you're more used to the couch than the treadmill or you've been on a long running hiatus, use these tips to help you run continuously and with confidence.
- Check with your doc: If you've never run before, it's important to make sure that there aren't any underlying conditions that will make it unsafe for you to start. Schedule a physical and go over your plans for running with your doctor so she can sign off or give you any recommendations regarding exercise.
- Don't just buy any shoe: There are tons of cute sneakers out there, but just because a pair has your favorite color combination doesn't mean it's right for your foot. Instead of blindly shopping online for what looks the best, take time to go to a specialty running-shoe store to get your gait analyzed. They'll also measure your foot to get the right size, since sometimes running-shoe sizes need to be bigger than your normal shoe size. Even if you don't buy from the shoe store, you'll know which brands and what kind of shoe to look for elsewhere.
- Sign up for a short race: If you're new to running, you should find a beginner-friendly race that'll keep you accountable and help you chart your progress. Fun runs like The Color Run  and 5Ks are perfect ways to get excited about running and having a good time while you're at it.
- Have a plan: If you've signed up for a 5K, be sure to also find a beginner's 5K plan (like the our six-week 5K training plan ) that will ease you into running. If you just want to be able to run for 30 minutes straight, this eight-week beginner running plan  is made for you.
- Walk it out: If you've never run or it's been awhile, you're going to have to work your way up to a sustained jog. So instead of overexerting yourself straining to run a mile, start out with smaller goals, like running nonstop for one to five minutes and then walking a little until you catch your breath.
- Stick to a schedule: If you're serious about becoming a runner, practice makes perfect. Running won't get easier unless you are consistent. Try to fit in at least three runs a week to see improvements before you know it.
- Go with a friend: A friend with a similar or slightly faster pace can help you push yourself as you get better at your hobby. Plus, starting a new exercise routine with someone who's similarly motivated will keep you accountable on those days you just want to skip. If your friends aren't as enthusiastic about running as you are, keep an eye out for beginner running clubs at shoe stores, gyms, or your local community center.
- Stretch after every run: Many aches and pains can be prevented with a little prehab. To keep your muscles from being tight, make sure you stretch after every run with these cooldown stretches  in order to help with muscle soreness and to loosen tight areas that can pull your joints and cause injury.