Looking to begin an exercise routine? Hoping to drop a few unwanted pounds? Me, too. But in all honestly, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you go down the health and wellness rabbit hole – there’s just so much out there. For example, I’ve heard a lot about Couch to 5k and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Essentially, this program was designed to get just about anyone off the couch and into an established exercise routine. Simple, right? Ha! The Couch to 5k secret includes a gentle introduction to getting the body moving, starting off alternating between walking and running small distances, and slowly building up until after 8 weeks, you’re ready to run 5 kilometers or 30 minutes non stop. If this sounds at all interesting, here are some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way:

Good running shoes

This is crucial. Katrina Plyler, a contributor to US News and World Report, said, “Don’t use those high top basketball shoes or trendy cross fitters. Get some real shoes. They do not have to cost a fortune, but you will save a fortune in ortho, x-rays and physical therapy if you start off with good shoes first. Go to a running shoe store, don’t worry about how you might not look like a fit runner (yet) and tell them to please fit you in a good pair of sneakers.

Stamina not speed wins the race

Journalist Jennifer Still tells Business Insider, “During your first week of the Couch to 5k program, you spend your program time alternating between walking and short spurts of jogging. While it might be tempting to burst ahead at full speed, doing so won’t help you in the most important area: increasing your stamina. You may be able to do the 60-second running stretches at a clip, but rushing things will work against you once you reach later weeks when the program shifts to longer running segments. I initially made the mistake of pushing myself too hard.”

Warm up and cool down

In her exercise blog The PhD Runner, blogger Emma writes, “Each training session starts with a five minute brisk walk. This is perhaps the most important component of each training session as it ensures that your joints are lubricated and prepared for activity. The five minute brisk walk at the end of each final run repetition removes the temptation of stopping running and immediately sitting down and enables you to cool down properly. I may or may not have been guilty of doing this in the past.”

Promise yourself a treat

This might be my favorite tip of all. On the website My Running Tips, Andy and his wife Julie are avid runners sharing all sorts of advice. “It helps to stay motivated if you treat yourself after you have achieved your goal -this could be anything you want, but make it something nice to look forward to. I usually go for a nice meal with the family.”