Maybe you cheered thousands of Dallas Marathon runners at White Rock Lake this past December. Perhaps getting more exercise was your New Year’s resolution. Whatever happened, the sport suddenly didn’t seem so miserable. 

Dallas is home to thousands of runners and many running groups. The White Rock area, in particular, is home to several elite runners. Shaheen Sattar and Nicole Kalogeropoulos often place among the top runners in the country during ultra events. Orville Rogers holds several world records at 102 years old.

We reached out to dozens of experienced area runners for tips on getting started. Don’t worry, not all of them run a 5-minute mile, and they don’t expect that from you.

Find a running buddy.

White Rock resident Heidi Fischer started running 20 years ago and first ran a marathon in 2002. She suggests finding a running buddy, whether you’re training for a race or working out. “Accountability helps me get out the door,” she says. Fischer also values the safety in twos.  

Cross train. 

Whether you’re an athlete at heart or an inexperienced runner, cross training is key to injury prevention. Lake Highlands resident Marianne Lacko’s injuries decreased when she started Camp Gladiator, a fitness program that blends cardio with strength training.

“I’m 50 now, run 20-25 miles per week and rarely get injured,” she says. “I also attend three hour-long Camp Gladiator sessions each week.”

Enjoy the view.

There’s a reason a plethora of runners congregate at White Rock Lake every week: It’s gorgeous. Don’t forget to observe your surroundings, says Jim Kearby, who has competed in 60 races and run at the lake for 32 years.  

Listen to your body. 

There’s a difference between exhaustion and pain, and pain is a sure sign of injury. “Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong,” says Julie Lanaux, Lake Highlands resident and White Rock Running Co-op co-organizer. “Don’t ignore pain and soreness until you learn to distinguish from the aches of a good workout versus an injury.”

Make it a good time.

White Rock resident Robert Haworth has completed 35 marathons in 28 different states and three continents. His advice is simple: have fun. “Pick races that support your favorite cause, your friends are running, has great scenery or an awesome after-party,” he says. “Don’t make running the whole enchilada.”