Walking comes natural for most of us. One foot in front of the other and off you go. Running...thats a different mechanism all together. Running implies a certain amount of force. I use quantum physics to eliminate impact forces, so technically I don't run, I just kinda ease along. According to at least one recent study, however, most folks are scientifically illiterate and thus unable to fully comprehend the dynamic necessary to run in a quantum state.
Running injury free is a science unto itself. An intelligent person who has never lifted weights wouldn't just walk into a gym and attempt to bench 500 lbs, it would take years to condition oneself for that kind of lifting. Yet, many folks think they can just throw on some running shoes and go out for a run. Not gonna happen. I conditioned myself for months before I started running regularly and guess what? It still hurt. In time I became more machine than man and now pain is just an illusion, but starting out was awkward to say the least.
Keep in mind that running isn't for everybody. There are many ways to live a happy, healthy lifestyle without running or doing much cardio at all. I like to think of running as a sport, not an exercise. Sports are optional and require much focus and discipline, especially endurance sports. Repetitive stress is a serious concern and it can mess you up if you don't dedicate yourself to conditioning for it. I spend more time cross training with weight lifting, cycling and swimming than I do running.
Still wanna run? Great! I know some great trails and routes I'd like to introduce you to. But for starters just scoot around a little. Even scooting will hurt if your not used to repetitive stresses. Its all part of conditioning. No pain, no gain. Running isn't like other activities. Every pain needs to be addressed. It takes a while to fully address all the potential muscular imbalances. Running isn't as uniform as it may seem. Roads have curves that can lead to injury. Trails have rocks, roots and other obstacles that cause a bad foot plant. Treadmills have issues too just in that keeping up with a belt uses a different mechanism than real world running.
Variety will always be my top strategy in preventing muscular imbalances and injury. Running creates a force or impact if you will, and like all forces they must be kept in balance. Balance can be easy to discard though because if a person doesn't fall over walking then the tendency is to perceive their sense of balance as being sufficient. The high impact forces associated with running can magnify even the slightest muscular imbalance. For some of us these slight discrepancies will never amount to an issue, for others they may prove debilitating.
Why take chances? Driving a car is the biggest gamble we take with our lives, If driving doesn't scare you and running is part of your calling in life, then by all means run strong, but be sensible too. Run defensively, just like driving a car. Address aches and pains, cross train religiously...especially with weights, but also tune up your sense of balance. I've always done balance related warm ups and stretches as part of my routine, but I've recently discovered slacklining. Wow! What a tune up this stuff is. I can feel my stabilizer muscles strengthening and bringing my run gait into a new alignment. I didn't even know I had room to improve in that area.