It’s frequently said that running is the greatest form of exercise you can enjoy. It’s cheap, doesn’t require lots of specialist equipment, and is available to everyone.
But some people still have reservations and confusion about what equipment they need, and how to start running.
In this beginner’s guide, we’ll give you all the tips you need to get started in no time!
A good pair of running shoes is important when you first start running.
The right running shoes can help you avoid injuries, and can ensure a comfortable running experience. When shopping for running shoes, be sure to try on several different pairs and don’t be afraid to ask the experts in the store for their opinion.
Many specialist running shops offer free gait analysis to help you choose the right pair of shoes – this will help ensure that you’re getting the right running shoe for your specific running style.
We’ve put together a more in-depth guide to choosing your first running shoes. You don’t need to spend a fortune on your first pair of running shoes. Some of our favourite running shoes for beginners are less than £10!
Visibility gear if you’re going to be running in low light conditions
If you’re planning to be running in low light conditions – such as early in the morning or in the evenings, it’s important to wear visibility gear to ensure that drivers can see you.
This typically involves purchasing reflective clothing and lights.
Reflective clothing is a great way to make yourself visible in the dark. It reflects light back at drivers, making you much more visible than if you were wearing regular clothing. There are some affordable reflective clothing available, check out our recommendations on reflective running jackets.
Lights are another great way to make yourself visible in the dark. There are many kinds of lights available, so it’s really your choice if you’re most comfortable with a head torch, a chest lamp or arm straps.
When you first start running, it’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself.
It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of starting a new exercise program and try to do too much too soon. But this can lead to injuries and frustration.
It’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your weekly mileage. This will help ensure that you’re able to stay motivated and make progress, and be able to avoid overuse injuries from muscles that aren’t used to running!
Be patient and don’t expect to be able to run a marathon your first week. It takes time and practice to build up your endurance and running skills.
Start small and work your way up gradually. You’ll be amazed at how far you can come once you stick with it – you’ll soon be running those longer distances!
Consider a “run-walk” programme
If you’re being sensible and gradually building up the intensity of your runs, one thing you might want to consider is the run-walk method.
Perhaps the most famous example of this is Couch to 5k, which is supported by the NHS and has several celebrity voices supporting you along your journey.
The Couch to 5k programme is a great way to start running if you’re new to the sport.
It’s a nine week training plan that helps you build an exercise habit without going too fast, too soon.
It has a weekly running schedule that gradually increases your mileage over a period of nine weeks, so you can build up your endurance and running skills carefully.
For the first few weeks, you’ll be following the run-walk method, but by the end of the nine week programme, you’ll be able to run the entire distance of 5k without stopping.
A supportive community
Making your friends and family aware that you’re starting to run can help keep you accountable and motivated. It can also be a great way to get support from them.
If you’re struggling to stick with running, they may be able to provide some words of encouragement or advice that will help you get back on track.
You might also consider looking for a local amateur running club. Running clubs are a great way to meet other runners and get support and running tips from them, and they are generally welcoming to new runners. The more experienced runners in the group might even be able to give you a few pointers on your running form, to help you become a more efficient runner!
If you’re not quite ready to join a running club just yet, there are less formal community running events such as Parkrun or Runtogether.
These community events are held regularly, and cater for runners of all abilities – so there’s no doubt you’ll be able to find someone to run at the same pace as you.
Check out our overview of how to find local running clubs and facilities.
A run tracker
A run tracker can help you track your progress over time, share your runs with your social communities online, and give you valuable insight into your speed and other metrics during the course of your run.
If you’re looking for a run tracker that doesn’t involve any additional investment, the good news is that there are many free or low cost apps that you can download on your phone.
Some of the most popular phone apps include Strava, Runkeeper, and MapMyRun. Each of these apps has its own unique features, so be sure to explore each one to see which is right for you.
If you want to take your run tracking more seriously, you might consider investing in a fitness watch. These devices usually have built-in GPS, and can track your pace, distance, and other metrics without having to carry your phone with you.
We’ve put together a list of the best sports watches for athletes of all levels.
Learn some dynamic stretches, and cool down techniques
Dynamic stretches are a great way to warm up your muscles before you start running.
They help improve your range of motion and can help with injury prevention.
Some simple dynamic stretches that you can do before running include leg swings, floor sweeps and calf stretches.
We’ve put together a list of our favourite dynamic stretches to warm up your muscles before running.
Cooling down after a run is just as important as warming up before you run.
When you finish your run, take the time to slowly walk or jog for a few minutes to allow your heart rate and breathing to return to their resting state.
This will help prevent dizziness or lightheadedness, and may also help reduce the risk of injury. When you’re done cooling down, be sure to do some static stretches to lengthen your muscles.
A healthy balanced diet
If you’re starting to run to try to lose weight, it’s important to have a healthy diet alongside your exercise routine.
Exercise is an important part of losing weight, but it’s not enough on its own. Your diet is key.
If you’re not eating healthy foods, you’ll struggle to see results with your weight loss efforts no matter how often you run.
Some good examples of healthy foods that are low in calories include fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. These foods will help keep you full while providing the nutrients your body needs.
It’s also important to avoid unhealthy foods high in sugar and saturated fat. These foods can sabotage your weight loss efforts and lead to health problems down the road.
Once you feel ready, consider your first event
Entering a running event can be a great way to stay motivated with your training, and it’s also a lot of fun!
You can sign up to events of all distances, from short fun runs, to 5k or 10k races – or if you’re ambitious and give yourself enough training time, maybe even a half marathon!
No matter your fitness level, or where you are on your running journey, there’s sure to be an event that’s right for you. Do some research online, or ask your local running club to find out what events are happening in your area.
Whatever you choose to do, you’ll want to make sure you’re well prepared. This might mean following a training plan to make sure you’re physically ready to run the distance.
We’ve put together affordable training plans to help runners prepare for their first 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon event.
Our tailored training plans include advice on training, nutrition, and running tips.
We hope that this article has helped give you a better understanding of what it takes to start running, and how to get the most out of your running journey. Be sure to check out our other articles for more helpful tips and advice. And as always – if you have any questions or feedback, please let us know.