A beginner's guide to running

March 3 2021
A beginner's guide to running

A beginner’s guide to running

Longer days and better weather make spring an ideal time of year to start running. Getting started and developing a good running routine is key to making running a lasting and enjoyable sport for you to do alone or with others.

Why we love running?

Running is a free activity which requires very little equipment (though good running shoes are a must). As it’s a weight bearing exercise running can help build healthy bones and strengthen muscles. It improves cardiovascular fitness. As a fat burning exercise it can help maintain a healthy weight. Running also offers mental health benefits, helping to reduce the signs of anxiety and relax.

Where do you start?

Think about how active you are? If you are new to any kind of exercise walking is a great place to start, visit our “Walking is the best exercise” blog to get you started.

If you have been exercising regularly for a while and want to add running to your programme then step this way, we have tips to get you started and advice to keep you on track.

Getting started- the foundations

Your Running Kit: Being comfortable and safe when running is really important, so start with a pair of good running trainers. Many specialist retailers can help find the right shoe for you but as a guide, running shoes should offer support. If you are running mainly on pavements or roads then a more cushioned shoe will provide shock absorption when you run. If you are planning to run off road you will find trail shoes offer better grip and ankle support. Women may need to consider a sports bra which will offer more support than a regular bra.

Once you have the foundations right, leggings or shorts and a t-shirt is all the kit you need to get you started. You may want to invest in specialist running kit as you develop.
If you are running in the dark then make sure you are wearing something reflective so you can be seen by traffic and if you are running alone always let someone know your route and when you expect to be home.

Warm up

Before you hit the road or trail make sure you prepare your body for the run ahead. It’s important to ease in to running as you want to enjoy the experience. Start with a gentle warm up for about 5 minutes. Your warm up could include:

  • Marching on the spot
  • High knees
  • Calf stretches
  • Hamstring stretches
  • Thigh stretches

The NHS has some easy stretches here you can use to get you started and use at the end of your run too.

Ready- Steady -GO!!

Now you are ready to start out on your run! It’s exciting but remember you need to build up slowly. Start your run with a brisk walk and then an easy run, you could aim for walking to one lamppost or tree then run to the next. Your first outing should be no longer than 15 -30 minutes. You are more likely to stick with a routine you enjoy and you can see you are making progress.

Keeping on track and setting a goal

After your first run you will probably feel tired but excited to keep going, at this point you may want to decide on a programme or set a target or goal keep you motivated. Remember to make sure your target is achievable, it’s better to commit to two short runs a week than try to squeeze in a run everyday

Using a running app can help keep monitor your progress and gives you progress updates and advice while you are on your runs. There are many Couch to 5k apps available for mobile phones. The NHS has a free programme you can follow and an app to download that you can find here.

Running with a friend can offer support and encouragement, as you both progress you can motivate each other and set goals together.

Setting a goal like booking a 5k or 10k can be a great motivator and help keep you on track https://findarace.com can help you find runs near you.

Parkruns are a free weekly 5km run at a local park and take place all around the world. You can run, run/walk or walk the route. You can find your nearest parkrun here

Local running clubs are great and often have people at different stages of running from beginner to marathon and triathlon level. In addition, they offer the opportunity to run with others, meet people and make your new hobby more social .

There are many social media groups for runners where you can find support, advice and celebrate with others.


Log your progress and Celebrate!

Every run is a great run, getting out there and doing it, even if it’s just for a few minutes is fantastic for your body and mind. Keeping a log of your running time and miles is a great way to see your progress but also consider how running has improved how you feel. Running is great for mental health and running can offer time to reflect and take a break from the stresses of the day. Noting how you feel after a run can help you recognise the wider benefits of running. Don’t forget to stretch after your run and enjoy it! With so many benefits to this free exercise we hope you enjoy running as much as we do.