Is your New Year's Resolution to finally get into running? It can be difficult to know where to start. We're here with all the information you need to start running when you are a complete beginner or have never run before.
Get the right gear
When getting into running or any physical pursuit, your first port of call should be getting the right gear so that you can succeed and are not held back by what you're wearing. You will soon find with running that you need some specialist gear because running is not like walking and can cause chafing and other discomfort if you're not dressed properly.
For ladies, you will need a well-fitting sports bra that gives adequate support without chafing. Check out our guide on how to choose the best sports bra so that you can find the perfect fit for you as there are lots of different styles on the market. Also for women, you will want to find hair ties (hair bands) that do not slip out of your hair when you're bouncing along the road.
Your running leggings also need to fit well so that they don't slip down or ride up as you move. Read our guide to buying women's running leggings so that you can find the perfect pair for you. Men can wear running leggings for men, either under shorts or on their own, to give added protection and support.
Finally, make sure you're running in the right shoes. Our guide to buying running shoes will give you all the information you need so that you can find the best pair of running shoes to suit your needs. You can get seriously injured if you're running in unsuitable shoes so make sure you spend time doing your research and invest in a great pair of shoes – your running success depends on it!
Once you're kitted out and wearing your awesome new running clothing, all you have to do is get out there and get running! You could start by just running around the block or running around your local park. No matter how much or little you do, just get started and the rest will come.
The biggest mistake a lot of people make when getting into any type of physical activity as a beginner is expecting too much, pushing yourself too hard, and inevitably burning out or getting injured and then becoming disheartened and giving up. It's very important to start slowly, especially if you're overweight or have never run before.
If you can only jog for a few metres before you need to walk, go ahead and walk. Take it slowly and build up your stamina – that's why they call it 'training' after all. You'll never be perfect first time, so try to enjoy yourself, be proud of whatever you manage, and then make sure you do a little bit more next time.
It's crucial that you are consistent because otherwise you will never see results and you will want to give up. Set yourself a weekly goal of how many times you're going to run each week and make sure you stick to it. You will probably be quite achy at first as your muscles get used to the new stresses and strains of running, so make sure you give yourself plenty of rest and don't expect to run every consecutive day.
Aim to run 3 or 4 times a week consistently and you should start to see results very soon. It's also important to set goals, such as " I will run to the post box without stopping by this weekend" or "I will run all the way around the park without stopping in 6 weeks". This gives you something tangible and quantitative to aim for so that you can tell if you're making progress. Make sure you're realistic so that it's not too tough or makes you want to give up, you can't expect to run a 5k within a month of first starting, for example. Take it easy and enjoy the process!
Don't compare yourself to others
This is a really key point and could make or break your enjoyment of running. If you have never run before in your life and are fairly overweight, you are not going to be able to keep up with someone who has been running for years or your friend who is much lighter than you are. Running is objectively harder when you are heavy and so even if your slim friend claims to be unfit, they will still find it easier than you.
Additionally, everyone is built differently with different physiology and this could really impact how easy you find running. You might have flat feet or wide hips so you will need to work hard on your running form. As running is a natural human instinct, we tend to just start without thinking about what we're doing. But modern humans sometimes don't run in the right way and so it's important to make sure your form is good so that you don't get injured.
Set yourself realistic goals and only ever compare yourself to those goals, not anyone else. That way, you will stay motivated and can enjoy making progress without worrying about what other people are doing. A big tip is not to fall into the trap of constantly checking out other runners on social media, as this is an easy way to get disheartened. Making a social media account could be a good way of staying motivated and tracking your progress, but don't get too obsessed with it or the other people you see on there.
Measure your progress
As mentioned above, it's important to set realistic, achievable goals with a time frame so that you can measure your progress. Additional to this, you may also want to invest in a running watch or fitness tracker so that you can start to measure your pace, the distance you're running, and check how long you're out there for. It can really help with motivation to know how fast you're running or how far you've gone, especially so that you know how to beat it next time.
For a complete beginner, you can expect to run somewhere around 11 or 12 minute miles. 11:00 per mile is roughly 6:50 per km. This would translate to completing a 5k run in about 34 minutes. You could set a goal to run for 30 seconds, then walk for 1 minute, then run for another 30 seconds, and keep repeating this for 5 minutes. Little challenges like this will keep you motivated as well as improving your fitness and stamina.
Get your hydration and nutrition in check
Once you've started running regularly, you will need to make sure you're staying hydrated and keeping your nutrition in check. Make sure you're eating plenty of protein to help your muscles recover and keep you strong. It's also important to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to keep your immune system strong and to help you recover well after your training sessions.
A big mistake some people make is not eating after going running. Especially if you run in the evenings, it can be tempting to just go to bed without eating anything, but this is one of the worst things you can do. After exercising, you need to replenish the nutrients you have lost and to feed your body so that it can recover. Always eat something after you've gone running, even if it's just a banana. This will really help the recovery process and will stop you feeling really awful after a run. The better you feel after each run, the more motivated you'll be!
That said, don't fall into the trap of overeating because of your newfound exercise regime. If you're a little overweight, starting running could be a great way to lose weight and get fit, so don't use it as an excuse to overeat. Eat healthy foods like lean meat and poultry, nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables, and you'll be on the road to success.
Join a running club or try Parkrun
Once you're feeling a little more confident in your running or you've been running for a while, you could try joining a local running club or taking part in your local Parkrun. There are lots of benefits of joining a running club such as discovering new routes and making new friends. If you're new to running, running with a club could also help you pace yourself better and push you to run further than you have before.
Not all running clubs charge their members, especially if they are just a relaxed, friendly group. You don't have to be great at running to join a club and people in running clubs are often very helpful and motivating.
Parkrun is something that happens every Saturday across the UK and is a 5k run in your local park, starting at 9am. There are different Parkruns all across the country so you can simply go online and find your nearest, chances are it'll be very close! Each week, anywhere between 100 and 300 people will turn up to the park and take part in this timed run which is on the same route every week. Once you sign up (it's free!) you will be given a barcode which acts as your personal chip timer. When you finish the run, volunteers will scan your barcode and you'll be texted your official time.
There are people of every ability at Parkrun so even if you can't run 5k without stopping, you won't stand out and you won't necessarily finish last. Some people walk the entire route.
Running with others is a great way to get used to running in organised races and it can be very motivating to have people running around you. It could even spur you to run faster than usual!
Enter a race
A great way to celebrate your new found love of running is to enter a race. There are thousands of races all around the world ranging from 5k through to marathon and ultra marathon. There will also be like-minded people taking part and even if you're super slow, you won't get left behind or left out. Entering a race can give you great motivation to keep getting out there and improving on your running.