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.
If you're fairly new to running or you've just stepped up to 10k distance, it can be a big deal to be able to run the full 6.2 miles without taking any walking breaks. We give you all the advice you need so you can smash your next race and even achieve a PB!
1. Don't 'break the seal'
If you're a member of a running club or you have runner friends, you might have heard them talk about 'breaking the seal'. This refers to the fact that once you stop running and walk once, it becomes very difficult to then start running again without taking any further walking breaks. Once you 'break the seal' it's almost impossible to get your rhythm and mojo back and you're doomed to run/walk the rest of the distance.
If you intend to run the full 10k without walking, make sure you don't 'break the seal' as this will make it easier to keep running. If you start to feel tired, you can certainly slow your running pace, just make sure you don't walk!
2. Start as you mean to go on
Don't even entertain the idea of walking from the start. Sometimes we promise ourselves a walking break as a reward after a set number of miles but this then goes back to point number 1 as 'breaking the seal' sets your fate for the rest of the run. If you start the run or race without even thinking about walking or allowing yourself to stop, you are far more likely to succeed. Focus on keeping a steady pace and run slower than you think you need to at first so that you don't over exert yourself too early and end up forced to walk.
3. Keep a steady pace
Especially when in race conditions or when running with others, it can be tempting to set off too fast and this will almost inevitably end up with you having to walk. It's much better to run slower than you think is necessary at the start and gradually speed up than to set off too fast and have to stop.
A negative split refers to doing the second half of a race faster than the first half and it's no bad thing! One racing tactic could be doing the first 5k at a very steady, slow pace and then speeding up for the second 5k. Not only are you less likely to stop and walk, it will motivate you to get a better time and hopefully a PB!
4. Do plenty of hill training
A lot of races these days are designed on flat courses to be beginner-friendly, but that doesn't mean all of your training should be done without elevation. Doing hill training is great form of training as it not only improves your cardiovascular fitness, it also improves your running form as it encourages you to pick up your legs and drive from the hip instead of dragging your legs.
Incorporating at least one hill training session into your weekly run schedule should increase your fitness enough to run the full 10k distance without walking and will also strengthen your legs so that they don't start to ache during the race.
5. Make sure your fitness is up to scratch
It could be said that the main reason many people stop and walk during a 10k is not physical but mental. However, making sure your fitness really is up to scratch so that you can comfortably run the distance is very important too.
Train with someone faster than you who won't let you walk as this will be hugely motivating and will force you out of your comfort zone, which is when you'll make the best progress. You could also take an easy VO2 max test on a treadmill or at the gym to make sure your fitness is improving over the course of your training.
Last weekend, personal trainer and presenter Laura Sheriff took part in one of the toughest 10ks out there, the Total Warrior 10k. We found out how she got on.
How are you feeling after completing the race?
Like a warrior! Ready for the next challenge!
What type of training did you do to prepare for this event?
I actually did very little training because I’m still recovering from shoulder surgery. It was all a little last minute involving HIIT workouts, a few runs, and circuits at the gym.
What was the atmosphere like on race day?
Brilliant! Everyone was game for a great time and there was a real sense of community. Most people who do these races get hooked and do them time and time again.
What was the hardest obstacle you faced?
The ice bucket. You have to drop into a tank filled with ice and put your head under to come out of the other side. It literally takes your breath away!
Laura posing with her other half Craig Phillips, right, who is a well-loved TV personality.
Who was better, you or Craig?
I’d love to say me, but I’d actually say that Craig needed a medal. He had to hoist me over some of the larger obstacles to make sure I didn’t overuse my shoulder. Having said that I would agree that I won hands down in the style stakes.
How did you find racing in the Sundried tights?
At first, I was a little worried how they would fair in the muddy, soaking wet environment. Were they going to stretch and go baggy? But actually, they pretty much kept as perfect a fit as they did when I first put them on! Fashion and performance, what more could a girl want?
Anything you would change if you were to do it all over again?
I’d obviously like my shoulder to be stronger but I’d also like to go for a time.
Running a 10k is a great challenge. At 6.2 miles it’s tougher than a 5k but doesn't require as much effort and stamina as a half marathon or marathon. With the right attitude, training routine, and effort, anyone can run a 10k.
10k Run Training Plan
We recommend you do around 3 runs per week incorporating intervals, tempo, and distance runs. We suggest you save your long run for the weekend when you have more time and energy. Mix and match the following intervals, tempo, and distance training systems over 6-12 weeks and you'll be well on your way to running a great 10k.
For your first run, your intervals are most likely to be between walking and running, however as you get fitter, these will be sprints and jogs. Interval training increases your V02 max, which is your lungs' ability to uptake oxygen and transport it around your body. Increasing this will improve your stamina and help you last the distance.
Warm up: Spend 3-5 minutes warming up. This can be anything from a walk to a light jog. Circle the arms to warm up the shoulders and allow your heart rate to get going.
Intervals: Jog or walk for 2 minutes, run or sprint for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times, lasting a total of 25 minutes. As this is your first run, the intervals are followed by plenty of recovery to allow your heart rate to come back down in between sets.
Cool Down: Walk for 2-3 minutes before completing a minimum of 5 minutes of cool down stretches, you may want to incorporate a foam roller if you suffer from tight calves.
Tempo runs should be comfortably hard. You should be aiming to maintain a tough pace, for 20 minutes. Tempo runs are important as they are a median between intervals and distance training runs. You are pushing your body in the same way as you do for intervals, but not quite as intensely and for a longer duration. By doing this, you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and your body will adapt and change to become fitter and stronger.
Warm up the same as before, then run for 20 minutes at a pace that you can maintain but in which you couldn't hold a conversation and you feel like you want to stop and have to really push to keep going.
Doing one distance run per week will get you used to spending more time on your feet, which is important for training your muscles and joints. For a 10k, your distance run should be anywhere up to about 5 miles. Take your time and run at a comfortable pace, one where you could hold a conversation while running. Try to enjoy this run and keep reminding yourself why you are doing this to stay motivated.
Top Tips For Running
- It’s all about mindset. Break you run down into smaller chunks so that it doesn't feel like a long slog.
- Find a running buddy. If you’ve got someone to try to keep up with, you’ll run that little bit harder. You’re also less likely to cancel if there’s someone to let down.
- Don’t try and run too far on your first go. Ease yourself into the training routine and listen to your body. You'll be amazed at how quickly it becomes easier.
It can be hard to stay motivated when running solo. Cold winters, shin splints, boring playlists... sometimes getting up and out can be the hardest part. So what about joining a running club? Have you ever thought about it? What are the benefits, and are there any drawbacks?
Running alone can be dreadfully lonely, especially on the long winter nights when you find yourself plodding along for 10 miserable miles. But who said running has to be boring? If you join a running club, you'll be among like-minded people who may be training for a specific event or just out for a fun jog with their friends. You'll meet people from your town who you may never have met otherwise, so it's a great opportunity to make friends.
There's been countless times that I've set out for a run but ended up turning back after only a mile or two because it's too cold or I'm too tired or my legs hurt too much. But if you're running with a club, there is much more motivation to keep going. You can chat to your running buddies to keep your mind occupied and you can explore new routes, which will be covered in the next point.
When I run, I'm very guilty of always going the same way, which can get very boring after a while. I'm not very adventurous with my runs because I'm never too sure of where will be safe to run, or if the route will even have pavement the whole way along. I certainly never bother to drive out to a run location; I always start and finish at home. But by joining a running club you will be encouraged to try new routes that you would never have even dreamt of before. The best part is that the distance will already be tried and tested so all you will have to do is turn up and run! You may experience runs through woodlands or off-road for the first time which is a great added bonus.
Safety In Numbers
Running alone, especially in the evening, can feel a little unsafe. Running with a club means you will be a lot safer in all aspects as there will be so many people running alongside you. Traffic is also more likely to stop to let you cross the road if there is a large number of you, so your run will be less interrupted if you are running on busy streets or in a city.
Doors to other events
Before I joined a running club, I never even thought about running a race or joining the local Parkrun. By being a member of a club, you will end up being motivated to train for events such as 10ks and half marathons, which are always more enjoyable when you have comrades to cheer you on. Feeling part of a team is a fantastic feeling.
Choosing the right club
There may well be more than one running club in your town or city, so choosing the right one is fairly important as they are not all the same. In my town for example, we have one club which is free of charge to be a member of and it is very much a relaxed group of people who love to run for fun and eat cake afterwards! There is another club which is on the other end of the spectrum, who take running very seriously, so they motivate each other in a very different way. This club has an annual fee, however being an affiliated club means you get cheaper entry to races so after a while your fee should pay for itself. Run Together has a list of nationwide running clubs, or doing a simple Google search will provide you with local clubs around you.
If you don't feel ready to join a run club just yet, why not try Parkrun? This weekly event is a 5k run held in your local park (you can find your closest Parkrun here) It is a growing community, with hundreds of participants showing up each week at each location! It is completely free of charge and you can be of any ability, many people just walk the course. It's great for those trying to improve their running as it is chip timed so you get an official finish time every time you turn up and run. The atmosphere is incredibly supportive and it will allow you to meet like-minded people from your local area who are all there for the same reason - to get fit and enjoy the process!
So what are you waiting for! Let's get running!