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.
So you've decided to sign up for your first half marathon – congratulations! It can be daunting trying to figure out where to start, so we've put together this handy quick guide so that you can get out there and be as ready as possible for the race.
1. Get the gear
Your first port of call should be investing in good quality fitness clothing so that you're not held back by what you're wearing. There's nothing worse than going on a long run and being hindered by running leggings that keep falling down and a running vest that keeps riding up and chafing. What's more, it's key to invest in running gear that is specifically designed for running and features sports technology such as sweat-wicking and multi-way stretch.
Your key pieces of gear should be a waterproof running jacket for running in changeable weather, reliable leggings that won't fall down, and a running top and shorts that wick sweat to keep you cool and comfortable.
If you're looking for high quality affordable running clothing, use exclusive discount code HALFMARATHON for a huge 50% off Sundried.
Once you're fully comfortable in your training outfit, you're ready to move on to step 2.
2. Find a training plan
A lot of people will try to train for a big race by just 'winging' it or making up their own training plan. Unless you are a certified coach, this is not recommended! Without a structured plan, you are far more likely to skip sessions and not do as much training as needed, resulting in a poor performance on race day and less enjoyment of the race.
Make sure you do some research and find a great half marathon training plan that suits your ability level and the amount of time you're able to dedicate to training. We highly recommend checking out Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training plans as he has something for everyone and they are time tested to prove they work. Once you've decided on a training plan, you're ready to move on to step 3.
3. Fit training around your daily routine
There's no point finding an awesome training plan but realising you can't follow it because it doesn't line up with your work and home commitments. For first timers, it's advisable to try and run a minimum of three times a week when training for a half marathon, but four times a week would be optimum and this is what most training plans will call for.
Take some time to figure out when is the best time for you to run. Is it before work, at lunchtime, after work, or at the weekend? You will also need to fit in some cross training sessions in order to bolster your training and improve your performance. Make the effort and make time for your training sessions but don't be unrealistic with your expectations. Getting up at 5am for a run before work sounds effective in theory, but is a different story when it's pitch black outside and you're tired!
Once you've settled on a training plan and training routine, you're ready to move on to step 4.
Read more: Cross Training Workout For Runners
4. Develop a hydration and nutrition strategy
If you have run a 5k or a 10k then chances are you were fine to just run and maybe grab some water from a hydration station on the course. However, the step up to half marathon distance will mean that many people will need a hydration and nutrition strategy in place so that you don't 'hit the wall' and run out of energy resulting in a possible DNF (did not finish).
As with everything, you will need to find what works for you. Some people react well to energy gels while for some it upsets their stomach. In general, it's advisable to try and fuel with 'real food' such as protein balls or other small snacks as these are easier on the stomach and will give better energy boosts. Make sure you practise fuelling while running in your training so that there are no surprises (or gastric disasters!) on race day.
With regards to hydration, figure out how much water you're going to need for the duration of the race. How are you going to carry the water? You can never rely fully on aid stations around the course as you don't know how frequent they'll be or if they'll have water left when you get there. Will you want a hydration bag or will you carry a water bottle in your hand? These are all things you need to decide for yourself and practise to find what works best for you.
Once you've nailed your nutrition and hydration, you're ready for the final step.
5. Train for the course
If you live in a very flat area but the race will include some hills, it's vital that you train for these. You can do this on a treadmill if there are no inclines for you to practise on outside. If the race is off-road or a trail race, make sure you get some practise on these types of terrains.
Additionally, be aware of the time of year of the race. Is it likely to be very hot or very cold? Train accordingly, especially as your hydration and nutrition strategy may need to be adjusted.
Alex is the CEO of Russian running magazine 'Marathon Journal' and has taken on the epic challenge of running 1000 half marathons all over the world. We talk to this running enthusiast about why he's doing it and some of the amazing experiences he's had so far.
What inspired you to run 1000 half marathons?
I love the runner's way of life: travelling, exploring, and meeting new people. I also like to collect the finisher medals, I think they are wonderful reminders of bright and memorable moments in my life. Being among like-minded active people gives me a lot of energy and inspires me and positively affects other parts of my life.
How are you training for this epic adventure?
I usually train 3-4 times a week for 30-50 minutes to be able to run this many half marathons without injury. I am not a professional runner; my main goal is to be healthy and have fun during training and running adventures. I also include basic core exercises to prevent injuries and try different sports like basketball, swimming, skiing, and cycling to train different groups of muscles and not to get bored.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what and when do you eat?
I don't have any special diet, I just try to drink more water, include more vegetables and fruit and avoid junk food. Before I cook something, I always try to remain mindful about whether this food is good for my body or not.
Which has been your favourite race so far and why?
That would have to be my 100th half marathon in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is my fastest half so far (1:19:34). Moreover, my father ran his first half marathon there, so that made the day special and memorable.
How have you found half marathons differ around the world?
I have Russian, European, and Asian halfs in my collection and I'm happy that the quality of running events is getting better every year. Asian events usually start before dawn, from 3 to 5 a.m. to avoid heat. This is very unusual. And the weather there is really hot! You can't achieve the same results as in Europe or Russia, and in general Asian runners are much slower than in Europe.
There's a lot of food provided by the organisers of Asian half marathons after the races. You have a great choice of local meals (sometimes very strange) included into the starting fee, so you can indulge yourself after a hot race.
European events are predictable, but in a good way: you know what to expect and you get it. Most big European events have very beautiful courses and a lot of supporters along the way. I love the architecture, views and ambience on the courses.
Russian organisers pay much more attention not only to the race itself but also to an entertaining program: they provide a show before and after the race including local dancers and singers on stage, so your friends and family will never be bored waiting for you to finish the race.
No matter where I am I prefer small events rather than big ones that gather more than 6-8 thousand runners, because the smaller the race the more welcome you feel. But it doesn't mean I will never advise such events like the Marathon Majors - you may run them once or twice to feel united and be a part of something really great.
How long do you think it will take you to complete this mission? Have you given yourself a time limit?
I think about 20 years! I haven't set any time limits. I want to stay injury-free, relaxed, and take as much pleasure from my challenge as I can.
What has been your greatest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
Running in South-East Asia. The weather there is very hot and humid, almost unbearable for running. It is easier to run a half marathon in -20 than in +30 and high humidity. To beat the heat, I tried to drink more, take cold sponges on refreshment stations, and run slower than usual. But it was still really hard each time; you just can't get used to it. It's also difficult to eat properly before the race, as the starts are very early in the morning, so your body doesn't want to accept any food.
What are your plans for once you have completed this challenge?
2000 half marathons... just kidding! I think I will try something new like triathlon, swimming, or skiing. Time will tell.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of undertaking a similar challenge?
Be consistent and don't hurry. Аnd, of course, do your best to stay injury-free.
You can keep up with Alex's adventure by following his Instagram: @1000halfmarathons
If you're looking to run your first ever 5k, 10k, or half marathon, follow our top tips to beat the nerves and make the most of your day. You never know, it could be the start of something big!
1. Make sure you know all the race information in advance
Usually, race organisers will email you important race information before the big day. Make sure you check your emails regularly and keep an eye on your spam and junk folders.
If you don't receive any emails, keep an eye on the official race website so that you're sure you know all of the important race information before you arrive at the race.
2. Check the race route and elevation profile
There will be many different reasons why you might have chosen this particular race. Maybe it's close to home or you have friends taking part. It's important to bear in mind, however, that it's the route that could make or break your day, especially if you haven't trained for it.
If the course description says it is 'undulating', you should be prepared for a few hills! If you can, check the elevation profile of the course beforehand and make sure you know whether it is all on tarmac and roads or whether it goes off-road and onto trails. Is there a large downhill section that could help you get a PB if you push hard enough? You'll be gutted if you realise afterwards that you were seconds off! So long as you're prepared, you'll have a great time.
3. Arrive in plenty of time
There's nothing worse than arriving late and having to rush to the race start. If the race is done on closed roads, there is a chance the car parking may become compromised and you won't be able to park close to the start of the race. Check the race information beforehand and make sure you know where you can park, if you are travelling by car.
Give yourself plenty of time to use the toilet, warm up, and make your way to the race start. If you need to pick up your race number on the day, allow yourself even more time to do this. Starting the race without stress will make a huge difference to your performance and enjoyment of the experience.
4. Give yourself time to have a comfort break before the race starts
One thing that is for sure at a lot of races, the queues for the portable toilets are epic! It's understandable that you'll want one last comfort break before the race starts, but make sure you join the queue in plenty of time as the race organisers won't wait for you to start the race.
5. Take your own hydration and nutrition
Especially if you've been training with a specific sports drink brand or with particular gels, you should take them with you so that you know you'll have them. While some races do offer aid stations, it's not guaranteed that they'll have what you're used to and it's not guaranteed they'll have enough for everyone.
Avoid disappointment by taking your own water so that you know you'll be well hydrated throughout the race and won't go without if there isn't enough. It will also mean you aren't gasping for water between water stations and you won't be preoccupied the whole time wondering when the next station will be.
6. Don't forget to warm up
Nerves can get the better of you on race day and this can cause you to forget your usual pre-run ritual. Especially if you're in a rush or things aren't going as expected, you could easily forget to warm up, but this could mean disaster and you could get injured.
Take some time to relax and do what you usually do pre-race so that you're in the best condition to run well and finish with a smile on your face.
7. Listen carefully to the race brief
At all good races, there will be a race brief conducted by the Race Director before you set off. There will be important safety information as well as information about the course and aid stations so make sure you listen carefully to anything you need to know.
Being well prepared will hugely affect your enjoyment of the race, so listen carefully to the race brief and don't be afraid to ask any questions if you have them.
8. Stick to your pace
You'll inevitably end up running faster on race day due to adrenaline and chasing other runners, but make sure you don't burn yourself out. Your first ever race will be a crazy experience and you won't know what to expect.
It's natural that you'll end up running much faster than usual, and this will happen at most races, but so long as you don't over-exert yourself, you can use this to your advantage. Try to stick to your planned pace as much as possible, but don't be afraid to push a little harder and maybe even get a PB.
9. Take a change of clothes
Most people plan well for the race but then forget about what will happen afterwards. Even in winter, you will be sweaty and uncomfortable after the race and if you have a long way to drive to get home, you'll want a change of clothes.
It's also a good idea to take a friend or family member with you, not only for support during the race, but so they can help you afterwards. If you pushed hard, you'll be exhausted as well as hungry and thirsty, so your support crew can help you get food and water and can drive you home while you relax in the passenger seat and enjoy a job well done.
10. Enjoy yourself!
This is certainly the most important point. If you adhere to all of the points above, there is no reason why you can't have a very enjoyable race. Being part of an organised race is a fantastic experience and you could well become hooked after your first one. Make sure you remember to enjoy yourself as that is the whole point! If you have prepared well, there is no reason not to.
Running a half marathon is a great challenge to aim for. 13.1 miles is a considerable distance and you will definitely need to train for it. Follow Sundried's training plan to get you to the start line feeling confident and excited about the challenge ahead.
Before You Start
Assess your aches
Where you ache the most can give hints as to how you run, depending on how you stride and how your foot lands will affect where you ache. It's hardly surprising that about 15 percent of all running injuries strike the foot—with each step, our feet absorb a force several times our body weight.
Forefront strikers land on the front of their foot, meaning their calves are under constant tension. Running with too much reliance on the forefoot and toes can cause muscle strain due to the additional work placed on the lower leg. If you are suffering from tight calves, try foam rolling to release tension and try to practice a neutral running stride on your next run, eventually as your muscles strengthen this will ease.
As a heel striker, you’re running technique places more stress on the skeletal frame, which can lead to aching joints and in particular aching heels. To compensate for this running technique if it’s causing you issue, you could try investing in a running shoe designed for those who run with a heel strike, these will have extra support and protection around the heels.
If pain becomes significant, you can try to gradually re-adjust your running technique. Start by trying to land further forward on your foot on shorter distance runs. Where the technique will be unfamiliar, it’s best to stick to shorter distances to avoid injury whilst your body readjusts. You could also try running in a barefoot running shoe, which will encourage you to run with more of a forefront strike naturally.
Half Marathon Training Plan
13.1 miles is a long way to run and puts a lot of strain on your muscles and joints. Depending on how fast or slow you run, you could be spending up to 2 and a half hours on your feet, so you'll definitely need to prepare your body. We recommend you do 4 runs per week, mixing in intervals, tempo runs, and distance runs. Combine the following 4 times per week for 6-12 weeks and you should be ready to tackle the challenge!
Interval runs are important for increasing your speed and agility on the run. They will also increase your lung capacity and heart rate capabilities so that you can improve your fitness and stamina. Your interval session can be anywhere from 20-40 minutes and can be done outside or on a treadmill. Sprint for 30 seconds at maximum effort, then slowly jog or walk for 30 seconds. If you feel like you're not ready to sprint again after only 30 seconds walking/jogging, you should still push yourself to go anyway. This is what will make a change to your fitness and will push your body out of your comfort zone.
Tempo runs are the perfect combination between a longer duration run and an interval session. Your tempo run can be anywhere from 20-40 minutes and should see you pushing at a speed that you can only barely maintain. You should be breathing heavily, unable to hold a conversation, and need to consciously keep pushing the entire time.
We recommend you save your distance runs for the weekend when you have more time. For a half marathon, your long run should be anywhere from 6 miles to around 12 miles in distance. The distance runs train your joints and feet for the strain of pounding the pavement for such a long time and time on your feet is a crucial part of the training process. Try to enjoy these runs, take it easy, and ease into the distances.
Top Tips For Running A Half Marathon
Strengthen the calves with eccentric heel drops. Stand with the balls of your feet on a step. Rise up on both feet. Once up, take your stronger foot off the step and slowly lower back down until your toes are pointing up to the ceiling and your calves are stretched, repeat on the other leg.
Remember to always run safely. This means remaining visible at all times, Sundried’s Ruinette tights feature reflective strip lining to the thighs to enhance visibility and a secure back pocket for valuables. We encourage you to wear high visibility clothing if you are running in low lighting conditions.
Listen to your body. If you are aching or you feel an injury coming on, take some time off until you feel better.