How To Start Running: 8 Steps For Beginners

So you want to begin running but don’t know where to start? Go to a full length mirror and take a look at yourself. Without realising it, you are standing looking at all the running equipment you’ll ever need.

Running is free, put on some trainers, a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, walk out your door and off you go – right? In theory it should be that easy but unfortunately many of us lack the motivation to get going.

The most important step, is to take that first step. Once you’ve started, you’ll find it hard to stop. Take that first leap of faith and you’ve overcome your biggest hurdle.

Before lacing up your trainers, check out our 8 steps to help you to start running and keep you going.

1. Learn to walk before you run

If you don’t walk very much at the moment, there’s a perfect place to start. Try starting with a 30 minute brisk walk every couple of days. You’ll be surprised at how effective a regular brisk walk can be for burning fat when paired with some healthy eating choices.

Once you’ve got into the swing of walking, begin to mix in some light jogging to your routine. Start small with 30 seconds at a time and alternate with walking in between. You might not be able to run for very long to begin with but that’s fine! Increase your total running time gradually week by week as your fitness improves.

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2. Make running social

Sometimes we need a bit of extra encouragement when we don’t feel like exercising. Grab yourself a mate and go for a run together. Not only will you have someone to motivate you, but you’ll also have someone to laugh, chat and enjoy the experience with.

If you can’t find a friend to join you, take a look at local running groups. A club will be able to offer you friendly support alongside the social aspect. You may even pick up new techniques to perfect your running style.

3. Ride the high

Ever heard of endorphins? Nothing will give you a thrill like the feeling you get after completing a run. Even if you don’t feel great beforehand, push through and enjoy the high you’ll receive after getting yourself moving. Use that good feeling you get to motivate you to run again in the future.

4. Aim for the 15-20 minute marker

Remember the walking and jogging combination we mentioned at the start? Once you can run for the majority of that 30 minute session, you’re probably capable of running for 15 or 20 minutes non-stop.

Well done, that’s quite a landmark! You now have the ability and confidence to take your running to wherever you want it to go. It won’t be long before 15 minutes becomes 30 minutes, then 45 minutes and then an hour. What might have seemed impossible at the start has become very possible all of a sudden.

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5. Improve your skills

Now you’ve got a strong running foundation, it’s time to progress things further. It’s time to focus on improving your speed and working on running with incline. Just like you did with mixing walking and running, slowly start to add in hill intervals or a faster pace. Whether you decide to tackle the two separately or at the same time, it’s completely up to you.

Push yourself to sprint or climb for 30 seconds, then allow yourself to recover at your usual pace/incline for a few minutes before going again. Add up the total time of your intervals and work to gradually increase this as the weeks go by.

6. Threshold training

Threshold training will allow you to run harder for longer. Try running 5k as fast as you can – it hurts doesn’t it. You’ll most likely feel your legs burning as a result of them dealing with the breakdown of lactic acid produced by such a high intensity workout. In fact, running anything over a couple of miles in this way counts as threshold training.

It’s not for everyone, but if you can manage it, threshold training will push your running to a new level. If you want to be able to improve your speed and distance over time, it’s an essential part of hitting those goals by raising your lactate threshold and allowing your body to work harder.

7. Recovery running

Remember to listen to your body – take it easy if you’re injured or hurting, you’ll only make yourself worse by trying to push through. Every few weeks you should reduce your total time or distance by about 25% for the week to allow your body to recover.

Run with no pressure on time or pace and allow yourself to take in your surroundings and clear your headspace. Get the blood flowing through your body, circulating fresh supplies of oxygen and nutrients to the areas that need it.

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8. The long run

You’ve now got the formula to run, challenge yourself and smash your personal goals. The ‘long run’ for you is however long you want it to be. Whether you want to run 5k, 10k or a whole marathon, you’re equipped to go as far as your body will take you.

If you’re training for long distance running, it might not always be a pleasant experience but you’ll enjoy the euphoria you feel when you go the distance. Don’t forget, running is supposed to be fun. Enjoy all of the benefits running gives you whilst feeling your stresses melt away.

This blog was written by Jim Cowdroy, Health & Fitness Advisor.