7 running tips for beginners
Running is a fantastic way to improve your fitness and the best part is that you don’t need a gym membership to join in. But there’s no denying it can be tough when you first start, and it’s easy to be intimidated by lycra-clad Olympians when you first venture outside.
Never fear! Our top tips below will help you to get started – and keep up the momentum so that you can make running a part of your overall fitness. Ready to start? Let’s get running.
- Start small
The hardest part of running is getting out for that first one. It’s always so much easier to do nothing – so even just getting there in the first place is a huge victory for mind-over-matter. Don’t forget that the first run can be tough! Start with walking or a light jog if running is too much right away. The important thing is to work within your capabilities and gradually increase the challenge over time. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, or you’re carrying a little extra weight than normal, it’s also a good idea to check with your doctor before you get going.
- Go often
Remember that improving fitness should be a long-term lifestyle goal. Running is great because you can do it anywhere, and you don’t need any equipment besides a good pair of trainers. The best way to build it into your lifestyle and sustain your motivation is to make it habitual. Try committing to running on a certain day of the week, or a certain time of day. Of course, everyone has off-days, but even if you don’t feel like it, try and get out and do at least a short burst or a walk instead: this will help you keep some momentum for when you get your motivation back.
- Set goals
Setting goals is a good way to keep track of your progress. You might set goals for how often you run, your distance or the time it takes you. Start small and keep revising as you improve – just make sure your goals are realistic, as dropping behind on your schedule can negatively impact your motivation. Many fitness watches will track and log run data for you, so you can see how you’re improving. Taking part in free timed runs (such as parkrun) can also help to give you regular statistics on your progress.
- Stay motivated
Many people who make a commitment to get fit find motivation the hardest thing to sustain. Try building in little rewards for yourself when you reach certain goals. A good trick is to treat yourself by buying a new item of running kit or a gadget: you’ll be keen to try it out on your next run. It’s also important to remember not to beat yourself up if you do fall off the wagon. This is perfectly normal, especially with holidays, injuries and family commitments. Just make sure that you do (eventually) get back on it, and to ease yourself back in if you’ve spent a long time away.
- Eat right
It will come as no surprise that most nutritionists recommend a healthy balanced diet for the best running performance. Just remember that your body needs carbohydrates for energy while you’re running, and protein for muscle repair afterwards, so make sure you’re getting enough of these things in your diet. It can also be easy to overindulge when you exercise and you may find your appetite is bigger than usual, so have a good, healthy post-workout meal at the ready. Above all else, make sure you’re drinking enough water to aid your recovery.
- Rest up
Building exercise into your daily routine can help to give you more energy in the long run, however doing too much, too soon can mean you end up feeling tired. Remember to build up your regime gradually, and prioritise rest when you need it. After a while you will naturally learn when you have the most energy for running and will be able to time your runs to get the most out of them. Resting is especially important if you sustain an injury, as muscles will need time to repair and recover. Listen to your body and don’t run through pain if something starts to hurt.
- Sign up
Signing up to a running event can be a great way to fuel your motivation to practice. There are plenty of runs for beginners – including 5k and 10k runs – taking place in hundreds of different locations. Signing up is easy and it can be a great way to stay motivated, as the high-spirited atmosphere is infectious. Ask your family or friends to come and cheer you on, and raise some money for charity if you can – good luck