How to Start Running

The best things in life are free, and this one is good for your health, too. Running is one of the most popular exercises, and it’s no surprise as to why. There’s no need to join a gym or pay fees for training or expensive equipment to partake in it, and it can be done anywhere, at any time, on your own or with anyone. It’s physically, socially and mentally beneficial, and is quick and easy to get started.

Whether you’re feeling slightly soft, wanting to feel a little more confident in your barely-there seaside ensemble or simply looking to spend some more time outdoors, put your best foot forward with our beginners guide to getting yourself up and running.

Before You Start

If you’ve been out of action for a while, or never really attempted any energetic outdoor exercise, it might be best to build your fitness levels first with a spot of walking before moving on to running.  Try walking home from work or get off a stop earlier on the bus. Make nipping to the shops a brisk walk or turn your daily dog walk into a more exercise-focused activity. Aim to take a brisk walk 3-4 times a week until you feel ready to pick up the pace and try your hand at some jogging.

Download fitness apps, such as Runkeeper, Endomondo or Nike+ Run Club, which can help you track your runs and progress, as well as showing popular routes in your area. You can also sync up with friends and make it a fun social activity, too. This can help to guilt-trip you into progressing quicker, as you don’t want your friends to be miles ahead of you, figuratively nor literally.

Don’t eat or drink too much before heading out. It’s best to consume something light and high in carbohydrate content beforehand, and leave at least 2 hours between eating and working out. It also might be an idea to stop drinking an hour before to prevent yourself from needing the toilet mid-run.

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How to Motivate Yourself to Start Running?

The best way to motivate yourself is by making a goal you’d like to reach within a certain time. This might be a 5k Race for Life or even a half marathon for the enthusiastic types. It helps to run these for a cause or charity, as you won’t want to let anyone down. It helps to run these for a cause or charity, as that way you won’t want to let anyone down. There are loads of other running events anyone can take part in though – not just fundraisers. These handy running events calendars will give you an idea of the type of things you can get involved in:

  • Find A Race is the UK’s largest list of sporting events, including running, to help you in finding your next challenge
  • Park Run is a series of 5k events that are open to all, free, safe and easy to take part in

Another way to get yourself geared up for a run is by choosing the right kind of music to work out to. Songs that get your toes tapping and make you want to have a boogie are best. You can download pre-made playlists on apps like Spotify, or make your own from a selection of music.

Finally, get over yourself and just do it. No, we’re not stealing the Nike slogan, but they really are onto something. It’s mainly a case of mind over matter: convincing yourself to do it is the hardest bit. The running part is easy, trust us.

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What Do I Need to Start Running?

A pair of trainers is the only essential here – it’s that easy. Humans are designed to run barefoot, but for obvious health and safety reasons, it’s best not to. They don’t have to be fancy, so long as they stay on your feet. Obviously, the better the quality, the easier they will make your run (read: no blisters, great support and bouncy soles).

Women should also consider wearing a sports bra, which is sturdier than a regular one and will provide additional support, prevent injury and make exercise less taxing for your back.

After this, it’s up to you what to wear. You’ll likely be a hot sweaty mess for your first few outings, so breathable and quick-drying materials are best. Cotton stays damp and therefore gets colder quicker and is not ideal for vigorous exercise, especially in cooler climates. Check out our Activewear range for some sports apparel inspiration.

If it’s cold, it’s best to layer-up than wear one bulky jumper. Remember that when you’re cooling down from exercise, body temperature drops rapidly, no matter how hot and bothered you got. It’s recommendable to always carry a top layer with you, tied around your waist when not on your person.

If you use your phone for music, it might be awkward to carry with you. Many runners prefer to use an armband phone holder, which usually have extra pockets for keys or blister plaster storage. When off for a long-distance run or one on a particularly warm day, we suggest carrying a microfiber towel and a water bottle, to keep you going for longer. Why not take a look at our running bum bags for some hands-free help?

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Is It Okay To Run Every Day?

Exercise is a different experience for everyone, but generally, it’s good practise to leave at least 1 day for resting a week. For absolute beginners, we suggest running for 20-30 minutes 2-4 times a week and building it up over time.

If you’re feeling dizzy, overheated, thirsty or have a headache coming on, it’s important to stop and take a break. If this is mid-way through your run, we suggest walking the rest of the way back home, which is an adequate cool-down too.

Before you set off on your run, make sure to stretch as this will stop muscles from being so tight. Bear in mind that after your first few sessions, you will be achy and stiff. This is completely normal and is a sign that your muscle strength and fitness is improving. Stretching before and after a session, as well as drinking plenty of water throughout the day and taking warm or cold showers after exercise, will help.

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Running Essentials Checklist

  • Trainers
  • Playlist
  • Stretch
  • Active-appropriate layers
  • Cool down

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If you’re curious about the best terrain for running,
check out our Treadmill vs. Trail blog post
for more expert guidance and advice.

Written by: Natalie Green