I'm a beginner

Tips and advice on how to get started on your running journey, for complete beginners. 

I'm a beginner

Starting a new skill, hobby or sport is never easy. Breaking a bad habit is even harder. So, whatever your reason for tying up those running shoes, you are not alone!

1. Health comes first

The health benefits of running are huge, however, if you are starting exercise for the first time, or significantly increasing the intensity, see your doctor first. This is particularly true if you have an underlying health condition.

2. Access support

If running is something you are doing to break an old habit, or to start a new habit - tell someone! Find somebody supportive who can provide you with accountability. Also consider joining a running club or getting a coach.  If you can't identify anyone to support you, record your runs in a notepad. Having to provide evidence on a piece of paper might be just as effective as a nagging friend! 

3. Start easy

Don't build up too fast. A huge part of training is recovery and it's so important to listen to your body. Build up gradually at a rate that works for you. Avoid injury and focus on getting stronger, and importantly - enjoying the process. 

4. Create a plan 

- Use some of the session ideas below and aim for 2-3 sessions each week.

- Try and run at the same time each week to make it part of your routine.

- Increase mileage gradually (i.e. no more than 5-10% each week).

- Plan rest days as well as lower intensity weeks to allow your body to recover.

5. Get good shoes

You don't need much for running, but good shoes are vital. Make sure your shoes fit correctly and offer you good support. If you've never had running shoes before visit your local running shop where you can try the shoes out on a treadmill. Read my guide to buying running shoes here.

6. Warm up!

Always warm up the joints and muscles that you are going to be using. If you're just starting out with running then walking to raise your heart rate and activate your muscles will likely be enough. 

quick tips
SESSION IDEAS

- [5 min gentle walk, 5 min brisk walk] repeated 3 times 

- [4 min walk, 1 min run] repeated 4 times

- 5 min walk, 2 min run, 5 min walk, 3 min run, 5 min walk, 2 min run, 5 min walk 

- 4 min walk, [2 min run, 2 min walk] repeated 4 times, 4 min walk 

- [1 min walk, 3 min run] repeated 6 times

- 5 min walk, 5 min run, 2 min walk, 10 min run, 2 min walk, 15 min run, 5 min walk  

- 3 min walk, [10 min run, 2 min walk] repeat 3 times, 3 min walk 

downloadable resources

Below is a downloadable ten week training plan to provide an example of how to approach running for the first time (Level 1) as well as a more advanced running plan for those that already have a baseline fitness (Level 2). There is also a blank template to try and design your own training plan around work and other commitments you may have. Use the session ideas to do this, and remember to build up slowly.  

Other resources

There's lots of other resources out there to help you start your running journey. A popular one is the NHS Couch to 5k. It has podcasts and an app to help you along the way. I'd also really recommend Parkrun.This is a free weekly 5km and it doesn't matter if you walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate!