person preparing to start a run

How to Start Running: Training for Beginners

If you’re thinking about how to get into running, there’s no better time to start. Running offers incredible health benefits, including lower blood pressure, higher lung capacity and improved mental health.

It’s also totally flexible: no gym memberships, expensive sports equipment or pressure to find teammates. All you need is the open road and a good pair of shoes.

How to train as a runner

You can start training no matter what your experience or fitness levels. For example, you might be worried about how to start running when overweight. Go slow, building yourself up, even if it’s just for five minutes.

A great place to start is to choose a running goal.

Choose your running goal

One of the most important tips on how to start running is to find your motivation. A running goal – be it time, distance or a particular race – will keep you driven. 

Be patient. It’s great to think about how to start training for a marathon, but you’ll need to nail 5K first. Once you’ve hit your first goal, start moving the goalposts. Set yourself a routine such as three runs per week.

How to get started running

Like any sport, running requires practice. You might choose the run-walk method, for example. As you progress, you’ll learn more about the ins and out of your personal fitness and running form.

Whether you use the couch-to-5k method or slowly increase your distance each time, you’ll also discover when running works best for you. The key is to keep it consistent – but you can also make it easier and more enjoyable with these running tips.

Find your ideal running form

Everybody has a different “running form”. Some people lead with the ball of their feet or toes – known as “forefoot strike”. Some land midfoot or neutrally, while others “heel strike”.

Whatever your style, if you’re not experiencing injuries, well done – you’re doing it right!

Try running barefoot on a soft surface and study how your foot lands. You can also try a gait analysis at your local sports shop. 

Pick your running gear

If there is one piece of advice for how to start running, it’s never to race with anything new. Champion Eliud Kipchoge learned this the hard way at the 2015 Berlin Marathon. He took to the race in new shoes. He still won but missed the record due to his soles slipping out.

Have your feet analysed when buying running shoes. This will tell you if your arches are high, low or neutral. Some shoes may be designed for ‘overpronation’ or ‘supination’ (bending inwards or outwards) but always ask a professional.

You may have to cycle through a few pairs. Stick to no more than 500 miles per pair to prevent injury.

You should also trial shorts, sleeves versus bare arms, and running aids like compression socks. 

Do you like to carry water, or can you go with a running belt? Practice makes perfect. 

Choose your running playlist

Music has been proven to elevate mood and endurance – so pick songs you like! 

Generally, tracks between 120 and 140BPM are ideal (think Lady Gaga, J-Lo, Metallica). But if you’re looking for a mood enhancer, you may also enjoy pounding the pavement to your favourite podcasts.

Timing devices

Fitness watches are great for tracking your progress. They vary enormously depending on what you want to track – is it just distance, or are you looking for bodily metrics like heart rate and lung capacity? The Garmin Forerunner 55 is perfect for beginners.

Hydration and nutrition

You are what you eat, so make sure you fuel correctly. Staying hydrated is key, particularly with long distances. As a guide, you should aim for 300-800ml of fluids per hour of exercise. Add isotonic sports drinks to replenish key salts during long races.

The best foods for runners take some trial and error, but generally, complex carbohydrates are ideal. Give yourself at least two hours to digest before a long run, and test foods such as:

  • Bananas
  • Overnight oats
  • Peanut butter

Carbohydrates are essential but you cannot overlook protein. If you’re doing long distances, you may also want to cycle different energy gels.

How to prevent running injuries

The majority of running injuries come from doing too much, too fast. Common complaints for beginners include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures.


A strong warmup and cooldown are essential to prevent running injury. Try dynamic stretches while warming up, such as lunges and leg swings. When cooling down, try hamstring, quadricep and calf stretches. 

You can also add yoga to your routine to improve strength and posture. Remember – if you’re feeling pain, don’t try to run through it!

Go at your own pace

Whether you’re a couch-to-5Ker or a marathoner, every journey starts with a single step. Start slow and listen to your body. 

Before you know it, you’ll be craving that infamous “runner’s high” – and you’ll get it!

Share the excitement!

York-based Katie grew up on fun runs and egg-and-spoon races. It wasn’t until age 27 that she decided to give herself the ultimate challenge: a marathon. After swearing never to do one again, she is now training for her sixth, having raced in York, Richmond and London. When she’s not running, you’ll find her jumping out of planes and seeking similar adrenaline kicks.

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