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Women tying her shoe before starting a run

How to start your running journey right here, right now

Everyone’s running these days. Instagram feeds are full of screenshots of speedy 5Ks and your local park seems to be a hotbed of olympic athletes. We love. But, we understand that if you haven’t started your running journey yet it can be pretty intimidating. 

The great thing about running is that there are no rules. You can go at your own pace and set your own goals. Some people run with the aim of completing a marathon, whereas others run simply to get some fresh air. No running journey is the same, and that’s what makes running so special. So, if you’re wondering how to start running, then there are a few things you should know.

Why start running?

If you’re unsure whether or not to start running, then it always helps to take a look at the benefits. There’s a simple reason running is so popular: it’s really good for you. Running regularly can improve your: 

  • Strength
  • Weight
  • General health
  • Mood

Running is a weight bearing exercise, which means it’s great for your bones. It also builds endurance in your muscles, helping to strengthen, define and prevent injuries. And, running is popular among those looking to regulate their weight, as it’s high intensity cardio which burns plenty of calories. 

Those who run regularly also tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to get certain diseases such as strokes and heart attacks. That said, my favourite thing about running is the endorphins. I find that doing three runs a week vastly boosts my mood, helps me to stay positive, and gives me thought clarity.

Types of running

Whether you’re serious about running or just giving it a go, it’s useful to know that there are different types. Most are quite self explanatory, but let’s check them out in more detail. 

  • Treadmill running: Treadmill running is great for rainy days. It uses the same technique as any other kind, and being able to adjust the incline and speed quickly makes it ideal for high intensity race day training.
  • Road running: road running is probably the most popular type, especially for runners based in cities. You can go straight from your front door and the ground is nice and even – but the hard impact can be tougher on your legs.
  • Trail running: trail running takes place in the countryside, and can combine hiking when the terrain gets uneven. People love it because it’s quiet, scenic – and often unpredictable. 
  • Track running: running on a track is best suited to those who enjoy competition. The aim is to be as fast as possible and beat your opponents.
  • Fell running: fell running is one of the least common types of running. Taking place in the mountains, it’s best suited to adventurous types who aren’t afraid of hills. Be prepared to read a compass and feel a serious calf burn.

What do I need?

Unlike a pricey gym membership, you don’t need to splash the cash to be a good runner. There’s really only one thing you need to spend money on when it comes to running: trainers.

Running shoes are important because they affect your performance. With the right pair of running socks, your trainers should cushion your feet, offer arch support and prevent injuries. So, before you start running, it’s important to do your research and find a pair that will serve you well. A gait analysis will help.

And, if you’re serious about running, you might also want to invest in the following:

  • A waterproof running jacket
  • Winter running wear such as a gilet, base layers and thermal running tights
  • Summer running gear such as a cap and sunglasses
  • A running water bottle 
  • A fitness tracker
  • Mid-run snacks and refreshments like jelly beans and sports drinks

How to run

You’re probably thinking: isn’t running just putting one foot in front of the other? And yes, the act of running is quite simple. There isn’t much you need to know other than to look ahead, keep your shoulders down, engage your core and try not to bounce. More advanced runners also like to focus on their cadence (the total number of steps they take per minute). 

But, while the actual act of running is pretty simple, being good at running isn’t. It takes physical and mental strength to be able to run for long periods of time without giving up. So how do you do it?

It’s simple: start slowly. Take your time and begin with a combination of running and walking. You can also try running with a friend and chatting as you move, as this will set you out on a comfortable pace. Couch to 5K and other training programmes are also popular. 

Once you’re running regularly – no matter the pace – you can support your journey in other areas of your life. Strength training will help develop the muscles you need to run faster and longer, while regularly getting a good night’s sleep will give you plenty of energy. And, a healthy and nutritious diet will give your body the fuel it needs.

The most important lesson when you’re wondering how to start running is to not be too hard on yourself. Sometimes, I really don’t want to go for a run. It can take me hours to pluck up the courage to get out – and once I do I might give up after a mile. But, even on those days, I pat myself on the back for giving it a good go. The journey isn’t always linear – but it’s always worth it. 

Once you’ve started running, then a 5k running event provides a great first test. We’ve got comprehensive coverage of all the UK’s best 5k running events, which can be filtered to fit your needs.

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Briony is a writer currently living in London. While she spends a lot of time hunched over a desk trying to craft sentences, her other passion is running. She enjoys setting her own goals and is currently training for her second half marathon.

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