Running for beginners: an easy-to-follow guide on how to start running

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    Are you sick of the gym and want to try exercising out in the fresh air? Or maybe you’re new to the world of exercising altogether, and want to make a start on running. With our running for beginners guide, we’ll get you started on the road to regular outdoor exercise.

    The best thing about running is that anyone can do it. Even if you get out of breath speed-walking for the bus, our introductory guide will ease you in really gently.

    You’ll see and feel the benefits of jogging within a few weeks and we promise if you stick with it through the running for beginners plan, you’ll be hooked in no time and feel the weight start to drop off.

    The beauty of running is that it’s free, you can step out of your house and start exercising immediately – once you’ve found your pace, you can go with family or friends and gossip as you jog!

    Running is beneficial for your…


    Running regularly can help strengthen bones. Sitting in an office all day weakens our bones, but the resistance they have to endure while we jog helps make them stronger.


    30 mins of cardiovascular exercise a day strengthens the heart which will help you live longer, sleep more soundly and handle stress better.


    Running can burn up to 100 calories per mile and is great for overall weight loss and toning.


    Jogging outside in the sun (hopefully) will get you loads of fresh air and vitamin D, which is good for your skin and health. Even if it’s cloudy or raining, being outside will make you feel great, especially if you have somewhere like a park or a beach nearby as you can enjoy nature as you jog. Plus, it’s scientifically proven to give you endorphins which make you happy – need you any more reason to start our running for beginners plan?

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    What should I wear?

    As a beginner you don’t need to buy any fancy Gortex shorts or vests, just wear something light and comfortable.

    Running trainers:

    It is worth investing in a decent pair of proper running shoes before you begin our running for beginners guide.

    Loads of sports shops can help you choose the right pair by watching the way you run. Some of us have flat feet, others high arches. The correct shoes will help you run comfortably.

    Go to a proper sports shop (not just somewhere that sells football shirts and fashion trainers) and talk to the staff about the surfaces you want to run on as well.


    Three simple rules of stretching:

    • Don’t bounce
    • Stretch gently
    • Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds

    Every time you go for a run, you should do at least these three stretches before and after.

    Groin stretch

    Sit down and bring the bottoms of your feet together. Put your elbows on the inside of your knees and gently lean forward, pushing your knees to the ground.


    Lean against a tree with one leg extended out behind you. Push your back heel to the ground and stretch out the back of your leg. Swap and do the other side.


    Standing on one leg, leaning against a tree if you need to, hold the other leg up behind you, pushing your foot into your bottom, stretching out your thigh muscle. Swap and do the other leg.

    Running for beginners

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    Your head

    …is pretty heavy, so running with it hanging down is going to put unnecessary strain on your neck and your spine. Try to run with a fairly upright posture.

    Your arms

    …are an incredibly important part of your running technique. They help your body propel forward and give you balance.

    Your legs

    Find a stride that feels comfortable for your legs. It’s really worth experimenting with this while you’re out running, as changing your stride as you jog can make your legs feel like they’re being given a bit of a rest every now and then.

    How to prep for the running for beginners guide:

    Start by walking every day. Just 15 minutes at a time to begin with is fine. Once you can walk easily for 30 mins, add 1-2 intervals of light jogging into the session. As time goes on, add extra intervals, and make them last longer.

    If you’re nervous of starting to jog outside, a treadmill in your local gym can offer an easier starting point. This is because you won’t get thrown about by the wind and the running band that pulls the ground from under your feet is usually padded, lessening the impact on your joints.

    It’s normal to feel some discomfort at first, especially as you add distance and increase intensity. However, if you experience pain that causes you to run with a limp or worse, you should stop running immediately as you might have injured yourself. Rest for a few days to give yourself time to recover. If the pain persists, consult your GP.

    Running for beginners

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    Running for beginners guide – week by week:

    WEEK 1 – Run for 15 mins, 3 times a week. Give yourself a rest day in between runs.

    WEEK 2 – Run for 20 mins, 3 times a week. For the first run, include two, 1-min walking breaks. For the second run, include one, 2-min walking break. For the last run of the week, try to run with no breaks. Give yourself a rest day in between runs.

    WEEK 3 – Increase the time to 20 – 30 mins, 3 times a week. Try to reduce walking breaks, but if necessary, allow yourself just one. Challenge yourself and stay positive. Mental discipline plays an important part in helping you stay focused. Give yourself a rest day in between runs.

    WEEK 4 – Now you can run 30 mins straight with no walking breaks! Try this twice a week to begin with, or 3 times if you feel able.

    Remember: You should be able to hold a conversation while you run. Listen to your body and respect its boundaries. Everyone is different. Don’t be afraid to repeat a week if you’re not ready to move

    There are loads of Race For Life events across the country every year. They are 5K and 10K races that raise money for Cancer Research.

    If you fancy signing up, find out how to train sensibly.

    Also, check out our 5k training plan if you fancy taking things a bit further and working towards your own personal goal!

    Half marathon training:

    If you’ve really got into running, you may even want to try and take on a half marathon. Fitness guru Nell McAndrew’s given us all the training advice and tips you’ll need!

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