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Beginners Guide to Running – getting started

by Editor
Thursday 8th January 2015

Training feature: If you have decided to give running a go, but don't know where to start, then we have some great pointers for you

Training feature

Health check

Before you start, get the ok from your doctor if you have any concerns at all about starting a new fitness programme. Safety first.

The right kit

Shoes: Running is a simple sport. The most important piece of equipment you should invest in is a pair of well-fitting running shoes. Ideally purchase them from a specialist running store where you will receive advice on which type of running shoe will be the best fit for you.

Clothing: Clothing should be comfortable and allow you to move without restriction. Beware of seams that might rub and choose a performance fabric over plain cotton – it will help to transport sweat from your skin, hence avoid chafing and will also dry quicker and feel lighter…

Accessories: A watch will be a great tool to help you record your training sessions and also to monitor progress. A basic digital sports watch will suffice, though there are plenty of GPS-based watches now available at a reasonable cost from the likes of Garmin, Suunto, Polar, Timex and many others.

Where to train/run?

Running can be a great way to explore your local area. If you are going to train at night, you want to make sure that you are safe / can see, and so stick to areas which are well lit. Don’t feel you have to just run on roads / paths either. Parkland, fields and trails can be great places to train, as well as providing a softer surface to run on.

Don’t run before you can walk

Be honest about your current fitness levels when you get started. If you are unfit, you may need to start your training by getting your body used to walking for extended periods of time before you can start to run. This is absolutely fine! It is much better to walk, or combine walk-run efforts and progress than to try and run, find you can’t do it and then give up! Out dedicated 5km training plans provide a guide on how to use both walking and walk/run in combination to build towards a 5km event.

Pace yourself!

As a general rule of thumb, during training your heart rate should be raised. However, for the majority of your training runs you should still be able to talk. If you are gasping for air and are unable to speak, you are going too fast and you need to slow down or walk!

Once you are comfortable to run continuously for around 30 minutes at a steady pace (i.e. You are still able to talk and you are breathing easily), you can begin to introduce some elements of faster paced running (via short intervals) in to your training.

Training Plan

Following a well thought out training plan will help you to get the best out of your training. Spells of faster running have to be interspersed with easier, steady, running for you to progress. If you always run as hard as you can, for as far as you can, you will almost certainly end up injured or exhausted!  

Check out our 5km training plans to guide you to running success!

Have a goal/target

Becoming a runner is a journey. There are no short cuts and you cannot rush it, but it helps to have a goal. Selecting a target event to work towards will help to keep you motivated and focused.

You can also break up your training by working towards intermediate goals such as being able to run continuously for a certain amount of time, or running a measured distance at a faster pace than before, can be fun challenges to keep your training interesting.

Keep a log of your progress

Keeping a training log or diary to record what training you have done is a great way to keep your training on track and to help you fix any problems you may encounter. Record as much detail as possible about each run (the distance covered and/or the length of time you spent running, the route taken and the shoes worn. Include information on how you felt – did you feel tired or sluggish, or did you feel full of energy? Record any aches and pains too, as this may help in identifying potential injury issues before they become serious).


Unfortunately, most runners will have to deal with an injury at some stage of their running career. Do not try to ignore and run through pain. Rest for a few days and seek medical help if you continue to experience pain when you resume training! Generally an injury will only get worse and take longer to heal if you ignore the early signs! Your training log can help you work out why a problem or injury occurred, so you can avoid it in future.


Rest is an essential part of your training! It is during rest that your body adapts to the training and becomes stronger. The less used to exercise you are, the more important it is to rest between training sessions, letting the body recover and adapt, before you train again. A good training plan will include rest periods and you should not ignore them. Trying to squeeze in an extra training run instead of resting will not make you a better or faster runner but will most likely lead to injury or a decline in your performance.


Following all of the above advice should mean that you

  • have goal to work towards,
  • have a training plan that will help you achieve it and
  • are able to follow the progress you are making through your diary.

You are well on your journey to becoming a runner!

However, some days you may struggle with motivation. Training with others of a similar standard, who are working towards the same goal can be a great motivator.

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