Man running on the see shore

How to Start Running for Beginners

Updated on 13th February, 2024

Running is a wonderful way to get fitter, boost your mood and enjoy all the wonders of nature. All you need is yourself, some decent footwear, a little determination, and a tasty snack or two for the road!

How to Get into Running

One of the best things about running is how easy it is to get started, even if you haven’t properly stretched your legs since you were a kid. Here are a few tips for getting into the groove.

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Work your way into running

Taking those first few steps can feel daunting, but you don’t have to start sprinting right away. In fact, if you’re brand new to running, why not start with building a few walks into your schedule?

Work your way up from leisurely strolls to brisk walks then, once you’re a couple of weeks in, start mixing short periods of running into your walk. Try running for a minute or two then walking for twice as long, until you feel comfortable with upping your running time.

Start small and scale up

One of the great things about running is the way it can scale up with you as you work to improve your distances and times. At the start, focus on how you feel and don’t worry about how fast you’re going or how far you can manage.

As you get more confident, you might want to start introducing some goals and small challenges. Can you hit a new distance milestone or go a little faster than last week? Celebrate the small victories as they come.

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Find the shoe that fits

While you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to start running, a decent pair of trainers is essential. Running shoes should be supportive and comfortable, so they can cushion and protect your feet from hard pavements or gravel paths.

For your first pair, it’s a great idea to go to a sports shop and ask for advice. Your shoes should fit well without needing a breaking in period and, if your feet tend to roll inwards or outwards when walking or running, you can find shoes that help.

Running for Beginners: Our Top Tips

Make your introduction to running even better, with a few handy hints for getting started.

Stay Hydrated

Make sure you’re hydrated

You may find you don’t feel thirsty on short runs, but it’s always a good idea to stay on top of your water intake. Lots of runners like to make sure they have a bottle of water with them whenever they set out, especially during warm weather.

Drinking every 15-20 minutes while running helps you stay hydrated and having a drink a few hours before a run, as well as one after, helps to keep your fluid levels balanced.

Fuel your runs

When you’re running, you’re expending a lot of energy and it’s important that you keep yourself fueled – especially when you’re planning long runs. Bringing a tasty, protein-packed snack you can eat quickly will mean you’ve got the fuel you need to enjoy your time on the road.

It’s best to avoid big meals to ward off stitches or nausea, but something light and filling is perfect. If you do eat a meal, a good rule of thumb is to wait an hour before doing any exercise.

NHS Running

See if apps work for you

There are loads of great apps out there that are designed to help you do everything from plan your run to track your fitness levels. Have a play around with a few and see if there are any that suit your style.

The NHS Couch to 5K is a great starting point for people who are new to running while the Ordnance Survey Maps app is useful for planning fun routes to follow.

Pick a race to work towards

Some runners need a goal to work towards and picking a race to aim for can be a great way of doing that. There are loads to choose from throughout the UK and they aren’t all marathons!

From charity races to fun runs, there’s something for everyone. Use sites like Run Britain to see what’s coming up in your area.


Experiment with different times of day

The time of day that you head out for a run can make a big difference to the kind of experience you have. It can change everything from the kind of light you’ll be running in to how busy the roads and pathways are. But the most important thing is your own preference.

Don’t feel like you have to get your miles in first thing in the morning if you find waking up hard. Try a lunchtime run instead. Alternatively, set out in the evening as a way to clear your mind after a busy day.

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Get social or enjoy solitude

Running is such a flexible pastime that it suits all sorts of personalities. If you’re a people person, connecting with other runners is sure to help you stay motivated. You’ll find running groups on all major social media platforms, ready to welcome new members.

On the other hand, if you prefer to run alone and clear your head, you don’t need anyone else to help you do it. Choose a soundtrack to keep you motivated or head out headphone-free to connect with nature.

Enjoy all of the fun running has to offer and don’t forget to pack water and some trusty snacks to keep you going–the Great Outdoors is out there, waiting for you to explore.