How to start running as a beginner and what you’ll need

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If you’re feeling inspired by those who’ve just competed in the London Landmarks Half Marathon, you’re not alone. So, we spoke to some fitness experts to get a beginner’s guide to running

We don’t know about you, but our TikTok feeds are full to the brim with runners and we’re starting to envy those morning views. If you’re interested in taking up the hobby, but aren’t sure where to start, worry not. We’ve spoken to some running pros to find out their tips and tricks for beginners.

How to start running as a beginner

“Start slow,” says running influencer Rachel, otherwise known as @runwithrachel. “Begin with a mix of walking and running to build up your endurance gradually, don’t just jump into it.”

Rachel isn’t just an avid runner, she’s also an England Athletic run leader, dedicated to inspiring others on their running journey. She’s also currently preparing to take on the virtual World United 5k run on 27 April.

Having gone from a non-runner to completing a marathon in only six months, Rachel emphasises the importance of having a couch to 5k plan.

“Having something to aim for is a great incentive,” she explains. “Start with manageable distances and gradually increase them as you feel more comfortable.”

Meanwhile, Jake Dearden, HYROX master trainer, says that new runners must pace themselves.

“If you aim to increase your distance, focus on running at a slower pace. Don’t pressure yourself to run fast,” he explains. “Instead, prioritise building endurance gradually.”


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A post shared by Jake Dearden (@jakedearden_)

How to stay motivated to run

Getting out on that first run is a huge accomplishment, but consistency is key. To keep motivated, Jake recommends joining a run club or organising runs with friends to provide you with accountability.

It’s also imperative to build a weekly schedule, pencilling in slots in your week when you can head out for a run. Nicole Winter, a certified personal trainer, marathon runner and influencer, recommends using a training programme and having a coach to keep you motivated.

“As a part of my programme on Ladder, I’ll prompt my team along the way and suggest when they should take walking breaks during their route,” she says. “This prevents people from taking it too seriously and means they can just enjoy moving their body.”

What not to do when training

When it comes to running, the worst thing you can do is overload yourself early on. It’s easy to become obsessed with beating your PB (and the influence of social media is no help here), but it’s important to stick to your own pace.

“Don’t compare yourself to others,” says Jake. “Leave your ego behind.”

While some people choose to focus on either running or strength training, a combination of both (hybrid training) seems to be the sweet spot for Rachel: “Ignoring strength training is a bad idea. Neglecting exercises to strengthen supporting muscles will lead to imbalances and injuries.”

Read more: I tried Maya Jama’s workout and found myself sweating alongside celebrities

women stretching and muscle training

And when it comes to mistakes, Nicole admits that she’s made plenty, but highlights pace as being the most important thing to focus on.

“I used to try to run as fast as possible for all my runs, which led to burnout and injury. Now, I take 80% of my mileage at a pace that’s two or more minutes slower than my marathon pace.”

 Essential running tips for beginners

This may seem obvious, but investing in a good pair of running shoes is key. There’s nothing that’ll put you off running more than a pair of angry blisters, or an instant injury on your first attempt.

Read more: How to become a marathon runner, according to an expert

woman running with trainers

“Don’t be fooled by the carbon-plated running shoes that you see all over social media,” says Jake. “A pair of quality trainers will do the job.” And if you’re looking for a tailored pair, you can visit a running store that offers gait analysis for a fitting and expert advice on the perfect trainers for you.

Speaking of instant injury, remember to stretch. Stretching before and after a run will help to improve flexibility, reduce tightness and aid in recovery.

And last but not least, Rachel points to hydration as her most important tip: “If you’re new to running, make sure you stay hydrated. A water bottle is a must!”

Essential items for first-time runners

JLab Epic Air Sport ANC True Wireless In-Ear Headphones

If you’ve tried to run with wired earphones, you’ll know how frustrating a feat it can be. A tangled wire combined with a phone held in a sweaty hand makes for mayhem. If you’re seriously considering taking up running for the long-term, investing in a quality pair of earbuds is essential, and JLab is a well-trusted brand in the industry. With three noise control modes and the ability to fine tune the sound, these earbuds can be adjusted to suit your exact preferences. Once the perfect sound is set, it’ll be saved on the app, so that you can head off without having to fumble about. You can also utilise the ‘Be Aware’ audio mode, which allows ambient noise in (when turned on), so that you can hear cars and other important safety noises. £79.99.

New Era Women’s Ponytail 9FORTY Adjustable Cap

This season, New Era has launched a women’s specific cap, designed to accommodate a ponytail (anyone with long hair reading this knows how uncomfortable a cap with a ponytail that doesn’t sit right can be). With this cap, movement will be enhanced, particularly for those with longer hair, allowing you to run comfortably and in style. Available in a variety of colours. £28.

Airoc Women’s Bamboo Breezy Crossback Vest

There’s nothing worse than training in tight, restrictive material that isn’t breathable. Airoc clothing has been tried and tested in the hot Spanish summers, and this is one of their most popular designs. The crossover nature of this vest has been created to ensure maximum cooling during training, preventing overheating and allowing you to run in comfort while still feeling put together. £54.

TLC Medium Compression Leggings

If you prefer leggings over shorts on your runs, we’re with you. These high-waisted leggings from TLC feature two side pockets, large enough to stash your phone, keys or card. If you prefer running without a pouch or backpack, these are the leggings for you. As well as this, the stretchy material ensures full coverage, while its quick-drying material has been designed to keep you cool. £24.

247 Hydration Belt

As a first-time runner, staying hydrated is essential, and this belt has been designed for exactly that. As well as keeping you bottle safely secured, this belt will stay put during your run, so that you can be sure that your movement won’t be impacted. Its six pockets also allow you to carry your keys, phone and other essentials. £69.

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