6 Top Tips on How to Start Running

1. Just Get Started

As a beginner, you can spend so much time thinking about it, browsing the web for tips and weighing up which plan to follow, or you can just get out there and run regularly. The most important thing if you want to learn to run is to establish the habit. Just get used to being on your feet, warming up, stretching and going out for a run.

Forget the idea of reaching a certain distance, and instead, just set a time goal. Our beginner running target for the first week is to get outside for just 10 minutes, three days a week. Eventually, we're aiming to bump that up to 20 minutes to 25 and so on and then to four days a week.

2. Embrace the Run-Walk Method

It’s here, in the beginning, when many new runners fail. You think, “Today, I'm going to start running!” and out the door you go with the best of intentions—but maybe not the best preparation. Four minutes later, everything hurts, and you feel like you are dying. Don’t despair. Running takes time to break into whether you’re fresh off the couch or coming from other sports or fitness activities.

Every able-bodied person can be a runner,” says Gordon Bakoulis, a running coach so always keep that in mind. Just start slowly and build up gradually.

And this is the key.

Most trainers agree that the best way to become a runner is by adopting a run-walk approach.

So with that first 10-minute target in mind, focus on just a few minutes of running, followed by a period of walking. Maybe aim to run for a couple of minutes and walk for one minute—continue to alternate until you reach the time goal, always ending with a walking segment to cool down.

No matter how long you’re going to run for, DON'T push yourself too hard but rather think about reaching a 6 to 7 out of 10 in terms of your exertion level during those run periods, then take it down to 2 or 3 during the walk That means you should still be able to have a conversation during those three-minute run periods. (Who actually runs and talks??)

3. Consider Proper Technique

Treat yourself like a runner—from day one. That means taking time to properly warm up and cool down. A good warmup makes it much easier to get going and keep going. It’s much more than just boosting blood flow to your muscles. Your neuromuscular system, which involves your brain telling your muscles how to contract, gets up to speed. Your body starts churning out fat-burning enzymes, which help your aerobic system work more efficiently. Synovial fluid warms up, which helps lubricate your joints. THIS IS ALL GOOD! But too many beginners skip this step without realising how much easier it makes the whole workout feel.

Cooling down allows your body to gradually adjust from running back to a resting state. Just a few minutes of walking is all you need to let your heart rate return to normal and for your body to clear out any metabolic waste you created during your efforts.

Even (and especially) in the early stages of running, you also want to think about form. Here are a few simple questions you can ask yourselves when you're out:

  • Am I leaning forward through the chest?

  • Are my arms swinging?

  • Is my core engaged?