5 Tips for Running Beginners

Running is one of the simplest sports in principle: all you really need is a pair of shoes and an idea. And yet, it represents something different for everyone. For some it means racing around a track, or finishing marathons. Others go for meandering on trails, or a recreational run around town. But for many people today, running represents the opportunity to get outside, clear the head, and stay active.

Coming off the excitement of the London Marathon, the air is filled with inspiration and the desire to lace up those running shoes and hit the pavement. Whether you were cheering from the sidelines or caught the marathon bug from the comfort of your living room, now might be the perfect time to start your own running journey.

Running has a very low barrier to entry. But it can be a tricky activity to get the hang of, and this can so easily lead to wavering confidence and ultimately dropping out of the activity. So before you lace up, here are some tips to help you stay motivated, strong, and injury-free if you’re just starting out running.

running tips

1. Remember Your Why

Everyone who laces up for a run has their own personal reasons for "why": it could be to get healthier, as part of a cross training plan for other activities, or they've seen the craze of running clubs take over their city and they want in on the fun. Remember your why and let it motivate you. There are some clear physical and mental health benefits to why running is a great activity to take up, so let's take a look.

Aerobic exercise is often hailed by doctors as being good for the heart, as it helps to efficiently pump blood through the body, and also aids in lowering blood pressure. It can help regulate weight, and by some studies, even benefit the immune system. Running also develops cardio endurance and resilience. And while there are several physical benefits to running, it can also have a profound effect on one’s mental health.

Exercise is an agent of endorphins and serotonin, or happy chemicals, which we could probably use more of these days. Although you may not get that elusive “runners high” right away, you can feel good about getting active and trying something new. Interestingly, running can have similar effects to the brain as meditating. Neurological studies have shown that running improves mental faculties that block out distraction and improve our ability to process information. In many ways, running is a kind of mindful movement meditation.

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2. Start off Slow

Don’t set any expectations for your first run. So often new runners will set off on a run too fast, and will be completely burnt out after five minutes, not to mention deflated because things hadn’t gone to plan. Overexertion is not only frustrating, but it leads to injury. Instead, try these tips to help you get off on the right foot:

  1. Aim for distance or elapsed time, not pace.
  2. Use familiar landmarks in your locale to help map your distance
  3. Don’t be afraid to stop and walk now and then; try 5 minutes on 1 minute walking.

As you continue to run more regularly, you’ll develop endurance to carry you through your runs. Your perceived effort (how hard it feels like you’re working) will lower, and eventually you’ll have the stamina to whizz passed your early milestones.

3. Have Good Running Form

Running can be a technically challenging sport. The upright technique may feel unnatural, but it’s important to practise this coordination in order to perform efficiently and stay injury-free. There’s no need to make your run harder by wasting energy through poor form. As the children’s rhyme goes, running technique can be checked by adjusting your head, shoulders, knees, and toes. Here’s a running form checklist:

  • Head: keep your head up, eyes on the horizon. Make sure your head isn’t in front of your body; your neck should be in line with your shoulders
  • Shoulders: pull your shoulders back as if you’re holding a pencil between your shoulder blades
  • Chest: prop your chest forward, imagining a helium balloon is pulling you up by your sternum. This helps open up your airways when the going gets tough.
  • Arms: as you propel yourself forward, keep your elbows at your sides at a 90-degree angle. If your arms cross the body, that means you’re wasting energy moving side to side. Imagine you are trying to elbow someone behind you for not social distancing!
  • Core: engage your core to protect your back. This helps prevent a slouching, and brings more power to each movement.
  • Knees: knees should be in line with the center of your foot as it hits the ground. If you’re getting tired during your run, concentrate on driving your knees up (the feet will follow in line).
  • Feet: run on the balls of your feet. Using a forefoot or heel strike will set you up for injury down the line.


4. Invest in Kit

As a new runner, it’s important to have kit that will perform with you in your new sport. Now that’s not to say you need to splurge on the latest world record breaking shoe. But having quality running trainers to protect you from injury. A high impact sports bra is a must, and sweat-wicking apparel will go a long way.

5. Join a Run Club

It seems like everyone and their sister is either in a run club or knows someone in a run club these days. And with good reason! These groups are often so much more than the act of running itself. Having a safe space to meet new people and build up your running routine is hugely helpful for accountability and morale along the way.

Wherever you are in the world, there is almost certainly a run club near you. If you’re based in London, our official TSE endorsement goes to Midnight Runners. They have multiple events during the week, their most popular being an 8 kilometre bootcamp run with music. “What is a bootcamp run?”, you might ask.

The 8km route is broken up into bite size segments by including four exercise stops. This allows speedier runners to get to a stop first and begin an exercise, while others have time to regroup. Then, everyone sets off together. It’s a great way to make running more approachable, social, and keep a fun-first attitude.

The Takeaway!

With all that’s going on in the world, there’s never been a better time to look out for your physical and mental health. Running is a great way to stay active and explore your area. If you’re finding it a little challenging to start, why not grab someone in your household and try these running tips for beginners together.