Running for beginners: from how to start, to what to wear, and the tech to track your progress
If you want to get fit this new year then running is a fantastic, inexpensive form of exercise - here is your starter guide
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Running can reduce your risk of long-term illness, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, according to the NHS. It also burns more calories than any other form of mainstream exercise, so the great news is it can help you to get fit quicker than any other form of exercise too. You’ll also find that running on a regular basis helps you to lose weight, or keep your weight stable.
On top of that, it’s been proven to boost your mood which means a run will leave you feeling uplifted.
How do I start running?
The brilliant thing about running is that after an initial outlay, it’s free, meaning anyone can do it, anywhere, at any time. All you really need to get started is a good pair of supportive running shoes, the right running gear for the weather, and the will to actually get out there and run.
We’ve rounded up the best men’s running shoes and the best women’s running shoes, so you can be ready to hit that pavement with the support your feet and joints need.
If you’ve never been running before it can feel a little daunting, so it’s best for you to start slowly and gradually build up your speed and distance as you get more comfortable.
How do I get the best out of my runs?
Before you start running you should warm up first to avoid injury, according to NHS advice.
You could have a quick walk, march on the spot, lift your knees, side step or climb the stairs for around five minutes to warm up your limbs before you start. During your first few runs, as your body gets used to the pace of the exercise, you may find it necessary to alternate between running and walking.
It’s a good idea to start with shorter distances too, and then increase the distance that you run over time as your body adapts. A popular goal for first time runners is to reach 5k.
The best thing for beginner runners is also to run regularly, so it’s advisable to go running twice a week, every week.
Once you have completed your run it’s also important to cool down by doing a few stretches.
What products can help me to run better?
There are a range of products that can help you get more out of your runs. We’ve rounded them up below.
How else can I get fit and healthy?
For even more ways to get fit this January - and beyond - check out our guides to the best indoor exercise bikes and also the best home gym equipment - perhaps for the days when the British weather won’t allow for you to get out and run.
For some tasty, healthy recipes to compliment your new fitness regime give recipes from one of these best vegan cookbooks a try.
Key specs – Weight: 245g; Size range: 3-9; Colour options: black, aqua, lavender Waterproof: No
The Cloudultras feel as comfy and cushiony to wear as they look – if you find most trail trainers unpleasantly stiff and solid, you’ll love this design, which really is as cloud-like as the name suggests thanks to a thick insole and wide outer sole.
These work together to feel bouncy and light underfoot as you run, and deep lugs are designed to stay mud and rock-free while still gripping the ground, so you can go far without any slips or trips.
Working on tarmac as well as off, this is a good trail shoe if you like to mix up off-road with road running.
These shoes run small, so try a half-size up.
Best for: wet weather
The Moab is a long-standing walking shoe for Merrell that performs well in the modern era.
Comfortable, padded and stable in wet weather and unsettled terrain, as the name suggests this shoe also focuses on speed and traction on difficult surfaces.
Happily it performs well - we’d recommend this as a really good option for a good everyday shoe equally happy on the trail as it is around the home or in the city.
When you’re running in the winter, it’s important to keep warm.
This warm, breathable jacket will do just that, but thanks to its efficient air vents under the arms it will also give you the circulation you need so you don’t just end up feeling sticky.
Two zip pockets also allow you to carrying your belongings, be that your phone so you can listen to music to motivate yourself or your house keys - so it’s functional too.
Available in black (pictured), dark blue and black olive.
This men’s zipped hoodie sweatshirt is warm thanks to its fabric and breathable thanks to its different air vents.
It will quickly become a staple for your running outings, especially as it has an arm pocket that is suitable for carrying everything you need while you’re out such as your phone.
Available in carbon grey (pictured) or brick red.
These tights have been designed to keep you comfortable and warm while you run.
There are areas of ventilation, however, will keep you cool when your run heats up so it’s warmth in and sweat out.
Better yet, they are currently on sale so there’s never been a better time to invest in this high quality piece of clothing.
These opaque leggings are not only practical, but they’re also form-fitting and will flatter your figure.
Available in 18 different colours and patterns, so you can choose a pair that matches your taste - after all, if you like the clothes that you are running in you’re much more likely to want to put them on and actually get out there and run.
Ladies, you’re going to need some proper support before you start running so you can feel as comfortable as possible.
It has smooth fabric that reduces chafing, and mesh adds ventilation while speedwick helps keep you dry.
You can also wear it with or without the pads to suit your needs and an ultra-stretchy band makes it easy to pull on and off before and after exercise.
You are likely to find that, especially as a first time runner, listening to your favourite music while you’re out there will help to keep you going and run that extra half a mile.
These noise cancelling earphones are ideal because they will block out all of the general noise of life so you can focus on you and your run.
They’re also water and sweat resistant and offer up to ten hours of battery life.
Available in black and white.
The latest Versa smartwatch has a beautiful display, built in GPS, heart rate tracking, an active minute monitor, female health tracking and sleep tracking - among other fantastic features.
While you’re at for your run, it will tell you how many steps you have taken, how fast your heart rate is and how far you have travelled.
On top of that, use your voice with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa Built-in to check the weather, set reminders, control smart home appliances and more - all using the device on your wrist.
The battery life can last for many days, depending on use, but the charge time is just a few minutes.
Available in four different colours, including midnight and soft gold (pictured), pink clay and soft gold and black.