The fitness expert’s guide to running for beginners

Elle Running

The fitness expert’s guide to running for beginners

I’m going to start by stating – I love running! Anyone who follows me and my work (see @ellelinton on Instagram) will already know that. Not only is it a fun cardiovascular activity to try if you want to improve your fitness, but it also helps to strengthen your bones and keep your joints supple and boosts your mental wellbeing. Once you get the hang of it, it begins to feel like a form of self-care, too. And you don’t need to sign up for a 12-month gym membership to get started.

If you’ve always wanted to give running a go, I’d really encourage you to take the plunge – you won’t regret it. To motivate you to get moving, I’m sharing the best running tips I’ve picked up along my fitness journey that are ideal for beginners.

Buy the right kind of running shoes

First up, get yourself a pair of running-specific shoes that can support your feet. They don’t have to be expensive, but they do need to be designed specifically for runners, so you can get the most out of your workout.

Look for a design with a curved sole (as opposed to flat-soled trainers, which can be better for weight training or HIIT exercises) that’s relatively lightweight. Do some research before you head to the shops, and check out brands that make trainers for running and athletics.

Kit yourself out in running-appropriate activewear

woman running through park on sunny day

If you’re getting the right shoes, you should get all the right kit! When you’re running, it’s a good idea to wear fabrics that repel moisture and ‘wick’ sweat away from your skin, so that you stay cool and dry. If it gets cold, you can add extra layers, then take them off towards the end of your workout if you get too hot.

Top tip: Ensure you’re prepared for outdoor runs with our guide to exercising in the colder weather.

Follow a beginner-friendly plan

woman stretching before starting a run

Like any skill, running takes time to perfect, and following a beginner-friendly plan to help you get started is an easy way to build your confidence and fitness levels. Apps such as NHS Couch to 5K can help you establish a routine, improve your running ability and prevent injury.

Top tip: Want to try a five-minute mobility workout to get started? See Elle’s no-equipment routine here.

Be easy on yourself to get started

I’m frequently asked, “How far should you run for the first time?” The golden rule is to not do too much too soon, as you need to gauge how your body feels and determine your natural pace before committing to any strict numbers. Once you’ve reached that point, try to increase your distance by no more than 10% each week. So, if you walk three miles the first week, the most you should do the next week is three miles plus 10%.

Top Tip: Keep your joint health game strong while running with our Montmorency Cherry & Turmeric Complex

Track your running data

Fitness watches are great tools you can use to track your distance and pace when you’re starting out. I think it’s really motivating to see those numbers improve as you develop your running skills – that sense of achievement you’ll feel when you reach your goals will only push you to do more.

Get involved in a running community

three women running together through a park

One easy way to immerse yourself in the running world is to get involved in a running community. You’ll be able to connect with seasoned runners or meet people at your level, who you can chat to about your progress and get useful tips. If it’s Covid-safe, you could get really sociable and join a running club of like-minded people. If you like this social style of running, try to find a fitness accountability buddy – someone to run alongside, who you know will be calling you to get out of bed if you don’t make it to the track on time.

Fuel your run through food

What you eat can help you get the energy you need for running. A good combination of protein, carbs and healthy fats should give you enough energy to get through your workout. I suggest you eat two hours before your run to give your body enough time to digest the food. And, after your workout, opt for a light snack such as a protein shake or Greek yoghurt with fruit.

But remember that every runner is different and what works for one might not suit another. So, make sure you listen to your body and take the time to learn what meals and snacks fuel yours the best.

Top tip: Fuel your entire day ahead with these healthy winter breakfast ideas.

Make safety a priority

It’s always important to be aware of your safety when running. You can help ensure this by planning your route and selecting busy and well-known areas, such as looping around where you live, for example. Sharing your location and route with a friend or family member can also give greater peace of mind: check out Strava and Garmin apps, which always display your current location.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Couple stretching before a workout

Running should be enjoyable. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a day or two – if you’re not feeling it, don’t force it. To get yourself excited about running again, try making mood-boosting playlists or listening to running-focused podcasts. Hopefully, this will help you get back into the swing of things.

Read more from Elle and Nature’s Truth Expert health and fitness panel here.

Elle Linton

Elle Linton

Fitness Instructor

A Certified Fitness Instructor and Entrepreneur, Elle Linton – founder of the keep it simpElle community and blog – is on a mission to show us how powerful our bodies are and what they can achieve through fun physical movement that is rewarding and beneficial to all. With incredible expertise in cycling, running and more, she’ll be sharing her best exercise tips and tricks, so you can feel empowered to start or rekindle your fitness journey and up your physical wellbeing game.