I used to hate running – I just couldn’t do it for longer than about 30 seconds without freaking out about my breathing, but I recently got into it and I’m proud to say I actually enjoy it now!

It can be difficult to get started though, which is why I spoke to Phoebe Thomas from RunningWithUs to get her top tips for people who want to start.

Running can be daunting at first because, on top of the difficulty of getting used to it, there’s the fear of being judged by passers by, but as a coach to all levels of runner – most importantly many ‘newbies’, Phoebe knows this well.

Follow this foolproof guide of Phoebe’s top tips, with some of my own that I’ve picked up along the way, to prevent making those age-old mistakes many new runners have kicked themselves for in the past!

Buy the correct footwear

Investing in a proper pair of running trainers should be a priority. This will make the run more comfortable and it’ll feel easier. Go to a proper running store, explain you’re new to running and ask for a ‘gait analysis’ so that the trainers are properly chosen and fitted to your foot and running style. Good running shops are there to help!

Don’t skimp on workout gear

It’s tempting to just wear some old leggings and a t-shirt – I admit I’ve done it before, but you’ll spend the whole run pulling your leggings up and your t-shirt will get heavy with sweat as you run – nice. Invest in some running kit made of running specific technical fabric. This is vital in making your run more comfortable as it will help to wick the sweat away from the skin, making your clothes feel light and comfortable as they support the correct areas.

Invest in a sports bra

This is essential for all female runners whatever bust size you are. The movement caused in the bust area from the impact of running needs to be reduced and supported. Trust me, you will be grateful for this tip!

Avoid going from zero to hero

Once you’re all kitted out it’s time to focus on the run. As motivated as you may be, running is a high impact sport and must be integrated progressively into your exercise routine. Starting with three times per week or every other day is generally a safe place to start and this can be progressed as the body gets stronger. You might be tempted to start running every day for hours at a time because you think it’ll burn fat quicker, but all that will really happen is you’ll get exhausted and your muscles will be incredibly sore.

Remember – Planning/Patience/Progression

Remember these and apply them to your running at all times! Plan your running – decide on how many times a week, where and when you will run. Also decide on your long term, mid term and short term goals. I find this helps me to keep going. Be patient – improvement will come but it is a progressive process!

Set a goal


Rather than simply going outside and running, set yourself a goal – this will make the whole journey more structured. A brilliant start is a 5k in 8-12 week’s time (depending on your current level of fitness and progression).  Don’t worry about competing – just strive to be the best you can be. Then set small goals along the way so that each week building towards the 5k has small targets and becomes achievable.

Create a training plan

Get yourself a training plan to support this goal. There are many zero to 5k plans out there which begin with incorporating blocks of walking and running until you can finally run a full 5k (check out Runlounge.com). This will make the whole process much more fun, structured and successful!

Invest in a simple stopwatch

You don’t need a massive GPS strapped to your wrist just yet, but a very simple stopwatch which tells you how long you’ve been running for will help when structuring lengths of runs or blocks of running/walking. It will allow you to monitor your improvement…and hopefully give you a boost to keep going when you realise you’re improving.

Plan – Safe, sensible, interesting

Choose routes that are safe, sensible and interesting. Incorporating lots of ‘off road’ tracks such as grass or trails, alongside tarmac running is most desirable as this is kinder to your joints.

Pace yourself!

Phoebe says: “Too many beginners say to me ‘but I can’t even run for a bus’… that’s because when you run for a bus you are usually charging along at full pace hoping it won’t leave you behind.” When starting out with running please learn to ‘run at the speed of chat’ as if Phoebe were next to you and you were able to talk to her. It doesn’t matter how slow this may feel or look, the aim is to build fitness and endurance and complete the run (or run/walk) on the schedule for that day. So please pace yourself!

Be Yourself

There’s a lot of info out there on running technique but initially please simply run naturally and comfortably just remembering these three things – feel tall, light and always aim for a very slight lean forwards. More depth on this area can be explored as you develop as a runner. 

Stretch regularly

woman-stretchingStretch the key muscle groups regularly, and certainly after every run. For example, glutes, (bottom muscles) hamstrings, quads and calf muscles as this will aid prevention of injury and improve recovery. You won’t realise how important this is until you forget to do it one day!

Lastly, Phoebe advised to please remember that most onlookers on streets or in parks are actually thinking “I wish I was brave, motivated or fit enough to do what they are doing”. So please get rid of the fear of judgment immediately and leave that front door confidently!

If you’re looking for more advice, contact Phoebe for running coaching and one to one sessions.

Read more posts about getting started with exercise:

How can you safely achieve your goals?

What should I be doing as a warm up?

It’s OK To Be a Beginner In an Exercise Class

My top 4 abs exercises

Why is HIIT a great way to burn calories?

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