Keen to start running but not sure where to start?

With over 2 million people reported to run in the UK every week it is one of the most popular forms of exercise but for some of us it is a struggle to know how to begin.

Here we have put together a few pointers on how to do just that. 

The body brain connection 

There are numerous health benefits to running and these are not just physical. So along with an improvement in lung capacity, lower blood pressure, a decrease in body fat, improved cardiovascular fitness and increased flexibility there are mental benefits too.

During exercise your brain releases dopamine and serotonin, otherwise known as the ‘feel good’ chemicals. These improve mood and give a natural high which can minimise the harm caused by stress in our brain. 

What to wear 

Shoes are the most important part of your running gear. If your feet are comfortable then you will be too. Invest in a good pair of trainers – it is worth going to a specialist running shop for advice on the best pair for you. You must always allow your feet time to become used to new shoes so gradually build up the length of time you are in them at first. There is a 10% rule where you increase the time you wear them by 10% of the distance each time you run.

Next, consider your clothes. Although not essential, specialist kit that is breathable will help you to stay comfortable while running and may even motivate you to do more. It is also important to stay safe so reflective fabric or a reflective strip is a good idea for running in the dark.

Women are advised to buy a properly fitting sports bra which will support them correctly.

What to eat

A nutritious healthy balanced diet which includes proteins such as lean meat, eggs and beans is vital to help build muscle and a strong immune system. For energy include carbohydrates and wholegrains and to keep your body working properly you will need vitamins and minerals from your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Find out how to eat healthily whilst exercising

A high protein snack within 30 minutes of your run will restore your energy and allow your muscles to recover more effectively.

Don’t forget to drink

It is vital not to become dehydrated as this can thicken the blood which in turn increases the heart rate and lowers the amount of blood being pumped around the body. Being dehydrated will also make it significantly harder for fat to reach the muscles and convert to fuel. Put simply – if you have not drunk enough water you will not be running at your best and will not get the best out of your run!

It is advised to rehydrate with around 500ml of water 30 minutes after your run too.

How to recognise if you are dehydrated

What next?

You have got your comfortable, supportive trainers and your breathable running outfit, you are ready to start: 

Essential warm-up routine

Never forget to warm up before any exercise as this will prevent injuries and aches and pains. Two minutes of marching on the spot or up and down the stairs is a good habit to get into.

Only got 20 minutes?

If you are busy and only have 20 minutes then give this routine a go:

Start with a 6 minute brisk walk, then a 3 minute light jog, followed by a 2 minute power walk, then a 3 minute medium jog, a 2 minute light walk, 1 minute fast jog, then finish with a 3 minute brisk walk reducing speed as you cool down. Then stretch.

Follow this routine 3 times a week for 2 weeks. In week 3 reduce your walk by 1 minute and increase your jog by 1 minute. In week 4 try to run the whole 20 minutes. After that run the same time but aim to increase your distance.

Remember to breathe 

The best way to train your abdominal muscles and improve your running performance is to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Concentrate on doing this and you will be running more efficiently. 

When is the best time to run?

It is important at first to try and find out what works for you. Are you fresher in the morning or evening? If you run in the morning do you feel tired later in the day? Try different times and observe how your body reacts. 

Keep it interesting

If something is boring then you are less likely to stick at it. Vary your route, perhaps run with a friend as this can be great motivation and having a conversation while you run will test your stamina.

Try recording your personal bests with a fitness tracker – this should also be able to show you new routes.


Along with keeping you interested, music can help you to perform better. You can match the pace of your run to the beat of the song and can help you maintain momentum. Investing in specialist headphones can alleviate that disconnect with the world around you.

Sleep is important

Sleep is essential for good health. Your body rebuilds muscle whilst asleep and so recovers more effectively. A relaxing routine before bed is important so your body gets enough sleep to be able to perform the next day.

 Start slowly and set goals

You should seek advice from a medical professional before starting on a new exercise programme as they will be able to advise you on what sort of exercise you should undertake and how much you should be doing.

They should also help with which goals which are most suited to you. These goals should be manageable and as such should help increase your overall fitness.

How to get on the right track to improve your fitness

All content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated at all as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Silversurfers will not be responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content on and we are also not liable for the content of any external websites or links from or to Silversurfers to any other websites. Please always consult your own doctor if you’re in any way concerned about any aspect of your health

Have you got a health question?

We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a health related question of your own - about your or your family's health, medication or upcoming procedures, for example - you can also access their, "Ask the Expert" service. Available around the clock, 365 days a year this free resource allows you to ask the team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives and pharmacists about any health concerns you may have - whenever you need them, 24 hours a day, every day. Please get in touch now.

Click below to submit your question online.


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AXA PPP healthcare

The more you know about your body and how you can look after it, the healthier you are – and the stronger and bolder you become. That’s why we never stop looking for ways to support your health. We want to give you the tools and knowledge you need to take care of yourself – so you’re ready to face whatever the world brings.

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