How to start running... Mara's checklist
14 May 2014
Want to know how to start running? Run England is here to help! We've teamed up with former Team GB marathon runner Mara Yamauchi to offer Be Inspired readers an expert checklist to help you get started!
Summer is just about here... and that means there couldn’t be a better time to try out running. The days are getting longer, the weather’s warming up and our wonderful parks and open spaces are bursting with life. If you’re thinking of giving running a go, then now is the time to do it. Ready? Then let’s go!
“But hang on a minute”... I hear you say. “I’ve never run before, where do I start?” If you’re not sure how to take your first steps into running, here is a simple checklist of tips that will help you to get going.
- Shoes: running is a very simple form of exercise, but one thing you do need is a decent pair of trainers. A specialist running shop, such as Sweatshop, is the best place for this, rather than a regular sports shop.
- Keep it simple: the amount of information available about running on the internet and elsewhere is huge. This can be bewildering and overwhelming. But don’t be put off. My advice is to think about what is really essential for you to get started. Shoes and suitable clothing are all you really need to get going.
- Where? The UK is blessed with terrific parks, woodland, and other natural environments, many of which are ideal for running. The surface will be softer underfoot than a tarmac road, the air will be cleaner, and you can enjoy the wonders of nature while you run. So try one of these for your first few runs. I guarantee it will be more enjoyable!
- Start with a small amount: the marathon is so popular now that many people think they have to do the marathon if they take up running. This is nonsense! Would you become a chef of a top restaurant if you’re a beginner at cooking? No. So start with amounts which are manageable, and gradually build up. That could mean a combination of running and walking, or just 5-10 minutes of continuous running to start with.
- Make it enjoyable: if any aspect of running fills you with dread, try and do it another way. So if running alone seems potentially boring or lonely, then ask a friend to join you. Or if you’re too tired from work or other activities by the evening, try getting up early and making running the first thing you do.
- Fix a time and day for running: giving yourself a routine to stick to, which fits in with your other commitments, will make it easier to start and maintain your running. For example, you could run every Tuesday and Friday morning, first thing in the morning. Then you never need to think about when to go – it’ll just become part of your routine. We are creatures of habit, after all!
- Just take the first step: often the hardest part of starting something new is the very first step. There’s so much to think about, it’s easy to put off, and on and on the procrastination goes. But once you’ve actually taken the plunge, things often turn out better than you think. So once you’ve got a pair of shoes and some kit, just take that first running step. You never know, you might even enjoy it!
Running is a very simple way to get active, with many health benefits – it improves your fitness, can relieve stress, and may help with weight loss. It is also great fun, if you find a running routine that suits you. So now it’s summer, go on, just give it a try!
Run England beginner's groups are the perfect place to start running. Run England is the official England Athletics beginner's running project and running groups meet regularly at more than 2,000 locations across England.
Groups are all led by trained group leaders and will offer you a progressive routine, a variety of walk, jog or run sessions and people of a similar ability to start running with!
You can also join Run England for free to receive our eRunner newsletter full of tips, information and special offers such as a £15 Sweatshop running shoes voucher to help you start, and keep on, running.
Mara Yamauchi is a retired British marathon runner.
In April 2009, she set her personal best of 2:23:12 in the London Marathon, a time which ranks her as the 2nd fastest British female marathon runner ever. Mara came 6th at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing which equals the best place ever by a British woman in the Olympic marathon. Having spent 5 years living in Tokyo, she moved back to the UK in February 2011 to prepare for the 2012 London Olympics.
She is also a qualified Run England group leader after completing a Leadership in Running Fitness course last year before going on to do the Coaching Assistant course. She is currently in the middle of the Athletics Coach course.
Photo by marimo images