Woman running by a fence

Becoming a runner is one of the best decisions you ever made - for your health, fitness and general wellbeing. Here are ten tips to help you take your first steps safely and successfully.

Be patient

Don't try to do too much, too soon. It takes time for your body to adapt to the demands of running, so don't rush it. Enjoy the journey!

Mix walking and running

Never view walking as a failure. In fact, mixing walking and running is a very sensible approach to training because it allows you to be out 'on the road' a little longer than you would be if you were forcing yourself to run the whole time. For example, you might be able to run for 10 minutes, but if you put a 1 minute walk break in after every 3-4 minutes of running, you'll likely find you can continue for 15 or 20 minutes. Take a look at our run/walk training plans.

Wear the right shoes

A wardrobe full of brand spanking new Lycra kit is not necessary for a new runner! The only piece of equipment you really need is a pair of comfortable, supportive running shoes that meet your individual needs. Go to your local specialist running store for advice and assessment.

Stay strong

Running is a high-impact aerobic activity, which means it's fantastic for burning calories and improving your cardiovascular health. But it's well worth rounding out your regime with some strength and flexibility training to keep your muscles strong and joints mobile. Activities such as weight training, yoga and Pilates all fit the bill.

Go easy (conversation pace)

The most important objective for a new runner is 'time on feet' - so there's little point in heading off at breakneck speed if you can only keep it up for a few minutes. Slowing your pace to a level at which you can hold a conversation will enable you to keep going for longer.

Schedule rest days

Do not run every day. It's while your body is at rest that it makes the adaptations needed to allow you to run faster and further - so if you try to run too often, you won't give it enough of an opportunity to make these changes. Try running on alternate days to ensure you make progress without overdoing things. Alternatively our training plans schedule in appropriate rest days according to the specific event you are training for.

Listen to your body

It's perfectly normal to get a little sore and achy when you first start running, but don't ignore pain or discomfort that lingers for more than a couple of days. If you have a 'niggle', take a couple of days rest to allow it to go away and seek advice if it doesn't.

Set a goal

There's nothing like a goal to focus the mind! Make sure it's a challenging but realistic one that will give you the motivation you need to lace up those trainers on a regular basis. And remember, goals don't have to be races - your aim could be to fit into your old jeans, or keep running without stopping for ten minutes.

Write it down

You might think training diaries are just for elite athletes, but research shows that people who write their goals down are more likely to stick to them - it's as if committing them to paper makes them more real. You can specify your own goal in Great Run Training. Looking back over your progress as you get fitter also helps you stay motivated and Great Run Training allows you to keep a record of all your training.

Heed the 10 per cent rule

It's exciting to experience the changes in your health, fitness and energy levels as you become running fit - but don't get carried away and pile on the miles too quickly. The '10 per cent rule' means never increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10 per cent at a time, and ensures you progress slowly but surely.