Ten Golden Tips for Beginners

1. Start slowly and build up

Lots of new runners get carried away and try to do too much too soon. This can lead to disappointment, loss of enthusiasm and possibly injury. If you want to be able to enjoy running for the rest of your life, start out slowly and build up.

See our programme for complete beginners to start running

2. You may need to check with a doctor or a physio before you start running

You should get a medical check up if you are over 60 and unused to a lot of exercise, or if you may be in danger of having a heart condition which could be triggered by running. Use your common sense: if in doubt, see your doctor.

More advice on whether you should see a doctor or sports physio

3. Keep a running log

A running log is a place where you record each run that you do. It is excellent for motivation. It also provides useful information which you can use as you improve, to see what works for you. You can use a pen and notebook, your personal organiser, or a spreadsheet on your computer.

More advice on running logs

4. Set yourself a goal

It helps to have something to aim for. This could might be running in a 5km race, or losing a stone. Make sure your goal is something achievable. If your goal is to run a marathon, you might want to set yourself some milestones (such as completing a half marathon) on the way. Whatever your level, it is exciting and motivating to see how you are improving and to reach your goals.

More advice on goals

5. Stretch

There are few runners who would not benefit from running half an hour a week less, and using that half an hour a week for stretching instead. Stretching makes muscles more flexible and reduces the chance of injury.

Stretching for beginners

6. Get decent running shoes

One of the benefits of running is that you do not need to spend a fortune on kit. The one essential item is a pair of running shoes, and you should not scrimp on getting the right pair for you. (If you are a woman, you also need a decent sports bra). Go to a specialist running shop, not a general sports store.

More advice on buying running shoes and running kit

7. Join a running club

Well we would say this, wouldn't we! Seriously, running clubs are an excellent source of advice and inspiration for beginners. The Serpentine Running Club welcomes total beginners, and we have a starter group for people who are just starting to run. Remember: we have all been beginners at some time. We love running and we are excited to welcome new people into the sport.

Running clubs for beginners & How to join the Serpentine Running Club

8. Run safely

Research (in the US) shows that most (73%) accidents involving vehicles and runners are the fault of the runner, not the driver. Take responsibility for your own safety.

Tips on running safely in London

9. Drink lots of water and eat properly

Runners burn up more energy than non-runners, both while they are running (at about 100 calories a mile) and afterwards. So you need to eat more, and you need to consume more of your calories as carbohydrate. You also need drink plenty of water – keep a bottle of water on your desk and sip during the day.

Running to lose weight & Nutrition advice for new runners

10. Keep on enjoying running

Don't let running become just another stress in your life. Don't set yourself such a rigid or time-consuming timetable that you struggle to achieve it. Give yourself breaks – a day a week, and month each year – when you don't run at all.

How to keep on enjoying running