A group of people running together outside and looking happy
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How to start running

From treadmills to weekend runs in the park, running remains as popular as ever. With clear benefits of running for both physical and mental health, it’s easy to see why more and more people are on the move.

But if you aren’t currently one of them, how can you get started?

We’ve teamed up with the running experts at ASICS to help set you on the right path for you, whatever your entry point.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a former runner who’s been out of the game for a while, ASICS will guide you through the steps to get started on your running journey or reignite your passion for the sport. We’ll cover everything from plotting the perfect running route to choosing the right gear and setting achievable running goals.

Let’s get started!

Words by ASICS Frontrunner Rachel Diver

Rachel Diver at the ASICS Frontrunner UK Meeting SS23, Sheffield | Photo by Andy Astfalck

1. Start small and scale up

While it may be tempting to get moving as quickly as you can, it’s better to take things slow. Start with a brisk 5-minute walk as a warm-up, followed by a gentle run/walk approach. This can be as simple as running to one lamp post and walking to the next. Repeat as you feel comfortable. Finish with another 5-minute walk as a cool-down and stretch well. Gradually increase your running intervals over time.

There are some excellent free Couch to 5K plans available to help get you started. Use a running app to record your runs and track your improvement. And remember to celebrate those small victories along the way. 

2. Decide when to run

Two runners running across a bridge at night in a city.

Choosing the right time of day to run can greatly impact your experience. As we transition into the colder months and the nights grow longer, the timing of your run becomes even more crucial. The changing seasons can impact your choice between morning and evening runs:

Morning vs. evening: Many runners swear by their morning run as it kickstarts their day with a burst of energy while others find their energy peaks in the evening. Evening runs can be a fantastic way to de-stress after a long day at work. Experiment with both to see which suits you best.
Weather conditions: Depending on where you live, weather conditions can vary throughout the day. Try to find a time when the weather is the most favourable.
Schedule consistency: Consistency is key to forming a running habit. Pick a time that you can stick to regularly to make running a part of your routine – and when daylight becomes limited this could even be your lunch hour at work.

3. Decide where to run

While many people think of running as an outdoor activity, you may enjoy the experience more on a treadmill. Think about which option suits you best:

Treadmill: Treadmills offer a controlled and cushioned environment ideal for beginners. They allow for precise pacing and are especially suitable during bad weather conditions (common in the UK). This is a great option for those who may find running alone outdoors a bit daunting, with places like gyms providing a safe space for exercise.
Outdoor running: Outdoor running provides a connection to nature, varied terrain and scenic routes. It offers the freedom to explore different landscapes while engaging various muscle groups. Running outdoors is an appealing choice for those seeking adventure and fresh air.

Of course, you can always include both running environments in your routine.

4. Pick your running route

Man photographed from behind running along a quiet country path

If you’re running outdoors, it’s a good idea to plan your route in advance. To keep things fresh, have a few different pre-planned routes that you follow depending on your mood that day.

• Explore your local area on foot, identifying safe and well-lit paths.
• Choose a route that suits you and is familiar.
• For beginners, opt for a flat, circular route to avoid distractions.
• Use running apps to discover popular routes (they’re also great for tracking your progress).
• Utilise parks and public spaces for scenic and safe workouts, just be considerate of other users.

5. Assemble your running kit & pack ahead 

While you don’t need a lot of gear to start running, a few items can really enhance your experience:

• Moisture-wicking clothing: To keep sweat away from your skin and prevent chafing.
• A well-fitting sports bra: This needs no explanation!
• Comfortable socks: Choose socks designed for running to minimise blisters and provide extra support.
• Hydration gear: Stay hydrated with a handheld water bottle, a hydration belt or a small backpack-style hydration pack.
• Reflective gear: If you run in low-light conditions, wear reflective clothing or accessories for safety.

Having your gear out and ready can be that extra push you need to get moving.  If you’re running on the treadmill, keep a gym bag packed with your running essentials so you can grab and go. Running outdoors? Put your kit out the night before. Life gets busy, so make running the easiest part of your day.

It can also enhance your experience to put together a running playlist full of your favourite motivational tracks.

6. Find the right running shoes  

Close up of a runner's feet wearing ASICS trainers.

Investing in a quality pair of running shoes is essential to prevent injuries and ensure you have a comfortable run. Your usual gym trainers may not provide the support you need for running. Here are some options:

  • Visit a running store where experts can analyse your gait and recommend the right shoes for your foot type and running style.
  • Once you know your foot type, you can also look for affordable options at local sports shops or explore second-hand platforms like Vinted for some great bargains!
  • Check out the ASICS online shoe finder

7. Switch up your workouts

If you feel a drop in enthusiasm, switch it up. Build in other workouts (like yoga, swimming, and cycling) to keep your running routine from becoming stale. You’ll be refreshed and ready to hit the pavement or treadmill next time. 

8. Pay attention to your body    

Even if it’s tempting to just get on with it, take at least five minutes before and after you run to stretch your muscles and warm up. If you notice any pain or uncomfortable movement, don’t just push through. Don’t worry if you have the occasional bad run — many factors can affect your performance on a given day, from the weather to lack of sleep.

When you need a break, take it — your running routine will be better for it. You should also be mindful to get the right fuel before each run. Whether it’s a snack 30 minutes before or a protein-rich meal in your day, the right nutrition can help energise your workout performance. 

9. Set yourself a goal

Consider signing up for a 5k or 10k race as a long-term fitness goal. Having an event to work towards can really help keep you motivated.

10. Join a running club   

Get help from the pros! Joining a running club can give your motivation a real boost and turn a solo exercise into a social routine. Check with your local David Lloyd club to see whether they host regular running sessions.

Of course, busy schedules mean it’s not always simple to find time to commit to in-person sessions. Our Virtual Run Club makes it easy. Members of all clubs can join a live 30-minute session every Thursday morning with an expert coach. You can do it anywhere – treadmill, park or pavement! Just make sure to book on the app.

And finally…

Remember, the key to a successful running journey is to start slowly, always listen to your body, and most importantly, enjoy the process. Running can a rewarding and accessible form of exercise, including for those on a budget.

Ready to lace up those running shoes? Start today, and remember that every step you take is a step towards a healthier, happier you!

At David Lloyd Clubs we’re delighted to be partnering with ASICS on our relaunched Run Club – and our members get 20% off all full-priced items, from apparel and footwear to accessories. If you’re a member, head to the benefits section of the David Lloyd Clubs app to redeem this amazing offer.

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