Get ready to run - a beginner's guide


How to start running for health, fitness and pleasure - and stick with it.

Busy? We understand. Haven't exercised in a while? Don't worry - starting running (and sticking with it) is easier than you think. But first things first: you need to get your body and your mind prepared for running.

"The biggest mistake newcomers make is running as far as they can on their first run," says Kathy McQuaide of the Sport Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA). "Do this, and you probably won't be able to walk for the next few days and your running shoes will be tossed to the back of the cupboard for good."

McQuaide suggests starting your training with walking.

What you should know

Running 5km within two months is a realistic goal, even if you've never run before. If you gradually add distance and time each week, you'll ease into it with confidence and without injury.

Running requires relatively little in the way of equipment: a decent pair of running shoes and commitment, and you're good to go.

Apart from the joy of running, there are many benefits to running. It builds bone density and muscle strength; improves your cardiovascular health, lowering your chances of heart disease and stroke; and it can help to manage weight.

There aren't just physical health benefits, either - running can lower stress, improve mental health and enhance your mood naturally. 

What you need

  • A good pair of running shoes
    Running doesn't require much investment in gear and accessories, but you do need good shoes. Running shoes are designed to help your feet strike the ground in the correct position, reducing the amount of shock on your legs. As a Discovery Vitality member, you can activate HealthyGear and get up to 100% cash back for new running shoes with Vitality Active Rewards Shoe Booster.
  • A beginner's training programme
    There are plenty of good programmes available online - like this one from Team Vitality that'll get you to your first 10km in 50 days. It's best to find a programme where the ratio of walking to running changes in sessions each week, so you can see and feel the progress you're making.
  • A fitness tracker and heart rate monitor
    You can start running without one, but, if used correctly, a fitness tracker can be a useful aid for motivation to take you from a plod-round-the-block jogger to an avid runner.

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