How do I start running is a question that is asked a lot. There is a wealth of information out there so it can be confusing to know where to start but we want to guide you on what we feel are the most crucial points to consider.

Firstly, if you have not been active for a long period of time we would always advise a visit to your GP to have a health check. Once you have the all clear then it is time to take those first steps. The first step can be the hardest and starting something new can be daunting but hopefully you will soon start to feel and notice the numerous health benefits that running offers.

As you start out it is worth following a beginners running training plan. This will give you a schedule to follow rather than just setting out randomly. There are numerous couch to 5k training programmes and apps available. Many of these are based on a run/walk approach that eases you in to running. Over the weeks the amount of time walking decreases and the time running increases. Use these plans only as a guide however as everyone is different and starting from a different level of fitness. If you are struggling to complete the time running one particular week then go back and repeat the previous week. Likewise, if a week is feeling particularly easy then advance to the following week. Starting out slowly though is crucial to avoiding injury and always warm up for five minutes before each activity. This can include marching on the spot, knee lifts, climbing stairs. Some of the best couch to 5k programmes and apps can be found here:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/

https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/exercise-fitness/running-programme-5km

https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/one-you-couch-to-5k/id1082307672

The next crucial consideration is footwear. If you start out in your five year old high street trainers you are setting yourself up for discomfort and possible injury. We advise a visit to a specialist running store who will properly assess and recommend the correct footwear. Here at Running Form we offer a full Video Gait Analysis to ensure the correct fit, level of cushioning and structure of shoe to minimise the risk of injury. Women should also consider using a good sports bra which will provide additional support compared to a regular bra. Running Form also offers a bra fitting service with one of our fully trained staff.

To help you stick at it we advise you to set a goal. Entering a 5k race or charity run will give you extra motivation. Tell friends, family, and colleagues about it as you will then not want to disappoint people. You could also pop along to a free Parkrun as these are very inclusive with runners of all abilities attending. Search for your local run here:

https://www.parkrun.org.uk/

Consider buddying up and running with a friend as you can be accountable to one another and encourage each other. Plan runs into your weekly schedule at the most convenient time. If you don't you may begin to view the runs as a hassle and stress that you don't need and are more likely to skip them. Involve family members and let them know your schedule as they can help keep you on track. If running first thing in the morning set your kit out the night before. You have then set the intention and it helps avoiding procrastinating when you wake up. Why not consider joining a running club. Most running clubs have groups for all different levels and beginners groups. Find an affiliated club near you:

https://www.uka.org.uk/grassroots/search/

It is a good idea to vary your routes and it can be exciting to discover new areas near to where you live. A good tool to plan routes is with the Strava and you can also record your activity so you have a record of what you have done:

https://www.strava.com/login

Set realistic expectations and expect to have a bad run. You are not alone as all runners experience them, from the beginner runner through to the veteran marathon runner.

But stick at it, enjoy it, and don't compare yourself to other runners. We all cross the same start and finish line but remember there is only one runner like you.