Want to start running? You’ve come to the right place! In the first part of our beginners guide to running, Christine Appel gets you ready for your first steps – and your new life as a runner.

You probably won’t believe me, but you’ve just tackled the hardest part of becoming a runner: making the decision to become a runner. Something has motivated you – whether it’s another person, a recent experience or your own desire to make a change – and you’ve had the courage to follow it through. Your journey to becoming a runner won’t always be easy, but it’ll take you to places you’ve never imagined along the way. Now, let’s get started!

Get medical advice

If you’ve not been physically active for some time, or if you have any serious medical conditions, speak to your GP or consultant before you start any exercise routine. They’ll let you know whether it’s safe for you to go ahead or whether you need to follow any guidelines in terms of intensity or specific precautions.

Other medical professionals like podiatrists and physiotherapists can help you get over any niggles or previous injuries, too. Sometimes, the simplest thing like an off-the-shelf orthotic or a daily stretching routine can be all that’s needed to improve your comfort and confidence, and with that, your ability to achieve your goals.

Make time for running

No doubt about it: the biggest challenge most runners face is finding time to run. The demands of work, family and other commitments can get the better of us all. But here’s the puzzle: we can all commit to the school run or going to work each day – so why can’t we commit to something we really enjoy, something just for us?

Rather than playing it by ear and trying to snatch 30 minutes here and there, carve some proper time out for running. If you’re planning on heading out two or three times a week, identify the times that will work best for you and make arrangements in advance. If your partner knows he or she has to be home early every Tuesday to look after the kids while you run, it’s much easier on everyone.

Be creative when thinking about when you can run, and you’ll find you have more time than you think you do. Could you run during your lunch break, or while the kids are at swimming lessons? Could you look after your friends’ kids every Saturday morning while they head out for a jog, and then swap over? Create a running routine that fits your lifestyle and stick to it as best you can. And if you miss a session, don’t stress! This is meant to be fun, after all!

Your first six weeks as a runner

You’ve carved out some time, dug out some comfortable clothes and trainers (more on kit in a later issue!) and found somewhere safe to run – a park, a beachfront, a disused railway line or even your own neighbourhood. Now it’s time to run!

The key to success in the early days of your life as a runner is to start slowly and build up the time you’re running gradually. As you can see from our sample beginners’ schedule, your first few weeks of ‘running’ will actually be a mix of running and walking.

For some runners, the suggested intervals will be too hard, for others too easy – so feel free to adapt the schedule to your needs. Stick to the basic principles – progression (either of ‘reps’ or the length of time you run), time for rest, and one longer, continuous session to build up your stamina – and you’ll be well on your way.

Beginners' Schedule Weeks 1 - 6

Check out part two here