What do I need to start running?


need to start running

How do I start running? © Laura Eades 2013 all rights reserved

What you need to start running

So… I asked my friend, as we bounced our 3-month-old babies on our knees in the front window of a London pub, while sipping a glass of white wine (that was then)… “How do I start running? What do I need?”. She told me, and I will tell you.

  1. Decent running shoes from a proper running shop. These cost from about £60 up. Go on a treadmill in a running shop because the right shoes can protect your knees. If you’re unlucky like me or the woman in the picture, you over-pronate. That means when you bend your leg, as you do when running (hopefully!), your knee is inward rather than above your foot. Special shoes tilt your sole towards its outer edge so your knee stays supported by your foot.
  2. Body armour A sports bra. You know, you can practically stand them upright on a table and they don’t lose their shape.
  3. Shorts or trousers with a zip pocket. Or just have your keys rattling round your cleavage like me. It’s up to you.
  4. Headphones that don’t fall out. You go faster when you listen to Clinic. Don’t do what I did and accidentally wipe out your playlists and end up having to run to Brian Eno because it’s all you’ve got. He good but he don’t make you go go go.
  5. An app. This is optional, but apps like MapMyRun can let you know where to go, how far you’re going… Nike does one that has famous people chiming in to tell you when you’re near your target or how far you’ve run. I’d love to have Paula Radcliff telling me I’ve hit a personal record! As you can probably tell, my phone doesn’t support any of these things so I’m basically lost in envy.

Other optional extras:

  • A running group really helps because that first 5K is quite hard.
  • Knowing where you can stop for a pee on your run is helpful. Someone should make an app for that.
  • A programme that lays out your training week-by-week (‘Wednesday, 20 minutes running, 8 minutes walking, 15 minutes running’, for example) – I’m better at sticking to things when the dates and amounts are designated from ‘outside’ me.
  • A ritual for getting out the door. Try to do the same thing every time you go out to run, in the same order. The devil’s in the detail. Repeat it exactly, every single time. For example: Pee, tie up your hair, get your keys, put your headphones round your head, lace up your shoes – go. That way, when you’re reluctant, just start the chain of preparations and habit should carry you out and on your way. Do I do this? Sigh. Not yet, my friend. Not yet.
  • A time of the day or week when you always run. Similar to the above, keeping it regular really helps and since times often cue our habits, this can get you started when you’re slovenly. I always run first thing and after a cup of coffee, so I can give it beans.
  • A little challenge like a sponsored 5K run is really helpful
  • Try to run for fun and for wellbeing rather than for targets and achievements. Actually, different people work differently in this way. I have to be motivated by enthusiasm – my willpower is reluctant about sport. To make it as enjoyable as possible, if I’m feeling resistant to going, I remove the target altogether. Then, the aim is just to go – if the fifty-minute run looks too daunting, just do fifteen. The aim is to keep moving until the running habit catches you up in its own momentum.
  • Patience helps. And being kind to yourself. I’m not someone who feels they always have to be pushing themselves when it comes to physical stuff. Doing it at all is the principle accomplishment. And I know that my tendency is to set the bar too high, concoct some ridiculous regime, and then overdo it and not go back to it. I keep the targets stupidly achievable so that I’m not overwhelmed. I’m an impatient person but that doesn’t mean I have to become a good runner quickly. It just means I like to have a walk in the park, and by running I can do that even faster. I’ve now been running over the space of two years. I feel like it’s only just this summer become really joyful.
  • A game to play with passersby. Elicit smiles. Count how many. Say Hi to strangers’ dogs. Give Nordic Walkers the thumbs up. Share the love. Grin insanely, euphorically, wild on your endorphin high.

What you don’t need

  • To be sporty or to like sport (no. You just need to like music. Or squirrels)
  • To be competitive
  • To look good running

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How did you start running? Would you like to run? Have I missed anything out? Can you barefoot run (I’d LOVE to know how to begin THAT!) Click on the grey plus sign in the dot under the story to open the Comments section up.