How do you start running?

Running is a good way to be healthier and more physically active. Here are some tips to get you started.

Running supports both your physical and mental health. It is something you can do alone, with a friend or even as part of a group or club. Running is easy to fit into your daily schedule because unlike other types of exercise, it is not important where and when you do it.

Taking up running may be difficult, but it also has many benefits and is definitely worth trying.

Benefits of taking up running

As mentioned above, running has many benefits. Here are some reasons to take up running:

  • It helps you be active.
  • It strengthens your leg muscles.
  • It strengthens your cardiovascular (ie lungs, blood vessels) health.
  • It helps you maintain a healthy weight.
  • It helps clear your mind.
  • It boosts your mood.
  • It reduces stress and anxiety.

How can you get started with running?

Creating new habits is difficult. Be it brushing your teeth every morning or adding running to your daily schedule. Are you one of the people who would like to be more active in the form of running? Or you might have already tried it, but found it to be harder than expected and you cannot find the motivation to continue. In that case, here are some tips to get you started and motivated to keep going.

Start slowly

It is best to start slowly and set a manageable distance. When going for a run, start with walking for a few minutes. Then run for a few minutes and switch back to walking. Continue alternating between running and walking. Eventually, you can increase the duration of every running section, which will increase your endurance. Tip! Always start and end your run with walking.

Setting goals

Setting goals is a great way to motivate yourself to run.  When starting out, make sure that the goals are manageable for you. If you have a big end goal, set smaller goals that support your journey to the bigger one. Setting smaller goals is important because reaching them creates a feeling of success and motivates you to continue. However, if you set just one big final goal, it is easy to lose motivation because getting results takes time.

Signing up for races is also a good way to stay focused on your goals. Start with a 5 km race and gradually increase the distances as your endurance progresses. You can also set a challenge to complete your goal within a certain timeframe, giving yourself more time when you are starting out and shortening it later as you continue to participate in races.


It is important to take time to warm up before you start sprinting. It can be a 10-minute walk, lunges, stretching your thigh muscles, etc. You can find stretches on YouTube.

Warming up is important to avoid leg cramps and stitches in the side that can slow down your run or end it completely.

Cooling down

Cooling down after a run is just as important as warming up before it. Stopping abruptly when you have reached your goal does not let your body relax. Doing cool-down exercises helps your heart and breathing to reach their normal rhythm and your muscles to relax.

At the end of the run, gradually slow down to a walking pace. Then continue walking for 10 minutes and try to fit a few stretches into that time.

Wear the right shoes

It is important to wear the right shoes when running. You may think that any old pair of trainers will do, but your feet will thank you if you wear proper running shoes. Find a pair that provides good support and is comfortable to wear. Wear good, breathable socks – your feet will sweat when you run and you want them to be comfortable in socks too.

What should you eat?

Your body needs proper food to keep you going. You should eat something with enough carbohydrates and protein to give you energy, but avoid heavy meals. It is not good to feel hungry when you go for a run, but it is also not good to be too full. 

It is recommended to have a light meal, or a high-carb or high-protein snack 1–2 hours before the run. This gives your body the energy it needs. A good light meal is, for example, toast with peanut butter and banana, a bowl of porridge, or granola with yoghurt.

Drink water

It is essential to drink water before, during and after the run. Dehydration causes headaches, fatigue and muscle cramps along with other, more serious problems.

Drinking water is not only important before and after running, but in general. For the sake of good health, it is important to ensure that you drink enough water per day. Bring a water bottle on your run and drink whenever you feel thirsty. Drink water after your run as well, as your body may be dehydrated later.

Find motivation

Figure out what motivates you to run or how you could make the activity more enjoyable. For example, you could create a nice playlist to listen to when running. This is also a good way to encourage yourself to go on a run and keep going. Some people find motivation in running with a group, so they join a running group or do it with friends.

Take days off

Taking days off is part of a healthy training schedule. Running puts a lot of strain on your entire body, involving different muscles and organs. Exercise breaks down tissues, so it is important to take time for rest to allow the body to recover. Overdoing it and pushing your body to the maximum is dangerous and may lead to injuries.

Know that it gets easier

The first few times are hard: you tend to lose motivation and may want to give up. However, if you persevere, you will soon start to see progress. Running gets easier every time and it will become an enjoyable activity and a healthy habit.

The article is based on the Irish youth information portal Spunout.

The article was translated into Estonian by Kerttu Vau, a volunteer at the youth information portal Teeviit, and edited by Jakob Mürk and Laura-Liisa Tõldsepp.

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