New to Running

Anyone can run, and improvement is possible for any person who is prepared to put in the effort.

You don’t have to be young (some Windmilers didn’t start running until their late 50s). And you don't need to be fit already. Fitness comes gradually, and running can be how you get fit. However, you do need to walk before you can run, so take your time and stick with it.

These are some suggestions for those taking their first steps as a runner.

First, it's recommended that you check with your doctor before starting a new form of exercise. An existing condition or illness doesn't have to be an obstacle, and in some cases, running and other sports can be part of managing a problem, or recovering from it. But it's definitely best to be aware.

For those who've never run at all, there's an audio-based Couch-to-5k plan from the NHS which we strongly recommend as a way to begin. Many people have used it with great success, and from there, they've moved on to running and walking further and faster, if that's what they want to do. In normal circumstances we are happy to welcome new runners to try to our club sessions. During the coronavirus pandemic our sessions have to be for members only, but we are taking new members, and you are welcome to contact if you have any questions about the sessions or other aspects of the club..The Sunday Social runs are probably the best place to begin, with a 3 mile option that includes breaks to regroup and recover.   

Another option is to find a local parkrun (we have a number in the area, including Wimbledon Common, Fulham and Tooting Common) - that's a weekly 5k (just over three miles) but there's no time pressure, plenty of people will run/walk in some combination. Parkruns are currently suspended, but hope to begin operating in June 2021 subject to landowner permission.

Wear loose fitting clothes (ideally not cotton) and running shoes appropriate for you. Specialist shops can help you find something suitable. Women will definitely want a sports bra (again, shops will help you find something that fits).

Before you start your walk/run you need to prepare your body for what it is about to do. Gently mobilise your joints, stretch anything that feels tight (but don't overdo it). And begin at a very easy pace, gradually picking up a little speed.

When walking, swing your arms and stride out. When you want to jog, remember to go slowly - don’t run too fast! Concentrate on your breathing. Breath down into your stomach, not just your chest. Use landmarks - e.g. jog from one tree to the next, or a litter bin or lamppost until you eventually run the whole distance without walking. Or you may prefer to run by time, for instance starting with 30s jog, 1min walk, increasing the jog or reducing the walk when you feel comfortable.

As you start to build up some exercise within your week, remember to also think about recovery and nutrition. As the training becomes a little more serious, they should too.

Above all, be patient. If this is something new then there will be times when it feels difficult or uncomfortable. Consistency and staying injury-free are far more important than pushing yourself too hard. Your body will adapt if you give it time, so go steady and give it a chance!


If you're unsure about any of this, or have questions about any particular club session, please get in touch (email is easiest).