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 take up 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 is recommended that you check with your doctor before starting a new form of exercise. An existing condition or illness does not 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 - 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. We strongly recommend it as a way to begin. However, new runners are also extremely welcome to come to club sessions. The Sunday Social runs are probably the best place to begin, with a 3 mile option that includes plenty of 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.

Wear loose fitting clothes (ideally not cotton) and running shoes which are 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 the 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 chest, not just your throat. Use landmarks - e.g. jog from one tree to the next, or a litter bin or lamp post 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 when you feel comfortable. There is nothing wrong with walking, so include it whenever you want.

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. Or feel free to come along to a training session for a chat - even if you don't want to take part that day. You'd be welcome to see who else is there, what they wear, what we do, how a session works etc. Ideally let us know beforehand, so the coach or leader is expecting you, but it's no problem at all if you just want to come on the day.