Rules of running: New runners

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About 50 per cent of newbies get injured in their first year because their bones, ligaments and muscles aren’t used to the stress of running. When you’re just starting out, forget about speed, and boost your volume slowly and carefully to stay healthy and consistent.

Choose shoes wisely

Go to a specialist running shop late in the day (when your feet are a little swollen, as they will be mid-run) and have one of the sales staff watch you run. They can suggest shoes that work with your gait, body type and preferences. Buy a comfortable pair that feel snug in the heel, with a thumb-width of space in front of your longest toe.

Breathe easy

If at any point during a run you can’t carry on a conversation, take a walk break – even if that means you end up doing more walking than running. Walk breaks allow you to stay out for longer and build stamina, as your bones and muscles adapt. Over time, you’ll need shorter breaks.

Time, not distance

Don’t be tempted to speed up to finish faster, which can lead to injury. Add five to 10 minutes of running per week. Back off slightly every fourth week to let your musculoskeletal system adapt.

Make a commitment

Accountability to others can be a stronger driver than self-motivation. Arrange to meet a friend for a run or join a running group.

Eat healthily (not more – or less)

Many people who take up running to lose weight overcompensate for the calories they think they’re burning. Others cut calories while adding miles, which saps energy and increases the risk of injury and illness. At first, keep your intake as is, emphasising wholegrains, fruit and veg, healthy fats and lean protein.


These tips came from our expert panel:

Greg McMillan, world-renowned running coach and exercise physiologist

Frank Shorter, winner of the 1972 Olympic marathon and still running regularly at the age of 67

Dr Jordan Metzl, sports medicine specialist and author 

Dr Jim Afremow, sports psychology consultant and author of The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive (Rodale, £10.68)

Kim Mueller, elite runner, new mum and sports nutritionist