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You’ve heard it before: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But taking that first step as a runner feels so hard when you haven’t put on sports kit since your school days and your fitness and self-esteem are at rock bottom. So, before you take that small step, you’ll need to take a giant leap of faith in yourself – and we promise you won’t look back. Of course, it’s rare for any long journey to be completely smooth, and you’re bound to lose your way every now and then. Often all you need to do is take a short diversion and you’ll be back on track. We’ve enlisted the help of some running coaches, expert in dealing with the unfounded fears and genuine problems faced by new runners, and asked some of the Women’s Running team about their early running days to show you that you’re not alone. Ready?


If you’re after the very, very concise guide to starting to run, it’s this: JFDI. Pull on the nearest thing you have to sports kit, step out of your door and start running. Take a leaf out of our cover star Helen Bly’s book (see page 10): “One day something had changed and just wanted to be able to run and that was it. And once I’d started, I wanted to be able to finish it.”

It’s common for new runners to have a long list of worries about running, ranging from what people will think of you to whether or not your body can take it. Remember that your first run is just a start that you can build on and that it will take time for your body to get used to the exertion.

“My two most important pieces of advice are: don’t be afraid to walk, and it’s going to hurt but you will learn to love that feeling of pushing yourself!” says Shaun Dixon, head coach at Let’s Get Running ( “On all of your runs at this point I advise you to run at a comfortable level of breathing where you could maintain a degree of conversation if running with a partner. If you can’t do this, slow down or walk. I’ve been running almost 20 years and I do it all the time.”

Coach Lorn Pearson ( has a succinct way to remember this: “Run until you feel tired (or it gets hard), walk until you feel guilty (or it gets easy).” You can maintain this walk/run approach for the first few weeks of your training.

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About Women’s Running

Start running today with the July issue of Women’s Running magazine, on sale now! In this beginners' special, we've got a step-by-step guide to going for your first few runs, with expert input from coaches and advice from the Women's Running team - trust us, we've been there! Resident GP Dr Juliet McGrattan helps you overcome your barriers to running, and we'll also give you eight great reasons to start today. Already a runner and need to step things up? We've got an eight-move Pilates workout for you, plus for the dedicated athlete, we'll show you 10 next-level exercises to strengthen your core. Plus, don't miss part two of our 2017 Ultimate Race Guide, detailing 100 must-do races from now till December.