If you’ve never run before – or haven’t for some years – see your doctor for a check-up before you start running. This is especially important if you are aged over 40, are overweight or have a chronic illness.
Make sure you dress appropriately, this means wearing comfortable clothing and an appropriate pair of running shoes. Ask at your local sports shop for advice. It is a good idea to wear layers on your upper body so that you can take them off as you warm up.
Warm up and stretch thoroughly before you start running, this will help prepare your body for your run and reduce the risk of injury.
Drink plenty of fluids before you start your run, and don’t run after a heavy meal. Take a water bottle with you on your run.
Plan your route. If possible, choose flat, grassy areas rather than hard or loose surfaces (i.e. sand) to reduce the risk of injury.
Get into a routine. Set yourself realistic and specific targets e.g. 'I will run every Tuesday and Thursday for 30 minutes'. Just saying that you are going to go for a run every day without specifying for how long and when will mean that you are less likely to get into a habit and stick to it.
Don’t expect to be able to run long distances from the first day you run. You'll need to teach your body how to start running and doing too much, too soon could cause you injury. Start with brisk walking for 30 minutes per session and then build up to running by alternating between walking and jogging. Slowly increase the time you spend jogging and allow a minimum of six weeks to build up your jogging time until you can spend the majority of the time running.
You may find it useful to listen to upbeat music while you run. You might also want to run with someone else to keep yourself motivated.
Avoid running near roads. This is especially important if you have a pre-existing condition such as asthma. Vehicle exhaust fumes can increase your risk of various cardiovascular and respiratory complaints or illnesses.
Cool your body down with light stretches when you return. This will help reduce the risk of injury and decrease aches and pains in the days following your run.
Take a rest day in between runs to allow your body to repair itself.
Get back out there. Keep going, stick to a routine and you will get better slowly over time. You might find it useful to take part in a race, marathon or some sort of charity running event in order to keep yourself motivated.