How to prepare for your first run

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  June 2, 2020

Thinking of heading out on your first run? It can all be a bit daunting, can't it? Before you head out, have a look through this handy guide on where to go, what to eat and what to wear and you'll be a running addict in no time...

Top tips before you go

Running is one of the simplest things you can do to dramatically improve your health, but preparation is key for a happy first run. Before you know it, you’ll be hooked…

1. Fuel: Ensure you’ve eaten a small meal or snack roughly two hours before you head out, so that you’re adequately fuelled, and keep hydrated during the day before and after you run by regularly sipping water. Make sure your food option includes complex, slow-releasing carbohydrate, for all the energy you’re going to need. Great options include:

  • 3 oat cakes topped with peanut butter, and an apple
  • A large banana and a yoghurt
  • A small baked sweet potato and hummus
  • A small bowl of pasta with sauce of your choice
  • Two slices of toast with honey
  • Porridge topped with fruit

2. Time: Aim to head out for 20 to 30 minutes, but importantly, don’t expect to run the whole time. Check out our walk/run plan to get off to a strong start.

3. Route: For your first few runs, find a relatively flat route close to your home – run/walking laps of your local park is a good option.

4. Distance: Remember, don’t get hung up on distance for your first run. What’s important is the time you spend on your feet and slowly building up your running intervals until they get longer.

What to wear

While a pair of trainers will get you far, getting hold of the right kit will get you even further.

In winter you’ll need a waterproof jacket (which is high viz, ideally). Look for one that’s breathable too, so you stay dry inside it. Click here to see our top picks.

Read more at “The best women’s running jackets

A well-fitting, high-impact sports bra greatly reduces bounce from your boobs, ensuring you’ll be comfortable and protected. We’ve got a list of the very best bras that you can find here.

Read more at “Best In Test: Sports Bras

In the summer you’ll wear a vest or a tee. Make sure they fit properly, so they don’t chafe and check the fabric is breathable.

Tights and shorts
Specialist running tights and shorts help avoid chafing. Look for items that include reflective detail so you’re more visible to traffic. Here are the best tights on the market.

Read more at “Gear review: Essential tights

Your socks are nearly as important as your shoes when it comes to avoiding blisters. Invest in a specialist running sock.

Running belt
A good running belt is a great place to stash all your mid-run essentials, including your phone, keys and any snacks.

The perfect trainers

Consider your first pair of running shoes carefully.

  • Buy from a specialist shop: Stores such as Runners Need and Run And Become will perform a gait analysis to find the right shoes for you.
  • There’s no ‘best’ pair: It’s important to find the right pair of trainers for you. Brands have differences between them: some will have a more narrow toe box, for example, so don’t assume you’ll be the same size in all brands.
  • Buy bigger: As your feet warm up while running, they swell. Buy a half to a full size bigger than your regular shoes, to avoid discomfort and the dreaded black toenails.
  • Consider your terrain: There are different types of shoes for road and trail running, so think about where you run the most. Let the shop assistant know and they’ll be able to advise you.

Need more help picking your perfect pair of trainers? Take a look at our favourite neutral shoes.

Ready to go? Check out our walk/run training plan that’s perfect for beginners.

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

Meet the team

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