Running is a beautifully simple form of exercise that everyone can do to their own level. There's no need to carry a heavy book of rules and instructions! But here's some straightforward advice to help you get off to the best possible start.

Starting to run

Try not to be too ambitious at the start. You'll start motivated and try to speed around the block as fast as your little legs will carry you. If you are not careful, you will burn up all your energy and enthusiasm with a few early over-exuberant efforts.

If you are not used to running, you should stick with alternating walking and running to start with, and work to time rather than distance. Build up the proportion of running to walking gradually, so you are running further and for longer each time. Once you can run beyond 20 minutes (at whatever pace), you are well on the road to running a 10K.

Sticking to the task

There will be times when it is tough to keep going. There are always plenty of 'reasons' not to run today, or temptations to do it tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. Try running with a partner - you are less likely to miss a session, will encourage each other when the going gets tough, it is safer (especially if you run at night-time) and you will learn to pace yourselves better.

You will find it more fun to have someone to share the pain and pleasure of training with, and it adds a social dimension to exercise. Keep a record of your activity. One of the best motivators to sticking at your running is to set goals and measure yourself against them.

Be a creature of habit

Get into a routine of when to exercise and stick to it. It does not matter whether this is before work to get it done before the hassles of the day kick in, after work (to forget the hassles of the day), or at lunch time (to escape from the hassles of the day).

The body works best when it is in a good routine, so try to keep to the same times for training, eating and sleeping. If your routine is regular, it also makes it easier to fit the training in.

Learn patience

The longer it has been since you last did some serious exercise, the harder it will be to get used to training. Your body will let you run far harder than is actually beneficial, so try not to attempt more than your current level of conditioning allows. Spread your effort over the course of a week. At the end of the week, ask yourself whether you feel up to doing it all again; if not, you are overdoing it. Back off and take it easier. Be patient and let your fitness build over time. This way each session will not seem so tough and you will actually be able to enjoy being active.

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