With the lighter evenings of spring now here and the London Marathon coming up this weekend, it's the perfect time to get inspired to start running.

When it comes to getting regular exercise, running is the cheapest and easiest option - it is completely free and you can do it anytime, anywhere.

Every mile you run burns around 100 calories and it's also a big stress reliever.

But it can be quite daunting going out for that first run, so here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Set a goal

There are thousands of running events held across the country - so sign up for one to give you a reason to start training.

If you’ve got something to work towards it will provide extra motivation to get you out and about so that you are the best you can be when the time comes for the actual event.

Particularly good for beginners are the Parkruns held at many locations across the UK on a weekly basis. They’re completely free 5km timed runs and when you sign up online you receive a barcode to scan in which will track your time. To find your nearest Parkrun (there are hundreds nationwide) visit www.parkrun.org.uk.

2. Drink water

Make sure you drink a little water before running and some afterwards. Depending on the distance you’re running and the weather on the day, you may want to take a bottle with you to rehydrate.

Stick to H2O - you don’t need an energy drink unless you’re running for very long distances.

3. Slowly build up the distance and pace

Don’t go all out and try to run as far as you can as quickly as possible straight away. Gradually build up the distances you’re running as you get more comfortable.

Don’t worry if you don’t manage the distances straight away. At times you will have to run at a slower pace than you'd like to, and you might have to walk at times - but the distances will come with practice.

When you’re comfortable at certain distances you can look to increase the pace.

4. Download an app

There are a host of gadgets available which, using GPS tracking, will be able to tell you how fast you're going. More serious runners can purchase the easy to use watches which are readily available.

A cheaper alternative is to download one of the many running apps to your mobile device. Apps such as Map My Run, Runkeeper and Strava will map your run for you and provide you with a lot of data on your performance.

They can track your pace, so you can use that information to help you to increase your pace as you become an increasingly comfortable and confident runner.

Some apps can also save the routes you've run so if you run that route again, you can look to beat your previous time.

5. Look at ways of socialising

It might not feel like it the first time you go for a run, but running can be a great social exercise.

Ask your friends if they'd like to start running with you, or you could look into joining a running club - there are hundreds up  and down the country which will all be hugely welcoming and supportive of new runners.

Many of the members will have joined the club as complete beginners and they can help with tips, enthusiasm and inspiration for those just starting out.

As a beginner it can be intimidating to look at other runners and see how quick they are, but you will be surprised by how quickly you can improve with practice.


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