I’ve had a couple of people ask me on Twitter what they needed to start running, and I’ve had people say they took up running inspired, in part, by my antics. People are coming to me with questions and asking for advice, so this post is inspired by you, and for you.

Now, the great thing about running is that all it takes to start running is to literally get out there and run. You don’t need fancy equipment – just motivation. But there are things you need to get going on the right path. Let’s get the basics covered:

Trainers

Your AirForce 1s will not cut it. Take the time to get a gait analysis, or at least pay attention to what your foot does when it hits the ground. Does it roll inwards? Outwards? Not at all? Go to a running-centric shoe shop and get advice on what to wear. Even if this means getting a pair of basic, sturdy and unsexy Nike ‘Retards’ (see @thetortoisewithnohair, @tahira, @sammi_x)

Clothes

Your cotton tees and joggers will not do, either. Now is the time to invest in lycra – don’t act like you never wanted to!  Cotton is not a sweat-wicking fabric; it will hang heavy and damp on you, and you’ll smell even more rank after a run than you would otherwise. I wouldn’t know, because my BO smells like Chanel No5, but I digress.

When I say ‘sweat wicking’, I mean mechnical gear which draws sweat away from your body, and depending on the time of year you go out running in, is designed to keep you appropriately warm or cool. Think Baby Bear – just right. There’s nothing more likely to put you off your stride than feeling all ‘Betty Swollocks’.

Look out for pieces with pockets in them, preferably zipped-up back or  side pockets; I’m fairly sure you’ll need to carry stuff, unless you have a monkey butler to jog alongside you. The little shiny bits on the clothing aren’t there to make you look like an extra from Tron; they’re designed to help you not get hit by cars in the dark, if you’re not inclined to wear bright yellow or pink running tights like me.

‘OMG. People are looking at me!’

Yes, you will initially feel like 10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag; yes, you’ll feel self-conscious, yes, you’ll look like an escapee from Ninja College. Yes, people will look at you a bit funny, and yes, you’ll feel like the only person in the world wearing lycra. And yes, you’ll just have to get over it. It won’t take long, I promise.

Underwear

Men, you will have to wear something under your tights and running shorts to stop your sugar lumps flailing helplessly about. Likewise, you’ll probably want to avoid any Torture Garden-type apparel which will crush the ‘boys’.

Women, you need to wear a sports bra for the same reason. I firmly believe that any woman wearing her normal bra out jogging should be summarily executed. When I am dictator I will shoot first, ask questions later, but I digress.

Tech

You have the choice to run free, to let your spirit take you to weird and wonderful places at your own pace, and that’s great. You also have the option of looking at your stats, so you can see how long time and distance wise you’re going, if you’re kicking anyone’s arse, and work towards getting a personal best (PB). iPhone and iPod touch users (if you’re hooked up to a wi-fi connection) can download the Nike+ app; adidas have the miCoach app too. A cheap alternative to Garmins is a Nike+ Sportband.

Money

Spending it, that is. You don’t need to go to NikeTown and piss all your money away – there are loads of sites where you can get cheap, good quality branded running gear –  new-season stuff, too! I like Start Fitness and TK Maxx, personally – the selection in SportsDirect merely nudges ‘OK’ in my opinion. I tend to shop in Sweaty Betty during the sales, more often than not, to indulge my love of sport luxe style. Some brands are worth spending the extra on because of the pure quality.

Socks

Get technical  running socks which will support and cushion your feet, and protect them from blisters. Leave the Pringles in the drawer.

Feet

Accept now that your feet will suffer from regular training. Toenails will magically disappear, and blisters will make you their bitch. To protect against this, go to a dance shop like Bloch and get the little toe protector thingies. Unlike Boots and Superdrug, they make them to go over, not just round, your big toes and pinkies. Even if you buy good shoes, they can’t protect you totally from the repetitive pounding motion of running. Also, get bunion protectors – you’ll find them in the footcare aisle of Boots and Superdrug, or any local pharmacy.

Accessories

Carrying things in pockets is long.

You need to get clothes with pockets, but for bits which will make you look a bit suspect (lycra  + funny bulges = not even worth it) get a running bumbag or a Y-fumble. My friend makes these, and these awesome little sleeve pockets can easy fit my brick BB, keys, and a small child with no problem. They don’t slide off. WIN.

Music

If you’re going to carry your iPod or phone, even just to track your movements on your chosen app, make sure you get the right holder for the model. How annoying is it if you can’t swipe, press buttons and change playlists unless you take the damn thing off your arm and out of the holder?

Read

Read up on running technique, and if you can go to a free workshop, so much the better. Paid ones are good, too. We don’t want to overthink at this early stage, but I see so many people running like they’re doing the Charleston that I must state how important it is to think about what your body does when you run. Not least because it prevents injury, and people actually pointing and laughing (and hey, when we run, we think people are doing that anyway. Best not to give them any more ammo).

Read up on nutrition. Read up on stretches; they’re essential. Read about other people, like you, like me, who felt a bit scared to begin with, and grew in confidence.

Mens Running/Women’s Running

Runners’ World

Running4Women

RunningBug

Listen to your Body

It’ll take a little time to distinguish this voice from the voice telling you to eat Krispy Kremes. Your body tells you when it’s sick, when it’s tired, when it needs nourishment and love. This isn’t the voice which tells you ‘Oh God, I can’t be arsed’ five minutes into a run but ‘Please. Enough. I really can’t do this. I need to lie down/poop/take some Nurofen/feed my ovaries chocolate’ etc.

I’ve tried to run during the first day of my period, when all I had the energy to do was stay in bed – even after countless ProPlus pills and a glass of Berocca – and ended up feeling worse. There are some days where mental strength will not get you through. You’ll learn what those are the hard way; no two ways about it. Just learn what those voices are and listen out for them.

Mental Fortitude (or ‘Haters are Gonna Hate’)

People are looking at you funny. The people you run with might be more advanced than you. It’s too cold; it’s too hot. Get over it! Smile, and tell yourself you’re having fun, and when you’re not having fun, dig deep and concentrate on the music, the scenery, your breath – anything that takes away from the kill-me-now-ness.  Some of your friends and family will treat you like you’ve taken up sword-juggling; some people will be hostile and be, as the Scientologists call them, Suppressive Persons. I think 95% of running is up here *taps temple* – as Riley from The Boondocks would say, it’s all in the mental mind, yo.

Everything you do as a runner makes you a stronger person.

You’re Still Here? Get off Your Arse!

So. You have the trainers, the gear, and the attitude. If you’re still reading this, then it’s time to get off your arse and into the big bad world.

Go forth and enjoy – you’re a runner now!

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