How to start running if you're over 40

Starting out running can be hard whatever age you are. With a few small steps and a positive mental attitude, you'll be surprised at what you can achieve!

How to start running if you're over 40

Believe in yourself

Haven’t run a step since the cross country days at school? Worry not, it’s completely normal to feel anxious, just remember that we all have to start somewhere. Even allowing yourself to think about taking on a new challenge is a huge leap of faith. Self-belief is a powerful thing, so read our confidence tips for beginner runners and give yourself the added boost you need to face the road with conviction.

Start small

The beginning of your running journey may feel like a mountain to climb, but small steps will all add up to reaching your end goal. Remember that the path to progress will not always be smooth sailing. Some runs will be harder than others and sometimes you might not fancy it, and that's perfectly fine. Everything counts, and even one run a week is better than none at all. If you're brand new to fitness, start with a simple run-walk program like our Couch to 5K and ease yourself in.

Still not sure? The veteran runners breaking all the rules should convince you!

Be mindful

It’s common to feel like all eyes will be on you when you’re out running, but in actual fact people are going about their own business and probably haven’t even batted an eye lid. Try to relax, be in the moment and focus on where you are and what your amazing body is doing right there and then, not what distractions are going on around you.

Look after your bones

Everyone should look after their bones; we only get one set, and they're pretty special! If you're over 40 and planning to run regularly this area of TLC is especially important as cartilage change occurs in your joints and we lose bone mass as we age. Make sure you eat plenty of calcium-rich foods such as dairy, organic soya, green vegetables like broccoli and almonds. To lessen the effect high-impact exercise such as running can have on your bones, try training on grass and softer ground as much as possible. 

Set yourself a goal

From dropping a dress size, to conquering your first parkrun by the end of the summer, choose a goal and stick to it. Stick it on the fridge if you need a daily reminder. Having an aim in mind will help with motivation, just be sure to give yourself enough time to work towards your targets realistically. Plan how to get there while taking your every day commitments into consideration. A good place to start is our 5K training plan hub

Take it easy

Once you get the running bug you might be tempted to enter lots of races and run as often as possible as your fitness levels start to soar. Just be careful not to do too much too soon and keep over-training in mind. Remember the old faithful saying, 'it's a marathon not a sprint' and cut yourself some slack as you juggle daily life and working on your fitness.


Work towards a race with your newfound running vigour with our tips on how to choose your first running race 

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