Want to capture the oft talked about runners’ high? You’re not alone. Crossing the finish line of a 5k, or even a marathon, is a major bucket list item. We asked two fitness experts for their top tips on picking up the pace.

Lock in a time

The most important thing when you’re taking up running? Consistency, says Kirsten Todd, running coach and owner of Hooked on Running. She recommends setting aside three 30-minute sessions a week—even if your run is barely faster than your walk to begin with. “If you just start to get into consistent time slots… then you’re part of the way there,” she explains.

Slow and steady

While it’s tempting to speed off on your first run to prove you can do it, it’s far better to gradually increase your pace. According to Prevention fitness advisor and personal trainer Donna Aston, most injuries are caused by people going too hard, too fast. Grab a timer and start with intervals, such as repeating a combo of running for one minute and walking for three during your half hour sessions in the first week, and build from there.

Check your form

Here’s where it pays to check in with the pros, even if it’s just for a session or two. There are several things to think about when it comes to proper technique and preventing injury, says Aston, including posture and foot placement. “Try to relax your shoulders and make sure your chest is upright,” she adds.

The reason? This will help you breathe easier, and stop you looking at the ground while you jog, a common rookie error. Pay attention to how your feet hit the ground—you want to strike with your mid to front foot and roll through, rather than hitting with your heel first.

Find a buddy

Like any new undertaking, support is vital. Whether that’s a running coach, running group or simply sweet talking a few friends into hitting the pavement with you, having like-minded people around will encourage you to keep going, even when it feels like you can’t take another step.

“There are lots of great charity fun runs, which will add a bit of friendly competition to it as well,” says Aston. So what are you waiting for? Invest in some runners and head to your closest park, now!

© Prevention Australia