Top Tips For Running Your First Event In 2024, Including The “Secret Sauce” That Can Help Keep You Injury Free

Group of three people running through a forest
(Image credit: Tashi Delek / Getty Images)

If one of your New Year’s fitness resolutions is to train for and complete your first running event, whether that’s a 5K, a marathon, or even an ultra-marathon, then it pays to have a plan.

A running training plan that maps out all your runs and other workouts for the months ahead of your event is the best place to start, but there are also little changes you can make to your lifestyle to make it more active that will help you complete your first event.

Emma Kirk-Odunubi is a running coach and an ambassador for endurance events company Threshold Sports. We asked Kirk-Odunubi for her top running tips for people tackling their first event this year, and two really stood out.

The first involves adding more movement to your day wherever possible, starting with your commute.

“If part of your usual commute to work is that you drive yourself 3km to the station, consider leaving a bit earlier to get in some additional steps,” says Kirk-Odunubi. “You may not feel like you have the time for longer training sessions, but if you’re adding in additional time on your feet every day then you start to incorporate your training into your day-to-day life and you can build this over time.”

Injuries can be a big problem when training for a first event, because you’ll probably be running further and more frequently than ever before. You can reduce your risk by doing strength exercises for runners and mixing in cross-training like cycling if you’re worried that the impact of running is getting too much, but Kirk-Odunubi also has a great tip for reducing injuries through small movements during the day.

“There are simple exercises you can do, which are your ‘secret sauce’ to help you stay injury free,” says Kirk-Odunubi. “Try brushing your teeth whilst standing on one leg—don’t forget to switch sides—to help strengthen your ankles, and pick up towels from the floor with your toes to help strengthen your feet.”

One last tip from Kirk-Odunubi focuses on motivation, and what to do when it starts to wane. “If you find your motivation dwindling, map out routes which will bring you joy,” says Kirk-Odunubi, “and simply try to enjoy getting out in the fresh air.”

Emma Kirk-Odunubi is supporting Threshold Sports’ Ultra 50:50 campaign for gender parity on the start line of ultra-marathons, including Race to the King and Race to the Stones.

We’ve also worked with Kirk-Odunubi on other advice articles. Check out her strength training workout for runners and her advice on how to clean running shoes.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.