Are you a running beginner? How to start running from scratch

Want to learn how get started at running? Our beginners guide to running from scratch will help.


So you want to improve your fitness levels and you’re looking to start running from scatch. Sounds like you are a running beginner. We can help with this.

Running is indeed an excellent way to get in shape. It’s a tremendously empowering and life-improving habit that will make you feel better about yourself in every possible way. It’s something that requires little investment asides from your time and energy, and it’s something everyone should do once in a while. You don’t really need any special equipment asides from a pair of comfortable trainers, your favoured sports attire… and of course, your own will power.

Even though a good run is markedly enjoyable and health-promoting when you’re a seasoned runner, it’s also something that many people fail to follow up on. For the unexperienced, it can actually be a painful and frustrating activity, but those are hurdles to be overcome easily with a little planning and determination.

How do I start running from scratch?

It sounds like an odd question… surely you put your trainers on and go outside, or you head to the gym and get onto the treadmill,? But there’s a few things to take into account first. Do you have the right trainers? Are you wearing light clothing that will prevent you from overheating? Do you know how to warm up and cool down? Are you aware that you need to pace yourself, not just go all out for as long as you can?

If you want to become a runner but you don’t know quite how to start, this article will give you some perspective and inspiration. If you want to go far when you run, pacing yourself is of the essence. Read on to learn the best strategies.

How should I first approach running as a beginner?

As someone looking to start running from scratch, one of the most important things you should do is to go very slowly, as opposed to burning all your energy and enthusiasm within a week, eventually straining your muscles too hard and deciding that you’re a natural born sedentary, after all. To avoid falling into this extremely common pattern which is often seen in people who try to go from zero miles to marathon overnight – we recommend that you start your preparatory work by first getting used to intensive walking sessions.

Think about it for a little while and you should see it’s actually unrealistic to try to run for extended periods unless you’re comfortable walking for the same amount of time. This means it’s wise to first get in the habit of walking long distances if you’re trying to graduate from being a boring old couch potato and hope to one day become a true runner.

As a beginner, just start with three weekly 30-minute sessions and make sure to walk through that time; when it starts feeling too easy, just go from a relaxed stroll to a brisk pace and you should start feeling you’re on to something. Did you know that power walking burns nearly as much calories as a slow jog? Intensive and persistent walking will gradually build up your fitness levels with minimal strain, while simultaneously growing a new positive habit of regular training.

How long should I walk for before I start jogging?

Once you’re very comfortable walking for 30 minutes straight, that’s where the fun begins. From there on, you can easily increase your stamina by adding 5-10 minutes to your total walking time each week. Gradually aim for a full 1-hour walking sessions every other day or up to five times per week (it’s important to have a couple of days for resting and recuperation).

When this training routine becomes easy, it will be about the right time to start graduating towards a jog. At this point, you’ll realize the additional effort in going from power walking to a steady jog is minimal, and you’ll notice increased energy and muscle tone that bring about the need for speed… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet!

How do I improve my endurance with jogging?

The right time to start thinking about jogging is when you can walk daily for a full hour without breaking a sweat. At this point, you’ll want to keep expanding the limits of your endurance by getting into a comfortable jog rhythm. But if you’re in this for the long haul there is no point in straining yourself, is it? During your initial weeks of easing into jogging, you should aim to alternate between a walk, jog and run during your 1-hour sessions.

As your body adapts to the exercise, you’ll notice your energy levels begin to soar, and you feel you can keep going for much longer. When this happens, we still recommend that you take things nice and slowly. It’s much better to finish a training session with a feeling that you want more than to over-exert yourself and lose the appetite for the subsequent training sessions.

You’re gradually building up a new habit even as you gradually prepare your body to withstand long and intensive training sessions. Basically, you want to get to a point where you can jog as easily and naturally as walking; that is about the time when you’re to jump to the next level.

Am I ready to start running?

After a few months of doing this training program, you should be able to jog for one full hour. This is the time when you should start shifting to a steady run, and the best way of doing is, of course, very gradually. Begin by shaking your jog sessions with bursts of sprinting until you start going out of breath, then revert back to a slower pace for 5-10 minutes, allowing your energy to build up before sprinting once again.

By alternating speeds, you’ll gradually build up on your stamina until you get to a point where doing a full hour run no longer seems like an impossible, super human task. At this point, you start earning the right to proclaim you’re a runner! But it’s actually just the beginning of your adventure.

I’ve learnt to run from scratch, should I enter events?

When you can routinely run for a full hour, you should start joining 5K runs to keep pushing your boundaries by racing against other people and trying to gradually raise through the rankings. You should stick to this stage for at least six months before you try signing up for a 10K run, then another six months before joining a half-marathon, and a full year before heading to the ultimate goal of doing a full marathon.

You will be extremely pleased with yourself when you reach this point… but always remember the best way to actually get there is very gradually and slowly! Just because it’s all about learning how to run, it doesn’t mean you have to rush it.

Andy Barr
the authorAndy Barr
Editorial Lead
Andy was late arriving into the world of fitness, running and training. He did not really take up regular gym going until he was in his late 30's. He lost over 7 stone in weight since starting and completed an olympic length triathlon in June 2018. He enjoys playing football, boxing and outdoor running.

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