The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Runner

Beginner Guides, Fitness, Running Workouts

By: // April 5, 2020

Most people who love running now, say some version of this about their first time out: When I first started jogging I couldn’t do it for more than two minutes. I was out of breath. My body hurt, my lungs hurt and I thought: This isn’t fun. But I am so happy I stuck with it because now I can run for miles and I can’t imagine my life without running. 

Running isn’t usually love at first sight. If you want to become a runner, this is important to keep in mind. Running is more of a slow love that has to grow on you, but once you catch the running bug, it’s hard to shake.

Here’s our Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Runner!

Don’t expect it to be easy.

Don’t use how hard or how easy it is when you first jog as a gauge on whether or not you should become a runner. Just know right now as you read this, that starting isn’t easy.

You have to get your body conditioned to running before you get to a place where jogging becomes enjoyable. So you definitely don’t want to judge yourself or running first time out. I

f you can only run for two minutes when you first start jogging, that’s totally okay. Run for two, walk for ten minutes, and repeat. Build on those numbers, running more and walking less. If you commit time to running a few times a week, you will be amazed at how quickly your body adapts and you make progress.

Go for the Oh-my-gosh-I-just-ran-for-15-minutes.

While starting out can be kind of uncomfortable, you are going to love it when your body turns a corner and you realize you just jogged for 15 minutes without stopping. AND, get this: It’s wasn’t that bad. You are going to tell everyone you know. Your excitement at doing something you didn’t think you could do will start to take hold and you will feel on top of the world. Soon you will set out to run longer than 15 minutes. And this is how your love of running takes hold.

Related: 5 Reasons to Start Running

Check out Couch to 5K.

This popular program has turned many couch potatoes into runners. Get your own day-by-day training schedule you can follow and be ready to rock your first 5k in nine weeks.

Download the couch to 5k app and it can provide you with a schedule to build up your stamina and your miles. Signing up for your first 5k race is exciting. Registering for a race several weeks in the future can motivate you to run today.

Your first 5k is a great accountability partner too as you see that date marked on your calendar. Get psyched to meet new people and catch the race day energy and buzz. Good times!

Going jogging makes me feel powerful and free, like Rocky. Click to Tweet

Start flat.

Conditioning your body to run is challenging enough without adding hills right off the bat. Stack the odds in your favor and jog on flat surfaces when you are just starting.

Start with Short Intervals.

A new runner will feel like they are maxing out all their energy when they go for their first few runs. Intervals will help you recover and keep going.

Start with quick intervals like run 1 minute and walk for 2 minutes or run for 3 minutes and walk for 1 minute. Choose whatever interval feels doable and keeps you moving! Eventually you’ll be able to increase your running time and decrease your walking time as you get more comfortable.  

Enjoy the simplicity.

Part of why runners love to run or jog is because you don’t need any equipment, you don’t have to get to a group class at a certain time, and you don’t need a membership. You don’t have to buy hand weights or master choreography.

You just lace up those running shoes, put on that sports bra and dash out your front door. (Well, maybe put on some other running attire too, but you get my gist.) It’s a relationship for you, your running shoes and your playlist.

With a little bravery, you can run in all sorts of weather too.  Don’t forget to notice how nice it is to be able to get in a heart-pumping workout by just leaving your house.

Realize the benefits of running.

If you have always wanted to run, but you lack the oomph to start, here’s a motivational list for you on the benefits of running:

  • Get a great cardiovascular workout that torches calories and makes you sweat.
  • Alleviate stress, boost mental clarity and improve your mood.
  • Eventually you can experience runner’s high ( endorphins that result from the right amount of challenge to your body)
  • Hold on to those youthful looks – fights the aging process and prevents muscle and bone loss caused by aging
  • Helps improve your health by fighting disease and reducing your risk for heart attacks. Also helps with good cholesterol while lowering your blood pressure. Oh, and it boosts your immunity too.
  • Gives you a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

Related: The Benefits of Running Barefoot

If you want to be a runner, here's a beginner's guide to get you started.

One GHU team member loves to run! Click here to read her story!

Buy the shoes.

Even first time runners should get the right shoes to protect your body, optimize your experience and motivate you to lace up. Spare no expense on the right running shoes. They should last you quite a while (around 300-400 miles) and they can help prevent injury.

Go to a specialty running store where store personnel will watch you jog on a treadmill and advise you on the right running shoes for the individual way you run (whether your feet pronate or supinate). Plus, won’t you be more motivated to jog if you have your favorite florescent pair calling to you?

Put together a great playlist.

Two words: Music motivates. Once you become a seasoned runner, you may want to enjoy the sounds of nature when you’re out and about, but begin with music that revs you up. Having upbeat music can fire you up to keep at it. You will jog more and walk less.


If you catch the love of running, make sure you eat healthy, sleep well, stay hydrated, stretch after your jogs and track your progress. Tell us about your experience too. We’d love to hear from you. Run on!

READ THIS NEXT: The Beginner’s Guide to HIIT

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on June 8, 2017 at 3:58 PM Reply

What a great article...Thanks for the resources!

on March 28, 2016 at 2:35 PM Reply

Even with the best shoes fit by a professional my knees kill me. I tried starting uber slow- run one block for a week, run two for a week, so on....any advice?

    on March 30, 2016 at 4:32 PM Reply

    Depending on why your knees are hurting (previous knee injury, overweight, de-conditioned), it's going to take time to build strength. You are doing the right thing by going slowly. Perhaps some squats or lunges with help to strengthen the knees. Also, stretching after your workouts. But bottom line, if it's been a long time since you've exercised give yourself permission to take the time to build up strength.

on April 16, 2015 at 7:15 PM Reply

i am physically active, do aerobics, lift weights and it a super clean diet. I am 55 yrs. old. I am walking in a 5k in two weeks and was hoping I could run part of the course. Any suggestions would be very helpful.

    on May 27, 2015 at 10:53 PM Reply

    Couch to 5k app is amazing. It gets you started

on April 8, 2015 at 8:25 AM Reply

I have a lot of health problems my body produces too much calcium and is depositing into all my joints, a lot of arthritis degenerated disc what I still be able to run?

on February 16, 2015 at 8:47 AM Reply

You see I want to lose weight, but I can never be motivated! How could I be motivated?

on February 3, 2015 at 9:05 PM Reply

First time runner always felt like a rag doll. What's the best way to start out running I want to get into it slow

    on February 4, 2015 at 10:08 AM Reply

    Print out a training schedule from couch to 5k. It will give you a day by day plan on how much to jog vs. walk!

(This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
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