A beginner’s guide to running

by Aleczander Gamboa on Sunday 08 January 2023

3 min read

Running can come with a range of benefits, from improving your mood and reducing stress to managing your weight. Plus, it’s the easiest exercise to get started on — all you need is a good pair of running shoes and a healthy dose of motivation.

But without the right foundations in place, you can easily overwork yourself and cause injuries that put you off running completely.

If you're a beginner at running, here’s a simple guide to help kickstart your journey.

Set a goal

Define why you’re running in the first place. Are you training for a marathon? Aiming for a target weight? Whatever your intention is, setting a goal helps you stay motivated and build habits that can then create a routine.

Once you’ve decided on your goal, break the routine down into three factors: cue, reward and workout. These work in harmony, preparing your mind, body and spirit for a run.

  • Cue – this can be a certain time, place or music playlist. Having a cue can mentally stimulate your brain into running mode.
  • Reward – every run should be celebrated with something. It can be as simple as a positive affirmation you say to yourself, a delicious and healthy smoothie, a massage or splurging on something extravagant. Having a reward stimulates your spirit, making you feel eager and motivated to run
  • Workout – what kind of run will you be doing? It could be a casual walk, a sprint or an endurance run. Knowing your workout for the day stimulates the body, getting your muscles prepared for the challenge.

Write down these three factors and place it somewhere you can see it every day.

Start slow

While it sounds simple, it’s important to increase your running routine over time. Going from 0-100 when you’re a beginner may be tempting, but it’s a one-way ticket to getting overwhelmed and risking injury. As the famous saying goes, slow and steady wins the race.

Before you run, stretch your legs and do a warmup exercise, such as running drills or lunges. Doing this will activate the leg muscles.

During the run, mix it up with the run/walk method to prevent exhaustion. You can approach this method in a few ways. For example, a five-kilometre run could be split into:

  • One kilometre of walking
  • Three kilometres running
  • One kilometre of walking

Or, separate it by time. Perhaps you could do one minute of walking, three minutes of running, then back to one minute of walking and so on.

Pair it with other workouts in the gym

Combining your run with something extra can strengthen your endurance and stamina, helping you achieve bigger goals as you become a seasoned runner.

That said, it’s important to be strategic with the extra exercises you pair it with. Stacking two workouts for the sake of it will only tire you out.

Instead, you want the two exercises to complement each other, like yin and yang. Below are our favourite exercises to pair with running:

  • Yoga – the long stretches and flow movements in yoga can help increase mobility and flexibility during running.
  • Grid Training (HIIT) – high intensity interval training helps build your stamina and boost your metabolic rate, assisting with longer runs.
  • Weight training – weight training with exercises like squats or hip thrusts builds muscle definition and tone, helping you tackle steeper routes during your run.

Stay consistent and experience a runner’s high

Once you’ve established your goals and created a routine, stick to it. Consistency is the key to getting the most of this daily exercise. And once you’ve trained your body into its habits (your cues, rewards and workouts), running will become a more enjoyable experience as time goes on. You may even experience a runner’s high.

You know that feeling of euphoria you get after completing a gruelling task? That’s basically what runner’s high is – a brief but deep state of extreme joy that occurs after an intense or lengthy exercise.

Those who experience runner’s high are said to feel less anxiety, stress and pain immediately after their run. So it definitely has its perks, and who doesn’t love the feeling of joy and happiness after overcoming a challenge?

Need some extra help getting started?

Starting any new exercise can be overwhelming at first. If you need extra assistance, we’re help to help! Visit Virgin Active for a free trial.

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