Pain Free Working

Beginner Running Guide: 5 Steps to Learn How to Run

Running is a fantastic way to improve your physical health, help you lose weight, boost your mood, and increase your overall well-being. However, for beginners, starting a running routine can seem daunting. 

Whether you’re completely new to running or looking to get back into it after a break, this beginner’s guide will help you take those crucial first steps towards becoming a confident runner. Here’s how to get started!

How Should a Beginner Run?

Before you start running, it’s essential to understand the basics of good running form. Proper running form can help prevent injuries and make your runs more efficient and enjoyable. 


Keep your posture tall and relaxed, with your head up, shoulders back, and arms bent at 90 degrees. Avoid slouching or leaning too far forward. Relax your upper body when you run. Think of your arms and shoulders being nice and relaxed and swinging forward and backward. As you start running longer periods and distances, it’s a good idea to roll your shoulders forward and backward at every mile to reduce any upper body stiffness.

Foot Strike

For beginning runners, aim for a mid-foot strike, where your foot lands directly underneath your body. Avoid overstriding, which can lead to injuries, and try to maintain a quick, light cadence.


Focus on rhythmic breathing, inhaling and exhaling steadily as you run. Some beginners find it helpful to breathe in for two steps and out for two steps, but find what works best for you and stick with it.


Start at a comfortable pace that allows you to hold a conversation while running. You should be able to speak in full sentences without gasping for breath. As you build endurance, you can gradually increase your pace.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain while running. It’s normal to experience some muscle soreness, but sharp or persistent pain could indicate an injury. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t push through it—take a break and seek medical advice if necessary.

How Do Unfit Beginners Start Running?

If you’re starting from a point of low fitness or haven’t exercised in a while, it’s essential to ease into running gradually to avoid injury and burnout. Here’s how to start:

Don’t Skip the Warmup

Before any exercise, a good warmup is necessary to prepare your muscles for the activity ahead. Warming up also increases oxygen and blood flow throughout your body. Just a few minutes of warmup can make a big difference because if your running muscles aren’t ready for the exercise you’re about to put them through, you can end up injuring yourself. 

Start your warmup with a brisk five to 10-minute walk, then follow it up with some dynamic stretches and exercises. You can do movements such as leg swings, butt kicks, high knees, lunges, squats, calf raises, and the like.

Begin with Walking

Taking a walk is often a segue for beginning runners as it allows you to feel the way your body moves. Begin by incorporating brisk walking into your routine. Aim to walk at least 30 minutes on most days of the week to build a base level of fitness.

Embrace the Run-Walk Method

Once you feel comfortable with walking for a few weeks, start adding run-walk intervals into your new running routine. For example, alternate between 1 minute of running and 2 minutes of walking for a total of 20-30 minutes. Steadily increase the amount of time you spend running and decrease the walk intervals as your fitness improves.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key when building fitness. Aim to run or walk regularly, even if it’s just a few times a week. If you can do a weekly running schedule, that’s even better. You could fit your schedule to have a running time of 50 to 150 minutes every week. Set achievable goals and track your progress to stay motivated.

Incorporate Cross-Training

Incorporate other forms of exercise, such as cycling, swimming, or strength training, to improve overall fitness and prevent overuse injuries.

Rest and Recovery

Listen to your body and take rest days as needed. Rest is crucial for allowing your muscles to repair and grow stronger. You could bike or swim or do strength training so that your running muscles rest while you continue to form your exercise habit.

How Do I Start Running From Nothing?

Running is a great way to improve heart health, burn calories, and boost your mood, among other things. You don’t have to be athletic or sporty to form a running habit. If you’re starting from scratch with no previous running experience, it’s essential to take it slow and be patient with yourself. Follow these steps to start running from nothing:

Get the Right Gear

Sure, you can run in any pair of shoes but if you’re serious about your training plan, get running shoes. Invest in a good pair of running shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning for your feet as they can help prevent injury such as shin splints. To get a good pair of running shoes, visit a specialty running store as the people there will be knowledgeable and can give you advice on what kind of running shoes you need. 

You may have started running in just any t-shirt and shorts but clothes that are specifically for running are more ideal. Comfortable, moisture-wicking running clothes are also important to keep you dry and comfortable as you run. If you’re a woman, running wearing a sports bra is a must so that you will be supported during exercise.

Other running accessories that beginner runners can consider include a heart rate monitor or a smartwatch that has GPS built-in and comes with fitness tracking capabilities. 

Aside from getting the right equipment, don’t forget to adopt some safety tips. If you’re running in the morning, apply sunscreen. If you’re running at night or dawn, stay in well-lit areas whenever possible, and keep your belongings secured in a zip pocket.

Start with Walking

Walk first to build up your fitness. Begin by establishing a routine of brisk walking to build a base level of fitness and get your body accustomed to regular exercise. After you get used to walking, transition to the run-walk method and then eventually incorporate running. 

Maybe you can run for 3 minutes then walk for 1 minute, and then bump it up to five minutes of running, and so on. Once you feel strong enough after a few weeks of three run-walks a week, you can increase the distance and eventually switch to runs.

Set Realistic Running Goals

Nicholas Romanov, PhD, a Miami-based Olympic running coach emphasizes setting realistic goals. Start and focus on small, achievable goals, such as running for 5 minutes without stopping or completing a certain distance. 

Once you’ve passed those goals, you can work your way up to running a half mile or a full mile. As you achieve these goals, gradually increase the difficulty and duration of your runs.

Find a Running Buddy

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends having an exercise partner or a running buddy. Running with a friend or joining a running group can help keep you accountable and motivated. Plus, it’s more fun to have someone to share your running journey with!

You can make training plans together, and you won’t have to go on runs alone. If you can’t find a running buddy within your circle, look for other runners in online forums or join a running club in your area.

Celebrate Progress

Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter if they’re small wins or big ones. Whether you run for an extra minute or shave a few seconds off your mile time, every improvement is worth celebrating.

What Pace Should a Beginner Jog At?

Finding the right pace as a beginner runner can be tricky, but it’s essential to start slow and gradually increase your speed as your overall health and fitness improves. Here are some tips for finding the right pace:

The Talk Test

As mentioned earlier, aim for a pace at which you can hold a conversation without feeling out of breath. If you can’t speak in full sentences, you’re likely running too fast.

Use a Heart Rate Monitor

Monitoring your heart rate can help you gauge the intensity of your runs. As a beginner, aim to keep your heart rate in the moderate-intensity zone, which is around 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.

Run by Feel

Pay attention to how your body feels while running. If you feel like you’re pushing too hard or struggling to maintain your pace, slow down and take it easy.

Be Patient

Don’t worry about pace in the beginning stages of your running journey. Focus on building endurance and consistency and speed will naturally come with time and practice.

Progress Slowly

As you become more comfortable with running, you can slowly increase your pace by incorporating speed workouts, such as intervals or tempo runs, into your training plan.

Should You Eat Before Running?

Others recommend eating before running, while others say it’s best to do so after. But really, should you eat before exercising? Truthfully, when it comes to running, a bit of trial and error is required to discover what energizes you and pushes your body forward without upsetting your stomach. 

If you’re going on an easy run, all you need are fluids and electrolytes, so take a sports drink less than an hour before you go on your run. If you’re hungry, add simple carbs like crackers or a banana. For hard runs or speed work, go for simple ones that burn calories such as sports drinks or gels, or a toast with jam or a banana. 

For runs with longer distances, complex carbohydrates will keep your energy up. Aim for a carb-heavy meal a few hours before your run and add a bit of protein and healthy fats.

Running Races as a Beginner

You may be a beginner at running but you can run races too once you feel ready for it! As a basic rule of thumb, the longer the race distance, the more weekly mileage you’ll need to prepare for and the more time you’ll need to spend training. 

If you feel comfortable running a 5K, your weekly mileage goal should be 10 to 25 miles a week and around 20 to 40 minutes of training time. For 10K, your goal should be 25 to 30 miles a week and 40 to 50 minutes of activity. 

If you’re ready to level up to a half marathon, make sure that you run 30 to 40 miles per week and around 50 to 65 minutes of activity. Lastly, for a marathon, your goal should be 40 to 60 miles per week and around 65 to 100 minutes of activity. 

If setting a goal per week isn’t working for you, try setting a time goal instead. Allow yourself a certain amount of time each day to run and see how far you can go. Both methods are effective ways to get you in shape for race day.


Starting a new running program as a beginner may seem intimidating but with the right approach and mindset, anyone can become a confident runner. By focusing on proper form, starting slowly, setting realistic goals, and listening to your body, you can build the endurance and strength needed to enjoy the many physical and mental health benefits of running. 

Soon, you’ll be able to tackle your first running race or half marathon! So lace up those running shoes, hit the pavement, begin running, and enjoy the journey!

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.