How to Start Running

Getting started with a running program isn’t hard when you follow a few quick and dirty tips.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #6

I’ve been receiving several questions about how to start running for fitness. So in this article, you’re going to learn how to transition from sofa to sprinting. In future articles, you’ll learn how to approach events like 5K’s, 10K’s, or even half or full marathons, but for now, it’s important to understand how to take up running safely and effectively so you stay injury free.

How to Start Running

When you first want to start running, walk-run intervals (when you switch off running and walking) will allow you to gradually ease your body into the new form of movement. Using this strategy of walking and running can allow you to easily get to the point of running two to three continuous miles within five to ten weeks. Depending on your fitness, you should start with a total distance of one to three miles, and use a 3:1 walk:run ratio. For example, for a two mile workout, you should walk three minutes, then jog one minute, and then walk three minutes again. Continue this scenario until you’ve traveled two miles. You can perform this workout three to four times per week. Try to allow a full 24-48 hours between sessions.

How to Build Running Endurance

After one to two weeks, progress to a 2:1 walk:run ratio, with walk efforts of two to four minutes, and run efforts of one to two minutes. One to two weeks after that, move on to a 1:1 walk:run ratio, walking and running for an equal distance of time, and still only running a maximum of 4 minutes at a time.

You can then begin to reverse the ratios by running two minutes for each one minute of walking for one to two weeks, then progressing to a 3:1 walk:run ratio for one to two weeks. Finally, after that stage is complete, you can eliminate the walking altogether, and run the entire distance. If you want to add more miles, you can begin to increase total running distance by about 10% distance each week.

Quick and Dirty Tip: Walk fast during the walk intervals. Rather than slowing to a leisurely amble during the walk intervals, try and keep your feet moving as quickly as possible. If you do that, you’ll find the transition back to running to be far easier.

Which Running Shoes Are Best?

An advantage of running is that it requires very little equipment. With no requirements for an expensive bicycle, fancy home gym, or as-seen-on-TV toys, all you really need is a pair of shoes, assuming you already own a t-shirt and shorts (if you do not own these wardrobe elements, you either live in Siberia or desperately need to go shopping for clothes).


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.