How to Start Running from Nothing: 16 Step Free Guide

Updated: November 9, 2023

November 9, 2023 in Training guides

Are you ready to embark on a life-changing journey? Running can be an incredibly rewarding and transformative experience, but starting from scratch can be daunting.

Fear not, because we have created a comprehensive step-by-step guide on “how to start running from nothing” to help you become the runner you’ve always wanted to be. I started running at age 8 with my Dad and have raced for over 20 years, and have won multiple half marathons. I will share the tools and knowledge you need to succeed. So, lace-up your shoes and let’s get started!

Reasons you need to know how to start running from nothing: 

By reading the full steps on how to start running from nothing you will learn more about the following and why these points are so important for a runner starting from nothing or with limited experience with running.

How to Start gradually

Setting SMART goals

How to Maximize Performance

Learn proper training techniques

Overcome common challenges

How to Enjoy the Process

How to avoid common mistakes

Ensure you stay motivated

Reach your running goals

Starting Your Running Journey

Just remember, every great runner was once a beginner, so be patient and trust the process. If you are starting a new program it's worth checking in with a doctor or physiotherapist to ensure you are ready to start.

Step 1: Begin with Walking

Starting your running journey with walking is an excellent approach, as it allows you to build a strong foundation while reducing the risk of injury. Walking offers several benefits, including:

  • Boosting endurance
  • Increasing blood flow
  • Strengthening muscles
  • Serving as an excellent cross-training option

To maximize the benefits of walking, make sure you adopt proper walking techniques, such as maintaining good posture, swinging your arms naturally, and incorporating walk breaks.

Step 2: Alternative Walk/run

Alternating between periods of walking and running is a fantastic way to transition from walking to running safely and at your own pace. This will help build endurance and burn more calories. Following a structured plan will enable you to gradually increase your running time and distance while reducing the risk of injury.

Step 3: Set Realistic Goals

Setting achievable goals is crucial for staying motivated and tracking your progress. Utilizing the SMART goal-setting method (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) will empower you to stay focused and committed to your running journey.

 Some examples of realistic goals for beginner runners include running non-stop for a certain distance, completing a 5K or half-marathon.

 Setting and celebrating your milestones keeps you inspired, making the journey to becoming a lifelong runner enjoyable

Committing to this training method with the guidance of a running coach will help you progress from a walker to a confident runner.

Step 4: Choosing the Right Running Shoes

The right running gear, including proper shoes, comfortable clothing, and hydration solutions, is indispensable for new runners. It enhances performance, prevents injuries, and guarantees comfort.

Investing in quality gear will not only make your running experience more enjoyable but also contribute to your long-term success and commitment to the sport.

Selecting the right running shoes is paramount to prevent injuries and improve comfort. The perfect pair should match your foot type, running style, and provide adequate cushioning and stability. Visiting a running specialty store can guarantee you get the perfect fit and type of shoe for your needs.

Step 5: Comfortable Clothing

Wearing comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing is essential for a pleasant running experience, as it helps to keep sweat away from your skin and prevents chafing. Opt for lightweight, breathable materials.

Look out for kit that can wick away moisture but also provide long-lasting durability and comfort during physical activity.

Some of the best running kit I have had for years and they still perform fantastically – so its certainly worth spending the right amount to ensure the quality.

Step 6: Hydration Solutions

Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining energy levels, regulating body temperature, and avoiding dehydration during your runs. Choose from water bottles, hydration belts, or hydration packs to ensure you have access to water during your workouts.

Remember, staying hydrated is vital for optimal performance and overall health, so make it a priority on every run. If you decide to not bring water on your run make sure you are at least hydrated before you start. An electrolyte drink is also perfect in ensuring hydration. Drinking to thirst is generally the best option so you don’t over do it.

Step 7: Posture and Alignment

A proper running form is necessary for efficient running, preventing injuries, and enhancing performance. Remember, good form is the foundation of every successful runner, so take the time to master these crucial elements and watch your progress soar.

Maintaining good posture and alignment while running can significantly reduce strain on your body and prevent injuries. Here are some of my tips for a beginner to help you maintain proper posture while running:

  1. Stand tall with your head up
  2. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed
  3. Maintain a neutral pelvis
  4. Focus on the path ahead

Practicing these techniques not only increases comfort during runs but also boosts overall performance.

Step 8: Foot Strike and Stride

Focusing on a natural foot strike and stride is vital for improving running efficiency and reducing the risk of injury. Midfoot striking is the ideal foot strike for distance runners, as it helps maintain consistent momentum while minimizing braking forces.

Additionally, finding the right balance between stride length and cadence can optimize your performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Step 9: Gradual Increases

A successful running journey hinges on building endurance and progressing safely Remember, consistency is key, so stick to your plan and trust the process!

Increasing your running distance and time gradually is essential to avoid overtraining and injuries. Here are some tips to help you do it safely:

  1. Start with a comfortable weekly mileage.
  2. Steadily build your strength and fitness as you progress.
  3. Aim to not increase your distance by more than 10% per week.
  4. Take an easy week once a month.

By following these guidelines, you can gradually increase your running distance and time without putting yourself at risk for overtraining or injuries.

Following these guidelines allows for a safe improvement in endurance, making the journey to becoming a stronger runner enjoyable.

Step 10: Cross-Training and Strength Training

Incorporating cross-training and strength training into your running workouts can help improve overall running fitness and reduce the risk of injury. Cross-training activities, such as swimming, cycling, or yoga, can enhance your endurance, strengthen supporting muscles, and offer variety in your running routine.

I raced in swimming events when I was younger, I believe that had a huge positive impact on my development as a runner.

Strength training exercises, like lunges, squats, and step-ups, can help build muscle strength and endurance, making running more efficient and faster. By diversifying your workouts, you’ll not only reduce the risk of injury but also stay motivated and engaged in your running journey.

Step 11: Rest and Recovery

Prioritizing rest and recovery is crucial for allowing your body to adapt and grow stronger. Taking regular rest days should be included in your running routine to ensure your body recovers and stays injury-free. Additionally, incorporating cross-training and strength training into your routine can help reduce the impact of running on your body and provide active recovery.

Remember, balance is key to a successful and enjoyable running experience

Step 12: Tracking Progress

Maintaining motivation and accountability is vital for a consistent running habit and goal attainment.

Using apps or journals to track your running progress can help you stay motivated and set new goals. Tracking progress can help you recognize your improvement, pinpoint weaknesses, and stay committed to your running journey. Apps like Strava can provide valuable data and insights into your performance, while journals offer space for personal reflection and goal-setting.

Monitoring your progress helps maintain focus and inspiration to keep working towards your goals. Its also great to look back at how far you have come, I like to look back on my training before a big race to give me extra confidence.

Step 13: Running Communities

Connecting with running communities, both online and in-person, can provide invaluable support, motivation, and camaraderie. Running communities offer social support, a sense of belonging, and accountability, making your running journey more enjoyable and sustainable.

Whether you join local running clubs or participate in online forums, connecting with like-minded individuals can keep you motivated and on track to reach your goals.

Step 14: Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating your achievements and milestones is essential for staying motivated and enjoying your running journey. Acknowledging your accomplishments, no matter how small, can provide a sense of satisfaction and inspire you to keep pushing towards your goals.

By embracing your progress and celebrating the journey, you’ll maintain your motivation and passion for running.

One of the best thing about doing a big city race for example is you have a lot of great options for a post run meal or coffee. Alternatively at the smaller races post race cake is often a big feature.

Step 15: Handling Weather Conditions

While every runner faces challenges, adopting the right strategies and mindset allows for overcoming these obstacles and continued growth.

Adapting to various weather conditions is an important skill for any runner. By dressing appropriately and adjusting your running routine, you can maintain your performance and stay comfortable in any environment.

When running in hot weather, opt for lightweight, breathable clothing to stay cool, and don’t forget to stay hydrated. In cold weather, layer up and wear moisture-wicking fabrics to stay warm and dry. Be prepared to adjust your pace and effort level depending on the conditions, and always prioritize your safety and well-being.

Step 16: Navigating Busy Schedules

Fitting running into a busy schedule can be challenging, but with planning, prioritization, and flexibility, it’s possible to maintain your running habit. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Plan your runs in advance, and pencil in time for rest and recovery as well.
  2. If you’re short on time, consider breaking up your runs into shorter sessions.
  3. Incorporate quick and effective workouts like intervals or hill sprints.

By following these tips, you can make a new running habit a regular part of your busy schedule and establish a new running routine with a suitable running program.

Prioritizing running and maintaining flexibility enable consistent progress, even amidst a hectic schedule.


The fantastic thing about running is it can truly appeal to all age groups. As I mentioned I started at 8 years old running with my Dad but you can start at any age and still progress, enjoy yourself and chase your own personal goals.

Embarking on a running journey is an exciting and rewarding endeavor. By mastering the basics, developing proper form, building endurance, staying motivated, and overcoming challenges, you can transform your life.

Remember, every step you take brings you closer to becoming the runner you’ve always wanted to be. So lace-up your shoes, embrace the journey, and enjoy the incredible benefits that running has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start running when I have never started?

Take it easy and start by walking for 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week. Gradually work your way up to alternating between running and walking, or doing a run/walk routine with short intervals. A Couch to 5K program can also be helpful in building up your stamina over time. Motivate yourself and just start slow!

How can I transition from walking to running?

Start your transition from walking to running with the walk-run method, alternating between walking and running intervals until you reach your desired goal. Stay motivated and before you know it you'll be a confident runner!

What is the best way to choose the right running shoes?

For the best running experience, visit a running specialty store to get shoes that provide stability, cushioning, and a proper fit according to your foot type and running style.

How can I improve my running form?

Focus on your posture and alignment, natural foot strike and stride, and breathing technique to improve your running form! Keeping your body in the right position and executing each step with intention will help you reach your goals.

What are some effective cross-training activities for runners?

Swimming, cycling, and yoga are all great cross-training activities that can increase your endurance, strengthen muscles, and add variety to your running regimen


About the author 


James is an elite distance runner and has also raced triathlon for a number of years. He has a certification in swimming coaching, and a passion to help all athletes succeed in finding a balance within sport and life.