10 Running Tips for Newbies: From Couch to 5 KM EASILY!!

couch to 5k running tips for beginners
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Somehow running came into your mind and you suddenly have the passion and willpower to finally start running. But, you don’t know anything about running.

Yes yes running is one of the most basic and simplest form of exercise that you can do. Just get a good pair of running shoes and you are good to go.

But that’s like going into an exam hall unprepared. You can be overwhelmed and intimidated by the vast information about how to start running for beginners…..

Too much information to the point you get confused about it. Ultimately, you may not start running. Don’t worry! This blog post will clear up your confusion.

10 simple and extremely useful running tips for beginners to start running:

1. Just start running

Just get started and have fun… Well well.. You won’t be able to run if you are still on your couch reading this… Okayyyy, maybe not run now but just start running!

Nothing is harder and more daunting than starting to exercise. Just the thoughts of running or exercise suddenly cause you to be feeling so heavy, lethargic and lazy.

tired runner running tips for beginners

Running is not as tough as you think it is…. But how would you know if you don’t start running? :p

Perhaps you should try to run like this:

naruto running

Running like this helps in reducing wind resistance and drastically increase running speed.

Nahhh… I am kidding, don’t run like that. Anyhow you run, as long you start running, will lead to a huge change in your usual daily lifestyle.

simpsons running

You are never too fat nor too skinny to run, your body size doesn’t determine your ability to run! It is time for you to prove that you can run!

You don’t need to sprint or run all-out, just go to a park or something… Just jog… Enjoy and get the feel of running first.

Don’t forget to warm up and cool down before and after running, respectively

Hello? Don’t forget to warm up before you start running and cool down after your runs. This is extremely important in preventing pain and injuries.

Follow this short 8 minutes warm up session before you start running:

Follow this short 5 minutes cool down session after your runs:

2. Start slowly but surely

Ohhhhhhhh yesss… I know that sudden urge and passion to keep running at the quickest pace possible and/or to keep running longer and longer….

But hey… CHILL AND CALM DOWN!! If you keep going at this rate, you will eventually succumbed to pain and injuries. DON’T start running too fast and/or too much now…

Besides, you will be eventually be extremely lethargic, fatigue, un-enthusiastic, and eventually experience a plunge in motivation.

It maybe too late to recover from the depths of the valley of “runners death”. Once you fall in, you may give up running and exercise altogether.

So what you can do about it?

Start your runs with the lowest volume and intensity, start slowly but surely… And remember: Not too fast and not too much so soon.

This is to allow your body to adapt to the demands of running itself. Imagine, you have been a couch potato your whole life, suddenly you start running.

This will be a big shock and surprise to your body. Your body initially can cope with the sudden change in your usual lifestyle. However, you may risk suffering a long list of injuries common to runners.

Once your body has gradually adapted to the demands of running, then only you can gradually increase the volume and intensity of your runs.

3. Implement the run and walk method

The sole reason you are panting or running through burning legs is that you are going too hard on yourself. At this point, it is too early to push yourself!

runner tired

Just take it easy, don’t make yourself suffer. If you go too hard, too soon; you will surely lose motivation to keep running.

The easiest way for you to overcome your dying passion of running like a mad person chasing a dog, is to implement the run and walk method.

runner chasing dog running tips for beginners

The run and walk method is an effective way for beginners to start running. As the namesake, you literally run and walk throughout the whole running session.

So how do I implement the run and walk method?

Firstly, you run as long as you can at a comfortable pace. Once it gets uncomfortable and tiring, then you walk.

You can walk as slow as sloth, take a break and rest more until you are okayyy before you continue to run again.

Secondly, walk until you feel that you can run again comfortably, keep repeating this pattern throughout your running session.

This method is very useful for you to cope with the stress and demands of running.

F.Y.I. Running is an extremely high-impact exercise, prone to various lower limb injuries! So….. Be careful!!

4. Try to find a running partner or running group

Oh yessss….. Running alone can be boring, especially when you are just starting to run.

Don’t be shy, talk with other runners, make friends with them and eventually you will have a running buddy or running group.

running in group running tips for beginners

A running buddy or running group can be helpful if they are more experienced than you. They can help to push and motivate you to keep running.

You can even have a long run while chit-chatting without even realising you ran past 5 km.

So what can I do if I can’t find a running buddy?

Well, then run alone, obviously. Get a pair of headphones, wear it, play some music, go out and run! It would be a shameful excuse to not run just because you are alone….

running with headphones running tips for beginners

5. Incorporate a proper training program

A proper running program will be specific to your running needs and be progressive overload. So, if you want to go from couch to running 5 km as a beginner, you need to follow a proper running program.

A proper running program will outline when you should be running, how long to run, the pace of your run, when you should be resting and so on

running tips for beginner couch to 5k

Besides, I have designed a sample couch to 5 km running plan for you to start running, you can follow the sample plan and note your progress along the way.

Sample Couch to 5 KM Training Plan

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These are some body weight exercises for runners that you can do:

6. Write down your progress

Writing down your progress is crucial to know your progress over the weeks. You should also write down your feelings, emotions, mood, and so on, before during and after every run.

You can write down everything on a notebook (literally notebook, not your laptop). In fact, if you are a tech-savvy person, then go ahead and note down your progress using the app in your phone or laptop or computer.

write down running progress running tips for beginners

As two weeks have past, sit down and have a look at your progress, feelings, emotion, mood, pain, soreness, etc…

Then compare the current week’s progress to the previous week’s progress. You should be able to run longer distance without stopping, feeling easier to run, less pain and less sore…

It is not necessary to keep pushing yourself in an attempt to keep up with the training program…. You are you, you know yourself better…

If you feel that you can’t keep up with the training program because you are too tired, fatigue or other issues… Then allocate more rest days for yourself..

There is no harm on resting more days when you NEED it, but there is harm if you keep running without sufficient rest (we call this over-training).

It is important to keep everything structured to stay motivated, allocate specific days of the week for your runs, and don’t skip on it!

7. Drink sufficient water and stay hydrated

Hey there… Go and grab a glass of water and drink a mouthful of water now… You need to stay hydrated at all times throughout the day.

Our body is made up of about 70% water, it is at an utmost importance to be hydrated all the time. When you are running, your body use up more and more fluids.

runner drink water

Most of the fluids are lost in the form of sweat. So, don’t forget to drink enough water before your run OR bring along your water bottle to drink some water.

However, I don’t recommend carrying your water bottle on hand while running. It can be inconvenient, uncomfortable and an added “resistance” you have to carry throughout your run.

If you didn’t drink enough water and you are dehydrated, this is what can happen to you:

  • Mild headache.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Heat stress.
  • And so on…

This doesn’t mean that you should gulp a ton of water prior to running. Heck man! Drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication and cause serious health consequences!

Just remember to always drink enough water throughout your day to prevent dehydration. You need to check your urine color to gauge your hydration level.

urine color chart

If you are properly hydrated, your urine color should be light yellow (colours 1-3) and you should be going to the loo on average of 5-6 times per day.

Besides, if you are dehydrated before your run, you may suffer from severe dehydration during/after running. It can be a life-threatening problem, so don’t play a fool and drink more water!!

8. Implement proper running technique and running form

Actually you don’t need to crack your head to learn proper running technique and running form.

If you want to know the basics of proper running form and technique, I recommend you learn more about ChiRunning technique in this video:

ChiRunning technique is basically a running technique whereby you run tall and relaxed with center of gravity always ahead of your stride.

This allows gravity to “make you run” rather than using mainly muscle strength to propel you forwards. In simple words, you let gravity do the hard work instead of your muscles.

chirunning technique

Always engage your core and keep your body in alignment. Your body alignment from the shoulder to the hips to the ankle should be similar to a “imaginary straight line”.

Learning this running technique may or may not be easy for you. Make small changes every time you run and you’ll eventually see a huge improvement in your running form and technique.

Relaxation is key to a flawless, smooth and fluid running form.

running form and technique

So why is it important to learn proper running form and technique?

The importance of proper running form and technique:

  • To prevent pain and injuries.
  • Improve running economy.
  • Improve running performance.
  • Reduce impact on joints.
  • Looks damn good – easy flex.

Every individual is unique, every runner have their own comfortable and “proper” running form and technique.

Besides, to implement proper running form and technique is about CORRECTING your OWN running form and technique.

Sometimes correcting your own running form and technique is limited by other factors such as weak muscles and improper biomechanics.

For example, I can’t tell you not to heel-strike when you run because there is an underlying cause of why are you heel-striking.

heel strike running

It could be because you are trying to reach too far ahead with each stride (overstriding) or other factors involved. Other factors such as weak gluteal and quadriceps muscles.

You need to fix these issues and limitations prior to changing your running form and technique.

9. Get a proper and good pair of running shoes

No doubt that you can just grab ANY pair of shoes and use it as your running shoes, but don’t be surprised when you start to suffer various injuries such as runner’s knee, ITB syndrome, and shin splints.

running knee pain

Getting a good pair of shoes can equate to getting a good pair of tyres for your lovely car… So, how do I choose a good pair of running shoes when I know nothing about running?

sloth running shoes

A good pair of running shoes may prevent many running injuries and will have sufficient heel cushion, a decent heel to toe drop, a snug fit on your foot, looking nice and more!

10. Never give up, just keep running and you will only be improving!

Anything that comes easy, won’t last. Anything that lasts, won’t come easy. Running will surely be tough, tiring, pain, sore, and so on

It is your effort, persistence, dedication, diligence, self-discipline and determination to keep running when it is tough and tiring.

When the going gets tough, you MUST keep going!! Don’t ever give up and just keep swi– running until you have finished! ONLY stop when you are DONE, not when you are TIRED.

just keep swimming

No matter how much motivation we show and give you, it is you yourself whether you want to keep running or give up.

The greatest motivator, is yourself. You are the only person that can motivate and push yourself to keep running. We can only help a little, we are like your “side-line” motivators.

Oh my god, I have pain at the side of my body, what is it?

The pain at the side of your body, is called side-stitch. Side-stitch is basically the pain felt at either side of your tummy area below your ribs.

The symptoms may range from mild cramp/dull aching to a pulling sensation, sharp and stabbing pain and usually occurs while running.

It is caused by rapid and hard breathing while running, especially common among beginner runners.

female runner tired

With rapid and hard breathing while running, your lungs expands and presses against the diaphragm (your breathing muscle).

This cause your diaphragm to spasm due to lack of blood flow caused by the compression of the lungs. This eventually leads to the sharp, painful and pulling sensation at the side of your tummy.

Don’t worry about it… Once your body adapts to the distance and demands of your runs, it will gradually go away and resolves on its own. It is not a caused of concern, so stay calm!

So how do I treat side-stitches when it occurs during my run?

The treatment is so simple that you won’t believe it… Just stop running… Walk if you want, rest if you must.

Once the pain has subsided, you can either keep running or stop altogether. Keep running if you can, stop if you don’t feel comfortable. It is up to you to decide.

male runner tired

Besides, prevention is better than treatment. Try to gradually increase your running volume and intensity as mentioned in Tip 2. Also, you can stop and walk as soon you feel any discomfort at the side of your tummy.

My leg is damn pain after running, why it happened and what can I do about it?

The pain you feel after your runs is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It happens because your muscles have micro-tears due to running.

how muscles grow

Hold up! This is not an injury… Your muscles are experiencing “tissue damage” due to the demands of the run.

It is often caused by a sudden change in daily activities or starting a strenuous exercise. In your case, you started running, suddenly..

So what I can do about it?

The easiest way to prevent this is to start running with the LOWEST volume and intensity as mentioned in Tip 2.

Yess… A combination of running and walking up to 10-15 minutes may seem easy and not much. However, don’t forget your MUSCLES have NEVER experienced it before.

muscle soreness, delayed onset muscle soreness

If you pushed yourself too early, too much, you will get severe and unbearable pain lasting up to a week or so… The most you can do is to reduce the pain severity by starting with the lowest volume and intensity.

Besides, sufficient rest days and a good night’s sleep everyday is crucial to the recovery and growth of muscle tissues – afternoon naps doesn’t count!

Sufficient rest allows your body to gradually adapt to the demands of running and recover physically, mentally and emotionally.

good night's sleep

Having a good night’s sleep enhances recovery and growth of muscles through protein synthesis and the release of growth hormones.

Therefore, make sure you have sufficient rest days (at least 2-4 rest days per week) along with a good night’s sleep (at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night).

Should I be running outside or running on treadmil?

As a beginner, you may wonder whether you should be running outside or running on treadmill…. Basically, both yield similar benefits but it depends on various factors to answer your question.

outside running or treadmill running

My only advise are:

  • If your area is safe, you have no issues with time, you like to enjoy the scenery, and so on… Then I recommend outside running.
  • If you area is not safe to run, you have time constraints, your area have frequent bad weather (rain, snow, etc), you have a treadmill… Then I recommend treadmill running.

Besides, you can even run outside and run on treadmill when you see fit. This is only possible if you currently have a treadmill at home or you have an access to it (please don’t go to a gym for a treadmill!).

It is not worth to spend your money to go to a gym to use a treadmill, unless you really have no other options.

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What is the best time to eat and what kind of nutritious foods should I eat?

You should eat a proper meal before you run (at least 3-4 hours prior to running). If you eat a lot and start running, you can experience stomach cramping, digestive issues, nauseous and feeling lethargic.

You can run on an empty stomach and this is called “fasted running”, whereby you have fasted about 6-8 hours prior to running.

Yes… You can wake up in the morning, grab a pair of running shoes and quickly go outside for a run.

But here is the catch… These are some of the cons for running on an empty stomach:

  • You will feel quite tired and fatigue due to lack of energy.
  • It may cause you to overeat after your run.
  • It could lead to muscle loss, as your energy is used up, your body break down muscles for energy.
  • You won’t be burning more calories or fat.

Having a munch on some bread along with a cup of milk or eating some biscuits will be good enough to get you going for your morning runs…

So what kind of proper meal should I be eating?

You need to be eating a proper diet, with more carbs and protein on a daily basis. You need those extra protein to repair and build your muscles.

An adequate amount of carbs is equally important to provide you with sufficient energy to replenish your energy stores.

And hey… You must also consume a lot of leafy vegetables and fruits!! Vege and fruits are a good natural source of vitamins and minerals

Also, eating lots of vege and fruits may help to reduce the risk of many health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes and so on..

diet meal

So can I actually lose weight by running?

Yes, you can lose weight by running. Running is a great way to lose weight, but it won’t happen overnight. It requires determination, dedication, diligence and self-discipline!

Besides, the most important factor in losing weight is to control your diet along with sufficient running. That’s a lovely pizza eh?


Make sure you are not consuming high calories food such as burger, pizza, chocolate, cakes and alike…. You can eat once in awhile, but not always!

What kind of surface should I run on? Does it make a difference?

There are various surface common to runners, such as grass, tarmac, running track, concrete surface and so on…

Running on any surface is okayyy and it affects your body differently… But, it is better to avoid the hard surface such as concrete and tarmac surface.

As a beginner and newbie runner, I recommend you start running at a running track or on grass, as it is much softer…. This is to reduce the impact and stress on your tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones and joints.

running on track

Since you are a beginner, you don’t want your body to be pounding the hard tarmac and concrete surface. Allow your body to gradually adapt to the demands of running first…

If you don’t have access to a running track nor have any liking to running on grass, then go ahead and run on tarmac surface. However, try to keep it to a minimal volume as mentioned in Tip 2.

running on road

Does different weather affect my runs?

A hotter and colder weather do affect you, your body and your performance in running. Heck man! Even the wind and humidity affect your runs too!

The greatest factor in affecting your run is air temperature. The hotter the air temperature, the slower you run and vice versa for colder air temperature.

hot sun tired running

Of course running in the snow won’t make you any faster, you may freeze to death instead. So, don’t go and run in the snow like a hero…

Call it a rest day if the weather is not suitable for you to run. Don’t force yourself and there is no harm in resting an extra day.

Some running lingo that you shou- must know

These are some of the common running lingo that’s often used by many runners:

  • Stride length – The distance from the toe of your right foot of, to the toe of your right foot or it could be the heels instead…
  • Cadence – The number of steps taken per minute. You eventually need to achieve 180 steps (3 steps per second) per minute.
  • Speed – Stride length x Steps per second = Speed…
    -> Example, 1.5 m stride length x 2.5 steps per second = 3.75 m/s.
  • Average Pace – It is basically the distance over time taken, usually calculated by dividing the distance with the time taken to complete that distance.
    -> Example, you ran 6 km in 30 minutes, 30 mins / 6 km = 5 km/min
  • Striding – Running faster than your usual pace, but not an all-out sprint.
  • Cross train – Doing any exercise other than running, such as swimming, walking, cycling and body weight exercises….
  • Rest day – You rest, you don’t run, just sit at home and rest.

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