How to run a 5km/10km/half marathon

I get asked advice on how to run quite a lot.

Normally when there is a charity event such as the race for life is coming to our local area, which is great because I’m all over people being inspired to get fitter and raise money for great causes. Now, please don’t think I am some amazing running guru who knows the ins and outs of the mechanics of running. I’m not. I’m not even good at long distance running because I deem myself better equipped with more muscular and powerful legs that are good for explosive work.

I remember the first time I timed my run.

I was actually really nervous! I had extremely low expectations of the time and distance I could manage. The reason I was training was because I wanted to start my freelance PT business and I just assumed that in order to do so I had to be a good runner. I have since learnt that I don’t have to be good at everything in order to help people bring out their best, I did a day course in running coaching which at the time was with YMCAFIT and I took a lot away from it. However, bearing that in mind I still wouldn’t take on a client who is serious about training for something long distance such as the marathon, if they expected me to coach alongside them every session. Someone like Marathon Marcus who travels to other countries to take part in various marathons throughout the year! WAY out of my remit!

My iPod had a great playlist ready for me to run to and it was a cool, fresh evening. I set off at my own little pace and I just jogged and jogged until my little legs couldn’t go any further. I had just been running for 30 minutes flat, no rest. It was such an amazing feeling! My legs were empty and felt as thought I was drunk. BOY did I ache in the morning!!!

I learned something that evening. If you are physically able to go out and do a little run-you are a runner. I hear “I’m no runner” ALL the time. I say, can you run for 5 seconds? yes? then you are a runner. Simple as that.

Rules of running

The rules on how to run… and I use the term “running” loosely. What I mean is jogging, running, trotting along whatever you want to call it. In my opinion there are no rules. You don’t need to be able to do a certain speed, time, distance or even breathe a set way. Just do it how you enjoy it and soak up the scenery and fresh air as you do.

There are some days I go out equipped with a mellow “easy Sunday” playlist in my earholes and I do a very relaxed, no pressure walk/slow jog. It’s pure bliss and I would highly recommend it. I’m not saying running or jogging is “easy” but I’m saying you needn’t make it feel really, really hard either.


Although I’ve stated that I feel there are no rules particularly with running, safety is number 1. I run as a lone female with one of my senses removed as I’m listening to music via earphones. If I run when it’s dark I will do so when I know dog walkers and other runners are around and only on the well-lit paths. (it’s also sensible to be able to see the ground and avoid tripping!) I run along a joint cycle path too so I’m always looking over my shoulder if I change direction to make sure I don’t smack into a cyclist speeding up behind me. If your only running route is along a country road with little to no footpath, I highly recommend you DO NOT wear any head or earphones so that you are fully aware of traffic and other hazards. This is why you are not allowed to wear them whilst running most charity or official running events.


Personally, I think the more visible you are the safer you are. Especially if it’s dark when you head out to run. There are many accessories you can buy to add high-vis to your ordinary running gear. Which, by the way, needn’t be anything special. If you’re comfortable in leggings and a vest top, wear it! You don’t need the latest sports branded super duper does-the-running-for-you outfit, unless buying it means you will stick to your commitment , of course.

The one thing that is a MUST though, for women, is of course a good sports bra. I personally will only wear Royce Impact Free sports bra, which you can purchase using my affiliate link HERE. It feels like a straight jacket! NOTHING MOVES. Second to that, a good pair of trainers that I think should only be used for running in. Make them feel that little bit special so that when you put them on you’re excited to get out and use them. If you can afford to get a pair that have been made for you according to an analysis of your running gait, it’s worth it. Running in trainers with the wrong kind of support can cause all sorts of problems such as shin splints or runner’s knee.

Ok so, how to run?

No pressure: set time

It may take a little planning if you’re just starting out. Giving yourself plenty of time to train is very important so that you avoid injury through over training. If you’re brand new to jogging then what I would first suggest is set yourself a session time such as 20mins. What you manage in those 20mins is up to you, it could be walking, power walking or a mix of jogging and walking. Whatever it is just try it for 20mins to start with 2 or 3 times a week, when you have time.

No pressure: set distance

Distance is great but if you’re brand new to jogging, some of your sessions may take longer on the days when you’re a little more tired. You also need to know roughly how far you can manage to know where to start. Starting with 5km as a complete beginner may be a little too far and you could be out running for well over an hour, which can be too much for some and put you off. If you’re not too sure on how far a set route is, there’s a great website called map my run which allows you to draw your route. So if you plan to go off of the public roads and maps can’t route it, you can calculate your distance this way.


Intervals are great if you know you will need rest time but have a distance or time in mind. You can run to a lamp post and then walk to the next lamp post and keep switching like that or you can structure your session more. So for example if you would like to achieve a 15min jog in total, why not do a 30min session of 1min walk 1min jog? Accumulatively you will have jogged for 15mins. Then to improve your fitness as that becomes easier to complete, you can change to 2mins jogging and 1min walking meaning your 15min jog will be achieved in a 24min session but you’ve needed less rest to get there. This is a great way to gradually build up how long you can jog for in consecutive minutes and reduce the need to rest quite as often.

Timed distance

If you are working up to a 5km jog for example, you can start with 5km and time how long it takes you. Then continue to train towards this goal and re-time yourself to show any improvement. The same can be done with a 1km, 2km or 3km timed jog just to give you an idea on your progress. This adds an element of competition with yourself, if you’re flagging mid-run and notice you’re doing better than before it can give you the boost you need to run faster and beast your last time.



How do you train for a run? Have you ever considered starting and been put off? I’d love to hear your success stories too in the comments below!

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