My Running Journey: From 1 minute To 10 Miles


This email comes from Katrin:

Hey Angela!

I really adore your blog and read it every single day (even on vacation ;))

But I have a question on running. I never did running for exercising before (only yoga, pilates and dancing for cardio), but I would like to start with it now. I don’t really know how to start (how fast should I go, how long should I run,….) I tried to run around the block this morning and had to stop after being drenched in sweat and having severe pain in my side. Am I going too fast maybe?

So I was wondering, how did you start running and what hints do you have for someone like me?

Thank you so much (for everything you do!)


My Running Journey: From 1 Minute to 10 Miles

When I first started to run longer distances, I hated it.

I used to participate in track and field, but long distance was not what I took part in! I stuck to the short sprinting distances and relay races (think 60 metre sprints). I also did high jump and long jump. I was never a long distance runner and I couldn’t understand how people could be on the cross country team and just run and run for miles!

During the summer of 2008, I decided to give running another shot. At first, I could only run 1 minute at a time.

Only being able to run 1 minute at a time was hard for me to comprehend seeing as I was a cardio junkie. I could do a 1 hour cardio workout no problem, but once I hit the pavement I was huffing and puffing and my legs felt like lead. Suddenly, I felt so out of shape!

This is what I did:

I grabbed my stop watch and timed myself for 1 minute. I promised myself I would run the full minute and then I could walk. And you can bet I was starring at the watch almost the whole time.

I ran 1 minute and then walked 1 minute. Then I clicked the watch and ran another minute. I didn’t pay attention to my speed or have any fancy gadgets. I just did what I could during that minute, knowing that a rest would be coming up soon. My first running interval workouts were about 20 minutes in length.

Gradually, over time I started to run for a longer time. After a week or two of doing the 1:1 intervals, I increased the running for 2 minutes and then I did the 2:1 intervals until I felt comfortable to move up.

My best advice is not to rush it. Give your body enough time to build that running base. I also highly recommend getting some great running shoes. Go into a good sports store and have them watch you run, so they can fit you with a proper pair based on your needs.

I remember feeling so proud of two running accomplishments when I first started:

  • Being able to run 5 minutes without stopping
  • Being able to run 1 mile without stopping

The great thing about running is that improvements happen quite fast! If you listen to your body, give it proper rest, fuel with food, and do cross-training, your body will respond even better than you would ever imagine.

Here are some of my tips that helped me learn to run:

  • Get intervals! If you are just starting out try 1:1 run/walk intervals or even 0.30:1. Gradually build up from there.
  • Get a stopwatch. For me, having the distraction of a watch was key for my motivation. You don’t need anything fancy or any special gadgets.
  • Get your rest. Always listen to your body. If you are sore (oh, and you will be very sore when you first start out especially!), give your body the rest it needs. Your muscles need time to repair so you can get stronger on your next outing.
  • Get flat. Try to run on flat terrain for the first while, so you don’t get discouraged by hills. Baby steps.
  • Get comfortable. Invest in some comfortable running shorts, sneakers, and a good sports bra. You don’t want your mind on uncomfortable clothes while you are learning to run.
  • Get a calendar. Chart your progress! I wrote down each and every run in my Outlook calendar. You will have a visual to see yourself improving and you will probably be surprised at how fast you improve.
  • Get a buddy. I didn’t have a running partner so it was a bit more difficult for me, but if you can find a running buddy it will help you stay committed. Try to find someone at your own level. You can also sign up for a Running clinic for new runners in your area.
  • Get block. Exercising outdoors does a whammy on your skin. Protect it each and every time you leave the house.
  • Get a 5k race. Had I not been so intimidated by races, I would have signed up for my first 5k race last fall. I was definitely ready for one. My advice to you is not to be scared to run your first race. They are fun, the people are friendly, and you will have a grin on your face for a week (at least!).

Are you interested in starting to run?

Do you have a running story? How did you start out?


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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

CJ August 20, 2009

All such good advice!

I started running in January and I still remember how proud I was when I was able to run the entire length of a song – it was a huge deal too because I remember at the time talking about it to my friends and family.

Just 8 months later I’m halfway through a half-marathon training programme and ran 9 miles last weekend and will do 10 this weekend.

I LOVE how fast I’m seeing improvements (my 5 mile run yesterday was a whole 45 seconds faster than last week’s) and it truly is a high at the end of each workout.

I think my best advice would be to start out slow. I’m still not a fast runner, and I envy those of you who crank out 9 minute miles, but I know I’ll get there eventually!

– CJ


Matt (No Meat Athlete) August 20, 2009

Terrific post! I’m so with you on the “no need for fancy gadgets.” When I hear someone say, “I was going to run longer, but my Garmin stopped working,” it kills me!

My running story is this. You don’t have to love running to do it. The key is learning not to hate it. When I started, I did hate it. But I signed up for a marathon, and though the training and race were far from perfect, that’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I learned not to hate it, but RUNNING SLOW at first (it just hurts too much to run fast when you’re new), and I fell in love with the thrill of training for something that seems so impossible.

Now, 5 marathons later, I still don’t LOVE the actual runs. But I do truly love the process of training every day to get stronger and faster.

Again, I love this post!


Nicole August 20, 2009

Wow! Your tips are awesome!! I injured myself running a 15K 5 weeks ago and these tips are a perfect way to get back into training for the 1/2 I have planned for this winter. Thanks!


Erika August 20, 2009

What awesome advice! I get so discouraged by running, I am going to try and commit to this and see if I can work towards a goal. I am also glad to see that I am not the only one with this problem. When I tell people I can’t run a mile, I feel like I always get weird looks! :)


jen August 20, 2009

i never realized how hard running was till i started doing it myself. i can do high impact hour long cardio classes 6 days a week easy, even running on the treadmill, but running outside is a WHOLE different story.

i think a problem with beginner runners is they start out too fast, take it easy! and build your speed over time.

Over the past year i’ve gone from running for 5 min to doing one 5km race, two 10km races, one half marathon (did it in 1 hour and 51 minutes! ) and another this september, and the ultimate goal, a full marathon in may next year with a goal of under 4 hours.

Running to me was about losing weight in the beginning, but now i’ve learned to love it as “me time” and not thinking about anything else than the moment. Its also a great personal challenge, just remember to set realistic goals that you can achieve. Like Angela says, once you do one race, YOU’RE HOOKED!



Colleen August 20, 2009

One more tip – STRETCH like it’s your job after you finish a run! I wasn’t doing this when I first started running, but once I did my soreness decreased SO MUCH! And I agree – keeping a log is a great motivator and something that you can look at with pride!


Roselyn August 20, 2009

Thank you for this…I started running in January and could not even run a full minute without wanting to die. I now run for 30 minutes 5x a week for cardio. I’d like to increase my mileage eventually.

I love your blog…you are such an inspiration!


Mel January 3, 2013

How long did it take you to be able to run for 30 mins straight?


Marcia August 20, 2009

I had to start running when I joined the military in college. I practiced before going to college, and was in good shape for all of the PT. But then the out-of-shape guys got in better shape and I didn’t, so I started hating getting yelled at for being slow and not improving (I ran my physical fitness test in an 8:30 mile, a pace I have not reached since).

Then it was an on-again off-again thing. The first time I think I *really* became a runner, I wanted to train to run for an hour. The book “Running and Walking for Women over 40, the Road to Sanity and Vanity” has a GREAT running program. Made up of running and walking spurts…where you gradually increase the running and decrease the walking. I used it twice to first run for an hour, then train for a 10k.

Now I run about 2x a week. I really enjoy it. I will never be interested in running 4-6 days a week. I am thinking of training for a 1/2 marathon.

It’s important to do what works for you. I have a friend who ran track in HS. I started running with her and she YELLED at me for walking. Because she was taught to NEVER walk and if you walk, you’re done. But for me, I use it as recovery and then start running again. She hasn’t yelled at me since.


Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) August 20, 2009

This is a perfect-timed post! I’ve done 1/2 marathons but now running a mile is a struggle. But I’ve been itching to get back on the running track and agree with your ideas – I usually increase by mile increments (it works for me)although I did just read (not sure if it was here or not) to go by time instead of distance… I hope to get to the “enjoying” phase soon!!


Amy August 20, 2009

I LOVE THIS POST. I thought it was just me. Cardio is still a challenge as I am trying to lose about 25 pounds, but running just didn’t feel good when I tried it. I think I was trying to do too much at first. Thanks to this I’m going to try again.


Courtney August 20, 2009

I also use the walk/run workouts to get my running miles in. I am not a runner…that is what I say. But I can run 4 miles. Maybe not fast, but I can run it! So maybe I am a runner. I was able to get there by doing the 3 mins running 2 mins walking routine. I still like to do that when I am not in the mood to run, because I still get in a good workout. Now I lead a running group on Saturday mornings with a group that is training for a race in September. I can hardly believe I am leading the training run! Some of the participants hadn’t run before so we have been using the 3 min run/2 min walk technique and they love it. They don’t get frustrated and we are able to push ourselves during the run portion.

BTW, Murder Hill looks like it adds a huge challenge to your route!!!

Adventures in Tri-ing


Melissa G August 20, 2009

Angela (and Katrin!),

Like you, Angela, I prided myself on having great cardiovascular fitness (spinning/step/eliptical, etc.) but whenever I tried to run, I was miserable. I couldn’t run a minute either! I just chalked it up to “not being a runner”.

I am a teacher and everyone in my school was participating in the Corporate Challenge (June 2008) and I was jealous of all of the runners because I really wanted to participate. Also, I have always had a “bucket list” goal to run a full marathon. I figured I had to start running if I was to participate in either of those events!! That June, I set the goal that I would run the Corporate Challenge 2009 without walking.

In order to do this, I scoured the internet to see what I could do; there was a lot of talk about the “Couch to 5k” program. It is a lot like what you described, Angela, as it has you doing small intervals 3 times a week. Each week (For 9 weeks I believe) it will increase the time you are running until you are running for 30 minutes straight. I started this program that June and in September of 2008, I ran my first 5k just 3 months after I set my goal and 9 months before I had planned on running one!

After that, I ran a few other road races and continued to increase my mileage. I set my sights on a half marathon and in May 2009, I completed my first half in 2:02! I never would have guessed that I could accomplish so much so quickly (like you said, Angela, running gives fast gains!).

I will say that it was NOT EASY in the beginning! I also would watch my watch for the minute to pass, I struggled with pacing, I would get side stitches from inconsistent breathing, and I generally hated it. Once I got better at it, I started to love it and now it’s so great because I am able to constantly challenege myself with it.

Good luck and have fun!!



Nina August 20, 2009

Ange, I have a similar story, but I’m still in the beginning running part. haha! I just posted my 5k plan (and signed up for a race in october) a few days ago! I am using the couch to 5k plan for training (based on the galloway walk/run method). I am in day 2 of training, although I know that I can run for 5 minutes without stopping. I pretty much want to die when I do that though. Thanks for posting your story, you are such an inspiration!


KatieMoo August 20, 2009

Thanks so much for this post, Angela! I am just starting out as a runner and hate it because it’s so hard, but I know that if I can just keep going it’ll get easier and I’ll grow to love it. This post gave me the extra push that I need!


Lori S August 20, 2009

I started a runing group with the ladies in my neighborhood, the idea came up over drinks one weekend and I think that everyone thought it would never happen until 2 days later I had put flyers in everyones mailbox on the block, 3 days later we now have about a dozen women running 3K 3X a week. It has been fantastic, we started with 1 min run/1 min walk and increased gradually. This week we are up to 3 min of running. I registered a team for the CIBC run for the Cure this October and that is our goal and motivation.
It has been such a great bonding experience, we are all getting healthier and doing it together


Janessa August 20, 2009

Thank you for an inspiring post. It is so good to know that it’s hard for most people when they start. I’ve never liked running, but it is something I want to start learning about.


Pam at Highway to Health August 20, 2009

What an amazing story! I think we can all relate. I hated it at first but I’m definitely starting to like the challenge.


Sana August 20, 2009

That a great story! I started in summmer of 2008 as well- I got up one morning a joing a boot camp. When there are 100 other people running, you just start going! There is a group for everyone, you just have to start!


Maggie August 20, 2009

Thanks for posting this. I always thought that running came naturally to everyone except me, it’s nice to know that’s it something you can definitely work towards.
Although I’ve been running for the past couple months (not very well mind you) I just decided to do the couch to 5k podcast, I’m only on week 3 but I already feel better about my endurance.
I find it funny that you never hear of anyone saying that they think running is just ok, you either hate it or love it and the transition happens so fast that you don’t even realize it.


britt August 20, 2009

this is great advice for all the aspiring runners out there. i think the #1 think to remember is start slow and build up.


Bronwyn August 20, 2009

My mom made me. I’m serious, I absolutely HATED running, but somehow in January when I was in gr. 9, my mom managed to make me go out for a 2km run. And that was it, I began to sort of enjoy running.
I completed four half-marathons, before the end of high-school, and one more in university. Sadly, I find it hard to get through those long runs on my own, so I definitely am not up to par on that kind of distance, but I still get out for a 6k run three or so times a week. I would love to run a marathon in the future. :)


alex August 20, 2009


I wish i could have that LOVE feeling while i’m running, but sadly it’s only after. I can run for a good 3-4 miles at a 10:00 pace/mile, but its not easy. I’ve been doing this for years now, and i find it extremely frustrating that I can’t improve. How does one do this? Even during my 3-4 milers i find myself huffing and puffing and its so frustrating!! I want to love running and be good at it, but for some reason, I can’t ever beat the 10 min miles! Any advice, much appreciated!!


Lauren August 20, 2009

Aww,AWESOME post, as a new runner I found this to be SO encouraging, thanks for all you do Angela!


Jessica August 20, 2009

awesome running story! really just getting out there and doing it and trying a little harder each time really is what does it for me. soon I’ll be able to run all 3 miles nonstop!


Melissa G August 20, 2009


For improving my mile times, speedwork intervals REALLY help! I have started incorporating those and tempo runs during the week. Also, to increase your mileage, start small. There is a general rule that you should never increase by more than 10% each week. So if you are running 4 miles on Saturday, try for 4.5 Saturday! I know for me, it’s never “easy”; it’s always a challenge but I found it’s more of a mental game for me.


Kellie August 20, 2009

Well, one minute is about how long I can run. Ugh. but I think I might give the interval thing a try. I guess I may have to start with a 1:2 ratio (although I will TRY 1:1 :0).
We shall see…..


Amy August 20, 2009

For someone who has ran 9 half marathons and one full, one would think that I love running. I actually love to HATE running! haha.

Growing up, I was the kid in gym class that loathed the 12 min run in phys ed, mainly because of the sheer embarassment that I could barely run for one minute.

I remember being on the volleyball team and as part of our warm ups we had to run for 3 mins. Those entire 3 mins, I would chant to myself “This will not kill me”.

Fast forward 10 years. I’ve lost 100lbs, and I can attribute a lot of it to my love (obsession?) with running! I started out with the Running Room’s Learn to Run clinic… and my first race ever was The Terry Fox run in honour of my Mom who we lost to cancer. What an incredible day that was!

I’ve stopped running a lot of races, as the concept seems a little silly to me: Paying to run…but I still hit the pavement 3-4 times a week. I’ve lost a lot of my speed, but honestly I don’t care. I run for myself, and no one else! :)


LindsayK August 20, 2009

I started the Couch to 5k program and just completed week 6 this morning – I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to begin a running program. You can get podcasts that tell you exactly when to run, when to walk – just google c25k podcasts. It’s been really great watching my own progress – and feeling it as well!


Jolene August 20, 2009

Katrin – I am EXACTLY the same way!!!!! I have been reading all these blogs with all these women that run, and it has made me want to run, but I just can’t, I suck at it!

Angela – the way you started running is how I have tried starting, and it makes me feel better that you hated it too and watched your watch the whole time … I thought that since I hate it so much, running could never be my thing …even though I wish I was a runner. You have 100% inspired me to give it another shot, and stick with it. Thank you so much.


Juie August 20, 2009

I just started running and I use the galloway method. I am now up to run 9 minutes, walk 2 minutes! :]] U inspired me to start running!! So thank you! :]]

QUESTION: When you say “run” do you mean “jog” or a full out sprint?

Define your speeds for “running” and “jogging”

How fast do you think we should start out “running”

What type of plan did you use in the beginning to help yourself gain speed?!

SORRY!!!! I had SOOOOO many questions!! But I am 14 and I LOVEE your blog! I plan on being a nutritionist in the future!! :]]
If you could answer the questions that would help me A LOT!! I don’t want to go the rest of my life with these uanswered!! LOL!


MarathonVal August 20, 2009

My story is very similar to yours, Angela – as a kid I could not even run ONE MILE – even in high school -and now I’m training for my third marathon!

As I constantly whine about on my blog ;), I have a hard time with short runs sometimes (4 miles) but loved my medium length run today (8) and usually LOVEEEEE my really, really long weekend runs in the double digits! Somehow the longer runs really let you zone out, find your rhythm, and hit that runners high. That helps me….

Also, like you, I used to stink at running and now that I put in the work and I’m better at it, I enjoy it more!

Signing up and training for a race helps a lot too in making it more fun! :)


Valerie August 20, 2009

First of all, I’m not at all athletic, but for some reason, I really wanted to start running. So I did. I started running back in April of this year, and at that point I couldn’t run very far. The first time I went outside for a run (this was before I had a treadmill), I just said “I’m going to run for as long as I can, just to see how far I get, then I’ll take a break before doing it all over again”. So I was doing intervals I guess, just not timing myself. I could see myself improving though. I used to be struggling to run one block. Then I managed to run for two, and then eventually one day I ran a full kilometre outside.

I now run inside on a treadmill (I’m not a fan of the heat) and I’ve worked my way up to 4 miles, though my regular running distance is 2.5-3 miles. I’m planning to run a 5k in October (CIBC Run for the Cure), so I’m trying to get more comfortable running that distance and once the weather cools a little, I’ll be back outside training!

It’s nice to hear others’ stories and to see that while not everyone is just “a natural”, so many of us have had success with it!


Tay August 20, 2009

I most definitely started with intervals. I remember running on my dorm’s treadmill for 90 seconds, looking at the timer and DYING. I would do run/walk for about 20 minutes. Gradually I worked up the 30 minutes, and then gradually worked up to running straight through. It’s a process, but you don’t want to start out too fast and get burned out/injured!! It’s crazy that that’s how I started and then only 5 months later I was running 7 miles, and then a year after that running my marathon! I try and tell ANYONE who says there’s no way they can run that ANYONE can run. ANYONE!!! I never ever thought I could run that far, but if you gradually work up – it comes to you!


Shannon August 20, 2009

My story is very similar to yours. It was so, so frustrating last summer to start running and go from feeling like I had super cardio endurance on the elliptical, to being breathless and sore from running! I really had to swallow my pride and let a slow 20 minute run with walking breaks be adequate.

It was a slow process, but was up to 10.5 miles when I started getting some pain in my knee/above the knee. Reading about the time you took off from running has helped me accept that I have to back off for a bit. (And that I won’t be back at square one when I run again!) I am wearing knee sleeves and using the elliptical. But I sure hope to be back to running soon! A year ago, I never would have said that!


Faith August 20, 2009

I love the idea of starting to run using intervals! What a great way to ease your body into it!


Amanda August 20, 2009

Yesterday was my 1 year Runniversary! I started running with C25K or Couch to 5k. Very similar to what you did but its a 9 week program that you start of running 60 seconds and walking 90 seconds. The last week you are running 30 mins straight. The program is AMAZING and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get into running but doesnt know where to start. I ran my first 5k on Thanksgiving morning and finished in 39:02. My current 5k PR is 31:55 and that was 6 months after my first 5k! I am currently training for a half marathon and my longest run to date is 12.5 miles! Running has helped me to drop 95 lbs and I am still going!


Joanna August 20, 2009

Great Post. I like others, do lots of cardio at the gym, but never run and hate running. I read all these blogs where women talk about their love of running and just don’t get it. Well, I think I may try your interval training. Surely i can run for one minute!


Kimmy August 20, 2009

Has anyone ran and lost weight? i know that sounds like a stupid question…


amy August 20, 2009

This post came at a great time. Earlier this summer I “pushed” myself to do a 1/2 marathon (I’ve done a dozen in the past!) after a winter where my husband and I were living apart so I could finish grad school, and I was just generally bummed the entire time.

I finished the half in my worst ever time, but loved every second of it!

My biggest running motivators are my two dogs. They love seeing my running shoes come out, and my Newfoundland will even rummage through the closet and bring them out to me when she wants to go outside.

Living in Alaska there aren’t many good roads to run, so we take to ATV trails, and do a long run/hike workout. It’s so gorgeous that I totally forget I am even exercising.

Haha, I just wolfed down a bowl of yogurt and now its off for a quick 30 minute jog with the dogs.


Jess in NYC August 20, 2009

As a personal trainer and running coach, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Great post!


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