How do you transition from a jogger into a runner?

How do you transition from a jogger into a runner?

Updated: Jun 18, 2024Veronika Larisova

Australia is buzzing with a fresh new craze, and it's all about running! Running groups, some boasting an impressive 500-1000 participants each week, are popping up in every suburb. Everyone is partaking in some fun run or running race, and completing a marathon is not such a big deal anymore because 100km trail races are becoming mainstream.  If you're feeling the itch to jump on the bandwagon, but your idea of running is a leisurely Sunday jog or a quick 15-minute treadmill session at the gym, don't worry—you're not alone.

The big question is, where do you begin? Do you need to splurge on the latest high-tech running watch and shoes and start eating sugary energy gels? The short answer is you can if you want to, but it's unnecessary. Let's break it down, step by step, and get you lacing up those sneakers in no time.


The lingo

Let’s start with the running lingo. Whether you join a running group or seek help online or via running apps, you must understand the running language.


Tempo Run

A tempo run, or a threshold run, is a sustained effort run at a pace just below your lactate threshold. This means a challenging but manageable run—it should feel “comfortably hard.” It starts easy and builds to a pretty challenging pace for the major/midsection of the run. Tempo running improves metabolic fitness—you’ll use oxygen more efficiently and be able to break through the lactic threshold more easily.


Easy Run

This means running at a speed slower than your tempo or race pace. It’s all about running easily at a pace where you can hold a conversation comfortably. These should be your most enjoyable runs, where you cruise and take in the scenery while your body adjusts to a greater running volume, your heart gets stronger, and your body learns to be more efficient at delivering oxygen to your muscles.


Long Run

It’s like the easy run when it comes to pace, but the goal is to gradually increase the distance to improve your endurance and achieve tendon adaptations. The golden rule is a 10% increase per week.


Interval Run

This means a series of efforts run at speeds much faster than normal training (i.e., you’re typically running at 70-90% of your top pace), with rest intervals following immediately afterwards. It is very important for developing leg speed, shortening recovery time, and increasing VO2 Max for better performance.



Hill sprints are a great way to build strength in your legs, glutes, and core. It's good to keep a strong pace on the uphill and relax and recover on the downhill.



This funny name literally means “speed play” in Swedish. It involves including a series of varied intervals with speed and rest periods into your run. Fartlek is a great way to improve VO2 Max and practice running at a race pace during regular runs.


How do you start?

Should you lace up and start sprinting around the neighbourhood every morning? Absolutely not! While our muscles and lungs get ‘fitter’ in the space of weeks, our ligaments and tendons take months to adapt to impact. Suppose you increase your speed, distance, and volume too soon. In that case, your ligaments and tendons will not be able to keep up, and you will start experiencing niggles such as shin splints and sore knees which are likely to develop into a full-blown injury unless you back off and do something about it. To avoid this happening, you should follow a few simple rules:



If you are in your thirties and the last time you ran was at school, you should start easy. Do a one-minute jog and one-minute walk and repeat them for about 30 minutes (or longer if you feel like doing them). Give yourself two days rest and if you have no joint niggles, go and do it again. After a week or two, increase the jog to two minutes and keep the walk at one minute. Gradually keep increasing the running part by one minute until you run for 15 minutes continuously. It’s a long process, but it’s worth the wait. If you are used to jogging for 20-30 minutes, you don’t have to start this way. Rather, try to run faster once a week while maintaining the same duration (20-30 minutes) and gradually increase the time while running slowly during your other weekly session.


Strength training

Strength training is necessary for good running performance and injury prevention. You don’t need to become a gym junkie, but you must do some regular work on your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core as a bare minimum.

Contrary to the everlasting myth that long-distance runners should not lift big weights, heavy resistance training seems effective in injury prevention, and it can also lead to improved running economy. Running is an endurance exercise, much like lifting light weights at high reps. So, there’s no need to build muscle endurance at the gym. Instead, to build strength and power, runners need to lift heavy weights with lower reps. Using basic lifts such as squats and deadlifts and incorporating unilateral moves such as split squats, lunges, and single-leg deadlifts is the best way to become a stronger, injury-proof runner. Light exercises such as glute activations with ‘booty bands’ have their place in warm-up and prehab. Plyometrics will take your running to the next level. 


Running shoes

Every running shoe company tries to convince us that their shoes are the best and will make you run much faster. Don’t fall for it. Most renowned running shoes are based on a similar technology, and unless you are running to break a world record, the brand you choose won’t make a big difference to your running experience. The most important factors are comfort, your foot anatomy and running style. Many running shops these days have treadmills enabling them to assess your running and recommend appropriate shoes. However, regardless of the recommendation, if the shoes aren’t comfy, don’t buy them. If you have any specific injuries, chat with a running physiotherapist or a running podiatrist before purchasing.

The two basic running shoe rules are:

  • Get two different types of running shoes and alternate between them to engage different muscles. This will help strengthen your feet and prevent overuse injuries.
  • Running shoes generally last 500-800 kilometres, depending on your running style, terrain, weight, shoe quality, and other factors. As a rule of thumb, I’d recommend using shoes for 600 km, especially if you are not a seasoned runner. You don’t have to throw them away after 600km, though. Instead, use them for walking and the gym.


Running gadgets

You don’t have to spend exuberant amount of money on the latest running watch. Most running shoe brands have excellent free apps that measure and log your runs and link to Strava. These apps also track your shoes and give you notifications when it’s time to get new kicks. They usually include free running plans and challenges. My favourites are Nike Run Club, ASICS Run Keeper and Map My Run by Under Armour.

If you like to run with music, get bone-conduction headphones. Despite feeling like the music is playing in your ears, they keep your ear canal open, which has several advantages, such as situational awareness, hearing health, comfort and prevention of ear canal blockage and related issues such as infections from sweat and dust in your ears. My favourite brand is SKOKZ because of its clear sound and sleek design.

Don’t carry a phone in your hand; it affects your running form and can lead to postural imbalances, strain on one side of your body, and increased injury risk. Get a running belt. Even an armband can cause issues such as impaired biomechanics and chaffing.



Unless you run a marathon, you don’t need to carb load or start consuming gels, especially if your job is sedentary. While increased carbohydrate intake and carb loading are beneficial for elite athletes, you will be fine fuelling with whole foods. If you feel good running first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and the idea of eating before running makes you nauseated, don’t let anyone convince you that you can’t run without eating a white bread sandwich and a gel. Just make sure you fuel adequately after the run and throughout the day. And if you don’t feel well running on empty, choose whole foods over ultra-processed foods. Do whatever makes you feel good, as long as you tick off a few ‘nutrition boxes’:

  • 2- 2 g of protein per kg of body weight per day
  • A minimum of 0.8g of fats per kg of body weight per day
  • 2-3 L of water or 30 to 60 millilitres of water per kilogram of body weight per day
  • 10g of collagen 30-60min before every training session for your joints and bones


What about if you don’t love running but you really want to learn to like it?  My best tip would be to get a running buddy or join a running group. Turning running sessions into fun social occasions will make you addicted (in a good way). And although listening to cool tunes, driving to beautiful locations, using fun running apps and wearing trendy running clothes and shoes can also make running more pleasant, nothing beats the runners’ high! Once you experience that, you will be in love. But it takes time to build up to it. Be patient and use all the other tools until you get there.


    Veronika Larisova
    Co-founder, Nutritionist, Exercise Physiologist
    Follow Veronika on Instagram



If you want to take your running to the next level, download our City2Surf running program or get an individualised program by our Chief Exercise Physiologist and Nutritionist, Veronika.






More articles

Comments (0)

There are no comments for this article. Be the first one to leave a message!

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published