How to start running 5km: a beginner's guide

strong women

How to start running 5km: a beginner's guide

Published February 2023 | 4 min read
Expert contributor Turia Pitt, athlete
Words by Lucy E Cousins

Want to be a runner but don’t know where to begin? Athlete Turia Pitt shares her tips for getting started with running.

Nobody knows what a woman can achieve if she sets her mind to it better than Turia Pitt. In 2011, Turia was competing in a 100km ultra-marathon when she was caught in a grassfire. She suffered full thickness burns to 65% of her body, lost seven fingers and spent years rehabilitating and undergoing countless medical procedures.

Since then, she's helped hundreds of women through her online courses, which include RUN with Turia – a “no BS running program for women who aren’t runners… yet”.

These days, Turia says, going for a run is less about staying fit and more about setting a fraction of the day aside for a little ‘me’ time.

“I know that the stuff in my day – whether it’s washing the dishes or replying to emails – won’t have gone away, but what I’ve learned is when I make time for myself, when I go for a run, I’m more energised and I’m calmer,” she says.

Running exercise tips

One of the reasons running is so popular is that it’s free – all you need is an outdoor surface or a treadmill and a water bottle. While you don’t need specialist equipment, there are many products designed specifically for runners, like technical running shoes and sweat-wicking shorts.

However, Turia says not to worry too much about spending lots of money on equipment.

“Look, if you can spring for a new kit, that’s great, but all you really need to run is a pair of joggers and a positive attitude,” she says.  

What shoes should I wear to start running?

While you don’t need fancy running shoes, a good running shoe has a midsole to support the foot through its phases of movement, robust cushioning in the heel and flexibility through the front of your foot to facilitate movement.

If you have specific foot concerns, speak to a podiatrist before you start training. You may be able to get 100% back on your first visit with a podiatrist in our network through our More for Feet program*.

Are running programs helpful?

It’s important to find the right program for you and your lifestyle, says Turia, that way you have a higher chance of committing to it long term. Consider the time you have available and the cost.

Both new and experienced runners can benefit from following a program. You can train to hit your goal of 5km in weeks with this type of zero to 5km running program, or you could sign up for a Couch to 5k training app, which provides daily programs (exercises vary between walking and running), to hit your goal.

Other programs take 12 weeks to get there. You can also join your local running club and enjoy the social aspects of getting to 5km with a group of like-minded runners. Gaining knowledge and support can help you stay on track with your fitness goals.

“Motivation and willpower don’t hang around unfortunately,” says Turia. “So, my program provides the training, it provides accountability, and we keep our members engaged by doing things like hosting live calls with myself and our running coach.”

Can running help me lose weight?

Running has also been shown to be an effective way to lose weight in conjunction with a healthy diet. If you want to see weight loss results, you need to consistently burn more calories than you take in.

For Turia, however, the most important aspect of running for our health is to focus on forming a weekly habit.

“My advice to people participating in running is to just show up,” she says, “and to show up consistently.”

“If I can run 5km, anybody can!”

Grace McBride, 34, had never seen herself as a ‘fit person’, until she joined a running program.

“I'd accepted my status as a non-runner when Turia Pitt asked me to trial her RUN With Turia program.

“Running just was not for me. I was the heaviest I'd ever been when Turia approached me, and I was scared to run. I thought it would be awful if someone saw me trying to run down the street.

“Eventually I gave in to Turia and the first time I decided to try a run, I did it on a quiet bush track at night so nobody could see me. The first run in the program is 10 minutes, which felt impossible. I decided to just give it a crack, so I set a timer to beep every minute for 10 minutes, and off I went (well, off I shuffled, to be honest). I made it to the first beep. And then I made it to the second. I kept going and, somehow, I made it to the 10th beep without stopping.

“I kept that mentality for the whole program: minute by minute, beep by beep, shuffle by shuffle. You don't need to sprint: a slow shuffling run is still a run. I kept going and made it through all 10 weeks of the program, and worked my way up to 5km. I signed up for another program and made it to 10km, and for reasons I'm still unsure of, I signed up for a 25km trail run in the desert. And I finished it, just 15 months after my first slow shuffle in the dark. Instead of wondering why on earth I'd signed up for it, I wondered which run I could sign up for next.

“Trust me, anyone can be a runner, no matter what shape you're in. And nobody cares what you look like when you run, so go for it. It will make every area of your life feel better. I don't always love running – it can be boring, training can hurt and be far from fun – but I feel happy, accomplished and better after a run. I've gained so much confidence and met so many great new people. Running changed my life – it could change yours, too.”


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Important Information

* 100% back from providers in our no-gap network is available on selected covers. Waiting periods and annual limits apply. Providers are subject to change. We recommend that you confirm the provider prior to booking your appointment. See

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