This is how long it really takes to feel like a fitter, faster and stronger runner. 

There are so many benefits to running, from improving cardiovascular fitness to supporting your mental health. But if you’re a beginner to running then those gains may feel out of reach. 

Perhaps you don’t feel as though you’re getting any faster or you haven’t noticed that extra energy boost regular exercise is meant to give you, and you’re wondering whether it’s worth sticking with this running thing after all? 

“Some people find running helps them get going in the morning or helps with productivity,” says Dora Atim, Nike running coach and founder of Ultra Black Running. “When you start running, you may find you start to feel fitter as running improves lung function, and your brain will release endorphins which is a great stress reliever. It’s also a huge confidence booster, as you feel a sense of achievement, and this can filter into other aspects of your life.”

Those results make it seem worth sticking with. But how long does it really take to feel like a better runner? 

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How long does it take to see results in running?

This depends on the result you’re looking for. “The great thing about progression is that it can mean many different things. For some, it means being a consistent runner; for others it can be accomplishing new challenges,” says Atim. 

For example, endorphins can be released straight after your first session for an instant mood boost. But other adaptation takes time. In fact, progressing in running and ‘getting fitter’ involves lots of complex changes in the body on a cellular level. “If you follow a set running schedule or programme, you may notice results in your performance in 4-6 weeks,” says Atim, and it may take longer if you have a more sporadic running plan. 

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Beginners may notice physical improvements more quickly as the body soon adapts to a new training stimulus. Those who are more advanced may struggle to improve so rapidly, and that’s where progress may slow slightly. “It’s natural for your goals to change and to want to accomplish new things, such as training for a faster 10k or a further distance,” says Atim. To get there, you may want to think about mixing up your sessions so your body is really challenged.

“You may start to include additional sessions such as hill sprints [for power], longer runs for endurance or interval or speed sessions to add some real heat,” says Atim. Just remember: there’s no set time for how quickly you need to get ‘good’ at running. 

How often should you train to get results from running?

You’ll be pleased to know that more training doesn’t necessarily mean faster results. Doing too much too soon can actually inhibit results as your body won’t be able to recover and, if it’s not sustainable, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed. 

“It’s important to set realistic goals that match your current ability,” says Atim. “If you are new to running and are working towards a 5k or 10k, it would be good to start with running once or twice a week until you feel comfortable to increase the time. Then add additional running sessions to your week until you have built the right consistency to see those extra results.

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“If possible, it’s a good idea to talk to a running professional who can help you plan. As always, listen to your body and take it at your pace.”

It’s not just the running sessions themselves you should be thinking about either, reminds Atim. “For the best running results, it’s crucial to make sure you are looking after your recovery. This means taking adequate rest days that suit your schedule – including rescheduling a run if you feel too tired. Invest in a good pair of running shoes and a good sports bra so you can look after your body and feel comfortable, too.” 

For strength programmes that will help you become a better runner, sign up to the Strong Women Training Club. 

Image: Getty 

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