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RUN YOUR FIRST 5K, 10K OR MARATHON – with Donnie Campbell

Donnie was once 17 stone and by his own admission could barely run a 5k, but in 2008 he took up running to lose weight and improve his fitness. Since then he’s lost 4 stone but won a load of races. He is now a top Running Coach and Personal Trainer.

Doctor Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell

Donnie shares 10 tips that personally helped him get started.

Enter A race

As this will give you a goal to aim for and will help keep you focused and motivated. It does not matter what race you enter as long as its a realistic target for your abilities, so for example if your goal is to run a marathon but have never ran before don’t enter a marathon thats 2-3 months away instead enter one maybe a year away as that will give you plenty time to train and build up for it. Check the Scottish racing calendar.

Get a Pair of Running Trainers

I am a big fan of natural/minimal running as I believe its a more efficient running style, however there is no evidence it reduce injury rate compared to Normal running trainers. So my best advice is find a pair of trainers you feel comfortable to run in and go for it.

Get Out And Run

No matter what your ability is everyone can run, if you are a beginner and can only run for a min, then run min, walk a min and repeat and gradually build it up. Find an excuse to go running- visit a friend. For more advice on training check out

Speed Work

No matter what race distance you are doing speed work is important, as if you keep increasing the distance and time you run and don’t do speed work your pace will become slower. I recommend at least 1 speed session depending on what race and fitness level you are at. The most common speed session are Interval, Fartlek, Hill repetitions and Tempo Run. Get more info and suggested speed session.

Join a Running Group or Get a Running Partner

There are so many benefits from joining a running group or having a running partner, it can increase motivation, adherence to your training, as you are less likely to miss a session if you have to cancel on someone. My favourite reason is it make running more sociable and there is nothing I like more than going away for a weekend with friends to run in the hills. Find a running club in your area

Change Eating Habits

The majority of people take up running to lose weight, and when it come to weight loss diet counts for 70% and exercise 30%, so even if you train like an athlete if you have a poor diet and consume more calories than you burn you will still struggle to lose weight. As a Personal Trainer I don’t like to put people on diets as there are only a short term measure, instead I like to try to change the eating habits and behaviours this way once they have lost the weight they will be able to keep it off as well. I recommend only making a few changes to your diet at any one time this way it increase the chance of sticking to it and less likely to fail and give up. So for example change semi skimmed milk to skimmed milk and white bread to brown bread, once this has become a habit then I would look at changing something else like limiting chocolate to one bar a week and so on.

Cross Train

Cross Training can be really effective as it can reduce the risk of injury especially if you have just started running while still improving your cardiovascular and muscular endurance, also means in some case you can still train even when injured to maintain your fitness. Types of cross training I recommend for running are core workouts (stomach and back muscles), cycling, yoga, Pilates, swimming and walking, basically anything that get your heart above its resting rate and holds it there for at least 20min!

Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself can be a wee trick used to increase your adherence and motivation to your training. For example if you reach my target or even if I I don’t miss a training session this week I will reward myself with a new piece of running equipment. Also posting about your training on social media sites can be looked as a reward as your friend will likely congratulate you on your commitment to your training. Note of caution don’t reward yourself after every run with a cake or a take way as this is a short cut to a bigger pair of jeans!!

Running is a Skill

Just like kicking a football running is a skill. Yes everyone can run but some people run more efficiently than others, just like everyone can kick a football but David Beckham can kick a football more effectively than me. So towards the end of a run try to run like you did at the start


Most Importantly have Fun, the best form of physical activity is the activity you enjoy doing as you are more likely to do it more regularly, so if you enjoy running excellent if not find a sport or physical activity you do enjoy doing. Running decreases risk of dying prematurely by 30% so you’re doing yourself a massive favour by getting out there


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