Lockdown conditions have forced South African’s to finally realise what we’ve all been missing out on the outside. While many now enjoy the hiking trails over the weekends even more are hitting the road jogging and running, participating in various challenges and event considering virtual marathons

If you’re still couch surfing and dreaming of eventually getting up and finishing your first marathon. Wesley Erasmus, Senior Underwriter at Sanlam and biokineticist, says there are 5 things to consider as a first time runner that will make your experience healthier and more pleasant.

READ MORE: Food vs exercise: What makes the biggest difference in weight loss?

1. You need to know your health status

Although taking up running could be your solution to finally getting your health and fitness in check, Wesley says taking up running with unknown and untreated health conditions could be dangerous.

If you suffer from a chronic condition or feel pain or discomfort when running you need to consult your doctor before starting an exercise programme, including running. 

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“The same applies to all smokers or any condition in which your doctor has noted that consultation with a health practitioner is needed before starting any exercise programme,” he says.

Although cardio exercise like running is a great way to strengthen heart muscles if you are at risk or have heart disease, according to MedlinePlus you should always share your exercise programme with your doctor so that you are aware of any risks or activities that put you at risk. 

2. Your body needs fuel

Running is not only a great hobby, but many people actually use running as part of a weight-loss routine. Even when trying to lose weight, eating a balanced and nutritional diet is important. 

“Following a well-balanced diet is critical because it helps runners recover from training sessions, improves performance and also helps maintain a strong immune system. New runners should ensure their diet is geared towards adjusting their calorie intake to meet the demands of their training programme. It is always best to consult a nutrition specialist or dietician for an appropriate individualised diet plan.” says Wesley.

READ MORE: Double Ironman champion, Kyle Buckingham, shares how he lives on a plant-based diet

3. Don’t run when you’re sick

Pushing yourself is how you train, however when you are sick Wesley says you need to give your body a chance to recover. 

“When experiencing flu (fever, muscle aches etc) and lower respiratory tract infection symptoms, (shortness of breath, weakness, cough, fatigue) it is best to place training on hold until you have consulted your doctor and recovered fully. Training with these symptoms can be extremely dangerous as the body is already under immense strain trying to deal with the infection,” says Wesley.

4. Pace yourself

Going from couch potato to marathon runner is possible, but depending on your level of fitness, it does take time. 

According to Josh Clark’s famous running manual “From couch potato to 5k” the key to running your first marathon is consistency during training and gradually increasing both your speed and the distance you run conditioning your body with every training session and building both your stamina and your confidence. 

Taking place on 18 October, the  Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is one of many marathons that will be held virtually this year allowing participants from all over the country to participate from their own neighbourhoods. most marathons have different courses participants can choose from.

READ MORE: Start losing weight with a 30 minute walk


While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.