Regardless of your fitness level, you can start from zero and build up to running 30 minutes continuously in about 10 weeks. The beginner running plan below, does exactly that. It’s a ten-week run-walk plan, aimed at beginners in good health.
Aim to run 3 times a week, leaving a day to rest between runs. Some people take more time to recover between workouts and should run less often, while others recover very quickly and can run more. Therefore, listen to you body, and take time to recover when you need to and adjust the running plan accordingly (see how to follow this running plan, below).
Also be sure to meet your body’s daily nutritional requirements to aid the recovery process and fuel your runs. Having a snack an hour before your workout will increase your energy levels to help power you through your workout.
Beginner Running Plan
- Warm up before you start with a 5 – 10 minute fast walk and cool down with 5 – 10 minutes of slow walking.
- Aim to run 3 times a week.
- Try to allow for a day of recovery between runs. On those days off you can do other workouts such as swimming, cycling or circuit training. Allow for one complete day of rest per week.
|Running Workout Plan
|1 min run, 2 min walk (7x)
|2 min run, 2 min walk (5x)
|3 min run, 2 min walk (4x)
|5 min run, 2 min walk (3x)
|6 min run, 90 sec walk (3x)
|8 min run, 1 min walk (3x)
|10 min run, 1 min walk (3x)
|13 min run, 1 min walk (2x)
|15 min run, 1 min walk (2x)
|Run 30 minutes continuously
How to Follow this Running Plan
This program should suit beginners who are comfortable walking briskly for 30 minutes. If you are unable to walk 30 minutes at a brisk pace, start with a walking plan first.
Adjust this running plan to meet your own needs and fitness. Stay at the level you can handle until you feel able to move to the next stage. Do not exceed what you can do, listen to your body. It doesn’t matter if it takes you twenty weeks. The goal is to get there.
On the other hand, if you have been somewhat active before, you may find the program too easy and progress more quickly (or try the 4-week beginners running plan). In that case, simply move forward to the next level.
Remember to clear any exercise program with your doctor before starting, especially if you have a medical condition.
How Fast Should You Run?
Pace. Your pace should be slower than you might think. And then slower still. You should be running at the slowest possible pace you can while still running. Run any slower and you’d have to walk. That’s your pace. You will get faster in time. But right now, you’re focused on simply becoming a runner.
If you run too fast, you’ll be too exhausted to repeat the intervals and will probably vow to never run again. So, take your time.
Intervals. The walking breaks are important too. Walking intervals:
- Allow you to recover so that you can run for longer distances. Remember, you are running for endurance, not to sprint.
- Break your run into manageable parts, decreasing the likelihood of aches, pain and injury. It also helps you to maintain proper running form.
- Help you to feel great afterwards, not overwhelmingly fatigued and completely exhausted.
Running requires little gear. The most important? Running shoes and a high-impact sports bra. Everything else, if you need to buy it, can come later.
Buy yourself some decent running shoes and you’ll be comfortable every step of the way. Get a foot assessment at your local running shoe store and buy shoes that are suited to your individual foot mechanics.
You don’t need to buy the most expensive shoes on offer but make sure you get good quality shoes that will enhance and not hinder your running.
Read more: How to choose the best running shoes
Running Clothes & Sports Bra
Along with running shoes and well-fitted sports bra is a must. It should be suitable for high-impact exercise and perfectly fitted. Check out how to choose a sports bra.
Dress for comfort and according to the weather. You are going to get warm as you run so make sure you can vent yourself as you heat up.
Layers are always a good idea and a sunhat and sunglasses can make warm weather runs much more enjoyable.
Gloves and a fleece hat are more or less essential come winter time. Finally, wear clothes that will get you seen – especially if you run at night.
Read more: What to wear running for every temperature
Because of its multiple uses, a running watch is a useful tool. It can record distance, time, and pace and most running watches these days also have a heart rate monitor function.
The more expensive have GPS capabilities and can monitor route and distance information, which can be downloaded and stored to track performance for future use or comparison purposes.
As you’ll be alternating periods of walking and running, a watch will help ensure you stay on schedule.
If you are only running a short distance, chances are you won’t need a drink during your workout but if it is especially warm or you are running a long way, you may need to take on hydrating fluids during your workout.
There are specially designed running water bottles available that fit comfortably around your hand and contain just enough water to ensure you don’t go thirsty during a run.
While running is a very natural and simple activity, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it wrong-ish! Running will probably never feel effortless but that’s kind of how it should look.
Running smoothly with proper running form makes your running gait more efficient so you can run further and running will feel easier. It also reduces the risk of injury and muscle imbalances.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Run tall. Lift your head and keep your shoulders down and back. Imagine there is a balloon on a string attached to the top of your head!
- Run quiet. If you arrival is announced by loud breathing and thumping footfalls, you’re probably wasting a lot of energy. Try to keep your breathing smooth and regular, and your footfalls as quiet as possible. Remember; noise is wasted energy.
- Run light. Run lightly as though you are on sand and are trying not to leave any footprints. While this may be difficult at first, you will be rewarded with a much more economical running style which will carry you further and faster for less effort.
Read more: How to run with proper form
Running is an accessible, natural and effective way to get fit. But most crucial thing is to you stick with it. As the old running adage goes, start slow and finish strong. While normally applied to racing, this saying holds true for starting out too.
Rein in your enthusiasm a little at first, follow the beginner running plan, and you will be rewarded by a long and enjoyable running career.