Maybe your boyfriend joined the cross country team, maybe the scale just hit 20 pounds too heavy, maybe your doctor said your cholesterol was high, or maybe you’ve been challenged to run in the company’s 5K race for the cure. You have decided to get off the couch, turn off the video games and take up running. How to begin a running program? Check below for the Complete Guide for a Beginner’s Running Program.
Set a goal. Is your motivation weight loss, fitness or that 5K race in 6 months you want to compete in? The good news is that you can accomplish all of these benefits with a beginners running program. Here are some essential steps to take:
- If you are over 40 years old or have medical problems, check with a doctor before you start.
- Buy good running shoes—they should be made for running, with good traction, a stable base, and support. Fit and comfort are important; make sure your shoes fit to minimize friction.
- Start slow and build gradually. On your first week, the goal should be to walk 30 minutes without stopping. Your weight loss and fitness goals cannot be reached if you stop before 30 minutes.
- Run or report with a friend. Tell your friends and family that you are running. Your motivation will stay high when your friend is tapping on your door at 6:30am every day. Running with a friend is also safer. If you cannot find someone to run with, run at a track or places where it is well-lit and other people are there. Report weekly to your mom or a friend so you have accountability.
- Decide on a schedule that will realistically work with your life.
- Check the time–Ready, set, Go!
Week 1: This is the most important week of your life! It takes 3 weeks to change or build a habit. You are breaking your couch potato habit and building a new life of fitness, health and confidence.
The goal is to walk at an even pace—faster than moseying down the bread aisle and short of dashing for the bus, for 30 minutes. You can test your pace with conversation. If you are panting or too out of breath to talk, slow down, but keep going. Do this at least 3-5 days for week one. If you have other sports or activities, keep them. Do not replace them with your beginning running program. In a couple of weeks, you will notice that you are performing better in your other sports because of your increasing fitness.
Week 2: This week, you will begin to alternate walking with jogging. Warm up with some walking and gentle stretches. Cool down afterward with a few minutes of deep breathing and static stretching. Walk for 9 minutes, jog for 1 minute= 27 minutes walking, 3 minutes jogging= 30 minutes. If you feel self-conscious about jogging, and perhaps jiggling if you are overweight, please realize that people who see you are admiring your determination and ability to change your life for the better. Use proper running form when jogging, keep your head looking forward, not down at the ground. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Keep your feet underneath you and land on your midfoot area. Keep your arms bent close to your body and hands loose and relaxed. Think bouncy and light and it will actually be easier. Congratulate yourself every day on your progress. One more week and running will start to be a habit.
Week 3: Walk for 8 minutes and jog for 2 minutes, repeating 3 times= 24 minutes walking, 6 minutes jogging =30 minutes. If you are feeling ready, you can increase to walking for 7 and running for 3 minutes towards the end of the week. Remember to cross train with other activities on days you do not run.
Week 4: Congratulations! Running is now a habit. Although difficult at first and something to dread, at one point, you will begin to look forward to your time on the track, trail or road. It may not be this week, but it will happen soon. Walk for 7 minutes and run for 4 minutes three times + 3 minutes walking at the end to cool down= 35 minutes!
Week 5: Set a goal to run in a race. Yes, you are ready to think about running competitively in a few months. A 3K or 5K race is within your easy reach. Choose one with a lot of participants. Even if you run for a short distance and walk the rest of the course, you will not come in last.
Walk for 6 minutes, then jog for 5 minutes 3 times, then walk for 2 minutes at the end= 35 minutes.
Week 6: Walk for 4 minutes, then jog for 6 minutes. Repeat three times with 3 min walk at the end to cool down = 33 minutes. Soon you will be jogging for the entire time. Your muscles should feel more toned and fit. Celebrate your improvement with entertainment rather than food; or keep your treats fresh and fruity.
Week Seven: Walk for two minutes, then jog for eight minutes. Repeat three times for a 30 minute workout. Remember to run at least 3 times a week.
Week eight: Congratulations! You are a runner! For your first workout this week, walk for 1 minute and jog for 10, repeating three times. The second workout, start by walking for 3 minutes, running for 25 minutes and walking 2 minutes to finish. On the third workout, warm-up, then jog for 30 minutes without stopping. Walk and stretch to cool down. You are now ready to aim for distance as well as time. Check your distance—you may be over a mile already. Continue your running program, gradually increasing your distance and soon you will be ready for your 5K!