Going to the gym might have stopped but that doesn’t mean your fitness goals have to. Not only is running one of the cheapest forms of exercise you can do, it also comes with a host of health benefits including improved cardiovascular health and increased metabolism. Plus, as anyone who has ever experienced a ‘runners’ high’ can attest to – running can also boost your mood significantly.
So if you’re feeling inspired to take up running but don’t know where to start, we have good news. Our beginner’s plan combines intervals of walking and jogging to build you up to 30 minutes of continuous running. So let’s get started:
- How to start running for the first time
- Set a routine
- Join a nearby gym
- Run to or from work
- Set realistic goals
- Make it a family event
- 10-week beginner’s running plan
- Week 1
- Week 2
- Week 4
- Week 5
- Week 6
- Week 7
- Week 8
- Week 9
- Week 10
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- Before your run
- After your run
- Getting ready to run
- Running kit basics
- Choosing running shoes
- Choosing running apparel
- Should you run on a treadmill or the road?
How to start running for the first time
For non-runners, going out in public to run can seem quite intimidating. It’s a completely new situation for you and it can feel like everyone is looking at you. Try not to worry; this feeling doesn’t last! Think about how often you stare at people running in your local park (probably never, right?) and when you see other runners with what looks like the perfect running style, remember it’s quite possible they’re putting it on because they think you’re watching them!
Some people feel better if they wear sunglasses when they go out running, as it feels a bit like they’re wearing a disguise. Do what you have to do to get out there; after a while it won’t bother you anymore anyway, I promise.
New runners often feel that between their work and family lives, they just don’t have time for regular training. But the fact is, exercise is something everyone should prioritize. Generally speaking, something is better than nothing—so even if you only manage a short session, that’s a positive thing. Here’s how to find training time in your busy schedule.
Set a routine
If you work during the day, figure out how early you would need to get up to fit in a run beforehand. Once you set that workout alarm, you’ll find it’s not that hard to get used to—and you’ll appreciate the off days even more.
Join a nearby gym
If you find it challenging to fit pre- or post-work runs into a packed schedule, consider joining a nearby gym to visit during your lunch break. Don’t skip lunch to do this, of course. Plan to bring your lunch or grab some quick takeout afterward to eat at your desk.
Run to or from work
I used to work in offices that were about three miles from home, with their own gyms and shower facilities, or an affordable gym nearby. I would often leave a change of clothes and toiletries stashed in my cubicle, and carry my phone, keys, and a credit card when I set out in the morning. The biggest bonus that came out of this plan was getting to sleep in a little bit later than I normally would if running close to home before work. As far as getting home afterward, I would rely on public transit, or occasionally a ride from a coworker heading in the same direction.
Set realistic goals
Pro tip: The ASICS Runkeeper app can help keep you on pace to achieve your goals. Start by setting a goal you can tackle in one month and input the goal into the app.
Make it a family event
If you’re concerned that training will take away time with your kids, try to include them in your run. Have them come out on their bikes and tag along for a mile or two, and keep a short looped route so you can drop them at home when they’ve had enough and you possibly want to keep going. Chances are your kids will look at it as something to look forward to every day, and fitting in a run will feel more like play than a chore.
10-week beginner’s running plan
Make sure you cross train at least once a week – if this makes the running programme take longer that’s ok, it’s better to stay strong and get there without injuring yourself through overdoing it. Grab a watch, stopwatch or just use your mobile phone and get started!
Repeat this session on three different days, ideally with at least a day’s rest in between.
Aim to go out three times this week, with a day’s rest in between each session. Choose to do either two of the Session 1 (and one of Session 2) or two of the Session 2 (and one of Session 1) if you feel ready to progress more quickly.
- Session 1: Jog for 2 minutes then walk for 1-and-a-half minutes. Repeat x 6.
- Session 2: Jog for 3 minutes then walk for 1-and-a-half minutes. Repeat x 5.
Go out three times this week. Choose to do Session 1 twice and session 2 once, or the other way around.
- Session 1: Jog for 3 minutes then walk for 1-and-a-half minutes. Repeat x 5.
- Session 2: Jog for 4 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 4.
Time spent on your feet increases this week. Again, go out three times but do the sessions in order.
- Session 1: Jog for 4 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 5.
- Session 2: Jog for 5 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3. Then jog for 4 minutes before cooling down.
- Session 3: Jog for 5 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 4. Jog for 4 minutes then cool down.
You should now be comfortably running for five minutes at a time. If this is still a challenge, repeat week 5. This week, make sure there is a day’s rest between sessions.
- Session 1: Jog for 6 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3. Jog for 5 minutes then cool down.
- Session 2: Jog for 6 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 4.
- Session 3: Jog for 7 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 2. Jog for 6 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 2.
Three sessions again this week, time spent running increases further so make sure you are strong and repeat Week 6 if you don’t feel ready.
- Session 1: Jog for 8 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3. Jog for 5 minutes, cool down.
- Session 2: Jog for 8 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 4.
- Session 3: Jog for 9 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3
Sessions are getting longer so they are designed to build up and down through each run.
- Session 1: Jog for 8 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Jog for 9 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Jog for 8 minutes, walk for 2 minutes.
- Session 2: Jog for 9 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Jog for 10 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Jog for 9 minutes, walk for 2 minutes.
- Session 3: Jog for 10 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3.
Now you’re running 10 minutes at a time easily, and completing sessions over 30 minutes, it’s just a case of building on this.
- Session 1: Jog for 12 minutes then walk for 3 minutes. Repeat x 2.
- Session 2: Jog for 15 minutes then walk for 3 minutes. Jog for 10 minutes then walk for 2 minutes.
- Session 3: Jog for 15 minutes then walk for 3 minutes. Jog for 12 minutes, cool down.
You should by now be able to build up to a 30-minute run. If you’re not ready, repeat the previous week.
- Session 1: jog for 20 minutes.
- Session 2: jog for 25 minutes.
Does a Plant-Based Diet for Athletes Impact Performance?
6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating During Race Season
Running Cadence >> How to Adjust Your Steps per Minute
Are They Good for Weight Loss?
Get More Out Of Your Runs With These 12 adidas Running Features
Why It’s Important and How To Fix Deviations
Morning, Noon, or Night – Is There a Perfect Time to Run?
7 Effective Immunity Booster Foods
The Best Bodyweight Exercises for Runners (Workout Included!)
3 Essential Tips to Help You Prepare for Your First Run
8 Running Beginner Questions Answered
Bloated Stomach? 7 Drinks That Can Help
UNDERSTANDING THE ELUSIVE RUNNER’S HIGH
10 Simple Tips for Stopping Food Cravings
Alcohol and Exercise – 7 Rules for Athletes
The 7 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Strong Triceps
Can You Use CBD for Athletic Recovery?
HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS MADE EASY WITH THESE 3 TIPS
What to Know to Make Muscles Grow
There are a few important points to consider for the ultimate run preparation and cool-down:
Before your run
Before you start running, never perform static stretches. Instead, go through a dynamic warm up (moving around) to get your body ready.
A good warm up before each run should last between 5 and 10 minutes.
- Standing on one leg, swing the other back and forth. Alternate a few times. Rotate your ankles before swinging.
- Carry on walking, and every 10 steps hop briskly from one foot to the other, with knees high for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 4 times.
After your run
Rather than just coming to a sudden stop, cool down by walking briskly for a few minutes. When your heartbeat has returned to normal, go through some stretches. Hold each one for about 10 seconds, or until it eases off.
- Quad stretch: stand straight, holding on to a wall or chair for support. With your knees together, take hold of one foot and bring your heel to touch your bottom
- Hamstring stretch: stand with your legs wide apart and trace your hands down both legs towards your feet, bending from your hips. You should feel a stretch up the whole of the back of your legs.
- Calf stretch: take a step forwards. The back leg should be kept straight, with heel on the ground. Now bend the front knee forwards, leaning into it while still keeping the back heel on the ground.
Getting ready to run
Before you hit the road there are a few essential pieces of kit it’s worth investing in:
Running kit basics
When you’re just starting out, try not to be dazzled by all the high-tech kit out there – a decent pair of trainers and some comfortable running apparel is all you need to begin with.
Choosing running shoes
It’s possible to spend well over £100 on a pair of shoes for running, but if you’re new to running you might want to go for something lower cost – once you’re used to running you will be in a much better place to figure out what you need from a shoe (support, cushioning, type of upper etc). If you do, however, want to invest properly from day one, it’s a good idea to get a gait analysis in your local independent sports shop. They won’t try to up-sell – it’s not in their interest – they will just help you find the most suitable shoe for you.
Choosing running apparel
Go for something that’s not too baggy and won’t restrict your movement. This doesn’t mean you have to go out head-to-toe in lycra, but a sweat-wicking fabric is a good idea.
You could do worse than investing in blister-prevention socks too, as this is a new way of moving for you, in new shoes, so blisters are a risk!
Be safe: hi-vis clothing and a clip-on light will make sure you’re seen if you run a night or early morning.
Should you run on a treadmill or the road?
If you really don’t want to go outside, you could train on a treadmill, but it is a different way of running. Treadmills are slightly easier as the ‘ground’ is moving underneath you so you don’t need to propel yourself forward like you do on stationary ground. It’s a good idea to add a percentage or two gradient when you set the treadmill, just to give it a more realistic feel.