Here’s how to start out your running program. The #1 thing to remember is to start slow.
I’ll give you an example training schedule, some basics on setting up your own plan, what I did, and some example workouts.
You should also learn a bit about weight lifting and cross training, which will help your body handle the running and stay more balanced.
For now, here are some basics:
Start off slow.
If you are starting running from scratch, I would spend at least two weeks walking. Walking is much easier on your body, and it will help strengthen your ligaments and tendons for the upcoming running. It will also allow you to get in the groove of consistently going out and moving.
If you don’t consider yourself to have any fitness currently, I’d suggest a full month of walking. The first two weeks can be easy, but the next two weeks should be faster walks where you actually break a sweat (but could still hold a conversation with a partner.)
Then once you move to actual running, take it easy some more. For example, run 1 mile, three to five days a week.
You will probably do some “run/walk” days where you alternate running and walking.
It depends on the shape you’re in before you start running; some people may be able to handle running 1-2 miles per day, five days per week. Others will only run 1 mile, twice per week, and walk the other days.
Tip: If you’re not used to running, start off running on soft surfaces like dirt roads. Running on concrete is very hard on your joints (and could lead to a very short running career.)
Increase distance gradually.
Start slow, and increase your mileage slowly as well.
Don’t jump from 1 mile per day to 3 miles per day. Each week, only increase your daily mileage by .5 to 1 miles.
The general rule to follow is to increase your mileage by no more than 10% per week.
Decrease rest days.
In the beginning, you don’t want to overdo it. So you will run only every other day. Two days of running in a row might be too much impact and lead to injury. But as you progress, you’ll need to run more often. So, rather than 3-4 rest days, you’ll have 1-2.
You should also do some cross-training, especially some core conditioning, to strengthen your abs and back. This will improve your running form, prevent boredom, and keep you from overdoing the running.
It’s not often mentioned, but your upper body endurance (specifically in your core) is very important to your success at running, whether you want to run fast, run long distances, or just run in comfort. Running is more than just leg muscles!
As you do more running, you might get into a more advanced training plan. It might go something like this: Monday – rest. Tuesday – short sprints/repeats on the track. Wednesday – a couple easy miles. Thursday – Fartlek, or speed training (longer than your sprints.) Friday – easy jog. Saturday – short run at a hard pace. Sunday – a long but slow run, working on distance.
I encourage you to consult a professional (or at least read a good book) to figure out the best plan for your needs.
Train with a group.
Training on your own can get boring quickly. Some cities and towns have running groups organized through a club or the local running store. A lot of these have beginner-level groups, and you can have a lot of fun participating in them once per week.
As a bonus, you’ll be able to pick the brains of local runners and learn something new each time.
Next up, Racing >>