Whether you’re brand-new to running or trying to get your groove back after a long break, the first steps can be tough. It takes time to build endurance and get your mind and body used to the striding motion. To keep your confidence high and injury risk low, it’s best to stick to a training schedule. This simple plan will safely get you up and running in just eight weeks.
HOW DO I START?
With this plan, you’ll run three days a week, alternating between intervals of running and walking for 20 minutes, plus a warm-up and cool-down. If you’re not quite ready to be active for 30 minutes, give yourself some time to work up to that before starting this program. And, of course, check with your doctor to make sure you’re cleared to start a running program, especially if you’ve recently been injured or had a baby.
WHERE SHOULD I RUN?
It’s up to you whether you want to do the workouts on the treadmill or in the great outdoors, but keep in mind that you’ll use slightly different muscles when you run outside. So if you do primarily treadmill running, be prepared for a little discomfort (particularly in your shins or calves) as you transition to outside running.
HOW FAST DO I NEED TO GO?
All of your run intervals should be done at a comfortable, conversational pace. If you find yourself huffing and puffing and not able to speak in complete sentences without gasping for air, slow down. Do your walk intervals at a brisk, steady pace, and don’t be tempted to take it easy. You’ll want to keep your heart rate elevated so it’s easy to transition back to running. Make sure you keep your arms at a 90-degree angle—don’t drop them to your side and walk casually. And keep your stride short, so you’re not putting stress on your hamstrings and shin muscles.
WHAT IF I CAN’T WORK OUT?
Don’t sweat it if you miss a day here or there, but try to stay consistent. It’s fine to repeat a week if you feel that you’re not ready to move on. Ramping up too quickly can lead to injury, so it’s better if you progress at the pace that’s right for you.
CAN I SWITCH THE DAYS AROUND IN THE PLAN?
You can, but try not to run two days in a row, so your body has a chance to recover. On the days you’re not running, you can either take a rest day or build your endurance by doing other types of cardio. Be sure to give yourself at least one complete rest day each week.