Start running part 3 - six-week beginner runner training plan

Your beginner running training plan

If you're a running beginner, setting a run training program for yourself can be difficult. It's important to build up your running routine gradually to get your body into shape over time. Here is your six-week run training plan to get you started in running.

It's time to get running, but remember the way to start running is slowly if you want your first steps to be successful. The best thing to do is to combine walking and running to begin with, gradually increasing the amount of running and decreasing the amount of walking as you get fitter. You should do this even if you are fairly fit from another type of activity, such as swimming or cycling, as it’s not just your heart and lungs that need time to adjust but also your joints and connective tissues (including bones, ligaments and tendons).

Running every other day – three to four times per week — is just fine, giving you plenty of recovery time and allowing you to build up your running gradually and consistently. You’ll see in the ‘Get Running in Six Weeks’ program outlined below that the amount of running increases week-on-week. It is important to keep progressing, rather than sticking to the same level of challenge, as this is what enables you to become fitter, rather than getting stuck in a rut. But no matter how enthusiastic you are, don’t be tempted to progress too quickly — it’s doing too much too soon that leads to burnout, injury or disenchantment!

And that goes for pace, too. The goal for the moment is to run at a ‘comfortable’ pace, at which you can still hold a conversation. While there are benefits to be had from quicker-paced running, there is plenty of time to move on to that once you have established a base of endurance and stamina, which is what this program will enable you to achieve.

One of the best things about running is that it’s fuss-free. You can do it anywhere, anytime and with anyone (or on your own, of course). But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan your runs. Writing them down in your diary, like you would with any other appointment, will help you make time and space in your life for running.

So when are you going to fit your training in? First thing in the morning? While the kids are at nursery? After work with a colleague? At the gym on a treadmill? Think about what will work for you and pencil three to four ‘windows’ in to your weekly schedule.

While you don’t need to worry about forking out for specialist running clothing, equipment or admission fees, one thing you do need to have right from the outset is a decent pair of running shoes. The best place to get these is at a specialist running store, where staff will be able to advise you on the right shoes for your foot type, running style and individual needs. While you are there, get a couple of pairs of good quality running socks too. And ladies, don’t take a single step without a sports bra!

Get running in six weeks

This program will get you to the point where you can run for 20 minutes non-stop. Remember to warm-up, cool-down and stretch each time you run and listen to your body. People progress at different rates, so be patient, and don’t worry if you need to repeat a week rather than moving on to the next one. If you want to run four times a week, simply add in another session (but not the ‘Challenge’ session). 

Training Plan Week One

Walk for 3 minutes, run for 2 minutes and repeat 4 times (20)
Walk for 3 minutes, run for 2 minutes and repeat 4 times (20) 

Challenge: Walk for 3 minutes, run for 2 minutes and repeat 5 times (25)

Tip: Get a notebook and start a ‘training diary’ to keep tabs on your progress.

Training Plan Week Two

Walk for 2 minutes, run for 2 minutes and repeat 6 times (24)
Walk for 2 minutes, run for 2 minutes and repeat 6 times (24)

Challenge: Walk for 2 minutes, run for 3 minutes and repeat 5 times (25)

Tip: Don’t look down at your feet when you run. Look at the path or road ahead to keep your body aligned.

Training Plan Week Three

Walk for 1 minute, run for 3 minutes and repeat 6 times (24)
Walk for 1 minute, run for 3 minutes and repeat 6 times (24)

Challenge: Walk for 1 minute, run for 4 minutes and repeat 5 times (25)

Tip: Try to remain relaxed while you are running. Unclench those fists — and smile.

Training Plan Week Four

Walk for 1 minute, run for 4 minutes and repeat 5 times (25)
Walk for 1 minute, run for 4 minutes and repeat 5 times (25)

Challenge: Jog for 10 minutes (walk as and when you need to), rest for 2 minutes and repeat (22)

Tip: Don’t expect every run to feel increasingly easy. Everyone has good and bad days ...

Training Plan Week Five

Walk for 1 minute, run for 4 minutes and repeat 6 times (30)
Walk for 1 minute, run for 4 minutes and repeat 6 times (30)

Challenge: Jog for 15 minutes. Walk or rest for 2 minutes. Repeat. (32)

Tip: Recruit a friend to train with. Or find a running group or club to help you stay motivated.

Training Plan Week Six

Run for 8 minutes, walk for 2 minutes and repeat 3 times (30)
Run for 10 minutes, walk for 2 minutes and repeat 3 times (36)

Challenge: Jog for 20 minutes


Tip: Get into the habit of carrying some water with you on your runs — it will be essential later on when your runs get longer.

Where to now for your running?

Once you’ve reached the magical 20-minute target, gradually increase your running time, but still stick to thee to four days per week. Adding on just three to five minutes per week will enable you to run for approximately 45 minutes in just six weeks’ time. After that, it’s time to start playing with variables such as pace, hills and intensity.

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