Five Week Running Plan for Beginners

Five Week Running Plan for Beginners

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Develop your running program at your own pace.

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Going from a beginner to someone who can run for a mile or two within five weeks is possible for most healthy people. Start slowly by combining walking with running to gradually build your running muscles and aerobic endurance. It's also important to set a reasonable goal and to progress at your own pace. Depending on your athletic background and physical condition, you may be able to run a 5K race -- about 3.1 miles -- in that time. No matter what type of shape you're in, consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Preliminary Considerations

Set a goal when you begin your program to give yourself a motivational target. This goal will depend on your fitness level, but if in doubt, set a target of running 1 mile without stopping within five weeks. Be prepared to adjust your goal depending on your progress. For example, it'll take longer to reach your goal if you push yourself too hard and get injured, as opposed to slowing down a bit, remaining healthy and continuing to progress. Plan to begin each run with at least five minutes of brisk walking to warm up your muscles. Walk for another five minutes after you run to help cool down gradually.

Getting Started

Alternate running and walking during the early portion of your program. In the first week, for example, run for about one minute and then walk for the next two minutes. Repeat the pattern six to eight times. Perform running workouts for at least 20 minutes per session -- not including warm-up and cool-down time -- and do at least three sessions in the first week of your five-week program. If you're in good shape you also may wish to go for long, brisk walks on days that you don't run, or add a fourth weekly running session.

Making Progress

Begin increasing your intensity in week two by changing your walk-to-run ratio. You can run for a longer time, shorten the walking intervals, or both. For example, begin the second week by running for 90 seconds and then walking for 90 seconds. If in doubt about your optimal intensity level, try speaking out loud. If can't utter more than a few words, increase your walking intervals and lower your running time. To this end, it's helpful to run with a partner, as you can converse to help test your intensity level and also help motivate each other throughout the program. By the end of the second week you ideally should be running at least twice as long as you walk and training for 25 to 30 minutes per session.

Continue Moving Forward

Assess your progress after two weeks. If you've passed the talking tests throughout week two and haven't suffered any injuries, increase your running-to-walking ratio at least every other workout for the remainder of your five-week program. Try to run at least six minutes for every minute you walk by the end of the third week. Improve the ratio to 10-to-1 at the end of the fourth week and 15-to-1 by the conclusion of week five. If you can run for 15 consecutive minutes, for example, you'll typically travel more than 1 mile. Try to run four times per week for the final three weeks of your program for at least 30 minutes per session.

Reaching Your Goal

If you reach your goal before the end of five weeks, keeping pushing forward and see how far you can go -- while still proceeding at your own pace. If you don't reach your goal within five weeks, keep your goal but set a new time frame, based on your rate of progress. Above all, don't be discouraged. Remember that your goal is just a short-term target, but becoming a runner is an achievement you can enjoy for many healthy years to come.