As simple as running may be, it certainly isn’t easy. Especially when you’re a beginner. ‘You have to start where you are, not where you think you should be,’ says running coach and exercise physiologist Janet Hamilton. ‘If you go further or faster than you’re ready for, your body can’t adapt quickly enough and you’ll get injured.’ That’s why, with plans designed by highly experienced coach Sam Murphy, we’ve developed a five-part programme to take you from your very first steps to stepping up for your first race. So, are you ready?
1.Your goal is to: get motivated
‘Once it’s a habit, exercise feels easier and doesn’t take as much willpower when you don’t feel like it,’ says Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit.
2. Your goal is to: just get moving
Before your first run, get in the regular exercise habit by walking. This should be a brisk walk – ‘not a race walk, but not a window-shopping walk either’, says Steven Blair, professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina, US. You can also use a stationary bike or elliptical trainer, but walking is an excellent foundation for running and holds the convenience trump card. ‘The best exercise is the one you will do consistently,’ says Blair.
A 7 week* walking plan to get your body ready for running:
3. Your goal is: to start running
You’re ready to run. And here’s the good news: because you’ll be moving faster, you’ll cover longer distances without adding workout time to your schedule. At the end of this seven-week plan, you’ll be able to complete 175 minutes of exercise per week, running for approximately twice as long as you walk.
A 7-week run-walk plan for beginner runners:
4. Your goal is to: run non-stop
Want to build your endurance and eliminate the walk breaks? This plan takes you from run/walking up to continuous running. Each run should be done at a conversational pace. If you’re gasping, slow down.
A 7-week beginner running plan to help you run your first 5k:
5. Your goal is to: run longer
You’ve run a non-stop 5K, now you want to run further. This plan will help you develop the endurance you need to run a 10K, and build the strength to race a 5K. It includes some hills and loosely structured speedwork (fartleks) to build that strength.
A 7-week plan to take you from 5K to 10K:
6. Your goal is to: get faster
This eight-week plan is for those who can already run five or six miles and want to boost their speed. It will develop endurance, introduce you to speedwork to boost your leg and lung power, and develop ‘pace awareness’ to help you avoid going out too fast.