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The Beginner's Running Recipe

 Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Getting started as a new runner with the right plan can take you from walking to "comfortably" running 30 minutes in just 8 weeks. Our 5K programs at Life Time Run follow a simple "Running Recipe" with some local variations. Whether you're getting started for the first time or coming back to running after a long break, the plan below will help you to start confidently and progress to a 30-minute run with (relative) ease. Once you're there, we encourage you to sign up for your first 5K (3.1 miles) to celebrate!

Disclaimer: If you're beginning a new exercise program, consult with your physician for medical clearance. This plan is designed for a healthy individual who is able to walk 20+ minutes comfortably. If you're not there yet, start walking for 2-3 weeks and then begin the walk/run plan below. 

To follow the Running Recipe below, complete the same workout 3-4 times each week. Start with just one minute of running for every four minutes of walking. For the first month, your RUN segments will begin every 5 minutes and will increase in duration by one minute each week. Your WALK segments will take the remainder of each 5 minute block, and will decrease in duration by one minute each week. In the 2nd month, the walk breaks are only a minute long, and the Run segments continue to increase in length. 

  • Week 1 - RUN 1: WALK 4 - Repeat 4 times (20 minutes total) 
  • Week 2 - RUN 2: WALK 3 - Repeat 5 times (25 minutes total)
  • Week 3 - RUN 3: WALK 2 - Repeat 5 times (25 minutes total)
  • Week 4 - RUN 4: WALK 1 - Repeat 6 times (30 minutes total)
  • Week 5 - RUN 5: WALK 1 - Repeat 5 times (30 minutes total)
  • Week 6 - RUN 6: WALK 1 - Repeat 5 times (35 minutes total)
  • Week 7 - RUN 7: WALK 1 - Repeat 4 times (32 minutes total)
  • Week 8 - RUN 9: WALK 1 - Repeat 3 times (30 minutes total) 

By the end of week 8, you should feel ready to tackle your first 5K (3.1 miles) or to go for a straight 30 minute run with no walk breaks. CONGRATS!! If you prefer to keep the walk breaks in, that's OK too!

Do you have to follow the recipe above to the letter? Of course not. I have to admit, when I cook, I typically just toss meats & veggies in the skillet and add spices until it tastes "just right." The Beginner's Running Recipe is like that. Some runners like a lot of "spice" and some like it "bland." There are new runners who follow the plan above to the letter and LOVE IT, and others who would get bored because they already have a large fitness base and can advance more quickly. If you have been working out regularly and the first week feels really easy, feel free to increase the length of your RUN segments more quickly. If just getting out the door is a huge step for you, feel free to progress more slowly by adding adding only 30 seconds per week to your RUN segments. The goal is to get out the door, strengthen your legs with the increasing time on your feet, and to build the aerobic capacity of your heart & lungs. Don't worry about your pace, except to SLOW DOWN if you're going so fast that you feel out of breath. 

Running will be more fun if you start slowly than if you push it until you're gasping for breath. As you build your fitness, you'll learn to find the "conversational" pace for easy runs, where you can carry on a conversation with a running buddy. This serves two purposes - you'll get in a good conversation with a friend, and you'll have to slow down enough to be able to talk. That will extend your endurance while it puts you in an more efficient "fat-burning zone." Good luck with your running journey!

Rebekah Mayer, National Run Program Manager at Life Time - Healthy Way of Life. Follow me on Instagram at rebekah800, on Twitter at @rebekah_mayer and our team at @lifetimerun. Find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/lifetimerunclub. Learn more about our running programs at lifetime.life/run .