Beginner

A Beginner’s Guide to Running: Your 6-Week Plan to Get Started the Right Way

The key to a lifelong enjoyment of running is to start out gradually. Here’s how to safely build to 30 minutes of continuous running.

So you want to run? Congratulations on making a commitment to trying an activity that is as challenging as it is fulfilling. It takes courage to begin and a lot of patience to learn how to start running, but if you are consistent in the gradual buildup of minutes you run at one time, you’ll see improvement and enjoyment accumulate, too. 

This six-week plan assumes that a new runner already walks briskly for at least 30 minutes four to six times per week. If you feel challenged at any point and not comfortable moving on to the next week’s (or day’s) progression, simply repeat the workouts from the previous day or week until you’re ready to move on.

[Looking for more advice about how to start running? Here are 10 of the most common questions, answered.]

The Workouts

Cross-training: Pick another activity that you enjoy, whether a brisk walk, cycling, swimming, hiking, yoga, tennis, a strength-training class—just something you enjoy and gets your heart rate up a bit.

Rest day: These are as important as training days because they allow your body to absorb the work you’re doing, adapt, and get ready for more. If you do anything on a rest day, it should be no more than an easy walk.

Run/Walk: Complete the run intervals at a conversational pace—if you couldn’t hold up your end of a talk with a friend, back off a little bit. Your pace will increase gradually as your body adapts over the six weeks. The “walk” intervals are meant for recovery to catch your breath, but they are also part of your workout, so don’t let your heart rate slip too much. Keep a decent clip during the walk, which will make increasing the run intervals feel easier. Ultimately, your goal over six weeks is to walk less and run more.

6-week plan to start running

Week 1

Monday

  • Warm up: Brisk walk for 5 minutes
  • Workout: 10 x 1 minute run/1 minute walk (20 minutes total)

Tuesday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Wednesday

  • Warm up: Brisk walk for 5 minutes
  • Workout: 11 x 1 minute run/1 minute walk (22 minutes total)

Thursday

  • Rest day

Friday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Saturday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 10 x 90 seconds run/1 minute walk (25 minutes total)

Sunday

  • Rest Day

Week 2

Monday

  • Warm up: Brisk walk for 5 minutes
  • Workout: 10 x 2 minutes run/1 minute walk (30 minutes total)

Tuesday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Wednesday

  • Warm up: Brisk walk for 5 minutes
  • Workout: 11 x  2 minutes run/30 seconds walk (27 minutes and 30 seconds total)

Thursday

  • Rest Day

Friday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Saturday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 10 x 2:30 minutes run/1 minute walk (35 minutes total)

Sunday

  • Rest Day

Week 3

Monday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 8 x 3 minutes run/1 minute walk (32 minutes total)

Tuesday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-train

Wednesday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 6 x 4 minutes run/1 minute walk (30 minutes total)

Thursday

  • Rest Day

Friday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Saturday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 6 x 5 minute run/30 second walk (33 minutes total)

Sunday

  • Rest Day

Week Four

Monday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 6 minute run/1 minute walk/5 minute run/1 minute walk/4 minute run/1 minute walk/3 minute run/1 minute walk (22 minutes total)

Tuesday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Wednesday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 7 minute run/30 seconds walk/6 minute run/30 seconds walk/5 minute run/30 seconds walk/4 minute run/30 seconds walk/3 minute run/30 seconds walk (27 minutes and 30 seconds total)

Thursday

  • Rest Day

Friday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Saturday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 8 minute run/2 minutes walk/8 minute run/1 minute walk/8 minute run (27 minutes total)

Sunday

  • Rest Day

Week Five

Monday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 2 x 10 minutes run/1 minute walk (22 minutes total)

Tuesday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Wednesday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 12 minutes run/1 minute walk/10 minutes run/1 minute walk/5 minutes run/1 minute walk (30 minutes total)

Thursday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Friday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 2 x 12 minute run/1 minute walk (26 minutes total)

Saturday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Sunday

  • Rest Day

Week Six

Monday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 2 x 14 minute run/1 minute walk (30 minutes total)

Tuesday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-training

Wednesday

  • Warm up: 5 minutes brisk walk
  • Workout: 28 minute run

Thursday

  • Rest Day

Friday

  • 30-60 minutes cross-train

Saturday

  • Rest Day

Sunday

  • 30 minute run – congratulations!

 

Erin Strout is Women’s Running senior writer and also directs Team Run Flagstaff, which has offered its “Step Into Running” program for new adult runners for 10 years.