July 03, 2016

Walk to Run Training Plan

This plan is for those who aren't currently runners, but would like to get started.

Click here for a PDF of the Walk to Run Plan

When I tried to start a running program (the ever-popular Couch to 5K plan), I could never get through week 4. And more than anything, I hated doing run/walk intervals. I found myself dreading each run interval, which made the entire workout kind of miserable. Since I couldn't get past week 4, I finally decided to do my own plan--something that got the running portion out of the way at the beginning of the workout, and then I wouldn't have to dread the intervals.

My first run, I went out and ran as far as I could--which ended up being less than 1/10th of a mile. It was hard, and I couldn't imagine how anyone could run a mile, let alone a full marathon (as my friend Renee had done recently). Then I walked until that workout reached 30 minutes.

The next time I went out, I tried to run just a little farther than before. And again, I walked until the workout reached 30 minutes. I continued to do this, going a little farther each time I ran. However, I wasn't progressing as quickly as I would have liked. I talked to my brother about it, and he gave me some advice that would become the most useful advice I'd ever received as a runner. He told me to "Slow down! If you run really slowly, you'll be able to go a lot farther than you think you can."

The next time I ran, I ended up running my first mile! I couldn't believe how much better it felt when I went slowly. I felt like I could probably have walked faster than I was running, but it didn't matter at that point. I continued to increase my mileage until I was running three miles at a time. Only then did I start working on getting faster.

I recently wrote a training plan that is very similar to what I did when I started running: The "Walk to Run" Plan. I wasn't following a formal plan, but the way I've written this is as close as it gets. Before getting started running, I suggest building up a routine of walking 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week. This is important because it makes the routine a habit. When you've built up this habit, you'll feel very "off" when you miss a workout--and that's a good thing! It will help you to stick with the running plan.

So, this plan is for those of you that want to get started running, but you hate the thought of doing run/walk intervals. You should be capable of walking 30 minutes, 3 times per week to be able to handle this plan. Also, I have to say this, make sure you check with your doctor before you begin. Show them a copy of the plan and just make sure they are cool with you following it.

Once you're in the habit of walking 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week, then you can start with "Week 0" of the training plan (which is just walking). You won't start any actual running until Week 1. The first running workout seems sort of silly:

Walk 5 minutes
Run 30 seconds
Walk 24:30 minutes

It totals 30 minutes, and there is a grand total of just 30 seconds of running! But it's nice to get that running portion out of the way early, and then you don't have to worry about it for the rest of the workout.

When I say "run" 30 seconds, what I really mean is "lightly jog". Pretty much anyone can jog lightly for 30 seconds! The plan progresses slowly, adding just 30 seconds to 1 or 2 minutes per workout. It's kind of amazing that by adding just a tiny amount here and there, you'll be running for 30 straight minutes after 12 weeks (11 weeks, if you don't count Week 0).

I hope the plan is simple to follow, and I wish you the best as you become a runner! I welcome all feedback, good or bad, about the plan and how it works for you. Enjoy :)

Click here for a PDF of the Walk to Run Plan

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