The hardest part of learning to run is always those first few efforts. Even the elite athletes you see on TV will struggle with breathlessness as they return back from injury or prepare for the winter grind. Whether you want to get into jogging for the first t
ime, or are making a long overdue comeback, this blog series on how to start running aims to pace through those first steps.
Walk Before You Start Jogging
If you’re new to exercise, walking is a great way to ease yourself into a running program. For the first week or two, aim to fit in 2 to 3 walks each week. These should be of approx 30 minutes duration and walked at a moderate pace where you could talk to a friend without being out of breath.
Plan your walks evenly throughout the week. It’s ideal to have rest days in between to allow your body to recover i.e. Go for a walk on Saturday, Monday, and Thursday.
The main goal of this phase is to learn how to manage your time. Rather than worrying about how fast you are walking, develop the habit of exercising around your lifestyle. Once you’re in the routine of three exercise sessions per week, progression will be faster and you’ll soon reap the benefits of a fitter you.
How to Start Running
Presuming you are now comfortable with three 30 minute walk sessions per week, the next step is to introduce a tiny bit of running. By splitting your walk into three blocks of 10 minutes, we can soon start to combine running with walking for a great cardio routine.
Starting small, your first run should involve 9 minutes of walking followed by 1 minute of very light jogging. If you repeat this 10 minute loop three times in a single session you’ll achieve 3 minutes of running within your 30 minute slot. Congrats!
Running Tip: These are very early days, so don’t worry about the pace you are jogging. As you become fitter, you will naturally run faster with less effort.
Try to fit in this 30 minute session three times each week. You may wish to keep your 2nd exercise session as a lighter 30 minute walk; allowing enough recovery between your first and third sessions of the week. Not only is this a great way to ease into the running phase, you may find a walk helps to flush your legs of any aches you are experiencing from your first run.
Progress jogging at your own rate
Now that you’ve learnt how to start running, the focus is to increase running time within the same 30 minute exercise period. Aim to progress onto a circuit with 3 sets of 8 minutes walking, followed by 2 minutes of relaxed running. As with earlier phases, you may not be ready to conquer 3 runs a week of 2 minute sets. Use your second run of the week to enjoy a lighter 9 mins walking to 1 min run ratio to ensure you keep active with three runs per week.
Each week, the aim would be to gradually increase your running time by three within a 30 minute session. An example of a four week program is below.
Four week program to start running further:
3 sets of 8 minutes walking / 2 minutes running
3 sets of 7 minutes walking / 3 minutes running
3 sets of 6 minutes walking / 4 minutes running
3 sets of 5 minutes walking / 5 minutes running
Though some will sail through a new phase each week, only you will know how your body reacts to the increase in exercise. There’s no harm in taking a few weeks to achieve each step, as your perseverance to keep active will ensure your fitness gradually improves. Focus on getting the three sessions in per week and you’ll see an improvement in your running ability.
Once you achieve the 5 mins walking / 5 mins running phase, you should start to feel more comfortable with your running ability. That’s an impressive 15 minutes of running in a 30 minute session!
Continue to follow this 1 minute progression pattern until you can comfortably run 9 minutes off a 1 minute walking recovery. Once this gets easy, why not test yourself with a continuous 30 minute run?
You’ve made it!
It doesn’t matter if it takes two months or even a year. Once you are able to run for 30 minutes, three times per week you’ll notice drastic improvement in your health. You’ve come a long way so be sure to give yourself a pat on the back!
I’m hoping this guide on how to start running emphasises you don’t need to rush to get fit. Take your time and build up your routine slowly. The road ahead is just beginning.