May 252012

About a year ago, I had made the decision to get into shape.  I had been unemployed for 6 months ( stupid economy), and during that time, I dropped in weight from 227 down to about 205.  I attribute that weight loss to nothing more than not eating out for lunch, and cooking more dinners at home.  It’s quite amazing what can come from having to cut costs.  I had just turned 40, and although I was losing weight, I was certainly not in shape.  I doubt I could run more than a few minutes before passing out.

I first made the decision to get more hiking.    I had bought most all of the gear a number of years previous, but had never gotten out there.  Story of my life…  Anyway, after a number of hikes, I realized I would need to get into other forms of more strenuous activities if I truly wanted to drop the guy I was, and get into better shape.  I also realized that I was hiking for the pleasure of being in the outdoors, and the small fitness gain was just a bonus.  In all truthfulness, I would rather hike any day, but hiking was not getting me into the shape as I was targeting.

Along came the internet!  After doing a number of Google searches, I found a few beginner running programs that looked like they would mostly fit the bill.  The only problem with them, was I believe they were designed by in-shape people.  I was not one of them, and I knew if I started one of them, at age 40, I would certainly fail.  So, I took a few bullet points from a number of them and created my own – Designed by an out of shape 40 year old, to be used by out of shape 40 year olds.  OK, maybe not just out of shape 40 years olds, but you get the point.

So, here it is.  It’s pretty basic – You run/walk for 20 minutes, every other day for 12 weeks.  Each week you either drop your walk time or ramp up your run time, but still keeping it within the 20 minute window.  At the end of the 12 week program, you should be able to run 20 minutes without a problem.  Don’t get me wrong, this is all theoretical, but I am currently in week 2, and will see this through to the end.


And, as I am not a doctor, take this info for what it’s worth – I’m posting it for motivational purposes only.  See your own Doc before you go out and injure yourself by starting a new program…


 Posted by at 1:05 pm

  79 Responses to “Beginner Running Training”

  1. This is so great. I’ve always wanted to become a runner but I didn’t know how to start. I’ll test this out. Thanks for sharing!

    • me too. I am closer to 50 and I am about 10 pounds over weight but it won’t budge no matter how little I eat. I am walking only a mile every other day right now. I would like to try this guys approach.

  2. I’m glad to help, Sash. I have also contemplated running for quite a while. I really feel this will work as a great first step. I hope you do well.

  3. Thank you SOOOOOO much for a much better place to start. Now only if my favorite doesn’t get me….. “It was only Procrastination I Know” …. LOL

  4. And thank you, Sandy! Just kick the procrastination into the backseat! I know it will be tough, as it is one of my favorite past times, procrastination….

  5. How is this going so far now? I’m looking for a running program that u can start running and do a 5K in 8 weeks. I really like your ideas!!

  6. Hello Gina. So far, things are going great. I am starting week 3 today, and as of now, I feel I could go much further each and every day. I set this up so that it would not be such of a buzz kill early on. With the right training program, I think 5k in 8 weeks is definitely doable! Good luck! Also, check back frequently, as I blog about progress after each routine.

  7. Hello,

    This program that you created, can I lose the weight by following these steps? Or is this just to prepare someone for when they do a 5k or something? Thanks 🙂

    • Hello Sarah- I didn’t specifically set this up for weight loss, but my wife is also doing this with me, and her main goal is to lose weight. I think combine this with quality eating habits, weight loss should follow nicely. My wife and I re-evaluated what we ate, when we ate and how much we ate about 6 months ago, and since then we have both lost about 30 pounds, without really dieting, per-say. Good luck to you if you try this!

  8. I absolutely LOVE this! I have wanted to become a runner my whole life and I just never knew how to do it. I just started exercising again yesterday and I was planning on strength training every other day and walking in between. Now maybe I will be able to run in a few weeks! Good luck to you 🙂

    • Hi Brooke- That’s great that you started exercising! I tell you, since starting this very soft approach to running, I feel better after each routine. I am excited to add weight training next week to the mix. I think the whole key is to not overdo things too early. Sure, we all could workout/run every day of the week, but I know from personal experience that you have one hard recovery day, and all bets are off. Take things easy for the first 20%, and things will go a lot better in the final 80%. Good luck to you too!

      • I agree! I’ve had those can’t sit down days myself lol. Yesterday I didn’t push very hard because I have a mildly sprained ankle from this past weekend. My problem with just walking/running is that I get bored very easily. I’ve never been lean per say or the “runner type”. If the truth be told I truly dislike running, but I really enjoy strength training. So it helps to keep me motivated. My husband and I have also made huge adjustments to our diets. We both have lots of weight to lose. I am actually starting the Body by Vi challenge soon and I hope it helps to boost my weight loss. But realistically I know this is a lifestyle change for myself and that’s why I’m so happy to find your running program because maybe it will be the one I can stick to!

  9. is there a printer friendly version?

    • Hello Kristyn- I have not created a “printer friendly” version as of yet. If you are not in a terrible rush for it, I could pop one out when I return from Vacation next week.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing… printed and on my fridge!

  11. I too am very out of shape and really want to start a running program. Thanks so much for the tips and I will let you know how it all pans out!!

  12. I have a stepper (kinda like a elliptical) and I’ve been having trouble getting motivated, because I’m not at the “30 mins a day” level. I think I’m going to try this “routine” on it and see how it goes. Thanks for posting.

    • Motivation is the biggest hurdle for many people. I, for one, have had motivation issues in the past as well. That is partly why I started this page – to help motivate others, whole keeping myself motivated at the same time. Good luck!

  13. Very excited to find this…printed it out and started it tonight. Am just now reading the comments and am even MORE excited to read that it’s to be done every OTHER day…yeah! That should prevent the soreness and burn-out that surely comes from the other things I’ve tried. I’m a few weeks from 40 years old myself, so this is perfect! Please keep us updated on your progress!!!

    • I’m glad you found this too, Andrea. I have so far not hit any burnout with the program, although there are days I would like to just sit around. I haven’t caved in yet!

  14. Is each week something you do everyday, every other day, or just once a week for each week?

    • Jaki, I set this up to do every other day. If you find it too easy, simply increase it to ever day. If it is too hard, make it every third day until you are finding it too easy, then increase to every other day or every day. Good luck.

  15. Thanks for the post! I was looking for something to start my kids on! I homeschool (4) of my children and they all want to run like I used to. I had babies and was bitter that THEY stole my girlish figure…lol So to pay them back I put on over 150 lbs. + …Now after a couple of years of taking off and putting it on…I got excited last year and lost over 115+ pounds just watching what I ate. For the last nine months I was able to be part of a dance studio (one of my life dreams) and I do Zumba at home for at least 1 hour to 80 min. 3-5 times a week… If I eat to much I will add an extra workout or double up.. I was needing more and used to run cross country and my kids wanted to do it with me. I tried to run with a friend of mine on the beach(bad idea) While my mind was ready, let’s just say that my body is still protesting and that was many months ago…ahahaha…I was so bitter at my lack of accomplishment that I made my body work even harder…If I could not run anymore, I walked briskly over emphasizing each and every movement as if to remind my body who actually is in charge.. I was able to pull out about 1/2 mile total running but ended up briskly walk/running around 6 miles. It was at that point I needed to find an easier approach for my children that wouldn’t leave them tormented and bitter at running or the prospect of it….:) This is fabulous…We are off to try it starting today… Do you think for kids ranging in ages from 8-14 and myself (just a wee bit older :]) we could ramp this up to everyday since we still walk everyday and the kids do a little boxing, workout, taebo, or bowflex….I am sure they can do anything I put in front of them…but I know how easy it is to do too much to soon and burn out, and I just don’t know if pushing this would be wise so I wanted some feedback. Thank you.
    Pursuing holiness,
    T. Newhouse
    Rainier, Oregon

    • I certainly think it could be ramped up to every day. There are a number of programs that are every day, and I just reduced this one to every other day so that I don’t get burn out. I have also been thinking of increasing my personal routine to every day around week 6, but we will see how I am going along at that point. Good luck!

  16. Is this done all at once for 20 minutes or is it spread out over a day according to your schedule?

  17. Is there a pace that you recommend for “run fast?’

  18. I meant “walk fast.” And do the asterisks apply to each walk instruction or just the first walk? I just had a baby by cesarean 7 weeks ago and was just cleared for exercise so I am excited about easing back into running after 8 months of laziness! Thank you for this

    • No specific pace, but I think I was hitting about 3.5 MPH or just a little faster. You want to be just below where you have to start to jog. And yes, the asterisk is just for week one. Good luck! I am trying to knock away 40 years of laziness…

  19. Can you do one for 10 K run? love this idea.

    • Hi Patsy- I suppose working this into a 10 K would be pretty simple, by either extending the walk/run cycle for another X number of weeks until you are running non stop for the entire length. Running a 10 min/mile would be just over an hour. This 12 week-20 minute routine certainly would not need to be tripled to 36 weeks, but maybe up to 18 to 20 weeks. This is just off the top of my head. I hope this helps!

  20. about what speed do you want to walk and run?

    • The speed really should be up to you. I am 6′ tall, and my wife is 5’3. We are obviously at different speeds for both walking and running. The walk speed for you should be slow enough that you can catch your breath between run cycles. The run speed should be quick enough that you are feeling the exercise, but not so fast that you are getting winded before the cycle switches back to a walk. That is the glory of this kind of routine. There is no “One way” to do it. Start out slow and work your way up.

  21. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I’ve gotten a late start in life & after being pregnant and on bedrest for 6 months at age 39, my body is still having a hard time getting back to good 2 years later. I gained 60 lbs during my pregnancy. Although I have hypothyroid, I did manage to lose 70 lbs, but still fall into the overweight category. After my little one was born, I set a goal to run a marathon by age 50. I’m nowhere near that right now. You’re site has provided me with a little needed direction. I appreciate it.

  22. […] Jun 282012   With all good things, REVISE, REVISE, REVISE. This is a revision to my original plan from last month. The original plan was great in it’s own sense, but after 5 weeks of […]

  23. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve tried a few beginner runner programs and wasn’t able to stay with it..I can be on an elliptical for 30 minutes no problem but for some reason running has always been really hard for me… I like how this starts out slow and progresses! Starting this tonight after work!

  24. As someone who is looking to lose weight and isn’t really sure where to start this makes running seem a lot less scary and impossible to achieve.

  25. Loved reading all the comments. I am taking the plunge with your help…thank you for posting such a motivating and common sense approach for me and the many others who have been using your method. Best of luck to you and everyone who decides to get out there and run.

  26. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I just posted on Facebook if anyone had any tips for me because I hate to run and wanted to start running because of how great of a workout, in itself, it is! They left this link in the comment box, I read it…IT’S ABSOLUTELY GENIUS! It’s definitely something I could do. I start tomorrow. Thank you again for taking the time to do this.

  27. This sounds awesome. I am going to try the “original” plan and if then if I need to go to the revised one. I really need some motivation, I would much rather sleep an extra 1/2 hour. But always feel better if I at least walk on the treadmill. I’m 51 this month, with heart disease, you would think I would have this down by now! I need to lose a few pounds, 10 would be great. Anyway, thanks for this, it’s a bit easier to get into then the C25K…that will come next!

  28. such a neat concept and since it is every other day, it might be easier to stay with it. I think I will begin this tonight! I just hope my knees will let me do it. I am hitting 49 this fall and even though I am not huge, I am about 10 pounds over weight. The older I get, the harder it is to take off the pounds. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I hope it works for me too!

  29. I want to get in shape before my birthday, October 19th. If I start today, July 26th, will it be worth it? The 12th week will end the day before my birthday.

  30. If you start today, you’ll definitely be in better shape than if you dont ever start. Seems worth it to me! Focus on getting better and running farther day by day. I followed a very similar DIY plan. In one year, I went from running 1 minute before needing to walk to running a half marathon in 2.5 hours. And I’m a woman over 200lb. It can be done.

  31. I need to drop 10 pounds for my daughter’s wedding. I will start your exercise program today and hopefully, in 6 weeks time I can achieve my goal. Thank you for the idea.

  32. I have been looking for motivation to start working out again. A friend told me about the Istanbul Marathon occuring over Veterans Day weekend. There’s an 8km and 15km going on as well. I signed up for the 8km but needed to find an easy way to start running after several years of not running. I will try out your method and see how it treats me! I have 3 months to get there. Hopefully it will work!

  33. Saw this post a few months ago and held onto it….I’m ready to run again! Finally! just finishing PT for a mountain biking injury over a year ago. (torn hammie, torn medial meniscus [surgery last Dec] and hyper-extended knee) I was running 3-5 miles pre-injury and cycling every other day. Hope to get back there. Thanks so much for the post! I’ll put it to good use!

  34. This is great. The Chruch that I attend is always talking about doing the 5k run. I have been wanting to do it. But never new how to get started. I can not over look this. I believe this is what I have been looking for.

  35. Thanks so much for the inspiring program? How many times a week are we supposed to run?


    • That’s totally up to you. You can run this daily, if you have the stamina, or every other day if your a bit out of shape. Just keep running!

  36. Thanks for sharing your strategy. I have tried something similar before and it works. I think the main challenge for me was endurance. And something like this gradually helps build it. Good luck 🙂

  37. I love this and totally think I can do this and I’m 60 yrs old! I walk lots now and wanted to add a run. Stupid question tho….how do you “time” each walk and run? LOL I don’t own a watch!

  38. Hello! I just wanted to say thanks for this program. I am 25 and I’m trying to get what I consider my pre baby body. Meaning I want to be healthy before I get pregnant. This is a great way to start and I feel like it is really do able for me (which is saying a lot) ill keep you updated on my progress and keep me updated on yours! You are my motivation.

    • Good to here, Lexie. My wife did the same as you before we had our child. She didn’t get into running so much as just getting into shape, pre-pregnancy. She went all the way down to a size 6 before I ‘knocked her up’. 😉

  39. Hi. I was wondering if you have any suggestions on the speeds when walking and then the speed while running? Thanks!

  40. […] stop and catch my breath, I went to the internet to see if I could find a beginner running program. This is what i stumbled […]

  41. hi.. I was wondering how thgs went with you.. did you continue your program??
    I’ll begin running and walking next monday (its rainning in beirut this week 🙂 )
    Seems an easy program.. maybe I’ll run a marathon next year 😛

    • Hi there. I have not been able to run as much as I would like. I unfortunately had to “interrupt” my program half way through, as a new job took the majority of my time. With spring on the horizon, I am going to hit this up again and make it through to the end. I also would like to run a marathon soon, but will most likely do a sprint or half to start. Good luck on yours!

  42. I love coming across stories of people that are exactly the same as mine. I too was unemployed a few years back and decided to get into shape. I started a strict gym routine and began running and mountain biking. I’ve since completed over 30 races (5ks, half marathons, adventure races, triathlons, XTERRA’s, etc.) including a few 30 hour adventure races. My life has changed 100% since that day when I made that decision. I urge you all to stick with your dreams — discipline and dedication are all it takes to change your life!

  43. Started the program with a weight training program(not too hard right now)and stretching program. I used to be a personal trainer and personal teacher many moons ago. This program is well thought out and a good stepping stone to better health with good eating habits. I am in my second week of the program and I am noticing greater endurance and feeling better. I have another80lbs to lose with this program I am on my way…thanks and good luck with your walking/running and keep the good work up.

  44. i am looking forward to trying this. i am in need of exercise and this seems a good place to start. on the running part, for a tread-mill, what speed would you say is good? or just go with what i’m comfortable with?

  45. What an outstanding idea. Thanks for breaking it down into bite sized ‘doable’ chunks. The training plan it seems very reasonable to me and I can’t wait to get started. I was reading through the comments read and everyone is sharing their story so I guess I’ll go ahead and add mine.

    I just turned 45 years old and recently lost 82 pounds; went from a size 22 to a petite size 4. I started using the ViSalus protein shake as a daily fast food replacement. Started a series of ViSalus 90 Day Challenges starting on February 28 2012, lost almost 40 pounds in 90 days…then just gradually lost the rest…and still have at least 15 lbs to go.

    The reason I tell you this is because as I was losing weight I was not working out and that is very bad to do! NOW I’m trying to play catch-up building lean muscle — have loose skin now. That was my fault for trying to take the easy way out at first.

    I’m getting ready to start another 90 Day Challenge. I want to learn to run and that’s how i found this thread. My goal is to complete our Bridge Run next year…so off I go…or, “…off I run” to make this running guide MY daily training routine, too.

    HOW COOL IS IT TO KNOW YOU’VE POSTED SOMETHING SO HELPFUL that literally hundreds of people are following your lead! You rock! Thank you everyone for sharing your stories, hints and tips!

    If you want to join me on, you can keep a running diary there for free. Hit me up if you wanna join my Challenge to Run, too! That’d be cool. Laurel.Flamme on gmail dot com. Thanks and good luck everyone!

  46. How your program coming along? I am in the third week and find it is getting a little easier. So I need to increase the speed a little. Right now I’m using the treadmill with a swimming program every other day. My knees are not strong enough to be on the treadmill everyday. Any suggestions on how to use weight training to strength my arthritic knees. I know I cannot use heavy weights. Know some exercises to target the muscles around my knees, if you know please let me know….thanks.

    • Hi Carol- Unfortunately, my program has been on hold for a bit. My family and I are leaving for a 2 week cruise in the morning. There is a lap track on the top deck of the ship, but I am not sure how motivated I will be to run while on an Alaskan cruise. I also fear that I will obnoxiously over eat while on the ship for 10 days. I guess I will have to hit it hard once we get back.

      I also have not-so-good knees, and I just try and not push myself too hard. I have been alternating between walking/running and stationary bike inside every other day. Seems to work well for me. Keep up the good work!

      • Have fun on your on your vacation. I have had to lay off from running/walking until I go get my knee the mean while I have been swimming laps and other exercises on the mat in the gym.once again have fun on your trip and relax about your exercise routine. Maybe you could do some swimming in the pool in the mornings or before you go to eat dinner. Try to stick to some form of exercise even if it is walking or swimming for twenty minutes….stay motivated now enjoy!!

  47. Thank you for coming up with this realistic running idea..I actually feel this can happen..I can do this!! Lolcant wait to get started…Thank you

  48. Awesome plan! As a registered nurse, I am SO proud of your seeing yourself in your situation as you did. You did not wallow in hopeless despair and ‘whoa is me’ attitude. Your plan displays a very logical, common sense approach to introducing an ‘exercise naive’ body to its new routine.

    After you follow your plan for three weeks you will be set. You will be looking forward to your workout time every day and loving the way you look and feel!

    I have a family member who has MS. She was overweight at the time of her diagnosis four years ago. She is a very independent woman and was hell bent on not becoming wheelchair bound. She was referred to the neuro clinic and is on a weekly injection for the MS. She started walking at that time. Slowly, as her balance wasn’t the greatest. Now, four years later, she has dropped forty pounds and walks six miles every day. If she doesn’t get her walk in she is upset. She has an elliptical machine for bad weather days. Uses Nike app on her iPhone for running and loves it. She is our family’s poster child! Such a reformation! You would never guess today that this lady has MS!!!

    Good luck with your program!

  49. I had surgery on my foot about 5 months ago and have finally been release form doctor. I used to walk daily for about an hour with my dog 3 – 4 days a week. Of course the walking stopped because the issue with my foot. Now, I am walking and have slowly started to throw in a jogging for 5 mins intervals….Now, in your 12 week program where should I start?


    Confuse, Out of Shape/overweight 46 yr. old.

  50. This program is amazing! After losing 50 lbs and still having 60 to go I began to walk anywhere from 2-6 miles a day. After building up some endurance my son challenged me to run to the nearest light pole (approximately 30 ft) and I couldn’t do it. That ate at me until I finally could do it and it was at that point that I stumbled upon your guide and began the program each morning at 4:45a (while it was still dark and no one in the neighborhood could see me). While I didn’t follow the program exactly and some steps may have taken me a little longer than a week to conquer I finished the challenged! I just finished a 2 mile run in less than 23 minutes! My family and co workers are amazed and so am I! I am 52 yo and have NEVER ran in my life except in high school PE if I HAD to! While the weight hasn’t fallen off since I started I have began to acquire muscles that I didn’t know know existed in my body! Thought those were only in other people! I can’t thank you enough for the day that I “ran” into your program! My next goal is a spring 5k! BELIEVE ME…if I can do it anyone can do it!!!!

  51. This looks like a training guide a tract and field coach gave me some 30 years ago. Looks great and after a 7 year pause from running, this will certainly help.

  52. With this program how many times a week should I do the exercises. I see each week is different how many days a week do I need to do the exercise. Do I follow each week 7 days a week or is there so many days a week. Can you let me know. Also if I follow this program as its set after how many weeks you think it would take me to run a 5k if I really apply my self to the program.

  53. How many days a week? Is 3 days a wk good enough?

  54. My body is pretty weak from an illness and I don’t think my knees and back would hold up to some of the other beginner running plans out there. This one seems so gentle and doable it give me hole I’ll be a runner one day!

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