Coming up with a beginner running plan can be intimidating because you’re not sure how or where to begin. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with options and either not start at all, or waste a bunch of time trying to mash together a variety of plans from different sources.
That’s where we come in! In this beginner’s guide, we’re going to lay out your first two weeks of training, day by day. You’ll start slowly with a combination of runs, strength training, and mobility work, and build a few good habits along the way.
This two-week running plan is also the perfect onramp for our Beginner Running Program, available in our mobile app. The program will continue the work of these two weeks by adding mileage, incorporating run drills, and stepping up the strength training.
It’s a complete, month-long training program that you can follow, by downloading our mobile app and jumping into our Prime platform.
For now, let’s get started with your first two weeks of training for your beginner running plan!
Let’s get started! To launch your beginner running plan, you’ll complete a baseline test. This test is a great checkpoint so you can see the progress you’re making throughout the weeks. It’s super simple, too.
You’ll put 10 minutes on the clock and see how much distance you can cover in that amount of time.
Now, don’t feel pressured to run the whole time. We encourage you to pick a strategy that works for you. You can run or walk the whole time at your own pace. Or you can set out with an interval strategy to mix speeds.
You’ll revisit this run after two weeks, but you aren’t limited in how often you track your progress this way in your running journey. As you continue to build your fitness level, you can always come back to this checkpoint.
To learn more about the walk method created by Jeff Galloway, be sure to watch this video with all the background information and the best way to use it:
You can’t talk about starting running without a mention of nutrition. After all, you need to support your work and recovery with a balanced diet and sufficient calories. Grab and go foods can fit the bill from time to time, but as a new runner, it will pay off to spend a little more time planning your meals.
Something as simple as packing a snack to have on hand or starting your day with a green smoothie will go a long way to setting the stage for healthy habits. You can read more about some common nutrition mistakes here, and how to avoid them!
While running does provide the bulk of your training, it’s essential to include some strength training in your week.
Not only will strength training help get you stronger, but it can also help with weight loss and reduce the risk of injury as you get started on your running journey.
Some of the biggest benefits of strength training include:
This first strength workout will pair two of our favorite moves: the squat and the plank. These bodyweight movements will activate your glutes, hips, and core as well as build leg strength and shoulder stability. Not too shabby for two simple exercises!
Here’s are some cues to keep in mind:
You’ll complete an 8-minute ladder of alternating movements which will look like this:
Just like strength training, mobility work is a very important piece of your training plan.
Mobilizing will help work out any sore spots that creep up as you start running as well as work your joints through their full range of motion. These are great movements to do right after a run, workout, or at night before bed.
Rest days are just as important as training days, especially for beginner runners! Don’t think you have to go all out every day of the week.
Taking that approach can often lead to burn out, stress, and possibly running injuries. Especially at the start of your running journey, be sure to take days off to focus on recovery.
This day is also a great opportunity to take some notes about how your workouts are feeling so far. Keeping track of your progress is a great way to stay motivated and adapt your training to your needs.
Here’s even more great information about the importance of recovery days for runners:
An optional add on today is to repeat the strength training workout from Day 3 for a little extra work this week, but only if you’re feeling up to it.
Varying the pace of your runs is important to build your endurance, speed, and power. While it’s easy to set out for each run at the same pace, we’ll show you how easy it is to get in a speed session to really move your feet.
After yesterday’s speed session, another dose of mobility should feel great. You’ll repeat the routine from Day 4 and if you feel up to it, it’s a great idea to spend a little extra time in those positions that feel especially good. If your hips are a bit tight from yesterday, spend a little more time in that lunge to loosen them up.
It’s also a great time to talk about hydration. If you’re like a lot of people, it can be easy to forget to drink water throughout the day. So today’s goal is easy: drink water!
Time to change up your strength training! You’ll still be targeting core and leg strength but in a different way with new moves.
Let’s take a look at the exercises:
You’ll complete a 6-minute workout alternating between:
Last week’s mobility was more of a flow to move your muscles and joints through their full range of motion.
This week the focus will be on soft tissue work. That means you’ll be giving yourself a mini-massage to apply pressure to your muscles. You can imagine that you have a lump of cookie dough that you need to smooth out in all directions.
You’ll need a small lacrosse ball or foam roller for this. You can use softer, tacky balls designed for tissue work, or use everyday objects like a tennis ball, coffee thermos, or even a wine bottle.
Today you also have the option of a 10-minute walk or run. There’s no expectation of pace or speed, so go at your own pace and see if you’re starting to feel more comfortable while running. If not, don’t worry. We’ve still got lots of time for practice!
For a complete guide to foam rolling and mobility work, check out this video. Your body will thank you!
Today you’ll complete another 10-minute run. You can complete this on the road, a trail, or a treadmill. Instead of focusing on climbing this time, you’ll target some faster speed intervals combined with walk breaks.
Your nutrition challenge for this week is to try out one new recipe or ingredient. By getting out of the usual routine of meals and ingredients you get a chance to bring in new flavors, a different cooking technique, and potentially some new vitamins and minerals in whatever food you don’t normally eat. Besides, variety is the spice of life, they say.
In addition, today you’ll repeat the mobility routine from Day 9. Seek and destroy those sore spots that have snuck in over the past few days, and you’ll be ready for tomorrow’s strength session.
On this lighter day, check out our comprehensive Beginner Runner’s Guide which is chock full of tips for gear, fuel, weight loss, motivation, and more.
So far we’ve spent most of our strength training time on the lower body and core. Today you’ll change it up and focus on the upper body with a circuit of pushups and lateral shoulder raises.
Here are some notes to keep in mind on your form:
You can do this with bodyweight only, but for a bit more challenge you can hold weights in your hands. If you have a pair of dumbbells, great, otherwise use a household object like two cans of beans or water bottles.
You’ll only need 9 minutes for this upper body circuit.
Just as yesterday’s strength focused on the upper body, so will today’s mobility work. With some dynamic stretches, you’ll work out any stiff muscles and be ready for the next day’s retest of your baseline run.
Today’s the day! With this retest you’ll be able to see just how much improvement you’ve made over the last 14 days. Remember that improvement isn’t only in seeing your distance increase. It might also look like easier breathing while running, or reduced need for walk breaks. Maybe you’re feeling a little lighter on your feet now, or notice improved posture. All of these factors are an improvement, so don’t obsess about how much more or less distance you covered.
With that in mind, head out for your 10-minute retest run. If possible, run in the same location as before so you can get a good comparison.
With these past 14 days of running, strength, and mobility, you are primed to continue your training. Don’t forget that our Beginner Running Plan is the perfect next step to keep progressing in your running.
Download the app to check out this and all our other full training plans from 5k to half marathon and beyond. Our incredible running community is there with you as well in this awesome sport of running!
The best running plan for beginners is the one that you do—so commit and get started today!