Developing a running training plan as a new runner doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it can be fun.
It all starts with the approach.
Start too quickly or too hard, and you’ll burn out fast. Go too slow, and you’ll get bored. We don’t want either of those to happen—that’s why we’ve designed a beginner’s running plan to give you the Goldilocks-approved balance for developing a running schedule.
In this article, we’ve got some tips on getting started with running, and then we’ve got a sample running schedule to get you going on your first week.
Whether you’re training for a 5K, a half marathon, or you’re just running to get in shape, this running schedule for beginners will help get you motivated, and give your training some direction.
As a beginning runner, you will likely need to consume more fluids to stay hydrated. Your body is exerting more energy, and you’re sweating while you run, so it’s important to replenish what you’re losing.
If weight loss is one of your running goals, keeping up with your hydration is an easy and effective place to start.
Moreover, dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and tightness that can set you back in your running schedule, so it’s even more worth it to be sure you are staying hydrated.
And don’t wait until after you’ve lost fluids and electrolytes to replenish. Get ahead of what you are losing so that your runs feel better.
To begin, aim to consume 2 liters of water per day without training. If you are training that day, bump it up to more than 2 liters.
When you’re just getting started with running, don’t worry about sports drinks and electrolyte packets. Just water by itself will get the job done. Focus on consuming your target amount of water to be sure that you can attack your runs as hydrated as possible.
Training at the same time of day is a valuable habit, for a couple of reasons. First, your body likes a schedule.
By running at the same time of day, your body will develop a steady recovery process. Your body likes to know what to expect, and this way it can rebuild and recover on a schedule.
Surprising your body by always training at a different time can be confusing and can impede recovery.
In addition to that, training at the same time of day boosts consistency and accountability. If you know that your training is at a certain time, you can schedule other things around it and training becomes more of a priority.
If it is a constant in your running schedule, you are less likely to cancel or schedule something that overlaps with it. Teach your calendar that your training is important, and it gets full weight.
And it may take some trial and error at first to find your ideal time of day. Running in the morning helps a lot of people feel energized for the rest of their day. On the other hand, training after work can be a great way to wind down and blow off steam from the work day.
Your diet schedule might impact this as well. If you prefer to train on an empty stomach, morning runs might be a great option. If you eat relatively light during the day already, training in the afternoon or evening might be good for you.
Try out different times when you’re getting started and find what works for you. Once you do, make training a priority and stay consistent with your workouts.
Once you get started with your running schedule, it can be tough to stay motivated. To keep you on track, consider a few of these tips.
First, simply tell someone about your running schedule. If you have a run on the calendar later one day or the next day, tell someone about it, where you plan to do it, if you’re looking forward to it or not.
That way, that person can follow up the next time you see them and ask how it went. Letting someone in on your training plan or training program is a great way to hold yourself accountable.
Another option is finding a running group. Local running stores often organize running groups. There are always beginner runners in any group, and having others expecting you will likely motivate you to show up. It’s also a great way to meet friends and other beginner runners.
Do some research if that appeals to you and get involved. Again, you are more likely to stay on track if people know what track you’re on.
If there are no groups in your area, consider an online running group. And it’s the same idea. Share your training plan with other runners, and they’ll be eager to hear how your training is going, or how a particular run went.
Online communities can be incredibly motivating, and allow you to connect with people from all over who either are or have been beginner runners. If you don’t want to post at first, just check out some groups and it may help motivate you even if you’re not yet sharing your own journey.
To keep running fun, listen to music or podcasts while you run. You can multi-task on your run or just enjoy your favorite songs. It’s a great way to make running something you look forward to. Use the run/walk method described below an be sure you’re enjoying your runs.
Now that we have some ideas on how a training plan works, let’s look at a sample running schedule for beginners.
That’s right. Just a simple 30-minute power walk. If you feel up to it, aim to make this a walk/run. Run for 1 minute, walk for 2, or vice versa. Or run for 30 seconds and walk for 1 minute.
No matter if you’re running or walking, every 10 minutes, stop and take 20 air squats. Keep your weight back on your heels with your feet just wider than the hips’ distance, and squat down as low as you can go with your chest still facing forward (not down towards the ground).
Take some deep breaths while you do your squats so that you can catch your breath.
After you’ve done your 30-minute walk or run, stretch to cool down. Stretching for a cool down is just as important as your workout. We need to make sure we are taking care of our muscles and allowing them to recover so we can stick to our training schedule.
When you’re finished, take a downward dog stretch. If that’s too deep of a stretch for you, place your hands on an elevated platform.
While you’re in the stretch, pedal through your feet to stretch out your calves while you stretch.
We’re going to take 4 movements total, 4 rounds. Rest 3 minutes in between. Again, if weight loss is one of your running goals, strength training is going to be highly effective. Cross-training reduces risk of injury, and makes you stronger in the long run.
To start, we’ll take shoulder taps. Take a plank on your hands. Your hands can be on the ground or up on an elevated platform.
From there, tap one hand to the opposite shoulder for 20 reps total. Try not to let your hips swing side to side when you do this.
Next, take 10 squats. To improve your form, try actually sitting down on a bench or platform at the bottom. Always try to keep the weight in your heels while you squat.
From there, we’ll take 10 total step ups. Find a platform you can step up on, and simply step up onto it. Stand tall at the top, and then step down. Alternate which foot steps first, and take 10 total.
20 total shoulder touches in a crab walk position. This time you’ll be touching your hand to the same shoulder, and you’ll take 20 shoulder touches from a crab walk position.
As always, you can use a platform behind you if needed. And again, try to avoid rocking back and forth when you do this.
You’re doing 4 rounds of this circuit, resting for 3 minutes in between each round. Remember, stretching when you’re finished is a non-negotiable.
Today, try this stretch routine.
Day 3 is your first rest day. While there is no workout, try to make some time for mobility and foam rolling.
For ideas on how to do this, check out this video on foam rolling basics for runners.
Don’t worry, you can walk this one. We are adding incline on Day 4 to get comfortable feeling a little uncomfortable.
For this workout, find a 5-8% grade. If you’re on a treadmill you can be more accurate about this, but you can guesstimate if you are outside.
You’ll be doing 1-minute efforts up the hill, walking or jogging. After each minute, take 2 minutes to recover, and walk down the hill if you are outside.
Repeat this 10 times, stretch out afterwards, and that’s Day 4.
We’re doing 4 rounds of this circuit:
If you need a modification here, do 30 seconds of jogging, 30 seconds of walking.
Take this on your hands, and place your hands on an elevated platform if needed.
Stand with your feet hips’ width apart, with your hands behind your head. Tuck one knee up towards your chest and bring the opposite elbow into that knee. You’ve got 20 total to work the obliques.
Pretty simple here. Just take 10 jumping jacks.
You are repeating this circuit 4 times. Rest anywhere from 1-3 minutes in between each round. If you’re up for it, try to keep the same pace for each round.
Remember, stretching is a non-negotiable when you’re done.
Pick an activity of your choice, just get active. This does not need to be intense or strenuous. Pick something active that you enjoy doing, and just get moving. Go swimming, go for a hike, play with your kids, whatever appeals to you.
For this last day, just explore running. Use the run/walk method. Run for 30 seconds and walk for a minute, or try running for a minute and walking for 30 seconds. Repeat your set-up until 20 minutes have passed here.
This day is all about getting comfortable with running. Push yourself and play with how long you can run without walking, but don’t be afraid to take breaks as needed. Remember, we want this training plan to be sustainable.
This is just a sample running schedule for beginners. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and make it your own. Find the aspects that you like (and don’t like) and incorporate them into the ideal training program.
Remember, the key is sticking with it. Do whatever it takes to build a consistent, sustainable habit. If that means more rest days or more days in the gym, make it happen.