Learn to Run With These Easy, Reassuring Tips

Running can feel intimidating at first, but these strategies break it down so you feel confident in your newfound routine.

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Running can be as easy as putting on running shoes and heading outside, but those first few steps can also feel intimidating. That’s especially true when you see intervals, and Fartleks, and tempo runs fill a training plan. So, we’re here to help you learn to run with an easy, approachable program and strategies that set you up for a solid routine.

This learn-to-run program is based solely on where you are now and helps you tap into how you feel when you run. It’s a completely customisable plan that helps you progress when your body is ready.

The only thing—besides those running shoes—that you need for this plan is a commitment to going outside (or getting on your treadmill) three times a week. Ready to get moving?

Learn to Run With This First-Timer Friendly Plan

Mark three months on your calendar and schedule a running workout three times per week, every other day (for example, Monday, Wednesday, Saturday). Commit to 30 minutes each day—that involves a five-minute warmup, 20-minute run/walk (building up to straight running) and five-minute cooldown.

Then, follow the tips below for making the most of those minutes.

1. Warm Up

Start every running workout with five minutes of walking to prepare your body for the demands of running. Start out at an easy effort and progress to a purposeful walking pace by the end of the five minutes.

2. Find Your Run/Walk Ratio

Alternate running until you hear your breath, and walking until you catch your breath for a total of 20 minutes. No formulas or intervals or metrics to track—just run according to your body and breath.

You may start out with 15 to 20 seconds of running and two to three minutes of walking until you catch your breath. That works if that’s where you’re at right now. Maybe you can run for one full minute and only need to walk for one minute—that’s great, too. Go with it, tune into your body, and avoid pushing to go longer.

You may follow that same interval ratio for a few weeks—remember, you’re on a three-month plan—and that’s okay! A few weeks down the road, that short run will grow to 30 or 45 seconds or even a minute to five minutes, and the time it takes to catch your breath will drop. That’s when it starts to get fun, because you feel the difference as you go—and that progress will make you want to keep moving.

3. Stick With 20 Minutes of the Run/Walk

Keep the total time of the run/walk portion of the workout to 20 minutes until you build up to running for the entire 20 minutes. This allows your body time to adapt to the demands of running until you go farther.

Trust us: It’s going to be tempting to go farther or longer on some days. Try not to do this, because if you keep these workouts at a moderate level for three months, you’ll recover faster and ultimately progress to running more efficiently, which will make you less likely to get injured and more likely to enjoy the process.

It may take you several months to run 20 minutes straight through, it may take you just a few weeks, but once you’re there, you’ll be able to add on more time safely and maybe work up to 30 or 45 minutes of straight running.

4. Finish Happy

Let’s face it: If it hurts, the chance of us repeating the activity again are slim to none. When you stick with a plan that is based on your body and avoid pushing for a certain time or pace, you end up finishing happy. And when you’re happy, you want to do it again and again.

Feeling happy after a run leads to consistency and then the physical activity develops into habit. And that’s how you should learn to run!

5. Go Slow

Be the tortoise, not the hare. Keep your running effort easy—this will become habit over time. In other words, don’t try to break the world record out there, keep it easy and one step above your fastest walking pace.

Remember: Go until you’re breathless and then when you catch your breath as you walk, go again.

6. Cool Down

Take five minutes to cool down and gradually bring your body back to its resting state. Like the warmup, it bridges the gap between running and reality and aids in the recovery process. And it just feels good to take a moment to slow down after a successful workout!

How to Progress After You Learn to Run

As the weeks go by, you’ll notice you’re able to run longer and cover more distance. Eventually, you’ll be able to run all 20 minutes! When that day comes, give yourself a high five, and begin to progress your running time by adding five minutes to your workout every two to three weeks. For example, run 25 minutes three times per week for two to three weeks and then progress to 30 minutes for the next two to three weeks. You can also add five minutes to one or two of the workouts per week.

From there, maintain running 20 to 30 minutes two to three times a week in addition to other workouts you love like strength training or yoga. Or you may find that you want to set new goals, like racing your first 5K.

Tune into your body along the way. It’s the best coach you’ll ever have.

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