Beginner Running Basics: The Walk/Run Method

I don't believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be. - Ken Venturi

A few years ago I decided I wanted to start running again. It had been many, many years and a whole lot of children since I had run. And it had been awhile since regular vigorous exercise was on my list. One of my girlfriends and I would walk everyday but mostly we laughed and talked and honestly, she smoked half the route. It was more social, less exercise.

I loved to run when I was younger and I had recently become friends with someone who was a "real" runner. The kind of runner that ran in 5K and 10K races, had previously run in marathons and was training for a half. In the age of social media of course she would always be posting her runs and results. It inspired me. I wasn't sure how to get started but I started with the Internet and decided to read a few running books. I also subscribed to Canadian Running Magazine. My friend offered a lot of support and advice too.

So how did I get back at it? I decided I would begin with an eight week walk/run program. It looked like this:

Every workout begins with a warm up walk. There are a lot of opinions about stretching out there. Check with your doctor. For me, I don't stretch before I run. I get my muscles warm with a 500m-1K walk before I jog.

  • Week 1 - Walk for 6 minutes then jog for 1 minute. This isn't a race. Jog at an easy pace. Repeat 3 times. Try to get this walk/run routine done 3 days on week one.

  • Week 2 - Walk for 5 minutes then jog for 2 minutes. Repeat this pattern 3 times. Your goal for week two is 3 workouts with a day of rest in between.

  • Week 3 - Walk for 3 minutes then jog for 4 minutes. Repeat 3 times. Make time for 3 to 4 sessions this week. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

  • Week 4 - Walk for 2 minutes then jog for 5 minutes. Repeat 3 times. Try to schedule 3 workouts in for week four. You should be seeing some changes by now. The running will start to get a little easier although you may still have to work at getting through the last jog.

  • Week 5 - Walk for 2 minutes then jog for 7 minutes. Repeat 3 times and try to do this 3 to 4 times this week. Pay attention to your body. If you think you're moving too fast slow down your schedule. No one said this HAS to be an eight week plan. If you are having any pain in your shins, heels or knees make an appointment with your doctor.

  • Week 6 - Walk for 2 minutes then jog for 9 minutes. Repeat 3 times. Your stamina will have increased. You will be feeling more confident about your runs now. Keep the pace at an easy pace. Don't worry about how far you are getting. Speed will come later. 3 workouts this week.

  • Week 7 - Walk for 1 minute then jog for 11 minutes. Repeat 3 times and get 3 workouts in this week. Be sure to fuel your body! You need the energy from good whole foods to get through these runs but don't eat too much right before a run. It can cause some cramping.

  • Week 8 - You made it! Start off with your usual warm up walk. Then, walk for 5 minutes and jog for 20 minutes, then walk for 5 minutes. Over the week, increase your jog time to 30 minutes in gradual increments. On my week eight I did this:

Monday - 20 minute jog

Tuesday - 23 minute jog

Wednesday - Rest

Thursday - 27 minute jog

Friday - 30 minute jog

You could also stretch week eight over a couple of weeks if you want to do it more gradually. But remember to take rest days, stay hydrated and eat good foods. Get yourself a GREAT pair of running shoes. They are worth the money. It is an investment in the health of not just your feet but your knees, hips back and neck. Do get yourself checked by your physician before you start any exercise program and definitely see him/her if you have any pain or discomfort. I am not an expert. I am sharing what worked for me. I continue to run between 4K-10K about four days a week.

So stick with it! Gradually add more jog time. Before you know it you'll be adding in core exercises, cross training and getting ready for your first 5K!