Too many people have been turned off of running simply by
trying to start off too fast. Their bodies rebel, and they wind up miserable,
wondering why anyone would possibly want to do this to themselves.

You should ease into your running program gradually. In
fact, a beginner's program should be less of a running regimen than a walking
and jogging program. The idea is to transform from non-runner to runner to getting
you running three miles (or 5K) on a regular basis in just two months.

It's easy to get impatient, and you may feel tempted to skip
ahead in the program, but hold yourself back. Don't try to do more, even if you
feel you can. If, on the other hand, you find the program too strenuous, just
stretch it out. Don't feel pressured to continue faster than you're able.
Repeat weeks if needed and move ahead only when you feel you're ready.

A few minutes each week

Each session should take about 20 or 30 minutes, three times
a week. That just happens to be the same amount of moderate exercise
recommended by numerous studies for optimum fitness. This program will get you
fit. (Runners who do more than this amount are doing it for more than fitness,
and before long you might find yourself doing the same as well).

Be sure to space out these three days throughout the week to
give yourself a chance to rest and recover between efforts. And don't worry
about how fast you're going. Running faster can wait until your bones are
stronger and your body is fitter. For now focus on gradually increasing the
time or distance you run.

Run for time, or run for distance

There are two ways to follow this program, to measure your
runs by time or by distance. Either one works just as well, choose the option
that seems easiest for you to keep track of. If you go with the distance
option, and you are not using a track to measure the distances, just estimate.
It's not important to have the distances absolutely exact.

Before setting out, make sure to precede each session with a
five-minute warm-up walk or jog. Be sure to stretch both before and after.

WEEK 1

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of
jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

WEEK 2

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of
jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

WEEK 3

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of
the following:

  • Jog
    200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk
    200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog
    400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk
    400 yards (or three minutes)

WEEK 4

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog
    1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk
    1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog
    1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk
    1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog
    1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk
    1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog
    1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

WEEK 5

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog
    1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk
    1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog
    1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk
    1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog
    1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

WEEK 6

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog
    1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk
    1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog
    3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk
    1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog
    1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

WEEK 7

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25
minutes).

WEEK 8

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28
minutes).

WEEK 9

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30
minutes).

And now you can officially call yourself a runner.

What Do You Think?