How to start running – a free course for beginners

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Although you need to push yourself to work hard in order to get fit, trying to do too much at once is never a good idea. It’s much better to start running at a level you’re reasonably comfortable with and build on that.  In this way, you’ll be more likely to stay motivated and less likely to get injured.

This is a 8 week program for complete beginners to gradually build up running stamina.  The aim is to go from being a non-runner to being able to run for 15 minutes comfortably. It uses a combination of walking and running, with the proportion of running increasing each week.  You can download a printable schedule of the program at the end of the post.

What you’ll need to start running

Comfortable clothes that you won’t overheat in.  Leggings are better than track bottoms, because you can get very warm in track bottoms.  If it’s cold, wear a top that you can easily take off and tie around your waist as you get warmer.

Training shoes: although it’s not necessary to spend a large amount of money on brand name trainers, you do need shoes that are comfortable and well-fitting, which will cushion some of the impact of running.

Water – always take a water bottle with you and take frequent sips.

The benefits of regular running

  • Improves heart and circulatory system health
  • Helps with weight loss/weight control
  • Increases energy levels
  • Helps to reduce anxiety, stress and depression
  • Strengthens leg and core muscles
  • Maintains flexibility of muscles and mobility of joints
  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Reduces risk of osteoporosis

Safety considerations

Please read these guidelines about exercise and health before you start.  You should also consider your personal safety when running and make sure you run somewhere that is safe.

The running schedule

In order to progress each week, ideally you should run 3 times a week on non-consecutive days.  If you’re not able to run 3 times a week, you may need to spend more than one week on each schedule.

Week 1

The week 1 schedule is very simple.  12 minutes of walking to warm up, then just 2 minutes of running, followed by another 10 minutes of walking.

Week 1

Week 2

This week has a second run interval.  So, you run for 2 minutes like you did last week, then walk for 6 minutes to recover, before another 2 minute run.

Week 2

Week 3

For week 3, the two runs go up to 3 minutes each, with a 5 minute recovery in between.

Week 3

Week 4

This week, the run intervals go up by 1.5 minutes each this week, with the recovery in between going down to 3 minutes.

Week 4

Week 5

The run intervals increase by another 1.5 minutes, while the recovery interval reduces a bit.  This is to work towards being able to do the 15 minutes running without a break.

start running Week 5

Week 6

The total running time gets up to 15 minutes this week, but it’s split into two intervals with a rest in between.

start running Week 6

Week 7

This week, most of the running is done in one interval, to prepare you for the full 15 minutes next week.

Week 7

Week 8

Finally, this week we lose the recovery in the middle of the running interval to get up to 15 minutes continuous running.

start running Week 8

Progressing beyond 2km

If you want to continue to improve your running, then try this 6 week course:

running schedule

Have a printable schedule e-mailed to you

If you would like a printable PDF of the whole schedule, enter your e-mail address below.

After you sign up, you’ll get 3 e-mails:
The first will ask you for a one-click confirmation of your subscription
Once you’ve confirmed, you’ll get a second e-mail with a link to your download and a separate welcome e-mail

Walk to run program

Related to How to Start Running – more cardio fitness programs

Printable workout routineCardio circuit workout

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