The 8-Week Beginner Running Program

Regardless of your current fitness level, you should be able to go from being a complete couch potato to being to able to run for a half an hour, without much huffing and puffing, in less than 8 weeks.

The key is to start right, go slow and keep adjusting your training approach accordingly.

There are no secrets.

No shortcuts.

And definitely no silver bullets.

And to make this happen, you also need consistency. You’d need to commit to run at least three times per week, and follow the beginner run-walk program that I’m going to share with you today.

That’s why today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite beginner running programs, an 8-week beginner running plan that’s gonna help you build enough cardio base to run for a half an hour with ease…

So are you excited? Then here we go…

But before we go into that, let me share with you the secret to getting fit without getting hurt…

Enter The Run/Walk Method

I have written extensively about the method in many of my posts. Therefore, there is no need to keep repeating stuff, sounding like a broken record in the process.

Basically, the run-walk method is a combination of a set period of running, followed by a set period of walking for recovery. The brainchild of Jeff Galloway, a legendary running guru, this method can help you build enough cardiovascular power to run straight for 30 minutes without risking injury and/or overtraining.

The walk/run is also ideal for gym rats who are fit and have exercised before (e.g. weight lifting, martial arts, swimming, etc.) but are newcomers to the sport of running.

And the other thing you need you to know before you head out the door is…

Gradual progress is the Name of the Game…

The main goal of this program is to make small, consistent steps, not giant leaps. Running is convenient and requires no technical instruction, but that does not mean that it’s easy.  Your body has to adapt to the high-impact nature of running before you can up the ante. And this does not happen overnight.

If you ignore this, then you are on your own. I don’t want you to get hurt. So please whatever you do, keep these two pain-free running golden nuggets on your mind the entire time.

The 8-Week Running Plan For Beginners

This eight-week program is designed to take you from a complete beginner to being able to run a 5K distance comfortably.

Note: if you can already run for more than a half an hour with ease, then skip this. It’s not for you. Experienced runners should up the ante by doing other forms of running, such as sprints, hill reps, or working on increasing mileage for the long run.

Week 1: Warm up by walking for 5 minutes at a brisk pace. Then alternate running for one minute at an easy pace followed by three minutes of brisk walking.

Example: Run 1-minute, walk 3-minute. Repeat the cycle 5 to 7 times. Finish off the sessions with a 5-minute easy walk. Do three sessions per week.

Week 2: Run 2-minute, walk 2-minute. Repeat six times. Do three workouts.

Week 3: Run 3-minute, walk 1-minute. Repeat five times. Do three workouts.

Week 4: Run 5-minute, walk 90-second. Repeat four times. Do three workouts.

Week 5: Run 8-minute, walk 1-minute. Repeat three times. Do three workouts.

Week 6: Run 12-minute, walk 1-minute. Repeat three times. Do three workouts.

Week 7: Run 15-minute, walk 1-minute, run another 15-minute. Do three workouts.

Week 8: Run 30-minute at an easy and controlled pace. Do TWO workouts.

This is a basic beginner plan, so feel free to adjust this program to meet your own needs and fitness level.

Beginners Running tips

The ideal beginner program consists of 3 workouts a week.

Just don’t do too much too soon. You don’t have to run on specific days; however, you shouldn’t be running two days in a row. Either take a complete rest day or opt for cross-training on recovery days.

Cross-training can be cycling, yoga, swimming, or any other exercises other than running that you enjoy.

If this beginner program is too much for you, then slow it down and repeat the workouts before cranking up the intensity.

The Conversational Running Pace

To stay on the safe side, make sure to start off all of your run-walk sessions with a proper warm-up, and finish it off with a decent cool-down. Run at an easy pace during the running intervals—that’s the equivalent of 60 to 70 percent of your heart rate.

During the running intervals, you should be able to pass the “talk test”.

Also known as “conversation pace,” this pace means that you are able to speak with your buddy while running without much trouble. If you can’t  say a word without grunting, then you are doing too much.

For more beginner running advice, check some of my posts here:

The 8 Habits of Effective Runners

9 Obstacles To Running

The 4 Keys To Breathing

The Beginners Runner Guide

10 Things I wish I’d Known When I started Running.

That’s it for today.

Please make sure to take action and remember to always stay within your fitness level.

Thank you for reading this short post.


Photo Credit Ron Sombilon Via Flickr

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David Dack



    • Lisa
    • May 12, 2015

    Hi, just read your 8 week beginner program found it on Pinterest. Any advice for someone starting out that is obese, I am talking 70-100 lbs over weight. I was thinking that maybe don’t be so concerned with the 8 week duration don’t think of it in a time sense, think of it more as progress. I was also thinking instead of trying to run for the first week how about walking really brisk instead, where you really get your heart rate up that minute doesn’t sound very long but if you are out of shape and overweight maybe just taking baby steps would be better. Any thought on this would be appreciated. Cheers Lisa

    • Ashleigh
    • May 17, 2015

    Wow this helped a lot, I am now able to do the mile run at school. Yes!

      • Olivia
      • August 12, 2015

      haha thats so funny we had to do that to in under 8 minutes :/ so i did this and i really liked it. i would run to seaside and back , and i liked it so much i did crosscountry!

    • Alex
    • August 8, 2015

    This is a fantastic training program! I’m not a big fan of running, but this really help me getting into running at easy pace… Thank you!!

    • Cheryl
    • August 21, 2015

    Any breathing tips as this seems to always be my problem even though I only have seasonal asthma and use an inhaler before a workout. I know listening to music would help but I’m deaf with a cochlear implant and its hard having 2 diff. Devices on me in order to use an iPod or MP3 player. I live in Phoenix AZ. Are you aware if there are any training places for beginners?
    Thank you!

    • You are more than welcome.

      I don’t know about that. I think a simple google search will do the trick

    • Hi Cheryl, I also have allergy problem. I used sinus rinse and take Clarin( I do take Triease essential oil,work really good) I have Cochlear implant too. You should have a mic to hook up to your ipod or cell phone. I used them both when I running and workout. Good luck!!

    • Anna
    • August 27, 2015

    Run for 1 minute, I can’t run for 15 seconds. How does someone warm up before running.

    • Okay then.

      Warm up by walking for 10 mintues then alternate between 5 to 10 seconds slow jogs and one to two minutes walking intervals. That should do the trick for now

    • Louise
    • September 21, 2015

    Is it possible to down load this as a short audio to count the minutes while you are running?

    • Yes it’s possible

    • Oriana Hierro
    • October 27, 2015

    Hey, i’m willing to do this beginner running program, i just have a question. If I do this on a Treadmill, when you say “run” you mean like 6/7 km/h?

    • Run or jog at a pace that feels most comfortable to you. I think 6 km/h is a good starting point but it’s really up to you. Please keep me in the loop with your progress Oriana

      Happy Running!