The 8-Week Beginner Running Plan

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Beginner Runner
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David Dack

Thinking about getting into running but not sure how to take the first steps? Then start running the easy way with my free beginner running plan.

Not only does running improve your endurance, strength, and fitness, but it can also improve your emotional state and strengthen your brain. It’s an excellent fat-burner and even reduces your risk of disease.

I can go on and on about the benefits of running, but that’s another subject for another day (or check this article).

That said, it takes a lot of courage to take your first steps and a lot of patience to keep going. Fret no more. In this article, I’m sharing with you my free running plan for beginners, which consists of an 8-week program designed to help you turn into a runner without getting hurt.

Sounds like a good deal?

Let’s get started.

Start Slow

I see most beginner runners make a common mistake: doing too much too soon. This, as you can guess, can lead to injury or burnout, sometimes both. You’re begging for nagging issues such as Runners Knee, stress fractures, and other problems if you keep doing this.

Not just beginners who are guilty of this. Even for those already in decent shape, have perfect technique, and have $200 shoes, running will always be a high-intensity, high-impact exercise.

Not much we can do about that.

So what should you do?

Simple. Start your beginner running programme slow. That’s where the rule of gradual progress comes into the picture.

Here’s the truth.

If you’re not willing to follow this rule, you shouldn’t bother running—or doing any other form of exercise—as you’ll only end up hurting yourself.

Get injured early on, and your interest will fizzle, and you’ll give up.

I bet that’s not what you want, right?

The goal of my free beginner running plan is to help you take small, consistent steps instead of erratic giant leaps. Running is convenient and requires no technical instruction, but that does not mean it’s easy. Your body needs time to adapt.

That’s a key principle for injury-free and effective training—whether you’re a running newbie or an elite Olympic weightlifter.

And becoming a full-time runner does not happen overnight. It requires patience and gradual progress. You didn’t become a complete couch potato in 4 weeks, so you shouldn’t expect to get in shape in 4 weeks.

The fact is, it takes around three months of regular training for your ligaments, tendons, joints, and muscles to adjust to the high-impact forces of running.

Try to skip this, and you’ll, sooner or later, end up hurt.

So, progress slowly. For example, aim to increase your actual running time by no more than three to five minutes from one session to the next.

How Long Does it Take?

Sorry, I don’t have the EXACT answer because every runner is different and responds differently to the high-impact stress of running.

Every runner is unique—with every meaning of the word.

In other words, it all depends on the individual.

To give you some perspective, the following are the factors to consider when determining how long it should take you to become a runner.

  • Your current shape—or how to fit you where before you take up running.
  • Your age. The younger you are, the quicker you can get in shape.
  • Your current body weight. If you are overweight or many pounds heavier, then chances are it’s going to take you a little bit longer than someone with a healthy weight.
  • Your running programme. If you follow my free beginner running plan, there’s a strong chance you can make ASAP.

The Run-Walk Method

Before you embark on my beginner running plan, make sure you can walk for 45 to 60 minutes at a time.

If that’s not the case, I’d recommend that you start by walking for 20 to 30 minutes daily, then increase that time gradually.

Once you can briskly walk for one hour, you’re ready to add some running.

But how would you go about that?

Simple. Enter the walk-run method.

As far as I can tell, the walk-run method is the easiest way to become a runner without getting hurt.

The brainchild of Jeff Galloway, a legendary running guru, this method can help you build enough cardiovascular power to run straight for extended periods without risking injury and/or overtraining.

So what is it all about?

The run-walk method mixes running/jogging and walking for set periods. For example, you alternate one minute of jogging with one minute of walking for 20 to 30 minutes.

As you get fitter, you simply increase the time spent running while shortening the duration and frequency of your walk breaks. And voila!

Additional resource – How to run a faster mile

Walking to Running Ratios

To make the most out of the walk/run method, you’d need to choose the right recipe to follow. And that entirely depends on your starting point.

Here are three walk-to-running ratios to experiment with. Pick the Ratio that feels the most appropriate for you.

  • The Newbie: Jog for 20 to 30 seconds. Then walk for one to two minutes
  • The Intermediate: Jog for three to five minutes. Then take a two to three minutes walking break.
  • The Experienced: Jog for eight to ten minutes. Then walk for 30-second to one full minute.

What’s more?

Another thing to keep in mind is to take walk breaks before the no-return point; otherwise, it might be too late for you to keep going.

The Conversational Pace

Your training intensity also matters when following the walk-run method. That’s why, as a rule, run at an easy pace during the running intervals.

Your pace should be only slightly faster than your walking pace. This should be slower than you might think. And then slower still.

To achieve this, most experts recommend sticking to a conversational pace, the pace at which you keep a conversation with your buddy while running without much trouble. This is considered moderate-intensity pace, or around 60 to 70 percent maximum heart rate.

Enter the Talk Test

This is the best way to monitor your training pace and effort. The Talk Test has been around for decades and is still here because it’s simple and works like a charm.

The principle is, that if you can carry on a conversation with your training partner while training, you’re not overly challenging your cardiovascular system.

You’re running too hard if you’re huffing and puffing your way through. You should be able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance without much trouble.

Distance Matters

TIME first, DISTANCE later. Make that your motto.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but only add distance and intensity once your body has properly adjusted to running’s high impact.

Remember that you have the rest of your life to work on getting fit. Don’t let unrealistic expectations dictate the pace of your workouts.


Do not ignore recovery days. They are as vital to fitness progress as the training itself. They are also essential for preventing injury and burnout.

So, as a rule of thumb, take plenty of rest between workouts, with two days off every week.

For more on proper recovery, check my article here.

My running Plan For Beginners  – The Instructions

The ideal beginner program consists of 3 workouts a week.

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, slow it down and repeat the workouts before cranking up the intensity.

Note: if you can already run for more than half an hour with ease, then skip this. You also need to make sure you have the right running shoes for the job.

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

My beginner plan assumes that you’re a beginner runner who can already walk briskly for one hour four to six times per week. If that’s out of the realm of possibility, I’d recommend starting with a walking plan first.

Note: if you can already run for more than half an hour with ease, then skip this.

Experienced runners may up the ante by doing other forms of running, such as sprints, hill reps, or working on increasing mileage for the long run.

P.S – You can also Try this couch to 5K plan.

Beginner Running Plan – 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.

Beginner Running Plan – Week 2:

Run 2-minute, walk 2-minute. Repeat six times.

Do three workouts.

Beginner Running Plan – Week 3:

Run 3-minute, walk 1-minute. Repeat five times.

Do three workouts.

Beginner Running Plan – Week 4:

Run 5-minute, walk 90-second. Repeat four times.

Do three workouts.

Beginner Running Plan  – Week 5:

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

Beginner Running Plan  – Week 6:

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

Beginner Running Plan  – Week 7:

Run 15-minute, walk 1-minute and run another 15-minute. Do three workouts.

Beginner Running Plan  – 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.

More Resources for The Beginner Runner

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

That’s it for today.

Please make sure to take action and remember to always stay within your fitness level. I hope my free running program for beginners has you covered.

Thank you for reading this short post.


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16 thoughts on “The 8-Week Beginner Running Plan”

  1. 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

  2. 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!!

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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!!

  7. 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?

  8. 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!

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