Our Walk-to-Run Plan

If your excuse not to run is that you’ll run out of steam in 2 minutes, you’ll have to think again.


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If your excuse not to run is that youll run out of steam in 2 minutes, youll have to think again. “New runners are prone to go out too hard and too fast,” says Health's Girls Gotta Move Running Club coach Jenny Hadfield, who directs Run Like a Girl clinics. "The key is to start slow and think long-term."

With our Walk-to-Run plan (below), youll do a walk-run combo for 8 weeks, leading up to the day when you can comfortably run 5 miles without stopping. Whatever your goal—working with friends to get up to 10 miles a week or losing 10 pounds in 3 months—remember that walking is an important part of the running experience. It gives your body a chance to recuperate before you expend more energy. And, of course, it gives you more breath to chat and enjoy yourself.

We asked Hadfield, who stars in the Run for Fun DVD (MPH Entertainment Inc., 2006), to design an 8-week plan that seamlessly transitions walkers into runners. It combines walk-run intervals, cross-training, and rest days to give your body a break from running. Caveat: To begin this program you should be already exercising three times a week for 30 minutes each. If not, start walking 30 minutes 3 to 4 times a week and work up to 45 to 60 minutes for at least 8 to 10 weeks. Then you can begin running for 1 minute every couple of minutes, until youre able to run for 4 minutes straight.

Weeks 1 and 2
  • 3 times a week for 30 minutes: Run 4 minutes, walk 2 minutes; repeat 5 times
  • Do 30 minutes of other exercise on alternate days; rest one day

Week 3
  • 3 times a week for 35 minutes: Run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes; repeat 5 times
  • Do 30 minutes of other exercise on alternate days, such as yoga, swimming, weighlifting; rest one day

Weeks 4 and 5
  • 3 times a week for 32 minutes: Run 6 minutes, walk 2 minutes; repeat 4 times
  • Do 30 minutes of other exercise on alternate days; rest one day

Week 6
  • 3 times a week for 36 minutes: run 8 minutes, walk 1 minute; repeat 4 times
  • Do 30 minutes of other exercise on alternate days; rest one day

Weeks 7 and 8
  • 3 times a week for 33 minutes: run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute; repeat 3 times
  • Do 30 minutes of other exercise on alternate days; rest one day

If you want to run a 5K race, add 2 days of rest in week 8 and run continuously for 20 minutes the last training day. Rest one day before the race. Then go for it!
Last Updated: May 05, 2008

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