It can be tough to get into running, or to get back into it if you’ve been a runner before. Whether you’ve been running with no goal and want a training plan to get you on track, or you’ve never run before and want to start, here are multiple plans you can use to train yourself.
Couch to 5K
If you want to get into running but have never done it before, this plan will ease you into it. It has you running three times a week throughout the whole plan; most of the weeks have the same workouts for all three days. Plus, it’ll also get you ready to run your first race so you have a goal in mind. This plan covers nine weeks, so look for 5Ks in your area that would be about two months after you start.
Week One Workouts: Three 20-minute runs
Before each run this week, start off with five minutes of brisk walking. Then, during the run, alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. Make sure to stretch before and after each run and take a rest day between each day of running.
Week Two Workouts: Three 20-minute runs
All the runs this week are the same time length as last week, but you will spend more of the time running. Preface each run with a brisk five-minute walk, then alternate 90 seconds of running with two minutes of walking.
Week Three Workouts: Three 18-minute runs
In total time, these runs are shorter, but you’re running for longer during them. Start with your five-minute walk, then do two repetitions of 90 seconds running, 90 seconds walking. Finish with a cycle of three minutes running, three minutes walking.
Week Four Workouts: Three 22-minute runs
This week really increases the amount of running you’ll do as you increase your endurance. Start with the warm-up walk, then do three minutes of running, 90 seconds of walking, five minutes of running, three minutes of walking, three minutes of running, 90 seconds of walking and five minutes of running.
Week Five Workouts: 21-minute run, 21-minute run, 20-minute run
Start with your walk before each run. The first day, start with five minutes of running and three minutes of walking. Repeat this, then run another five minutes. The second day, do eight minutes of running, five minutes of walking and eight minutes of running. The third day, run for 20 minutes without stopping.
Week Six Workouts: 24-minute run, 23-minute run, 25-minute run
Always start out with your five-minute walk and stretch before and after. The first day, run five minutes, eight minutes and five minutes, with three minute walk breaks in between. The next day, run for 10 minutes, walk for three minutes and run for 10 minutes. The third day, run for 25 minutes without stopping.
Week Seven Workouts: Three 25-minute runs
Now you’ve gotten your fitness up and should feel comfortable running this long without stopping. However, stop if you need to. Start with your five-minute walk, then run for 25 minutes straight.
Week Eight Workouts: Three 28-minute runs
Now that you’ve accomplished last week, you can up the amount of time you run. Take a brisk five-minute walk, then run for 28 minutes without stopping.
Week Nine Workouts: Three 30-minute runs
Test your endurance by running for 30 minutes without stopping this week. If you signed up for a race, it’s coming up soon, so good luck! Otherwise, congratulations for your Couch to 5K program completion.
Former runner trying to get back into it
Were any of you runners in high school who promised to keep it up after graduation, but eventually dropped off? Same. Lately, I’ve been wanting to get back into running and eventually do a 5K. So here’s a 10-week training plan for those of you who want to be runners again. Adjust this plan for your abilities and how you’re feeling, but remember — stay consistent! It’s hard to get your fitness back up when you’re only running once a week every other week.
Week One Workouts: 20-minute run, 30-minute run, 20-minute run, cross-train
Run 20 minutes the first day at an easy pace. The next day you run, do a 30-minute run. Take it easy, but try not to stop so you can get your mind used to running again. The next day you work out should be cross-training, like biking or swimming. This gives your legs some rest but keeps you used to working out and getting your heart rate up. The last run of the week should be another 20-minute one.
Week Two Workouts: 20-minute run, 30-minute run, 20-minute run, cross-train
Repeat last week’s format, and focus this week on your mindset during runs. If you’re feeling up to it, kick up the pace a little.
Week Three Workouts: 25-minute run, 30-minute run, 40-minute run, plus stretching. Keep your cross-training day in there.
Run 25 minutes at a fairly easy pace. Start trying to kick up the pace a little and maybe run this on a tougher circuit. Cross-train the next day you work out this week. Find a type of cross-training that works for you and stick with it. The next day you run, do 30 minutes. The last day you run, do a 40-minute run at a comfortable pace. It should start to be feeling easier.
Week Four Workouts: 25-minute run, 30-minute run, 30-minute run, 30-minute run with hills
Now you’re running four days a week, but one run is a little shorter. However, you should include hills in one of your 30-minute runs. Take a rest day between each running day this week, but you will run two days in a row when you go into the next week.
Week Five Workouts: 30-minute run, 25-minute fartlek, 30-minute run, 30-minute run with hills
Instead of one of the 30-minute runs, incorporate a 25-minute fartlek — alternating three minutes of hard running with two minutes of easy running until you reach 25 — between the other two 30-minute runs. Keep that hill run at the end of the week, and keep stretching before and after each run.
Week Six Workouts: 30-minute run, 25-minute fartlek, 35-minute run, 30-minute run with hills
This week is essentially the same as the last, except your second 30-minute run has been upped to 35 minutes.
Week Seven Workouts: 30-minute run, 2-mile tempo, 40-minute run, 35-minute run with hills, 30-minute run
You’ll run five days this week. Start with a 30-minute run, then do a 2-mile tempo the next day. You should run this at a comfortably hard pace, about eight minutes per mile, or whatever works for you. Adjust this pace to your abilities. Then, do a 40-minute run, a 35-minute run with hills and another 30-minute run.
Week Eight Workouts: 35-minute run, 2-mile tempo, 40-minute run, track workout, 30-minute run
This week is similar to last week, but instead of the 35-minute run with hills, you’ll do a track workout. Find out what your goal 5K pace would be at this point and run four half-mile repeats. End it with four striders, which are 100-meter sprints that you run at about 75 percent of your capability, to shake your legs out. Finish the week with a 30-minute run.
Week Nine Workouts: 35-minute run, 3-mile tempo, 40-minute run, 25-minute fartlek, 30-minute run
This week is very similar to the last one, but you’re upping your tempo run by 1 mile, and instead of the track workout, you’ll go back to the 25-minute fartlek.
Week 10 Workouts: 35-minute run, 2-mile tempo, 30-minute run, 30-minute run, cross-train
Start tapering if you’re going to run a race soon. Still work out five days of the week, though. Everything is a little shorter this week. Keep running even after this week, if you want!
If you’ve been running casually for a while, or you want to tackle something bigger than a 5K, try this first-timer’s half marathon plan. Add some ab exercises into this plan, because your core is way more important than you expect in running. The plan is 12 weeks long, so pick a time to start training and see what half marathons will be in your area 12 weeks from then! If you’re starting about now, try the Prairie Series Day 7 half marathon in St. Joseph, Missouri, on July 22.
Week One Workouts: 30-minute run, cross-train, 30-minute run, cross-train, 4-mile run
The 30-minute run should be at an easy pace. First timers or beginners can run three minutes and walk two minutes, for 30 minutes. Cross-train the next day for 30 minutes. Do another 30-minute run and cross-train again the two days after that. Rest. Then hit your weekly long run of 4 miles. Beginners, do the same ratio of running and walking as you did on your 30-minute runs. Up the pace a little this time. Rest the next day.
Week Two Workouts: 30-minute run, cross-train, 30-minute run, cross-train, 5-mile run
Keep the schedule the same this week, with two days of rest after your fourth and fifth workouts. Run your 30-minute runs the same this week, and try to find one mode of cross-training and stick to it and do the same for your rest days. Your long run will be 5 miles this week.
Week Three Workouts: 35-minute run, cross train, 35-minute run, cross train, 6-mile run
Your runs are starting to get a little longer. This week, you have two 35-minute runs. Make sure you’re stretching before and after these so you have warm muscles for running. Not warming up can lead to injury. Keep your rest and cross-training days the same as you have been, and end your workouts this week with a 6-mile run.
Week Four Workouts: 35-minute run, cross train, 35-minute run, cross train, 7-mile run
As you’re getting deep into a routine, you’re building fitness and endurance for your race. This week is essentially the same as last week, except the long run is 7 miles.
Week Five Workouts: 35-minute run, cross-train, 35-minute run, cross-train, 4-mile run
This week, you’re taking a slight break in mileage to avoid wearing yourself out. Your long run is only 4 miles this week. However, your second cross-training day should be longer, such as 40 minutes instead of 30.
Week Six Workouts: 35-minute run, cross-train, 35-minute run, cross-train, 8-mile run
Now that you’ve gotten used to a longer cross-training day, your long run is upped in mileage again. You should be getting used to handling higher mileage at this point because it’s preparing you for the race.
Week Seven Workouts: 45-minute run, cross-train, 45-minute run, cross-train, 9-mile run
Now your easy days are starting to see more mileage as you build up endurance. You’ll have two 45-minute runs this week, with a 9-mile run to end the week. Keep your rest and cross-train days the same.
Week Eight Workouts: 30-minute run, cross-train, 45-minute run, cross-train, 6-mile run
You’re starting to taper in your training now, so things are getting slightly shorter. Start the week with a 30-minute run, then follow it with 35 minutes of cross-training. Run 45 minutes the next day, and follow that with a longer cross-training time of 45 minutes. Rest, and finish the week with a 6-mile run.
Week Nine Workouts: 45-minute run, cross-train, 45-minute run, cross-train, 10-mile run
After a break last week, the mileage and time are back up this week. Do two 45-minute runs and one 10-mile run. However, even though the mileage is up, keep the length of cross-training days the same as last week.
Week 10 Workouts: 30-minute run, cross-train, 45-minute run, cross-train, 7-mile run
As you get closer to race day, you’ll want to give your body a break while keeping your fitness up. Take a shorter, easy run and a long run this week, but still keep the cross-training times the same.
Week 11 Workouts: 30-minute run, cross-train, 30-minute run, cross-train, 4-mile run
You’re almost to race day! Scale back on one of your easy runs this week and take another couple miles off your long run. Keep your body in shape by keeping those cross-training days the same, though.
Week 12 Workouts: 30-minute run, cross-train, 30-minute run, race day
It’s race week! You don’t want to tire yourself out, so do one 30-minute run, 30 minutes of cross-training and another 30-minute run this week. Rest until the big day. Have a good race!
Running is a great path to weight loss, if that’s your goal. For this plan, you only need to run three days a week for seven weeks. To keep yourself on track, consider signing up for a 5K at the end of the training. Obviously, you can continue with the workouts after the seven weeks are up, but that’s where we’ll start! This plan combines timed runs with measured runs, i.e. 20 minutes versus 2 miles. This is a great plan to do at the Student Recreation Complex on either the indoor or outdoor track. Remember to stretch before and after each run.
Week One Workouts: 10-minute run, 12-minute run, 1-mile run
Both the 10- and 12-minute runs will actually be walk/runs to start. Alternate a walking minute with a running minute. The walk breaks will help you recover so you don’t get overly fatigued. For the mile run, divide it into four quarter-miles. Incorporate the same ratio of walk breaks to run times for this as well.
Week Two Workouts: 15-minute run, 17-minute run, 1.5-mile run
During this week, you’ll be going longer times and distances, but you’ll still be incorporating in walk breaks. With the 15- and 17-minute runs, divide the minutes so you have one more run minute than walk minute. On the 1.5-mile run, you’ll have an equal amount of walk and run time. Divide the 1.5 miles into quarter-miles again.
Week Three Workouts: 20-minute run, 20-minute run, 2-mile run
Your 20-minute runs this week will still be a division of walk and run times. Although you’re starting to go for longer times, this week you’re back to an even number of walk and run minutes on your runs. The 2-mile run should still be divided into quarter-miles.
Week Four Workouts: 20-minute run, 20-minute run, 2.5-mile run
The timed runs don’t increase this week, but the amount of running you’re doing will. Instead of a 1-to-1 ratio of running and walking, on these runs you’ll run for two minutes, then walk for one. Continue this for 20 minutes. The 2.5-mile run will still be the same format, with it divided into quarter-miles and an even ratio of running and walking.
Week Five Workouts: 20-minute run, 20-minute run, 3-mile run
The format of the runs this week will follow those of last week. The 20-minute runs will have more running than walking, and you’ll be adding a half-mile to your long run. Stay hydrated, and keep your muscles loose with plenty of stretching.
Week Six Workouts: 20-minute run, 20-minute run, 3.5-mile run
This week, all three workouts increase the amount of running you’ll do. On your 20-minute runs, you’ll be doing two minutes and 30 seconds of running, and one minute of walking. Continue until 20 minutes has passed. On your 3.5-mile run, you’ll be running half a mile at a time and walking a quarter mile at a time. This week will be challenging, but stay the course.
Week Seven Workouts: 20-minute run, 20-minute run, 5K
Complete the 20-minute runs the same as you did last week. Since this is the last week of the plan, you can end it with a 5K race. If you do this, try to run the whole thing. However, give yourself breaks if you need to. If you don’t run a race, run the length of a 5K (3.1 miles) anyway!
Edited by Katherine White | firstname.lastname@example.org