You may be intrigued by the thought of participating in the Healthy Driven Naperville 5K or even the Half Marathon. So, what’s stopping you? It might be that you aren’t a runner – yet. Maybe you were a runner in the past, but the last year, life, the pandemic and/or winter derailed your running routine. That’s okay, we can help. Here are some steps to get your training started (or restarted) so you can start achieving your running-related goals.
Get medical clearance. Check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to work up to and take part in a running program. This is especially important if you are older, have cardiovascular risk factors, bone or joint issues, are taking medication or have other health concerns. If you had COVID-19, it is important to work with your doctor to get the appropriate testing and health screening to ensure your safe return to exercise. In general, when in doubt, check with your doctor. Once you have your doctor’s approval, it’s time to get to work.
Choose the right footwear. Before you start the walking portion of this program, make sure you go to a reputable running shoe store for a professional shoe fitting. You’ll use these shoes for the walking and running portions of your training program, so it’s worth investing in a well-fitting pair. Good shoes go a long way toward preventing unnecessary injuries.
Start walking. It’s crucial that you take steps to build a strong walking base. If you aren’t currently walking, start with 10 or 15 minutes per session, 2-3 times the first week. After the first week, you will slowly build walking duration and frequency. The plan looks like this:
Week 1: 10-15 minutes per session, 2-3 times per week
Week 2: 15-20 minutes per session, 3 times per week
Week 3: 20-25 minutes per session, 3-4 times per week
Week 4: 25-30 minutes per session, 3-4 times per week
If you already walk regularly for 30 or more minutes several times a week, start your program with Week 5 below.
Add some running (ease into it). Now that you walk for 30 minutes at a time, add some brief running intervals. Start with an interval consisting of 1 minute of running, followed by 2 minutes of walking. Over the next several weeks, increase the length of the running intervals. Continue from the four-week plan above:
Week 5: 1 minute of easy running followed immediately by 2 minutes of walking. Repeat this sequence 10 times for 30 total minutes. Do this workout 3-4 times per week, in place of your walking from weeks 1-4.
Week 6: First workout: 2 minutes of easy running followed immediately by 1 minute of walking. Repeat this interval 10 times for 30 total minutes (1 min. walk/2 min. run x 10). Second workout: 3 min. run/1 min. walk x 7. Third and fourth workout: 4 min. run/1 min. walk x 6.
Week 7: Progress to 5-7 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Do as many intervals as you can fit into 30 minutes.
Week 8: Progress to 8-11 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Do as many intervals as you can fit into 30 minutes.
Week 9: Progress to 12-15 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Do as many intervals as you can fit into 30 minutes. By the end of this week, you are doing only 2 intervals.
Week 10: Progress to 16-20 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Then complete the 30 minutes with running.
Week 11: Progress to 21-25 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Then complete the 30 minutes with running.
Week 12: Progress to 26-30 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Then complete the 30 minutes with running. By the end of this week, you should be running 30 minutes without a walking break.
When following the plan above, don’t overdo it. If a week seems too difficult or causes too much muscle soreness, don’t be afraid to repeat the previous week and proceed from there. It may take more than 12 weeks to complete the program if you need to repeat a week here or there, but that’s perfectly fine. It is better to proceed slowly than get frustrated and quit.
Train for a race! Once you have completed the program above and have a good running base, build on this to train for a goal race. A fall 5K (like the Healthy Driven Naperville 5K) would make a great first event. Look through our blog archives and future postings for tips on effective training, injury prevention and preparing yourself for race day.
In the meantime, I wish you the best of luck with starting your running program.
Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness