If you haven’t been running in years – or if you’ve never run before – it might seem like a massive mountain to climb. But exercise and nutrition scientist Kathleen Alleaume’s simple guide will get you to a point where you can run 5km – in just one month.
Going for a run can seem like a daunting prospect, especially if you’re new to it. But there are so many benefits to running once you get started. It can improve your fitness, help with weight management – and no expensive gym membership is needed!
So, if you’re keen to try jogging or running, don’t sweat it. Our step-by-step guide will have you making tracks in no time. If you need added motivation, signing up for a 5km race with a friend is a great way to kick off your routine. This special 5km-goal training schedule incorporates a mix of running, walking and resting. This combination helps reduce the risk of injury, stress and fatigue, while boosting your enjoyment of the training. All you need to do is make a commitment to run at least three times a week. Here’s how to get yourself ready for the starting line in just four weeks.
Before you start
Plan your week. Set aside a regular time when you will exercise.
Allow at least one rest day between runs when you begin.
Start and finish each session with a five-minute warm-up and cool-down walk, and don’t forget to stretch after each workout.
Don’t push yourself too hard. You are more at risk of injury or muscle soreness if you overdo it. Easing into it helps your muscles get used to the impact of running.
If you have not exercised for a while, you should always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
In general, you can get a similar workout on a treadmill to what you can running outside, as long as you maintain the same effort level. Outdoor running is generally more challenging and you expend slightly more calories, due to terrain changes and wind resistance. The treadmill, however, provides a smooth, cushioned surface which is easier on the joints. Make it more challenging by running on different inclines and at varied speeds on the treadmill to adjust your effort level.
Weeks 1 and 2
The first two weeks will get you used to spending time on your feet, as well as slowly building your fitness levels and confidence. It’s best to start out very easy, at a slow jog. If in doubt, slow down. You should be able to (just) hold a conversation while you run. It’s important to go at your own pace and don’t be afraid to repeat a week, or drop back a week. Everyone is different.
Weeks 3 and 4
During weeks 3 and 4 you will see your routine move towards sustained running, with a much smaller amount of walking. By now, you should notice that you can run for longer, and also find it easier as you will be running with a better technique. By the end of week 4, you should be comfortable running continuously for up to 5km in about 40 minutes (or less). If not, simply repeat your training for the fourth week until you’re comfortable running the full 5km. Congratulate yourself and stick to your new running habit!
Your 4-week running program
Start and finish each run with a 5-minute walk to warm up and cool down. Run three times a week.
Run 2 mins, walk 1 min
Run 5 mins, walk 2 mins
Run 10 mins, walk 2 mins
Run 15 mins, walk 2 mins
Top running tips
Maintain a good posture. Keep your body upright with only a slight forward lean, and hold your head up by looking at the road ahead.
Keep your breathing steady and rhythmical (inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth).
Invest in a good pair of running shoes that provide sufficient cushioning to absorb the impact.
Run on soft surfaces (eg. grass) wherever possible. This is much easier on your joints.
Remember to stay hydrated. Water is the best choice for hydration at this level of training – there should be no need for sports drinks.
Download an iPhone app to help you. Many apps allow you to chart your workout time, pace, calories burned, and a GPS that will give you a map of your run. Being able to track your workout might motivate you to keep going so you can beat your personal records. Try Endomondo or Map My Run, both available free on iTunes.
Did you know? Running, like all exercise, stimulates feel-good chemicals in the brain. This can reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-esteem, boost your mood and help you sleep better.