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How Do I Start Running?

Coach Sabrina would love to help!

Something about the spring weather gets a lot of people thinking about taking up running.

Are you one of them? If so, read on!

By fall, you too could be frolicking through the woods!

Below are our Couch to 5k plans, which we've designed to take your spring "running fever" and turn it into a successful summer 5k, no matter where you're starting from.

NOTE: You don’t actually have to sign up for a 5k, but it can be a very effective motivation to keep you logging runs as scheduled, even when it gets hard or hot -- or both!

The very first step in beginning to run (pun intended!) is to start right now with two weeks of walking.

Go walking for at least 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week.

No running yet.

No one ever wants to do this part, but it’s much more important than anyone gives it credit for.

Not only does walking help you to develop the habit and solidify a regular schedule, but more importantly, it also gets your joints and tendons ready to handle running.

They need a small but regular dose of the movement before you put them through your first run.

If you don’t start with walking, you are likely to wake up very sore and badly aching after your first run -- and you'll probably decide that running just isn’t for you after all.

To be fair, it might not be for you, and that’s okay; but make sure you have truly given it a fair shot before you decide!

Once you’ve found your groove with 2 weeks of walking, you're ready to use one of our plans below, each of which calls for 3 runs per week.

Here are the three options; pick the one that's closest to where you are right now, print it out, and fill in your dates. (Ta da! You are now a runner with a running plan!)

  • PLAN A:

    • Recommended for total beginners who are not currently active

    • 10 weeks

    • This one expects you to take a short walk break on race day - that still counts!

  • PLAN B:

    • Recommended for someone who is currently active but is not a runner

    • 10 weeks

    • This one assumes you are running at roughly a 10-min mile pace

  • PLAN C:

    • Recommended for a runner who has taken the winter off

    • 8 weeks

    • This one is more accelerated than Plan B; use B if you've been prone to running injuries in the past.

If the plan you chose is too hard (or you feel too sore & achy), you can dial it back in a variety of ways:

  • Repeat a workout until it gets comfortable, then get back on the plan.

  • Skip the running and just walk for 30 minutes instead, then get back on the plan.

  • Walk beyond the 2-minute rest period; it simply might not be long enough for you to recover, especially when you first begin.

  • Slow down! A 12-minute mile is just as far as a 6-minute mile.

I don't know if they meant it literally, but I do.

If your plan is too easy, simply run a little faster to make it tougher. It's much smarter to increase your times slowly (reducing your odds of injury) than to jump ahead and run "too much, too soon."

Every runner I know can list off numerous tendons or joints that brought them to a halt due to "too much, too soon" at some point. Don't make me add YOU to that list!

On the question of speed: run however slowly you need to, to be able to run for the minutes on the plan. Don’t worry about whether you’re too slow; focus solely on increasing your endurance.

TIP: If you want to get faster, then LATER, once you're running consistently, you can reprint the plan and repeat it, but speed up for the running intervals.

My final tip is to find a running buddy. Whether it's a friend or neighbor or doggo or local weekly running group, having someone ready and waiting for you is the biggest key to success!

Dogs make for VERY devoted running buddies - they never ever (EVER) want to skip a run!

Ambitious friends who sign up for the same race are also SUPER effective at accountability.

Finally, a few small quick tips:

  • If you don't have a fancy watch to time yourself, a kitchen timer will work. That's how I started out!

  • The bike trail is a fabulous place to run. As your miles get longer, you may get bored with it - take yourself to one our beautiful local parks and explore trail running. (My sincere apologies if you find yourself addicted!)

  • Dress as if you'll be standing around in weather that's 20 degrees warmer.

    • For expert level, keep notes of your gear and the weather, so you can consult it as the seasons change.

  • Track your miles right off the bat. You will be amazed and motivated by how quickly they add up.

Did I miss anything?

Few things make me as happy as creating new runners.

If you use this plan, I'd love to hear about it, and ALL of us would love to help you through it!

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