Beginner Running Programs: Go, go, go!

You may have missed it, but this summer, we were all treated to arguably the greatest reality TV show ever: The 2012 Summer Olympics. Sadly, track-and-field and the marathon aren’t really big events in Korea. Instead, I ended up watching a lot of judo and volleyball, as well as a few thrown badminton matches.

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Nevertheless, even a small amount of Olympics coverage is enough to inspire my own dreams of gold medal glory. Sure, I may be short, stocky, and small-handed, but I’m pretty sure if I train hard enough, I’ll be able to achieve at least some measure of Michael Phelps’ success. Right? RIGHT?!? Even if that’s not true, one thing I love about the Olympics is that they inspire me to get off my butt and go do some physical activity. (Okay, sometimes they inspire me to sit on my butt and watch more Olympics.)

And you? You watched the Olympics and were inspired to start running.

Maybe you’re new to the Body N’ Sole blog. Maybe Mo Farah’s domination in the 5K and 10K made you think, “Hey! I want to do that!” [Sidenote: This is the greatest Tumblr of all time.] Or maybe you too aspire to run the marathon like Meb Keflezighi (Um, Abdhi & Ryan? Can we talk about those DNFs?!?). Maybe you already are a runner but after watching the Olympics, your roommate/friend/spouse wants to join in on that hot running action.

[Or maybe you're like me and had to scale waaaay back on your running this summer and now you're looking to get your fitness back.]

In any event, where to you start?

I believe there are two approaches to starting running: One says you just start running and grit your teeth. I always imagine this one as a montage of self-improvement set to jaunty music. The other camp has you work up gradually from walking, often interspersing short periods of running with longer sections of walking and slowly changing the ratio. I love to follow directions and make measured progress, so I advocate the latter.

Here are some links to get you (or your friend/roommate/spouse) started.

In college, I started to run using the program in the back of this book (now in its second edition.). The first week, I was supposed to run 30 seconds, walk four and a half minutes, and repeat seven times. Over 13 weeks, I eventually worked up to an hour of running. It worked well for me, but it was quite a long commitment.

A more popular program is the Couch to 5K program by CoolRunning. The idea here is the same but on a shortened time scale–start with only a little running and progress to about 30 minutes by the end of six weeks.

If you can already run a few minutes [Don't laugh! I could barely run a minute when I started!] but want a similar structure, you can check out this beginner’s training program from Runner’s World.

Finally, there is Hal Higdon’s 30/30 program, which aims for 30 minutes of exercise for 30 consecutive days. This is the initial stage to prep you for his 5-K training guide.

So, runners-to-be, what are you waiting for? Get out there! It’s almost fall, which means that we can expect at least one nice day of crisp weather before winter slaps us in the face.

I’ll see you out on the roads…or in the pool, as I flounder around and attempt to learn to swim.

Do you have a good resource for beginning runners? If so, please share in the comments!

About Mica

Mica is a blogger, occasional cashier, and baked goods supplier for Body N' Sole. A middle-of-the-pack runner, she has plenty of time to observe and ruminate on running culture. You can find her trotting around CU in red shorts, often questioning her life decisions. Check out her non-running thoughts at her personal blog MicaPie.
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