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Running Program for Absolute Beginners

by Skinny Ms.

Congratulations! You’ve tackled the first major step toward a new, healthier you.  Just by clicking on this article, you’ve told yourself that becoming a runner is possible, and you’re right! Our Running Program for Beginners will help you take baby steps toward reaching your goals. The beginner’s running program, below, is  designed for those with absolutely no running experience.  But, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Once you get the go-ahead to start the program, pull that hair back, lace up those shoes, and let’s get started!

Running Program for Absolute Beginners:

This beginners’ program combines cardiovascular fitness activities with strength training exercises to help your body build both strength and endurance, as well as prevent injuries. You’ll notice that during the first few weeks of this beginner’s running program, you won’t be running at all. By starting out with a fast-paced walk, you’ll allow your body the time it needs to adapt to your new fitness routine. Follow the schedule below and you’ll be a runner before you know it.

Looking for more tips? Review our Running Tips for Absolute Beginners.

Cardio Walk (CW): During your cardio walks, you will walk at a fast pace, while keeping your arms at chest level and swinging them front to back–just as when running. We call this a cardio walk because of its cardiovascular and fat burning benefits. This walk is also designed to move you progressively into running. Find the right walking and running shoes here.

Strength Training (ST): On strength-training days, you’ll follow a method of improving muscular strength by gradually increasing the ability to resist force through the use of free weights, machines, or your own body weight. Strength training sessions are designed to impose increasingly greater resistance, which in turn stimulates development of muscle strength to meet the added demand. You can find, both home and gym, strength training routines on

Mile (M): As you increase your fitness levels, the distance of your cardio workouts will increase. Wherever you notice a number, followed by an ‘M’, in the schedule, you should cover as many miles in your workout as the number dictates. The GymBoss Interval Timer is the perfect companion for Skinny Ms. Runner’s coach.

Cross Training: Cross is a type of training that incorporates various forms of exercise or a combination of one or more. Some examples of Cross Training: aerobics, bicycling, brisk walking, jogging, skating, snow skiing, weight lifting, swimming and walking.

Download your copy of the Running Schedule for Absolute Beginners. It’s FREE!

Running Program for Absolute Beginners Schedule_size300x375 

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Have you just started a new exercise program or challenge? We’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below.


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41 Responses to Running Program for Absolute Beginners

  • Donna says:

    Just an FYI, on the pdf download, at the bottom it says CW=Cardio Workout instead of Cardio Walk. I was confused. Hahahaha :)

  • Kayla says:

    Hey, what do you do on Tuesday weeks 3 and 4?

  • Skinny Ms. says:

    Christie, We have tons of workouts to choose from.

  • Stephanie says:

    Strength at the bottom is mis-spelled

  • Ana says:

    hello! i am really wanting to try this out.. I have been wanting to do a half marathon for so long! and i would love to do it before i am 30! (i'm 28). Has anyone tried this training yet? i am curious to know how well it went??

    • Fran says:

      I started this program in February 2013. I went directly by the program (maybe changing up days sometimes to suit my schedule). I ran the half marathon distance on schedule but there was not a half marathon race close but I kept up the running during the week as well as on the weekends. I didn't run the race until March of this year (2014) and won 1st place in my age division. I just completed my 1st full marathon November 8, 2014 and placed in the top 64% of all ages and genders of the nearly 2800 runners. Oh and by the way, I am 59 and my goal was to complete the 26.2 miles in under 5 hours before I was 60. I was able to achieve this goal with time to spare on both age and run time. This program is the best out there, hands down!!

  • Desiree says:

    Hey printed this off and was looking at it and just wondering how long are you suppose to strength train for on Mondays?

  • Micaela says:

    It's 2 MINUTE cardio walk, 1 minute mile, repeat this for the duration of 1 mile.

  • Erica says:

    What are some good strength training workouts and machines to use for beginners?

  • Stacey says:

    Hi I am wanting to start this on Monday but when it says CW- how long should we walk for? Thanks in advance!!

  • Stacey says:

    How long should we walk for on the CW days?

    • SkinnyMs says:

      It varies between 1 mile and 2 miles weeks one through three as you can see, and then on week 4 and 5 it's 1 mile, including the running. On week 4, you walk for 2 minutes, and then 1 for a minute, and keep repeating for a mile. One week 5, it begins with 1 minute CW and 5 minute run, and you repeat for a mile, going from 1 minute of walking to 5 minutes of running for the whole mile.

  • linda says:

    is it high speed running, because I have a bad back and pinched nerves in both my legs. is this workout good for all?

    • SkinnyMs says:

      It does not have to be high speed running, but jogging. You can take it at your own pace. If your nerves or back start to bother you, rest.

    • LaT says:

      Also…Try Yoga. There are some positions and stretches you can do to reduce the pain. I have the same issue, and I in the 3rd month *every 4 months now to get steroid shots….and no pain. In recent months I would have been screaming by now. As told you have to strengthen your core and be consistent about it. Plus you have to stop eating and drinking stuff that makes your body hurt…like Coffee ( oh I miss it but pain I can live without), sugar *I cut down a lot…weaning myself off and drinking liquids that clean my system and keeps the acid levels down.


      Cut out caffeine, cut the sugar way down, drink more water
      start slow, start walking 15 each day
      Stretch, 30min every day…* trust me it will help. I am not walking with my cane now * oh yeah if you can stop using the cane….that made a huge difference.

      Linda…where I was using pain meds everyday….I am down to every once in a while * when I do too much. Which is a huge difference since that stuff mucks with your liver. Good luck

  • Donna Linkins says:

    How can I download to my iphone?

  • Fran says:

    Over 1 year ago I posted something like this…On New Year's morning 2013 I woke up and realized I didn't feel good and I needed to change. It took a few weeks but I found this program… well, I have shared this program with so many! I am 58 (59) this year. I have run numerous 5K's, 10K's coming in 1st or Grand Master each race. I recently won 1st (in my age group of course) in the Berry Half Marathon. I am scheduled to run the Savannah Marathon in November.

    Without this program, none of this would be possible. I had tried other programs but I always felt pushed. This program is the best out there. Stay within its guidelines and you will not suffer injury or defeat!

    • Cathy says:

      I am 58 and in the worst shape ever. I don't feel good, and can't get a job. Thanks for the encouragement, Fran. I will try this! So glad I found you, SkinnyMs. And ladies, this is free guidance, encouragement and recipes galore. See ya on the winning side!

    • jo3ponies says:

      Thanks Fran, for the encouragement. I've been running some but without a schedule of any kind. More structure will make for better progress. I'm 61.

  • Gigi says:

    I am sensing that this beginning running program is okay for older adults. I am 53 and have never ran before. I love to walk, but with knees/back problems and a few (okay 40) extra pounds, I need something I WILL stick with. Is this an good program for women my age? Thanks.

    • SkinnyMs says:

      Yes, this running program will work for older adults. Just be aware of your knee/back problems and if you experience pain, switch to walking.

  • Nikki says:

    Ok ladies I'm going to try this. I'm more of a walker than a runner but I need to get back into shape.

  • Fran says:

    I just ran my 1st marathon (26.2 miles) November 8, 2014! It all started with this program!

  • Katica says:

    I also like to walk more than running. I went to gym for workout, but because of my job I dont have to time to keep with that.

  • Newbie says:

    How do you know when you have run a mile? I don't have a flex bit or a GPS, just a stop watch timer

    • SkinnyMs says:

      Newbie, Some people use their cars odometer by driving the route to measure a mile and then mark that to run/walk. Of course nowadays, there are a lot of free apps out there if you have a smart phone, such as Runkeeper through itunes app store.
      Lastly, if you have none of the above, if you can do this at a track at a park/school, 4x around a track is equal to a mile.

    • Penny says:

      Hello Newbie,

      As SkinnyMS listed a few things you could do, I wanted to add one more thing. If you know your route, like starting destination and ending destination, you could put both on google maps and see the distance.

      • SkinnyMs says:

        Thanks, Penny. Yes, Google Maps or sites, like Map My Run, can help you predetermine your running route and distance without the use of a GPS device.

  • Laura says:

    I'm 64 years old and have a lot of bad eating habits (old style Southern comfort foods). I also have a number of health conditions that make exercise challenging (no impact – doctor's orders). I have a membership at a 24 hour gym thanks to Silver Sneakers but there's no water aerobics anywhere near my home. I've done much better and am losing weight at a snail's pace but have minimum 100 pounds to go. Any suggestions on how to speed up the process?

    • SkinnyMs says:

      Congratulations on taking those first steps, Laura. Try not to be discouraged by the slow progress. You will be the same age a year from now whether you continue to put in the work, or not. Celebrate the small steps. The best way to maximize your weight loss is to incorporate small changes over time. Look for ways to make healthy substitutions in your favorite comfort food recipes– Skinny Ms. can help with this. We also have plenty of low or no impact workouts to choose from. One of the best low impact workouts is walking. Aim to work your way up to 10,000 steps per day. The key is to be consistent. It WILL pay off.

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