If you’re not a runner, you may not know every runner’s best kept secret: running is fun! Sure, starting out takes a bit of effort, but once you’ve built enough endurance to keep your stride for miles, you’ll find yourself loving your new favorite form of exercise. Running is an art. It takes an artist to synchronize your breath with your arm and leg movements, and keep your stride stable. And our running challenge is designed to turn you into one.
This 21-day run challenge is designed move you from cardio walking (CW) to jogging to briskly paced runs. We’ve incorporated strength training days that strengthen your leg muscles as well as your bones and joints.
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.
21-Day Learn to Run Challenge
Day 1: ½ mile jog (The best way to gauge where you are is to push yourself on day 1. )
Day 2: ½ mile CW, ½ mile jog, ½ mile CW
Day 3: In order to run strong and fast, you’ll need to build more muscle. Our Runner’s Strength Training Workout will target all the right muscles to make your next run stronger than your last.
Day 4: Rest
As you progress in your running, it’s important to prepare and protect your body. Our 7 Tips for Injury Proof Running will help ensure that you keep your body at peak performance.
Day 5: ½ mile jog, ½ mile cardio walk (CW), ½ mile jog
Day 6: ¾ mile jog, ½ mile CW, ¾ mile jog
Day 7: On the last day of your first week, rearrange and strengthen your body with our 6 Yoga Poses for Stronger Running. This workout focuses on single leg poses to make your runs stronger.
Now that you’ve been running for a week, it’s time to add some motivation in the form of music. If you’re a beginner, hold off on headphones for now. Initially, you want to hear and get a feel for your breathing to make sure it flows with your pace. Our 30 Songs to Get You Running will give you all the music motivation you need.
Day 8: ½ mile jog, ½ mile CW, 1 mile jog
Day 9: ½ mile jog, ½ mile CW, 1 mile jog
Day 10: ½ mile jog, ½ mile CW, 1 mile jog
Day 11: Rest
As you get more comfortable with running, you’ll need to work on your form in order to increase your distance. Our article, 9 Ways to Improve Your Running Form, is designed to align your posture, relax your body, and make your runs feel more natural.
Day 12: 1 mile jog
It’s time to start eating like a champion runner. Longer runs require more fuel for your body. Our article, 19 Meals for Your Best Run, offers a variety of snacks and meals that will ensure that you have enough energy to finish every run on top.
Day 13: 1 mile jog, ½ mile CW, ½ mile jog
Day 14: 1.5 mile jog
Day 15: Strengthen your body with the The Essential Workout for Runners. The stronger your core and legs, the longer you can run.
Day 16: Rest
Now that you’re running stronger and longer, your recuperation should be stronger also. Our post, Foam Rolling Basics: Lower Body, will help you to work out the kinks in your legs, arms, and rear. Faster healing leads to a faster return to training.
Day 17: 1.5 mile jog
Day 18: 2 mile jog
Day 19: Rest
Day 20: 2 mile jog
Day 21: 3 mile jog
On the last day of the challenge, push your body. Use all of our tips, plus the momentum from the previous days, to end the challenge strong!
Your 21 days are up. Now that your legs are feeling stronger, take your running to the next level with our Beginner’s Running Program: Transform Your Body, Transform Your Life. Take the steps and tips you learned, and train your body to run a 5k, a 10k, and a half marathon.
Editors Note: This post was originally published April 18, 2015 and has been updated.