You CAN do it!
Most training programs for new runners assume that you are ready for a 1-3 mile run on the first day of training. This training program is designed for Absolute Beginners. Here the only assumption is that you are capable of walking one mile on day one.
Need inspiration? Need Motivation? Watch this video before going any further.
Running for Absolute Beginners is designed for street running, exactly as it will be when running in organized races. The treadmill is an option when the weather is inclement.
This program includes a FREE training schedule that will get you prepared for a 5K run, a 10K run and a half marathon. If you follow this training schedule, with few variations, you will be ready to run your first Half Marathon in 18 weeks. Below is listed some important information to help ensure you are well prepared before starting this training program.
- Get a physical exam to ensure you are healthy enough to begin this program.
- Invest in a good pair of running shoes but first do a little research here before making your purchase. Running shoes are an investment in your success as a runner. Poor quality shoes often contribute to injuries. You can expect to pay $65 and up for your first pair of running shoes.
- Always run when well hydrated and avoid running outside during the hottest time of day or when temperatures are below freezing. The treadmill is an option when the weather isn’t cooperative.
- Good nutrition goes a long way toward your success as a runner. Choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbs.Examples of complex carbs: whole grains; vegetables; fruit; low fat dairy.Examples of simple carbs: sugary snacks; pastries; sodas; candy and refined sugar.
- Studies have shown that drinking a sports drink containing electrolytes before and after a long run, of 5 or more miles, is highly beneficial to your overall recovery period.
- Drink plenty of water during races. Good Hydration is imperative. All organized races have water stations which offer either water or a sports type drink throughout the run, which one you choose is up to you.
- When running long distances of 5 or more miles, while training, be sure to take along a water bottle.
- Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing. Dress according to the weather.
- Be prepared to pay an entry fee for most racing events. The cost varies from event to event but is typically more expensive for larger venues. Sign up early on as the price increases the closer to race time.
Training Terms Defined
- 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.
- Distance: This schedule has distances ranging from 1 to 12 miles. When running in your first–organized–race, understand that it will be outside and primarily run on city streets. So save the treadmill for those days when weather doesn’t permit for training outside. The best way to measure distance is by car or bicycle. Make sure to always have distance measured prior to running.
- Cardio Walk (cw): Here you will walk at a fast pace while keeping your arms at chest level and swinging them front to back–just as when running. This is referred to as cardio walk because of its cardiovascular and fat burning benefits. This walk is also designed to move you–progressively–into running.
- Pace: Run at a pace natural for you. Speed will come with time. For the purposes of this training program, work on completion of the scheduled runs and increased speed will occur as your stamina and endurance improve.
- Longer Run: Like with anything else, the more you run, the better you get at it. The key to running long distances is to progressively increase your run each week. You’ll be amazed at your accomplishments. This program takes you all the way to a 12 mile run. The half marathon will still present a challenge, but one that you’ll be ready for.
- Racing: This term typically implies that you are in competition with other runners. That is not the case for this training program. Here the term race or racing simply means running in an organized event. Included in this schedule are 5K, 10K and half marathon races. This program is designed to give you the skills necessary to run one, or all three. A lot of runners like to run shorter races in order to predict their time for the half marathon. It is also a good idea to start with a 5K or 10K, in order to get the feel for running in a racing event–prior to running in a half marathon.
- Rest Day: It is imperative that you rest on the day specified– or another day of the week. The point being, proper rest will help to prevent injuries.
- Stretch: Make certain to stretch after each run, particularly after your long run. This schedule includes extra stretching on the day following your long run.
- Strength Training (S.T.): For the purpose of this program, it is recommended to strength train two days a week using light weights and high repetitions. Save the heavy duty workouts for periods between races. Machines at the gym are also a good way to strength train. If you are unfamiliar with strength training, make certain to ask for assistance in learning correct form–in order to prevent injury. You will be able to find workout routines on the Skinny Ms. website that will work perfectly into your training.
- Switch-it-up: This training schedule is a guide to help anyone–ready and willing–to begin running. If the schedule doesn’t fit perfectly into your hectic life, feel free to switch-it-up. It is important to be consistent and follow the schedule as closely as possible.
- Walking: Unlike most programs this one begins with walking, then combines walking with running, and progressively takes you all the way to straight running. Even after walking has ended for training purposes–feel free to walk for short periods if needed. After all, no one knows better than you when a short break is called for. It is recommended, however, that after walking is no longer on the training schedule–if you must walk–do so for one minute between one mile intervals.
Are you ready to step off the sidelines, turn the corner and enter a world filled with limitless possibilities? If you answered yes, your life is about to enter a new and exciting chapter. Get prepared to reap the benefits of running. Let’s get started!
Check out a printable version of the 18 week Running Program for Absolute Beginners.
Running Program for Absolute Beginners was designed by Gale Compton who is a nationally certified fitness instructor.
TRANSFORM YOUR BODY with this step-by-step program designed for all fitness levels.
Exercise and health are matters that vary from person to person. Participants of this program should speak with their doctors about their individual needs before starting any exercise program. This Web site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice and supervision of your personal physician. Any application of the recommendations set forth in the following pages is at the viewer’s discretion and sole risk. See your physician before beginning any exercise program. This is especially important if your family has a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, cigarette smoking, or other health conditions. If you have any doubts whatsoever, consult your physician.
Love Hal Higdon!
On Week 5, what does "mm" mean?
Dawn, It’s m and it stands for mile. Keep us posted!
I am wanting to start the Running Schedule. Under the Strength Training paragraph it says we can find workouts on Skinny Ms. website, but I am having trouble knowing which ones are the better workouts for this activity. Can you recommend a few workouts? Thanks
Jennifer, I recommend starting with these and you can progress to something more challenging when ready:
Beautiful Body Workout
Head to Toe Workout
4 Minute Fat Blasters
You can find some workouts for beginners on the site as well. 🙂
Started the challenge today!!Thanks.
In weeks 4 and 5, when it says to "repeat 1m", are we supposed to do a mile of cw, running, or both?
Kristina, Do ___ minutes of cw,___ minutes of running and repeat this pattern for ____ mile/s. So, walk, run, walk, run, walk, run……..
Does this make sense? 🙂
Could you recommend a few different brands/models of good running shoes from low to high price? Thank you!
Sheila, It depends on a lot of factors what type of running shoes you need. Here’s an excellent article on the topic. If you scroll toward the bottom you will find recommendations. 🙂 https://skinnyms.com/choosing-the-perfect-running-…
Yes, your though is very important that can help us more from any kind of running stress fractures, runner’s knee, and more. Running shoes is most important for reduce such kind of health issue and I hope your concept help us more to stay healthy.
thank you for your article really helped me … good article
I typically focus more on weightlifting, but I'm running my first 5k on May 9th!
I'm pretty excited, but I'm very happy that I'll be running with a veteran, I guess as long as I can keep up that is. 🙂
Awesome advice and thoughts here, I appreciate the read!
Could you recommend a few different brands/models of good running shoes from low to high price? Thank you!
Read this article on Choosing the Perfect Running Shoe for you: https://skinnyms.com/choosing-the-perfect-running-…
I am not certain where you're getting your info, however good topic. I must spend some time studying more or working out more. Thank you for fantastic information I was searching for this information for my mission.
Thank you SO much for this! I am starting today 🙂 Do you have any apps that you recommend that help with the intervals of walk run, (and possibly include music) I am having trouble finding ones that let me edit it to this schedule- and they often start way beyond my level 🙂 thanks!
Cassie, I’m so happy you’re starting. It really is life changing. Here are 2 free apps and 2 that charge:
Runify – Workout with music (Interval Timer)
GymBoss – Interval Timer (no music)
rTimer Lite – Interval Timer (cost $1.99)
Runner’s Interval Timer (cost .99)
Enjoy the program! 🙂
I just signed up for my first half marathon that is in 16 weeks. I could easily walk 2-3 miles but probably couldn’t run more than half a mile at the moment. Have I missed the window since I don’t have 18 weeks to train?
Amy, No, you have plenty of time! Try beginning with our 6-Week Walk/Run Calendar: https://skinnyms.com/6-week-walkrun-calendar/. 🙂
I will start the challenge from tomorrow! Thank you.
Hi, thank you so much for sharing, I’m starting tomorrow 🙂
I was wondering if you could recommend a similar program to run 1km in 3-4 minutes. I need to get this score in around 7 months to get in to the police force and I don’t manage to get a program that guide me properly. Thanks!!
Carmen, This type of training sounds like what you want, https://skinnyms.com/increase-speed-and-endurance-with-fartlek-training/. This is the method that I use to increase speed.
Hi I’m a 35 year old type 1 diabetic female with some stomach problems, I am 10st 8oz and I’m wanting to lose some weight and tone up fast. I’ve never exercised before so I’m not sure where to start. Plus I run high blood sugars most of the time and I’m wanting to regulate them. I’m not a very good eater at the best of times but I’m wanting to combine everything and have a healthy lifestyle as my body is just failing me most of the times. I would appreciate any help and or advice and some direction. Thank you .x
Margaret, We have tons of workouts for beginners, plus ebook programs. Also, please check out our meal planning section for loads of heathy options.
Best to you! 🙂
I have osteoporosis and am wondering if running is a good program for that.
Robin, Please check with your doctor as we are not medical professionals. 🙂