Getting started

If you have not done any exercise for a while, consult your doctor before you start training…

When you are starting out as a runner, do not make the mistake of thinking that walking is cheating. Every beginner’s running programme starts with walking, and you will have to walk before you can run. Aim to begin by running for just 30 seconds, then walking until you have caught your breath, and then repeating it.

Walk to run

Even seasoned marathon runners throw a walk break into their running now and then, and with good reason. By alternating running with walking, you will give your body a chance to recover from the impact of running, because one of the main differences between running and walking is that in running you ‘jump’ off the ground. In walking, however, you don’t, so there’s much less impact on each foot strike and a reduced chance of injury.

Use your walk breaks to take in what’s going on around you. Look at the view, enjoy the sun on your back or the rain on your face, and feel the ground beneath your feet.

Training benefits

When you start training using a run/walk schedule, not only will you help protect yourself from many common injuries, but you will also make greater improvements because you should be able to train for longer before you tire. If you can only run about 50 yards before becoming out of breath, you should walk for the next 50 yards to recover before starting to run again. Most first-timers who are new to the business of running start off by running too fast and too hard. It might last only a few minutes, but it’s an experience that can put them off running forever. Walking is an easier and gentler introduction to running – it’s more sustainable and will not leave you feeling disillusioned.

Talk test

Throughout your running training, you can also use the talk test to gauge whether you are going too fast. When you’re starting out as a runner this is particularly useful. If you’re too out of breath to chat to a training partner, slow down a little, and walk, until you get your breath back. Then start to jog but a little more slowly. This gentle approach will allow you to improve without denting your enthusiasm.

Easing back into training

Run/walking is a great way for new runners to build up fitness, but it is a strategy that works for experienced runners too. If you are coming back to running after an injury, run/walk is a great way to ease slowly back into training. Start running for one minute, then walking for one, and if everything feels fine, then increase the time you run without extending the walk break. Eventually you will be able to drop the walking entirely.

If you are completely new to running, the following programme will help you to run for 30 minutes in just six weeks. Stick to the schedule and you will be amazed at how quickly you improve.