Always Wanted to Be a Runner? This 4-Week Training Plan Will Help Build Your Endurance

Getty / Nyla Sammons

Running is often viewed as a cheap and easy form of exercise, and it isn’t hard to see why. Technically, all you need are a solid pair of running shoes, comfortable workout clothes, and the ability to step outside your door. But often, people who are new to running struggle initially and then quickly give up without examining their approach.

It’s important to remember that running is an endurance sport. No one – not even me, a 10-time marathoner – could ever wake up and run even one mile without stopping if they’ve never run in their life. It’s key to to start slowly and mindfully, which is why Holly Roser, an NASM- and ACSM-certified trainer in San Francisco, created this plan for beginners. By following this training plan, you can build up your endurance safely while also avoiding injury.

How to Get Started With This 4-Week Running Plan

First, make sure you dress the part. It’s especially important that you wear the correct running shoes, so consider consulting an associate at a local running store who can look at your stride and foot strike to help determine which shoe is best for your feet and biomechanics.

The plan itself consists of three types of workouts: a run-walk hybrid, a walking-only workout, and cross-training. On run/walk days, run as far as you can, and then walk when you feel you can’t continue, Roser explained. (A good way to tell that you’ve reached your limit? You can no longer hold a conversation.) If you find that you’re wearing out quickly, “it’s OK to break up your run with a walk, such as by walking for 45 seconds and running for 15 seconds, if you need to,” Roser told POPSUGAR. “Another fun way to start a running program is with your favorite playlist. Run during the chorus and power walk through the [verses].”

Related: This Is How You Should Be Cooling Down After Every Run to Prevent Illness and Injuries

Roser noted that, if you’re feeling particularly fatigued on a scheduled run day, you can also try replacing running with uphill power walking. You’ll still challenge your cardiovascular system the same way you would if you were running, and you’ll burn the same number of calories. “At the same time, take a look at what may be causing you to be tired,” she said. “It’s possible it could be dehydration, a lack of sleep, or not getting the correct amount of nutrients.”

Walking days are pretty straightforward, but for cross-training, you’ll want to focus on muscle-building exercises using moderate weights, and doing about 12 to 15 reps of each exercise. To avoid injury, Roser suggested working on stabilization moves, such as single-leg deadlifts.

Once you’ve completed the four weeks, you should be able to add 10 extra minutes of running to your workout each Monday, Roser explained. For your long runs on Saturday, try upping your mileage by one extra mile every month.

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 Run/walk 20 minutes Walk 30 minutes Run/walk 20 minutes Walk 30 minutes Run/walk 20 minutes Rest Walk 30 minutes
2 Run/walk 20 minutes Walk 30 minutes Run/walk 30 minutes Rest Walk 30 minutes Run/walk 2 miles Walk 30 minutes
3 Run/walk 20 minutes Walk 30 minutes Run/walk 30 minutes Rest Walk 30 minutes Run/walk 2 miles Walk 30 minutes
4 Run/walk 40 minutes Cross-train 30-45 minutes Run/walk 30 minutes Run/walk 40 minutes Rest Run/Walk 3 miles Run/walk 30 minutes
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