If you’ve just made the commitment to start running you probably look longingly at the people who float by effortlessly and wonder, “When will I have such a natural gait? How long until that’s me?”

Patience my friend, these things come in time.  Even if you can’t run for very long yet, in time you can call yourself a veteran.  And once you’re a part of the world of running, once you’re really entrenched in it, none of that really matters.  Running is about the process and the rewards never lose their luster.

So whether you’re looking to run a mile for the first time or participate in your first race, here are a few beginner recommendations to send you on your way.

Introducing The Wog

Half of the battle of starting a running routine isn’t necessarily in the running, it’s in the routine.  Schedule a time to get yourself out there two to three times per week for 20-30 minutes at a time.  Work hard while you’re out there but don’t go too hard.  Pushing yourself too much is one of the first things that drive people away from running, so try a walk/jog combo, something a good friend of mine affectionately calls The Wog.

When you’re just starting The Wog give yourself something measurable so you can see your improvements.  Try to hit a few milestones, and when you do, recognize your achievement.  After all, not everyone exercises three times per week.

Wogs for the Precise Person

If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep a stopwatch on hand and capture as much data as possible, you might want to try precise interval running.  Below you’ll find a program that will send you from wog to jog.

Week 1 (Runs 1-3): Fast walk for five minutes, then alternate 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking for the last 15 minutes of your workout.

Week 2 (Runs 4-6): Walk briskly for five minutes, then alternate 90 seconds of jogging with two minutes of walking for a total of twenty minutes.

Week 3 (Runs 7-9): Walk quickly for five minutes, then do two repetitions of the following:

  • Jog for 90 seconds
  • Walk for 90 seconds
  • Jog for three minutes
  • Walk for three minutes

Week 4 (Runs 10-12):  Same fast, five minute warm up walk.  Then Wog the following:

  • Jog for three minutes (about a 1/4 of a mile)
  • Walk for 90 seconds (about 1/8 of a mile)
  • Jog for five minutes (about a 1/2 a mile)
  • Walk for 2 1/2 minutes (about 1/4 of a mile)
  • Jog for three minutes (about 1/4 of a mile)
  • Walk for 90 seconds (about 1/8 of a mile)
  • Jog for five minutes (about a half of a mile)

Week 5 (Runs 13-15): Take a brisk five minute warm up walk and then jog two miles without walking.

For the Runner with a Soundtrack

If you’ve got a killer running soundtrack that gets you going and can’t stand the sound of stopwatches, you might as well leverage the music in your favor.  Pump up the volume on your favorite set of songs and give yourself goals.

Week 1 (Runs 1-3): Walk quickly for the length of one song.  Jog through the chorus of every song and walk the verses until you’ve hit about twenty minutes of walking and jogging (usually about 5-6 songs).

Week 2 (Runs 4-6): Do a quick warm up walk for the duration of one song.  Jog for half of a song and then walk until the end of it.  Repeat this process until you’ve listened to about twenty minutes worth of music.

Week 3 (Runs 7-9): Walk briskly for one song.  Push yourself to jog through an entire song.  Walk through the next song.  Repeat this process until you’ve got twenty or so minutes under your belt.

Week 4 (Runs 10-12): Fast walk for one song and then push yourself to jog through one song and then walk through the other, rotating consistently through until the end of your run.

Week 5 (Runs 13-15): After you’ve done your warm up walk you should be able to jog straight through to the end of your twenty minute workout mix.

Distance Runs for the Beginner

If you run on a track or within the confines of a city on a grid you’ve got natural grounds for measurement.  Feel free to use distance markers and time yourself overall.  You’re improvement will be clear when you find that you’re not only running further, but you’re also running faster.

Week 1 (Runs 1-3): Walk half a mile (two laps around a standard track or 10 New York City streets).  Rotate jogging about an 1/8 mile and walking 1/8 of a mile.  Repeat until you have completed a full two miles.

Week 2 (Runs 4-6): Take a quick half mile walk and then set into jogging for a 1/4 of a mile and walking for a 1/4 of a mile until you’ve gone two miles total.

Week 3 (Runs 7-9): Fast walk for a half of a mile and then jog for a 1/4 of a mile and walk for a 1/4 of a mile.  If you’re on a track you can consider walking the curves and running the straights.  Rotate this until you’ve gone two miles.

Week 4 (Runs 10-12): Walk for a half a mile and then proceed with the following.

  • Jog for 1/4 mile
  • Walk 1/8 mile
  • Jog 1/2 mile
  • Walk 1/4 mile
  • Jog 1/4 mile
  • Jog 1/8 mile
  • Jog 1/2 mile

Week 5 (Runs 13-15): Walk a half a mile (two laps around a standard track) and run for two miles (or eight laps around a standard track).

The Final Word

Whichever beginner program you choose feel free to modify it based on your specific needs.  Everyone is different and if this were easy everyone would be a runner.  Stick to the program you build and you may find yourself in a life long love affair with running.