HomeCardiovascular exercise10 Week Plan to Run: Beginners Running Program

10 Week Plan to Run: Beginners Running Program

Running program for complete beginners.

Regardless of your fitness level, you can easily start from zero to running 20 minutes continuously in 10 weeks. The program below, adapted from the New York Road Runners Club, does exactly that and is an example of an ten-week run/walk strategy, aimed at beginners in good health. You can do it. All it requires on your part is the commitment to go out and run 3, preferably 5 times, a week. Depending on how often you are running, try to allow for a day of recovery between runs. For example, if you are running 4 times a week, avoid running 4 consecutive days.


Warm up before you start with a 5 – 10 minute fast walk and cool down with 5 – 10 minutes of slow walking. Run at a moderate pace, at 60 – 70% maximum heart rate and walk briskly for the walking phases. You should be able to pass the “talk test.”

If you run flat out, you will be too exhausted to repeat the intervals and will probably vow to never run again. The walking breaks are important too. Walking intervals allows you to recover and means that you can run for longer. Remember, you are running for endurance, not sprinting. It also breaks your run into manageable parts, decreases the likelihood of aches, pain and injury. You feel great afterwards, not overwhelmingly fatigued and completely exhausted. You can for long distances, which you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.


Run-Walk Plan
Total Duration
1 min run, 2 min walk (7x)
21 minutes
2 min run, 2 min walk (5x)
20 minutes
3 min run, 2 min walk (4x)
20 minutes
5 min run, 2 min walk (3x)
21 minutes
6 min run, 90 sec walk (3x)
20 minutes
8 min run, 90 sec walk (2x)
18 minutes
10 min run, 90 sec walk (2x)
23 minutes
12 min run, 1 min walk, 8 min run
21 minutes
15 min run, 1 min walk, 5 min run
21 minutes
Run 20 minutes continuously
20 minutes


Running program for complete beginners

This program should suit most nonactive beginners. Therefore, if you can, follow the program exactly. However, if you are very overweight, older or have been very inactive, it will probably take longer. Do not exceed what you can do, listen to your body. Stay at the level you can handle until you feel able to move to the next stage. It doesn’t matter if it takes you twenty weeks. The goal is to get there. On the other hand, if you have been somewhat active before, you may find the program too easy and progress quickly. In that case, simply move forward to the next level. Once you hit 20 minutes nonstop running, move on to the advanced beginners program. You may be able to complete 30 minutes of continuous running at the end of 10 weeks. Still, take it easy. The goal of this running program is to get there uninjured and it is better to veer on the side of caution. For some tips on running form check out the running form infographic.

Remember to clear any exercise program with your doctor before starting, especially if you have any medical condition.

Beginner running plan. Start by doing what is necessary ... and soon you'll be doing the impossible.
Once you have completed this program you can continue your improvements by moving on to the next 10-week plan for advanced beginners.


  1. Thanks! Definitely going to try this out and if all goes well, progress to the advanced running program!

  2. I just finished my first week, I feel embarrassingly out of shape for an active 22 year old but I’m so excited to put the old me in the past and come out of this with a major confidence boost. I can’t wait to run 20 minutes continuously & become a life time runner!

  3. I am on week 3 of this program. I just “graduated” to the 2 min run/ 2 min walk phase. The more I run, the easier it gets! When I used the treadmill at the gym I would count the minutes and talk myself out of doing anything longer than 20 – 30 minutes. Now I find myself surprised (and often disappointed) that my workout is over!

  4. I am very interested in this learn to run program but was wandering what speeds do you recoment when running/walking on the treadmill
    thank you

  5. are you guys running everyday or like everyother day or what? i have heard it’s not healthy to run everyday so im trying to figure out how this program works…i’d love to join in. i started “week one” on sunday and did it again tuesday and had planned to do it thurs and saturday so would i start week two on monday???

  6. I just started today and I thought I would do every other day. Though I have absolutely no experience with running so I don’t know if that is the correct way to do it or not.

    • Hi Molly,
      3 times week, or every other day is very good to start with. After that just listen to your body. If you feel comfortable you can add a fourth or fifth workout depending on how you’re feeling and how fast you recover after your runs.

      • So I started with every other day, and within two weeks I was doing it nearly every day. In the last three weeks I’ve only missed 2 days. It really is a good feeling. This week I am on the 6 minute run and 90 second walk cycle.
        What I like most about this is it gave me a realistic starting point. I think if I had tried to run on my own I would have been disgusted with myself when I couldn’t even run for three minutes and I would have given up. This was so totally manageable. The first day of the new week I still feel like I’m going to die but I manage to complete it and the next day is so much better!
        Thanks so much for posting this. It really has changed my life…I’ll let you knwo how I’m doign when I am finished with my ten weeks!

  7. Hi! I just want to tell you I love this program! In the past I tried to get into running but would always try to jump into it too quickly, burn out then get discouraged and quit. This program has helped me not only get better physically but mentally also, I like that I get a bit in between to walk, it helps me stick with it. I can already run a mile without stopping and 2 miles in 20 mins and I keep improving! I’m working towards a 5k this summer! Good job at creating this program! Its very effective!

    • Hi Ashley,

      Wow. Thanks! Its great to get feedback like that. :-) I’m so glad it’s working for you. Running is such a great way to get fit and it’s so liberating. Humans were just meant to run – no equipment needed. Like you said, I think that most of us try to rush it and end up with injuries or feeling disappointed because we tried to do too much too quickly. Good luck for your 5K. And thanks again!

  8. I can’t wait to begin this workout. I want to run my first 5k in the next 3 to 4 months and I am embarrassed that running just a mile makes me feel exhausted. Will this program help me achieve my goal?

    • Kara,
      I started doing this program in February. I began with every other day, but soon found myself going every day. I just got back on after a week off for a small surgical procedure and found that I was a little sluggish, but I can tell you that I feel so much better while doing it…and I’m a girl who hasn’t run since she was in grade school.
      Good luck I hope it works out for you! My goal is to run a 5K sometime this year!

  9. I’ve just started out on this programme and it’s brilliant. I’m doing it every other day with other forms of exercise on the other days (jump rope or yoga) and after a week I’m already noticing a difference in my fitness levels. I can’t wait to see how I feel at the end of it!

    Thanks for this :)

  10. Hi, I have recently purchased a treadmill and am wondering if you should run at any kind of incline to simulated road running? Or just flat? I was told to put the machine on 2% is that correct?


    • Hi Mel,
      Lucky you! It’s good to set the treadmill to some sort of incline – 1% incline should be enough. Running at 0% is tantamount to running downhill, because the treadmill belt is propelling you forward and there is no wind resistance, as there would be if you were running outdoors. However, a 1% incline will compensate for the lack of wind resistance and the propelling belt, and make running on the treadmill more closely simulate an running outside. Have fun!

  11. OK, I’m a middle aged out of shape woman who’s been walking sporadically for several weeks, (never been a runner), but I’m inspired to try this!

  12. I have recently started running and love it so far. On the treadmil, I can run for about 6-7 minutes and then rest for a few minutes. I cant wait to try this though.

    My question is, I also do 2-3 classes at the gym a week (boot camp, spinning or strength classes). Would I be overdoing it if I ran on the days I wasn’t doing a class? I have a hard time giving up the strength classes but also don’t want to burn out by adding 4 days of running. Any suggestions would be great.

    • Hi Rachel,
      That’s great! Running in addition to your taking 2-3 classes a week is fine. Just make sure you take a day off to allow for recovery. Above all, listen to your body. Everyone is different and only you know how tired or energized you feel. You can always start with 3 days running and increase that to 4 days as you find it easier. Be flexible and plan your workouts around how you feel. Have fun running! Let me know how you get on with the program!

  13. Hey, I’ve finished week 1 on this and I’m progressing toward week 2, excellent program :D. On week 2 you seem to have done the math wrong though ( i think it’s supposed to be 2 minutes + 2 minutes times 5 = 20 minutes total). I’m not sure if you put that on purpose or if it was an accident.

    • Thanks Savannah! It is a typo! I’ll correct it. I’m glad you like the program, keep me posted on how it goes! Thanks again for letting me know. :-)

  14. Hey, I’ve been needing to get in shape for a while now and stumbled across your running program 😀 however, a few years ago, a ligament injury in my knee means that I have been advised against running. Would cycling at a steady pace on a relatively flat route/at the gym or using the cross-trainer have similar effects to this program as neither of these cause me too much hassle?? I already swim and take part in 2-3 classes a week. Thanks :)

  15. Hi! This plan looks great! I’ve been trying to get started running and I’ve just been too afraid that it will be too hard. This plan looks so manageable! Question….I’m going to be running on a treadmill, around what speed should I be running at? I don’t want it to be too strenuous so that I die off at the end. Thanks!

  16. Hi, I have a few questions… am not a runner, (but have always wanted to be) so every once in a while I try, I find that between the water. the Ipod, the phone, I always feel overwhelmed with everything I am carrying. but fill I need it all….Just wondering any suggestions on how to hold it all together?
    How are these runners keeping time? Just estimations?
    Is the 20 min not including 5-to10 min before and afters? So in reality we need to have about 30 to 40 minutes to do this correct? Thanks so much and looking forward to trying this out?

    • Hi Mandy, it sounds as though a running waist pack would suit your needs. You can put your key and phone in there. For the iPod an iPod armband would be ideal and as for the water you can get a runner’s water bottle that is shaped like an oval water bottle with a hole in it. :)
      There are quite a few interval training apps you can download to help keep time.
      The running program doesn’t include warm-up, so be sure to include a warm-up and cool-down!

  17. Hi Im 42 and so out of shape the only running I do is after my 3yr old son. I would love to start this program but scared and dont now were to start I have a treadmill would it be okay to start there?

  18. I am going to TRY this. I am NOT a runner, much more of a jogging gal, but I am willing to try. I am an EMT and busy as heck, so I am hoping to try to do this a couple times a week. thanks!

  19. Im not trying to run to lose weight. Im doing it to tone my legs and calfs. How long do i run for and how often? I dont wanna overdue it.

  20. i was just wondering if this is running/sprinting or jogging because i jog everyday for ten minutes so will it much harder to run? this looks like a great programme and i can’t wait to start tomorrow. i am in France the moment and it is 29 degrees so will it be much easier when i return home to Ireland ?

  21. Hi ! I wanna tone my legs , there aren’t fat, but i’d like to have skinny legs ;D.
    if I will do this program , won’t they build up ? sry for my english

  22. thx for posting this! i started this afternoon and already feel more selfconscious!

  23. I was wondering if there is a certain speed I should put my tred-mill on?

  24. I love fitness. I am more into youga and I have done 10 min trainer. I dream of running and enjoying it. I did not know how I would start to be successful at running. This is great information! I am going to start tomorrow! I want to be cardio fit and I want to slim my thighs and lift that butt! Running is going to be my new thing!!!

  25. what speed should I run at?

  26. Hello! My husband and I are going to start this program tomorrow! I am overweight and hopping to lose some weight with starting this. My husband just wants to tone things up…men… :) I am hoping this helps, I have tried every other diet and i am afraid i am like my mom, who lost 100 pounds by eating right and just running! so here it goes!!

    Thank you!!

    • You’re welcome! I’m sure you can do it! Your mother is great motivation and you have support from your husband. You sound as though you’ll be fine! Good luck & have fun! :) Let me know how it goes.

  27. Hi there. I’m 20 and I’ve been overweight (in all honesty, medically obese) for a large portion of my life–though I carry it decently well. I’ve had knee problems, and my patella will dislocate on occasion. Is running still a good option for me, or should I try to lose some weight before giving running a shot? I’m a bit over 200 pounds… :(

    • Hi Ally, you could start by walking first to lose weight. Also the elliptical machine allows for a challenging workout and is a great alternative to running. But the elliptical machine, unlike running, is low impact. An extra benefit is that it also feels easier than running and you can workout your upper and lower body on the elliptical. Running is high impact and stressful on the joints, which is why it’s particularly important to start running slowly and build up gradually. Definitely get advice from your healthcare professional before starting a new exercise plan and discuss with him/ her your thoughts about running. They’ll be super happy to help and support you on your fitness journey. Good luck! :)

  28. hi there, i just found this today and i have been walking for 20 min and only able to run for one min but i wasnt doing it this way, also was on the brink of giving it up as a bad joke. i am going to give this a try and cross fingers, my plan is to loose weight but also gain some confidence in myself i will keep you updated :)

    • Hi Megan,
      I’m glad you’re not going to give up! I really hope this helps you get into running. And remember, this running plan is just a guide. Some weeks you may find it harder, some easier. Just repeat a week or skip ahead. If you make your main goal to be a runner, you’ll lose weight, because you’ll keep it up. If you make your main goal weight loss, the whole process becomes harder, because you (understandably) want to lose weight fast and you’re more likely to get frustrated and give up (it’s why most people fail with diets or exercise geared just at weight loss). So your mindset sounds good to me, get into running, feel fit, strong and confident and your body will change all by itself. Just remember to watch portion sizes and learn the calorie contents of the foods you eat regularly, so you can keep an eye on your calorie intake. Good luck! Looking forward to hearing how it goes! :)

  29. Hello, I am an avid cyclist, but with winter fast approaching I wanted to change to running bc Id rather be out in the cold for an hour running than 3 to 4 hrs cycling. I started yesterday and ran a little over a mile w/o stopping and wondered if the walk/run was necessary for someone already in shape but not used to running specifically. My lungs could handle it but my legs felt like lead. Its been a few weeks since I quit cycling 80+ miles a week so I have lost some of my leg power, or since running is different they felt like that bc running is high impact and cycling is not. Any suggestions where someone like me should start? Thanks! Jill

    • Hi Jill!
      Try this fast-track running plan for people who are already fit, but beginner runners. Cardiovascularly you’re fit, but it takes time to become more efficient in terms of your running gait and for your leg muscles/ joints to adapt, strengthen and get used to the high impact of running. That’s why a run/ walk plan can help, it gives your body time to adapt and reduces the risk of injury. By all means, if you find some weeks too easy, skip ahead. But remember not only to take your cardiovascular system into consideration but your legs also. Hope this helps!

  30. thank you so much for this, i suck at general running and exercise, but would like to do it more often in order to lose weight. i’m currently on 3 min run 2 min walk and suprised at how easy and fun i find it! thank you so much :)

  31. I’ve decided to give this running program a try. I’ll be doing it every second day for the time being, as I do other exercise as well; I’ve always wanted to get into running though. I’m so excited, I just did my first day of this.

  32. I am so obessed with this website! Such amazing tips! I am going to start the Beginners Running program. :)

  33. Starting this beginner program. I like the baby steps, I dread running as its really outside my comefort zone. Reading the comments is really inspiring. I have marked off the 10 weeks on my calendar, and hope to be encouraging someone else in the next two months.

    • Hey Jared,
      Yes! I really hope you’ll love it! Remember that it’s a guide. So if you need to adapt it to your needs, by all means do so. For example, some weeks you may want to skip a week, other weeks you may want to repeat a week. Listen to your body. Good luck! I look forward to hearing your success story in a couple months! :)

  34. ,Hi, just read the program, I am 59 over weight , out of shape, one bad knee, but I am going to give this program a try. I have always wanted to be a runner, but was afraid to start. any suggestions as to how to run on a treadmill, it just feels very akward. Its been very icey and cold, as soon as the weather breaks, I will be outside. Thanks again for any suggestions

  35. Hi,

    I am looking to adopt this plan you’ve created above, I used to go to a personal trainer and lost 30 inches but had to stop due to an ENT operation. I went to sign up to go back and his prices are just far too expensive now. I am looking to take up running as my partner loves it too and it would be a great thing to do together (He runs 2 miles four times a week) but I dont want to slow him down. I am overweight, so do you think it is best to try this plan or try doing each cycle over 2 weeks? so 1 min run then 2 min walk(X7) for two weeks or should I just try doing it in one week?

    I took part in a 5k last year and power walked the entire race, but this year I am hoping to run majority if not all of it.

    many thanks.

  36. i cnt go out as am a bit shy.no1 s willing 2acompany me.could u plz tell if i could spot jog or jog in circles insid d room.plz suggest.

    • Hey Tracy,
      Running in the same spot will help improve your cardiovascular fitness and will burn calories, but it isn’t really the same as running as you can’t “run” like you would outdoors. Your stride length would be much shorter because you’re remaining in the same place or are confined to a small space. Basically you’re not able to stretch your legs out in front of you as you would when you’re running. But start small – start with indoor exercises and as you get more confident, go outside for 5 or even 10 minutes at a time with a family member for support. You don’t have to do 30 minutes. Take it slowly and your confidence will grow! Good luck with everything! 😉

  37. Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for posting this!! I found this website through pintrest and it is exactly what my weight loss plan needed! I have an athletic build so it’s pretty easy for me to adapt to a workout, even though I haven’t worked out in years. I just recently got motavated to loose the weight and get fit, and now I am really excited! This running plan along with the Podrunner app on my ipod will get me through this. :)

    thanks agian!

  38. starting tomorrow and am very excited. This program is so realistic. Thank you for creating it.

  39. hi its makaila im going to start on monday and i really hpe this works cause i have tried everything and nothing seems to work but thats ok so yeah :]

  40. I want to participate in a 5K this May 4. My plan is to start this today (seeing as how I have 7 weeks until the run). My question is, if I start this and follow it to the ‘t’ along with adjusting my run/walk based on how I see my body performing, do u think I will be prepared to run the 5K?? I don’t care how long it takes me to finish the 5K, just as long as I finish the run without stopping to walk. I’m 35 years old and about 20 lbs over my ideal weight.

  41. I recently have lost 10lbs so far in my weight loss journey and was looking for a way to build my stamina plus I needed something to help me bust this plateau! lol I’ve only got 15 lbs to go! I’m starting this today! Why wait?!!! Thanks so much! I’ll check in weekly!

  42. I just started the 10 week beginners running program. Yesterday was day 1 and I am so proud that I was able to do it. It was not easy, but I was able to get through it. I am 50-years-old and have wanted to run for quite some time. I would like to do a marathon at some point in my life. I will keep you posted on my progress.

  43. Starting today… let us see how far i reach…. 😉

  44. This program is great!!! Thank you very much :) this is my 4th week and I’m doing it very good. good luck to all :)))

  45. Thanks for posting this! Would you also recommend this “beginners” program for people resuming activities after injury? I just had my torn ACL repaired and I’m itching to get back to running so I’m praying my PT will approve of doing something regimented like this once I’m cleared to run! If anyone’s in the same boat comment and let me know what ya think

    • Hi Stephanie, make sure to clear any running program with your physio/ doctor first. You don’t want to get back into running too early and then suffer further setbacks! Wishing you a speedy recovery! :)

  46. Alright. Its time for feedback. This program works. Its easy. It gives one time to adapt. There were times i refused to get up in the morning and there were times i thought i would not make it at all. Just a little self doubt. Stick to the program. It worked for me. It will work for anyone else.

  47. I am planning on starting this tomorrow as it is the first of the month! I have really wanted to start running and this sounds like a great easier, great way to start out. Im not much of a runner, never have been but my goal for this year at some time is to run at least a 2k run locally and finish. I will try and keep you updated on progress! Thanks very much!

  48. I’m new to running but I am active. I go on the elliptical for 60 minutes 4-5 times per week so now would it be easier to run on a track (which I’m assuming it would) but if I’m new to running is it ok to run in my development. There are hills but I’m thinking I would stick to the roads that are a little more flat. Just curious on what most beginners would do

  49. Sorry but one point of confusion: “All it requires on your part is the commitment to go out and run 3, preferably 5 times, a week. Depending on how often you are running, try to allow for a day of recovery between runs. For example, if you are running 4 times a week, avoid running 4 consecutive days.” If it’s preferrable to run 5 times a week, how do we implement that in a 7-day week?

    Thanks, I’m not trying to be a smart-alec, just trying to make sure I’m following the strategy correctly.

    • Hi Ann,
      Basically, all it means is try to avoid consecutive days of running where possible. As an example, if you’re running 5 days a week, rather than running Monday through to Friday, run Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri, Sat, with Wednesday and Sunday off. Hope that makes things a bit clearer!

  50. I just finished my 2nd week and I feel good. I was adjusting my app that times my walking and running and just realized that for my second week instead of 5 sets, I did 7 sets since I forgot to change it, oh well more exercise. My first day, I remember that when it got close to 1 min of running I already was tired and wanted to stop…and it was only the 1st set. By the end of the week I didn’t feel tired at all. This week was the same my lasts sets were the ones where I wanted to stop…the ones I accidently added on…but I kept with it even though I was a lot slower then when I started the sets. I’m a little afraid of week 3 but I’m going to try and report back.

  51. Hey guys, good luck to everyone doing this beginner’s program. I’ve wanted to be a runner for some time now and I’m extremely happy that I came across this site. I think it’s the best that I’ve found, everything one could possibly want to know about fitness is here. Thank you guys so much for providing this tool for us! I need clarification on one thing, I know that we should have a rest day in between runs but wanted to know if I’m doing 5 days a week is it ok to take the same days off every week ex: run Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri, Sat, with Wed and Sun off or should I switch up my off days? Any suggestions would help, thanks!

  52. If we do this exercise on a treadmill, how fast should be the running and walking?!

    • Hi, there is no specific pace that you should set the treadmill at. It varies from person to person. It’s more about what feels comfortable for you. So run at a pace that allows you to run for the prescribed time and then recover during the walk period. Basically you’re looking to run at a moderate pace (about 60 – 70% maximum heart rate). It’s not so much about speed as about how you feel. You should be able to finish your running workout feeling challenged, but not completely exhausted. Good luck! Keep us posted on your progress! I hope you’ll love running as much as we do! :)

  53. How can I start running first what would be the best for a beginner????????

  54. Is there a watch that Gould be used to help one keep up with the timing?

  55. Is there an app for timing?

  56. Hi ! I need some help and I hope you answer this. I really want to loose weight and burn fat, especially on my thighs. Is this a good one for burning thigh fat or does it build muscles? And how should I do if I want to work my butt because if I do squats and lunges it will affect my thighs and it will build muscles. How should I do? Should I just run or do these intervals ? Thankful for any answer.

  57. Hey! I just finished my first day today and I have some questions.
    What if i’m interested in running 7 days a week, would that be wise or should i not do it no matter how pumped I am?
    I’m not technically ‘out of shape’, but i’m not in the best of shape either.

    Also, would this help with weight loss? I’m interested in being overall physically fit but also hopefully shed some pounds along the way. 8)

  58. Oh my goodness ty! I started this 3 weeks ago, I’ve been eating healthy, and I already have lost 7 lbs!

  59. Hi! I have been going to a crossfit gym 4 times a week and have a BMI of 21, am 5’6” with 17.5% body fat at 133 pounds. However, I used to be a BMI of 19 or 20 and weigh 125….I like that my thighs are shaping up more with the workouts at crossfit, however, I have gained 8 pounds, my thighs are getting really big (for me), and yet I don’t feel like the fat is coming off so now my pants don’t fit. I hate running, but I started today with the beginner’s running plan and am excited to try it. Do you think I should go to this crossfit gym 3x per week, run the other 3 days for 20 minutes and then rest one day? We do a ton of deadlifts, squatting, rowing, lunges, etc. that bulk the thigh and I read the post on how to slim muscular thighs as I’m definitely a mesomorph and am thinking this cardio plan may help? But some places on your site say 20-30 minutes is good other places say 40-60 is good, which is it? and how many times a week is good? Thank you! Amazing amazing amazing wonderful helpful inspiring site!

  60. hi..am looking forward to this. i have just started training two days ago and am feeling great. thank you for this programme.

  61. Do you have a down load that. Times the run & walk?

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