HomeRunning4 Week Running Plan – Fast-Track Beginners Running Program

4 Week Running Plan – Fast-Track Beginners Running Program

4 week beginners running plan

This running plan is for beginners to go from 0 to running 30 minutes nonstop – in 4 weeks (for a comprehensive weight loss plan see here).

WHO SHOULD FOLLOW THIS RUNNING PROGRAM?

This plan is suitable for beginners who are fit and have exercised before (e.g. cycling, rowing, etc.), but are novice runners. Therefore, you should be able to walk briskly for 30 minutes several times a week before you start this program. If you can’t, start with the 10-week plan for beginners.

If you are already able to run, then join the program at the appropriate level. However, consider that being able run for 10 minutes nonstop once a week is easier than running it 4 times per week. Therefore, be objective. This program is only 4 weeks long anyway. That’s nothing. Hopefully you’ll be running regularly lifelong.

Your aim is to make small, consistent steps, not huge leaps. Running isn’t something you learn and the next day you can run. Progression is gradual. Your body has to adapt to the high-impact of running. This doesn’t happen instantly. With every run, your joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones get stronger and more robust. You slowly adapt and improve your running style to be more efficient and rhythmical. It is then that you really start to enjoy running.

RUNNING INTENSITY

During the running phase of the workout, you should be running at moderate intensity. This corresponds to about 70% of maximum heart rate and you should be able to pass the “talk test”. Passing the “talk test means that you are able to speak in sentences, if running with a running partner. However, if you can only answer in one word grunts you are running too fast. On the other hand, you should not be able to carry on long conversation and give paragraph style answers.

RUNNING & RECOVERY

4 Week running plan/ how to run

Try to allow for a day of recovery between your running workouts and avoid running 4 consecutive days. It is during recovery that your body adapts to the stress of the workout by getting stronger and fitter. This goes for your leg muscles, as much as for your heart and lungs. This is why you want to progress slowly, because you need to stress your body with small stresses. You body recovers, adapts, becomes stronger. This is progression. However, if you place too great a strain on your body, you become tired, sore and risk injury. As you become increasingly athletic, your body becomes accustomed to the cycle of stress and recovery and you require less time to recover from your previous run. Also, check out the infographic on running form.

the RUNNING PROGRAM

This is a 4-week run/ walk plan consisting of 4 workouts a week. If you only manage to fit 3 workouts into one week, add it to the following week. If you move on to the next week but don’t feel able to do the workout, stay on the previous level until you’re ready. Don’t worry about it. Listen to your body and go at your own pace. Some people will repeat a workout early on and then whiz through the rest without problem, others may find the fourth week more challenging and some may have no problems at all. Everyone is different.

Don’t forget to stretch before and after your workout. Also, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have a medical condition.

WEEK 1

Warm-up
Walk
Run-Walk Plan
Cool-down
Walk
Total Duration
1st
10 min
1 min run, 1 min walk (5x)
10 min
30 min
2nd
10 min
1 min run, 1 min walk (7x)
5 min
29 min
3rd
10 min
2 min run, 1 min walk (5x)
5 min
30 min
4th
5 min
2 min run, 1 min walk (7x)
4 min
30 min

WEEK 2

Warm-up
Walk
Run-Walk Plan
Cool-down
Walk
Total Duration
1st
5 min
3 min run, 1 min walk (5x)
5 min
30 min
2nd
5 min
5 min run, 2 min walk (3x)
4 min
30 min
3rd
4 min
5 min run, 1 min walk (4x)
2 min
30 min
4th
5 min
8 min run, 3 min walk (2x)
3 min
30 min

WEEK 3

Warm-up
Walk
Run-Walk Plan
Cool-down
Walk
Total Duration
1st
5 min
10 min run, 5 min walk, 5 min run
5 min
30 min
2nd
5 min
12 min run, 3 min walk, 5 min run
5 min
30 min
3rd
10 min
15 min run
5 min
30 min
4th
6 min
18 min run
6 min
30 min

WEEK 4

Warm-up
Walk
Run-Walk Plan
Cool-down
Walk
Total Duration
1st
5 min
20 min run
5 min
30 min
2nd
5 min
22 min run
3 min
30 min
3rd
3 min
25 min run
2 min
30 min
4th
2 min
30 min run
2 min
30 min

 

54 comments

  1. What the is running speed? (treadmill speed…)

    • Speed isn’t important in beginner running programs, it only becomes more important later at the intermediate level. Beginners should focus on running for 30 minutes continuously. In order to gauge whether you are pushing yourself hard enough, or too hard, you can monitor your heart rate or simply go by how you feel. If you’re pushing too hard, reduce speed or the length of the running interval. If you’re not pushing hard enough increase speed or the length of the running interval. Generally healthy beginners can aim to exercise at moderate-intensity. Read about exercise intensity/ training zones here. Basically, it’s a process of trial and error. By the time you finish the first workout, you’ll have a good idea of how fast to run in order to get through the workout.

      I guess the short answer to your question is: whatever speed gets you through the workout – and that varies from person to person. It may seem very slow if you’re comparing yourself with seasoned runners. But they too had to start somewhere. Just listen to your body and you’ll get there! Good luck and have fun!

  2. Hii :]
    I just want to say your website is fantastic and I have learnt so much from it :]

    Secondly, I have finally completed the 4 week running plan and I feel fantastic so thank you :]

    however…I have got a slight problem now..I keep getting blisters on the arches of my feet :( I am going to buy some more running trainer’s as I feel I need more support when I run so I’m hoping this may tackle my blister problem..if it doesn’t, I haven’t got a clue what I could do?

    I do wear the correct running socks as well

    • Thanks Stacey! It’s great to get positive feedback! I’m glad you’ve completed the 4 week running plan and are loving it! Isn’t running awesome?

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re suffering with blisters. Blisters are generally caused by
      1) Running shoes that are too small or tied too tightly.
      2) Friction, e.g. between the sock and the skin.
      3) Sweaty feet/ wet conditions that generate a lot of moisture.

      To prevent blisters:
      1) Because your feet swell during running, your running shoe should be a 1/2 size bigger than your normal shoe size.
      2) Buy running socks, which are made out of synthetic fabrics that suck the moisture away from the feet, which reduces friction between the sock and feet. Make sure that the socks are seamless and smooth. If you’ve got those already and are still getting blisters, try double-layer running socks.
      3) Also, try putting a little Vaseline or Body Glide on the area you get the blisters.

      I hope these tips help. Good luck and happy running!

  3. Hi – I have been running for about 8 months now and am at this 1 mile hurdle. I can do about a 7.5 mile but then I just can’t breath. My body could go on for another two miles but my throat feels like it is closing up. Granted I can take a break, walk about 1/2 mile then pick up running again.

    I feel like I should be running 3 miles easily at this point.

    • Is it possible that you have exercise induced asthma?

    • This is exactly what I have and it seems like you also have it. Exercise induced asthma. It’s fairly common even amongst athletes. Mention it to your doctor describing your symptoms and he/she will probably prescribe you an inhaler to bring along. It says do two puffs as needed, and I’ve found doing two before cardio and two after does the trick.
      Hope this helps and hope you mention it to your doctor. It’s a pain in the ass but solvable. I hated running before I figured out I had it. It’s like your body could go on but your lungs aren’t letting you breathe in enough. I feel you, it sucks. Inhaler will help sooo much.

  4. It looks like a fantastic workout, I’d like to get back to running, have more motivation than participation but am excited to get started. I have a rather flat foot and I’ve tried a running program before but I always get caught up in the pain in my feet and have to stop. My heart rate is good, my breathing is good, my legs feel good but my feet kill so I have to stop. I’ve tried a few different runners from Nike, Addidas, even bought some five-fingers. Any suggestions??

    • I’m glad you’re loving running! Buying the right running shoes is important, and if you’ve got problems with your feet even more so. It’s impossible to recommend a shoe on the info you’ve given me, as there are a lot of factors to consider. Personally I’ve got a pair of Asics Gel Kayano running shoes which I love. But everyone’s different. Still, Asics is worth looking at generally. Check out this Runner’s World database of running shoes here, which will give you a list of running shoes based on your needs. If you’re not happy trying on a new shoes/ still have problems after buying a new pair of running shoes, it may be worth seeing a podiatrist. See here for more info on sports podiatry and running shoes. Hope this helps!

  5. Hi again :]

    Well like i stated above I completed the 4 week course and felt fantastic…about a week later i sprained my right ankle (grade 1 sprain ) and since then I haven’t been able to run properly :(
    and after a couple of weeks of resting it (by resting i mean no running..however, I still did crosstraining and spinning classes), I just can’t seem to get my body back into running.

    I have bought some new trainers (asics gel virage) and they do feel really comfortable but everytime I try push myself to go back onto the tredmill I’m scared I will hurt my ankle again :( my right shin is starting to play up again now as well. ahh..

    I already do a lot of cardio ( 4 spinning sessions a week and go to the gym twice a day, 6 days a week) so maybe my muscles are feeling the effects..?

    anyway.. any tips on how i can be cured and run again? haha

    • Hi Stacey,

      I don’t know how long your workout sessions are, but 2 workouts 6 days a week may be quite a lot. To avoid over-training remember to allow your body sufficient time to recover and repair after your workouts. In any case, if your ankle is still feeling weak, you should speak to your doctor/ physio. There may be an underlying issue that caused the ankle sprain in the first place and needs to be addressed, such as poor flexibility, a weak muscle/ tendon or lax ligaments to just name a few. Good luck! I hope you get it sorted! :-)

  6. Hi

    Thanks for replying :]

    My workout sessions are about 7 hours apart eg one in morning, one in the evening.

    but yeah ill speak to my physio about it :]

    Thanks for the advice :]

  7. Hi thxs soooo much looking forward to starting this program!
    however at the start of 2012 i did 75mins of exercise 4 times a week for a month usually without a wamup routine before and after and i started getting pains in my body i stopped for 2 months and i did the week 1, 1st workout today and most of my pains have left but a few remain

    do you have any tips on how i can put a stop to them?

    and also should i drinka protein drink after each workout?\

    • Hi Lalita,

      Glad you’re going to start the program! Let me know how you get on!

      Sounds like you overdid things at the start of the year. A warm-up and cool-down routine are really important to avoid injury. Also, you need to start slowly if you haven’t exercised for a while and really work your way up to long intense sessions. The thing is, the body learns really quickly and in just a couple of week you can make huge gains. So, listen to your body and take it slow! In terms of your pains, you haven’t really explained what type of pain you have and where it is. In any case, you should check it out with your doctor or a physio to make sure everything is fine. If you’re injured, haven’t fully healed and start exercising again you risk injury. Yes, a protein shake with some carbs is a great idea to help recovery after a workout. Good luck and get yourself checked out!

  8. I think I am going to start this 4 week regimen. I have some flabby thighs and I am looking to tone them. Seems like everything I have read all relates back to running. So, here I go. I know several people that run and they have all slimmed down. Will I get the same affects from running outside as I do on a treadmill?

    • Hi Dawn!
      It really depends on you. Some people love running outside, but loathe running on the treadmill, and vice versa. For all intents and purposes it is the same. Run where you feel most comfortable and that is what’ll give you maximum results. Have fun! And good luck!

  9. I have started this running program and I am on Day 2!! Yay! It is perfect for me. 30 minutes is very accessible. I am really hoping to see it through the 4 weeks and learn to enjoy running…Thank you for this.It’s fab:)

  10. I’ve just finished week 2 and am really in love with this program. When I began I could hardly run a minute without running out of breath and now after finishing my runs I feel as if i could go longer. Can’t wait to see my results after week 4!

  11. This running workout looks doable and I can’t wait to get started.. I just started my own fitness blog and would love for you to check it out at http://www.imperfectventure.blogspot.com

    I need followers to help keep me motivated! thanks!

  12. I am starting this program tomorrow and am looking forward to see the results. I have never been a runner but my husband is. He wants me to do an 8K with him in November. I am a previous smoker (stopped almost 7 months ago) and have gained about 7 or 8 pounds since quitting. Im hoping this will help me lose a few pounds. Right now, I run out of breath very quickly….hopefully this will help. Thanks!

  13. I just finished day 2. I hope to see this through. I always see people running and wish I could do it.
    My goal is to lose weight. I think I can do this…..I’m going to give it a try….thanks. Enjoy it so far

    • Hi Patsy,
      That’s great! The awesome thing about running, is that once you get into it you tend to keep going, even after you’ve lost weight. So you’re far more likely to keep the weight off and probably get more fit and toned than you had ever imagined! :)

  14. Hello,

    First off, I would like to thank you for this awesome re-introduction to running program! I love it and can feel myself getting stronger and more & more fit after each run. I have 1 day left and am so excited that I’ve met this personal goal of mine, however, I was wondering what you recommend after this is over to help stay maintained from here on out.

    • Hi Beth,
      Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m so glad that you like it and it worked for you! Now that you’ve completed the 4 weeks I’d say just keep pushing and improving. Train for a 5K and after that maybe a 10K and who knows… Whether it’s just to keep fit and improve, or to actually compete, training for a goal such as this really helps. You don’t have to race, but if you do, don’t worry about beating other people (this is about you, not other people!), but use it as a goalpost to keep moving forward. Charity runs are especially nice because it’s for a cause and the camaraderie is great, be it between strangers or running with friends. A running program for a 5K/ 10K etc. isn’t just about running a longer distance, but also improving speed. So it’s a really nice way to keep moving forward and slowly (and non-threateningly!) learning more. And as I mentioned before, you don’t have to enter a race, just use it as the next step of your running program. I’ve been planning to post a running program for a while to continue on from this one, but haven’t got round to it yet. Hopefully soon! :) Anyway, hope this helps! I’m so happy you liked the program! For some reason positive feedback on the running plans always makes my day! :)

  15. Thanks again! I used to run 5k’s quite often, but it’s been years and your program was just the extra push I needed to get myself going again. A 5K that I used to run every November but haven’t run in 2 or 3 years is the goal for next month… Wish me luck :)

  16. Hi,
    I am 26 and i hated running all my live. I have always done other sports but running was painfull and i couldnt even maintain my balance on the treadmill…
    That was untill i came across your website… :) Today I have copleted 4 week running program and run for 30 mins constant! :) I am so happy and thankful for all the informations on your webside. You can read a lot of nonsens on the internen those days and your blog is just so stright forward, very motivating and enjoyable to read. Thank you again and i just hope I can keep up with my trining now! :)

    • Hey Kaya,
      Thanks for your amazing feedback! :) I’m so glad to hear that you like the running program and enjoy running now! Keep pushing forward and set new goals! Run longer, run faster, run a 5K! You’ve done the hardest bit – building up to running 30 minutes continuously! Go luck with everything! And thank you so much for taking time to share your success story – I’m sure it doesn’t just motivate me, but also motivates those who are thinking about taking up running but might have doubts about whether they can do it. You’re proof that they can! Thanks again! :)

  17. Hi, I have signed up for a 5K and plan to start your 4 week plan. I have recently lost 73lbs with changing my eating habits and exercise. I have never been a runner, usually swim, play racquetball, weights and other cardio. Since I have incorporated exercise back into my life I want to try and challenge myself plus change up my exercise. Wondering if you have a training outline to prepare for a 5k?

    Thank you,
    Colleen

  18. I am excited to try this program. I have been wanting to start running again but have been intimidated by my “runner” friends who are much farther along in the process. How do you feel about weight training while doing this program? I like to incorporate free weights into my routine and am wondering if i could do the “leg” workout on the days I am not running. Thanks again for this program-I am doing it in the morning!

    • Hi Amy,
      Absolutely! Adding weight training into the mix is great! Just be sure to start off easy so that you’re not so sore the next day that you don’t feel like running. Just listen to your body. Here’s a great article on balancing weight training and running. Good luck! Keep me posted! :)

  19. I am wondering whether this program can make my thighs smaller ( mesomorph ) or larger ? Does this program can make me lose weight ?

    • Hey Victoria,
      Running slims down thighs, just be sure to run on the flat. Read these tips to slim thighs. Running will also help you lose weight, but you still need to watch your calorie intake. In other words, you need to make sure that you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning. Use this calorie calculator to determine your calorie intake.

      • Thank you so much for replying! It makes me feel that I’m cared/concerned. I just have one quick question. I’m at the 4th week of the program and I feel really great – AWESOME ! Anyhow my question is, when I run should I take little steps or extend my legs to shape it?

        • Hey Victoria, that’s great news!
          Your question is basically about optimum stride length. With distance running (as opposed to sprinting) stride length tends to be shorter. A shorter stride means a lighter stride, making running easier. Also you want to avoid overstriding (taking too big a step), as that can result in injury over time. You should aim to maintain good running form, which includes landing on the mid-foot area. When you take large steps you’re more likely to land on your heel and fail to bend your knee to help absorb the impact. To recap:

          1. Your feet should land directly underneath your body (rather than pushing out the lower leg), preventing you landing on your heel with a straight (extended) knee.
          2. As your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly bent so that it can naturally absorb impact when hitting the ground.
          3. If your lower leg extends out in front of your body, your stride is probably too long.

          I hope this answers your question! :)

  20. This program is absolutely amazing. When I started it about four weeks ago, the first few days were a real challenge for me. Yesterday I ran the 30 min along with 5k and I feel so much fitter now. Thanks! :)

  21. Would love to seeing a training programme for half marathon. I’m not a runner, but am reasonably fit and am considering doing a half marathon in aug, 2013. Should I start with the 4 week training programme?

    • I’ve been meaning to do a marathon/ half marathon training program that progresses on from the beginner running plans. Hopefully soon!

      This 4 week training plan is for people you are already fit, but not runners, so it sounds like it should be a great way for you to get into running. Once completed you could switch over to a half marathon plan.
      Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

  22. Hey,

    I was so happy to find this program, cause I found running a bit boring before. This looked like fun and I was like I can do that :) So I took my shoes, iPhone with a running app and went out. It was awesome. I felt like I could do a bit more, but I decided to take little steps and not to die in the end :) But today I am starting week 2 and I have to say I’m a bit nervous I won’t manage those 3 minutes :/ Can’t even imagine I will make those 30 minutes on the last day :O

    But I’ll try my best, hopefully it’ll work out!

    So what I wanted to say was thank you for this program and the whole site I love it, I never get enough browsing it :)

    • Hi Lenka,
      Awesome! I’m glad you went out and just started. That’s the hardest bit. Thanks so much for the positive feedback! Good luck with the rest of the program and let us know how you get on! :)

  23. lose the fat

  24. I want to thank you for this AWESOME program, that helped me get back into running shape. I’ve just completed the 4th week and i feel great. I can run for more than 30 min and i plan to do just that in the spirit of this program.
    Thank You again ^^

  25. Hello,

    I’m fairly active in the cardio department, but I usually do zumba and aerobic classes. I’m willing to include yet another activity – running since I think I enjoy it big time, I just have never followed a proper program.
    I have a question though: How many calories (on average) does a workout of this kind burn? I understand it can vary, but an average number would suffice.

    Thanks!

  26. I want to thank you so much for this program! 4 short weeks ago I looked at the final goal and thought that it seemed impossible. I used to be in track, but that was 5 years ago and I was never a long distance runner. I have not exercised regularly for over 4 years and I just gained about 20 pounds during my first semester of college. I never thought the “Freshman 15″ (or Freshman 20 in my case) would happen to me! I am so happy that I ran across this program because I wanted to start liking running again. I dreaded it at the beginning, but after every day, I was so excited about the longer times I had accomplished. I wanted to quit so many times but I didn’t and I am so happy that I accomplished running 30 minutes straight!!! Now my goal is to improve my speed and run even longer distances. I want to train to run a 5K this summer. Thanks again, this program is amazing :)

  27. Hey, I’m new to this do you have to do this each day or every other day or does it even matter i wanna look good for summer time and I just wanna know how to do this quickly

  28. i finished the program about a week ago, and i’m really happy, i managed to do it without having to repeat a day, and now i’m running not just plains but also with a few up and downhills, so thank you for making this.

  29. very inspiring and very helpful to me, thank you

  30. I just started running as a part of my weight loss plan, it kinda grows on me.
    Nice plan, I might give it a try next week.

    Thanks,
    Cristian

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