Beginning Running Plan for Twice a Week

Woman Wearing a Pink Vest Jogging Through a Park
Commit to two days a week and your running will quickly improve. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Running has many benefits -- improving your cardiovascular fitness, losing weight, reducing your risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke -- but it’s hard work. If you’re new to running, commit to two weekly training sessions and start slowly. Running is great for exercisers on a limited time budget. Thirty minutes of running at 6 mph burns about 300 calories for a 160-pound person, compared to only 150 calories if the same person walked at 4 mph. If you're struggling with any medical conditions, consult your doctor first.

Basics

Running’s low cost of entry appeals to thrifty exercisers. All you need is a decent pair of shoes, some shorts or sweatpants and a safe place to run. You should replace your shoes every 300 miles, as their shock absorption powers decrease over time. Schedule time for your runs. As a beginner, 30 minutes should be sufficient. Decide if you’ll run from your doorstep, close to your workplace or somewhere else. Running in daylight is safer, but if you must run in the dark, be sure to wear reflective clothing or lights.

Running and Walking Intervals

Going from the couch-dwelling lifestyle straight to sprinting is not safe. Instead, you’ll need to ease into running. The best way to do this is to start off walking. Once you can comfortably walk for 30 minutes straight, you can add jogging intervals. You can plan your intervals by time or distance, for example, jogging for 30 seconds, then walking for one minute. Or, try jogging for one block, then walking for two. Over time, you can progress to a one-to-one jogging-to-walking ratio. As you run, keep your shoulders and arms relaxed, and your elbows bent. When you finish your walk/run, spend a few minutes stretching your legs and back.

Speed Intervals

Eventually you’ll be able to comfortably jog for 30 minutes straight. When this begins to feel easy, challenge yourself by doing speed intervals. Just as you did with walking and running, now you can increase your speed for half a minute before returning to your comfortable pace. This is an especially helpful technique if you decide to enter 5Ks or other races and want to improve your time. As your workouts get harder, be sure to take a couple of rest days in between.

Other Training

Ideally you should exercise more than twice a week. In addition to your running days, add a day of a different cardio activity, such as cycling or swimming. Strength training also benefits runners. Personal trainer Ed Bauer recommends incorporating pullups, deadlifts, squats and other resistance exercises into your training regimen to improve your agility, power and balance. He also suggests varying your running time and distance to keep workouts fresh.

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