How to Get in Shape to Run Three Miles

Women running on beach
Take it slow and work your way up to three miles over time. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Three miles is nothing to a track star, but if you are a running novice, the distance may seem insurmountable. If you are an otherwise healthy person, you can run three miles if you commit to consistent training. Start with a short distance and work your way up to longer runs. Consider registering for a 5K race -- just over three miles -- so you can work toward a goal.

Step 1

Invest in proper shoes. You don't have to spend money on fancy gym clothes, but a good pair of running shoes is an essential part of injury prevention. Visit a sporting goods store and ask a salesperson to help you select running-specific shoes with a good fit and proper support.

Step 2

Make a plan. In order to get in shape, you'll have to commit to a workout most days of the week. Look for openings in your daily schedule. If necessary, get up an hour early so you'll have time to run.

Step 3

Start with intervals. If you are new to fitness, you probably won't be able to run a full three miles. Instead, begin by cycling through running and walking intervals. Since you have a goal of three miles, use distances instead of times. For example, you might start by running 200 yards, then walking 200 yards, running 400 yards and walking 400 yards -- and then repeat the cycle twice.

Step 4

Take it slowly. It may take months before you are able to run three miles without stopping or walking. Going too far too fast puts you at risk of injury. Increase your distance by a quarter of a mile each week and gradually decrease your walking interval. For example, you might complete six cycles of quarter-mile runs and quarter-mile walks with each workout for one week. The following week, do a quarter mile of running and walking, then do two half-mile runs broken up by quarter-mile walks.

Step 5

Be consistent. Plan to run five or six times a week even if you don't do a full three miles with each workout.

Things You'll Need

  • Running shoes

  • Notebook

Tip

Warm up with five to 10 minutes of light aerobic exercise, such as marching in place or jumping jacks, or start your workout with a warm-up walk and transition to the run-walk routine. Cool down with another five to 10 minutes of light aerobic exercise followed by static stretches.

Keep a workout log. Record the type of interval you completed and the time it took to finish. A log will help you monitor your progress and will keep you accountable.

Warning

Listen to your body. Minor aches and pains and sore muscles are normal side effects of exercising, but sharp pain is a sign you've done too much. Stop running and seek medical care immediately if you can't breathe or experience stabbing or burning pain . Talk to your physician before beginning a running program if you are new to exercise or have a health problem.

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