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A beginner's running plan — a plan that will get you running for 30 minutes, in six weeks

Running workout with man and woman on a trail
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You don’t need much to get started with our beginner’s running plan. With just a little motivation and patience, you’ll be running for 30 minutes solid in around six weeks. Even if you’ve never run before, this plan will ensure you’re ready to hit the parks, streets, or even your first 5K race (find more on how to run a 5K here). 

There are a few things you might want to consider before starting — make sure your footwear is up to the job and comfortable for your feet, we've found the best running shoes and the best women's running shoes here. Also, have a think about the best phone holders for running, as you might want to document your journey with photos, listen to music, or just have a phone to hand for safety. 

If you like listening to music, consider some headphones, and don’t forget a handheld water bottle so you can keep hydrated on the move.

Beginner running tips from a coach 

Run Coach Chris Ford (opens in new tab) trains many first-time runners, and he encourages starting off slow: “The key to starting out in your running journey is not to go too far and too fast,” he says.

“I see many new runners start out, and then in four weeks, they’ve got injuries like shin splints or runner’s knee because they’re running too fast and for too long. The beginner runners I work with keep it very simple. We build up the time on feet and don’t worry about the distance.  

It’s important when you begin to understand that walking for set periods is an important part of the training. Speed doesn’t matter at this stage and if your run is just slightly above walking pace, that’s okay. It’s all about persistence. The longer you stick at it, the stronger and faster you’ll become. 

Ford says: “Picking a place to run to is another good tip, I use this a lot as you have the comfort of a goal and a place you are familiar with. Start off with a very easy pace, literally as slow as you can run for a minute or two and then walk (a fast walk). Make these walking breaks targeted and strategic – after a run period, and for a set time you know before you set out.

“By controlling this process you’ll build that aerobic base nice and easy, and soon you’ll have the foundations and confidence to increase running and the time on your feet. 

a photo of a man running

(Image credit: Getty/skaman306)

Six-week beginner’s running plan

Before you start your run training, it’s important to warm up, so before every session, make sure you do a fast walk for at least a minute to get your body prepared for the run ahead. This way you’ll be less likely to pick up an injury, and your body will adapt better to the exercises.

Equally, after a session, try some gentle stretching or a slow walk where you can regulate your breathing and cool down. Where there is the option to cross-train in the plan below, try swimming, walking, or any activity where you are moving for longer than 15 minutes.

Week one plan

  • Monday: Run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat four times. 
  • Tuesday:  Rest or cross-train. 
  • Wednesday: Run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat three times.
  • Thursday: Rest. 
  • Friday: Run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat three times. 
  • Saturday: Rest or cross-train. 
  • Sunday: Rest.

Week two plan

  • Monday: Run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat. 
  • Tuesday: Rest or cross-train. 
  • Wednesday: Run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat three times. 
  • Thursday: Rest. 
  • Friday: Run 6 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat. 
  • Saturday: Rest or cross-train.
  • Sunday: Rest.

Week three plan

  • Monday:  Run 7 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat. 
  • Tuesday: Rest or cross-train.
  • Wednesday: Run 7 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat three times.
  • Thursday: Rest.
  • Friday: Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat.
  • Saturday: Rest or cross-train.
  • Sunday: Rest.

Week four plan

  • Monday: Run 10 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat.
  • Tuesday: Cross-train.
  • Wednesday: Run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat three times.
  • Thursday: Rest.
  • Friday: Run 12 minutes, walk 2 minutes, run 10 minutes.
  • Saturday: Rest or cross-train.
  • Sunday: Rest.

Week five plan

  • Monday: Run 15 minutes, walk 2 minutes, run 10 minutes.
  • Tuesday: Cross-train.
  • Wednesday: Run 15 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat.
  • Thursday: Rest.
  • Friday: Run 26 minutes.
  • Saturday: Rest or cross-train.
  • Sunday: Rest.

Week six plan

  • Monday: Run 20 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 10 minutes.
  • Tuesday: Rest or cross-train.
  • Wednesday: Run 30 minutes.
  • Thursday: Rest.
  • Friday: Run 20 minutes.
  • Saturday: Rest.
  • Sunday: Race day! 

Once you’ve conquered being able to run for 30 minutes, you can keep building on this solid fitness base. By going out three times a week, you’ll maintain your fitness, and if you want to start getting stronger, you can start to build in other exercises to complement the running — or aim to run for longer periods. 

Laura Briggs is a plant-based ultra-runner and writes about all things running and fitness. She ditches the shoes occasionally for a bit of barefoot running, and mainly wears minimalist shoes and incredibly bright kit! When she’s not running, she’s mostly eating. 

With contributions from