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How do I Choose the Best Running Schedule for Beginners?

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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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The right running schedule for beginners is dependent on several individual factors including health, fitness level, and motivation. Before starting any running program, a beginner should consult his or her doctor to make sure he or she is in good enough health to proceed with the program. The running schedule can then be tailored to meet the individual needs of the runner.

The best running schedule for beginners is the one that keeps the runner motivated to keep following the workout plan. If a workout schedule is too rigorous at first, it may be intimidating to stick with, causing burnout and disinterest. Beginners also may not have developed the physical fitness level to safely follow an intense workout schedule. When starting a running program, beginners should start out slowly, maybe three or four days a week for 15 to 20 minutes of light jogging or walking, and then gradually increase workout frequency, workout duration, and running speed over a period of time to let the body adjust. Some people prefer to alternate intervals of walking with intervals of running, and, over the course of several workout sessions, increase the length of the running intervals and decrease the length of the walking intervals to incrementally increase the duration of the workout.

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Most people have a limited amount of time per day that can be set aside for exercise. A running schedule for beginners is not going to be as strict as a competitive runner’s training schedule, but it is very important to allot a specific amount of time for exercise. For a beginner who is not accustomed to running, following a strict schedule leaves little room for excuses and can help maintain motivation. The time set aside for exercise should always leave enough room for warm ups and cool downs to help prevent injuries.

Most fitness experts agree that even experienced runners should not exercise every day, advising instead that runners take at least one day off to prevent overuse injuries. A running schedule for beginners should leave at least two or three days off to let the body recover and become adjusted to the new activity. Taking consecutive days off is not preferable, however, because it is possible to lose progress and take a much longer time to reach a higher level of fitness. An example of a running schedule for beginners might be an alternating pattern of running every other day, separated by walking or resting days for recovery.

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