Beginning Runner Plans: A Comparison of What’s Out There

Beginning Runner Plans - mostlyfitmom.comSpring has finally arrived here in Saskatchewan after what was (and definitely felt like) a long winter. Sadly, my running efforts so far have been weak. I allowed the weather to be an excuse not to run, and then had a legitimate reason not to run when I was dealing with traveller’s diarrhea for two weeks (gross and uncomfortable).

Now that I’m pretty much recovered from a gastrointestinal perspective, I’m ready to start running. I looked at joining a local “Learn to Run” group to increase my accountability, but nothing is starting in the near future, so I’m turning to online resources for a beginning running program. To be honest, I’ve started over running so many times, I could probably sit down and draft a reasonable plan on my own, but sometimes it’s nice not to have to do much thinking.

Without further ado, here’s a round-up of the best resources I found online.

1) Couch-to-5K

The Couch-to-5k plan has been around for years and now has an app (available on iTunes) to get you from a non-runner status to running a 5k in nine weeks. It provides a gradual increase in running time from week to week, which is good for letting your body tissues adapt to the stresses of running. I have never tried this plan, but having an app that I can download to my phone is appealing in terms of increasing motivation. It’s like having someone coaching you while you run.

Find the Couch-to-5k plan here.

2) Women’s Health Beginning Runner Program

This is is basic, but pretty consistent with other plans I’ve seen. It’s been designed by Jenny Hadfield, who writes for Runner’s World, and looks reasonable. The plan is slightly more flexible that the Couch-to-5k plan and allows you to choose whether you want to run three or four times per week. This plan builds up from running two minutes at a time to five minutes at a time over four weeks, and then provides guidelines on how to build your total running time from there. The other plus is that it includes a couple of days of cross-training so that you’re not just running. The downside is that it doesn’t have a table that you can print out and check off as you go along.

Find the Women’s Health Beginning Runner Plan here.

3) The Runner’s World 8-Week Beginner’s Program

I love Runner’s World magazine and look forward to its arrival in my mailbox monthly. Naturally, they’ve got an online running plan for beginners. I have to say that I’m not in love with this plan and I’ll tell you why: I think it adds too much running time too early. I don’t find running easy and I struggle through every cardio session I do, so to go from one minute of running at a time during the first week to four minutes of running in one shot during the second week seems daunting. I would feel like I’m going to puke up a lung. However, if you have a stronger cardio base, this plan offers a little more variety over the course of the plan and might be a good choice.

Find the Runner’s World 8-Week Beginner’s Plan here.

4) Skinny Ms. Running Program for Absolute Beginners

I love that this comes as a downloadable chart! The plan takes you from walking to running, which is nice. It also includes strength training, which I think is important. What doesn’t work for me is that, over the course of two weeks, you build up from running one minute at a time to running eight minutes at a time. Sorry, my cardio base sucks and that’s not going to work for me.

Find the Skinny Ms. plan here.

5) Super Skinny Me 10 Week Plan

I like this plan. It’s flexible, providing you with guidelines to run three to five times per week, and the running builds up gradually over the course of the ten weeks, ending with twenty minutes of running by the end. The chart isn’t so much a daily calendar as the instructions for the week, but it’s easy to understand.

Find the Super Skinny Me plan here.

Is there a beginning runner plan that you like or have used in the past?

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