Following a two-year hiatus of “active running” I am ready to get back into the sport. I ran the Disney Princess Glass Slipper Challenge (a 10k and half marathon) in 2016, but slowly slipped from my routine. Gone were the days of running three miles for fun and feeling the power of endorphins in my system after pounding the pavement. But it is never too late to restart, and I have jumped into running again full-throttle.
I had to start slowly by walking. I increased my step count in March with plans of increasing to walk/run intervals at the beginning of April. The transition form walking to running is not a difficult one; it is all about leaving the ground and landing after each step. Rushing into that transition can be stressful on your body though, so it is important to take breaks.
After a bit of consideration and research, I decided to go with a 6 week schedule of walking and running created by Runner’s World. Their plan eases you into becoming a runner while staying healthy and energized. As someone who has experienced knee injuries due to running in the past, rebuilding my strength and endurance in running was a big concern of mine as well. So, along with resistance training, I began to set aside about a half hour a day three times a week to meet a 30-minute run. This plan has been perfect for me and my personal schedule!
This plan is pretty basic and assumes you are not a runner yet. Runner’s World designed it to get you to your first 5k (3.1 mile) race with a short walking break. It is quick paced in that it trains you within 6 weeks, but if you are interested in completely running your first 5k race, there are 8-week+ programs available out there which will push you to run for 30 minutes of more with no breaks. Consider looking for longer programs or intermediate training programs if you find this plan too easy:
Week 6, Day 3 is meant to be your official 5k race day. For me, I am currently completing Week 4 with sights to run a 5k on May 18th, which will be the end of Week 7. For the week leading up to my race, I plan to increase my first running bout by two minutes until I can run 30 minutes fully with no walking intervals. If you schedule this program to end with your race day, you will probably find that you can run at least 20 minutes before you need a break. Whatever your plan, start slowly and don’t wait until you are exhausted before taking some 1-minute walk breaks though.
Also, remember this Golden Rule for beginning runners: walk slow; run slow. You’ll note the walk/run plan above lists only walking time and running time. There’s no mention of distance or pace. All runs should be at a speed where you can talk while running. Do not overexert yourself as you build your strength and endurance. If you are overexerting yourself, you will add difficulty to your workout because you are being fatigued. Walk slow and run slow at the start of your training to progress injury-free.
Speaking of staying injury-free, respect rest days. You’ll note that I did not dictate what days to run, only to run 3 days of the week. However, I recommend aiming to run on two week days and once over the weekend while providing rest days in-between. My schedule is to run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Running, especially as a beginner, will take its toll on your legs, so give them a break.
If you do choose to exercise between running days, make sure your exercise doesn’t involve your legs heavily. I have been working out at least 5 days a week while also following this running plan. I resistance train 4 of those 5 days with consideration of not working my lower body too hard. Don’t forget to stretch after each workout too! Stretching keeps your muscles flexible and strong. Flexibility maintains a range of motion in the joints without which muscles shorten and become tight. Stay healthy and away from risks of joint pain and strains, friends!
I love feeling my strength slowly returning to my limbs as I continue pushing my body with running. It has been a long time since I’ve kept to a running routine, but I anticipate a healthy and happy year ahead! Maybe even another Disney race in 2020… hmm… Dreamers can dream, eh?