Run your first mile, then a half marathon!

running for beginners

Running is the most natural thing, but if its been decades since you ran or you are significantly overweight you need to start your running program very cautiously to avoid injury. Often people get very excited about their weight loss program and in their zeal to exercise and lose weight they get injured – don’t let this happen to you!

Running is easy and good for the body but you have to build up your strength and endurance slowly.  Eighteen year old athletes can run every day without ending up in a body cast but its a bad idea for those over 30 to try this.  When you are starting your running program, consider doing biking or swimming on your non-running days.  If you are over 240lbs, I would not recommend running but rather would stick to walking, cycling or swimming till you get below 220lbs or so because the heavier you are, the harder it is on your joints to run.  The last thing you want to do when you start a fitness program is to end up on the sofa with a bum knee or stress fractured foot. If you are a heavy runner like me, please take a look at my efficient running technique to see how to run in a joint-friendly fashion.

Losing weight requires good nutrition, its not enough to just exercise.  Daily walking with some simple healthy substitutions in your diet can help you drop the weight quickly so that you can start this running program.  This is a good time to point out that its always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

20 week half marathon training plan

Week Monday Wednesday Friday
1 Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 15 minutes.
Follow with 10min of fast walking
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 15 minutes.
Follow with 10min of fast walking
2 Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
Follow with 5min of fast walking
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
Follow with 5min of fast walking
3 Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 60 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
Follow with 5min of fast walking
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 60 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
Follow with 5min of fast walking
4 Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 30 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
Follow with 5min of fast walking
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 30 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
Follow with 5min of fast walking
5 Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 30 seconds of walking for a total of 25 minutes.
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 30 seconds of walking for a total of 25 minutes.
6 Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 30 seconds of walking for a total of 30 minutes.
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 30 seconds of walking for a total of 30 minutes.
7 Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 120 seconds of jogging and 10 seconds of walking for a total of 30 minutes.
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 120 seconds of jogging and 10 seconds of walking for a total of 30 minutes.
8 Five minute fast walk.
2.5 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 35 min slow jog
9 Five minute fast walk.
2.5 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 35 min slow jog
10 Five minute fast walk.
3,0 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 40 min slow jog
11 Five minute fast walk.
3.0 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 40 min slow jog
12 Five minute fast walk.
4.0 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 50 min slow jog
13 Five minute fast walk.
4.0 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 50 min slow jog
14 Five minute fast walk.
5.0 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 60 min slow jog
15 Five minute fast walk.
5.0 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 60 min slow jog
16 Five minute fast walk.
6.0 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 70 min slow jog
17 Five minute fast walk.
6.0 mile fast run
45minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! 70 min slow jog
18 Rest! Rest! Rest!
19 Half Marathon! 13.1 miles

Very Important Note

If there is ever any week where you start to even feel the slightest twinge of overuse injury – stop running! If you can do it pain free, just substitute the wednesday non-running workout for the running workout, otherwise take the week off.


20 week half marathon prep

Will this workout plan let you qualify for the Boston Marathon? No! If you want to WIN races, get a professional running coach. This plan is to help out of shape people get in the best shape of their lives with a minimum chance of injury. Yes, if you push it harder, train more often, and push the limits of what humans can do your race times will be better but there is also a good chance you will end up on injured reserve on the sofa with ice bags on your knees watching the Boston Marathon on TV instead of participating in it.

You might also ask yourself, why listen to a slow 230 pound 6’3″ senior citizen about how to get started running. Why shouldnt you listen to someone who can run 5 minute miles? Good question. Because of my age and size, running was very, very difficult for me. Young kids can run a half marathon with almost no training, older and heavier folks have a much harder struggle. The young kids dont understand what we are up against, I do because I have been there and done it, and with this program you can too!If I can run a half marathon, anyone can.

Some important notes, you gotta have good running shoes. To reduce the chance of injury you need all the shock absorption you can get. I would also advise starting your first 6 weeks on a track if you can because the cinder or rubberized surface provides additional cushioning.