Run Faster: A 6-Week Guide to Hitting the Road

By Lindsay Tigar

I’ve always wanted to be a runner. Maybe it’s the sleek and strong bodies every runner has, or the ability to run for longer than five minutes without gasping for breath. Regardless, I know that when friends would so effortlessly say, “I’m going for a run,” I longed to be able to say the same words with confidence. Realizing I wasn’t doing anything to help realize this dream, I decided to become the runner I always wanted to be. Informed by Jeff Galloway, a 1972 Olympian and author of Getting Started, follow the below running schedule to get up to speed in just 6 weeks, with 6 runs per week!

Make sure you have some tunes to keep your energy and spirits high

Week 1: Be gentle on yourself, both physically and emotionally in order to keep your morale up.
Runs 1-6: walk for 5 minutes, run at 4.4MPH for 20 minutes, walk for 5 minutes.

Week 2: By now, you may be getting to the point where you actually look forward to running (crazy, right?). You’re starting to notice more strength in your thighs and gluts. Running naturally tones your entire core and makes breathing easier. This week, push yourself to slowly progress.
Runs 7-10: walk for 5 minutes, run at 4.5 MPH for 10 minutes, run at 4.7 MPH for 10 minutes, walk for 5 minutes.
Runs 11-12: Walk for 5 minutes, run at 4.7 MPH for 20 minutes, walk for 5 minutes.

Click to see if you should wear a heart-rate monitor

Week 3: By the third week, you’ll be feeling the push. Focus on how your legs are responding to running. If you are taking short strides where it looks like you can’t keep up (picture a little mouse on a wheel), you are moving too fast for your body. Aim for your strides to be long and controlled. Adjust the speed and time to fit your performance.
Runs 13-15: walk for 5 minutes, run at 4.9 MPH for 10 minutes, run at 5.0 MPH for 15 minutes, walk for 5 minutes.
Runs 16 – 18: walk for 5 minutes, run at 5.0 MPH for 25 minutes, walk for 5 minutes.

Week 4: Listen to your body and consciously remind yourself to breathe in a controlled manner. When it’s difficult to keep running, deep breaths will help you continue, but short and powerful breaths are best for the main duration of your run. Adjust your speed and time this week while working on mastering the art of breathing.
Runs 19-21: walk for 5 minutes, run at 5.3 MPH for 15 minutes, run at 5.5 MPH for 15 minutes, walk for 5 minutes.
Runs 22-24: walk for 5 minutes, run at 5.5 MPH for 30 minutes, walk for 5 minutes.

Cure those shin splints!

Week 5: By now, your body is stronger and your endurance level is much higher than it was four weeks ago. You are probably noticing more strength throughout your whole body, and if you were to go swimming, you would be able to hold your breath way longer than you used to. This week, try to give yourself a foot and lower body massage to get out those knots that may be creeping up on you.
Runs 25-27: walk for 5 minutes, run at 5.6 MPH for 20 minutes, run at 5.7 MPH for 15 minutes, walk for 5 minutes.
Runs 28-30: walk for 5 minutes, run at 5.7 MPH for 10 minutes, run at 5.8 MPH for 25 minutes, walk for 5 minutes.

Week 6: You can officially say you’re a runner now, and if you happen to get the opportunity to say the oh-so-sexy phrase, “I’m going for a run,” –you’re actually telling the truth. By the end of this week, you’ll be at a powerful 6.0 MPH–quite the feat for any lady.
Runs 30-33: walk for 5 minutes, run at 5.8 MPH for 20 minutes, run at 5.9 MPH for 20 minutes, walk for 5 minutes
Runs 34-36: walk for 5 minutes, run at 5.9 MPH for 15 minutes, run at 6.0 MPH for 25 minutes, walk for 5 minutes

Find out if you should you stretch before your run

From this point, you can push yourself to go above and beyond 6.0 MPH by gradually adding speed. Just remember, no matter how advanced you become as a runner, you must rest and listen to your body. You’re the best judge of what’s best for you and staying in-tune with your limbs will only make you stronger. You’ll be utterly amazed at your endurance and the power of your breath –and of course, even more satisfied with the appearance of your toned core and luscious legs. Need help sticking to the plan? Galloway suggests that you set a goal (like running a 5k) and registering for a race so you have something to work towards.

Note: you should consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise routine and if at anytime you feel pain or discomfort.

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