Their first mile: an easy route for beginners

Running their first mile will be a distant memory for experience runners, but is quite a challenge for newcomers to the sport. Although running a mile is probably quite easy for most visitors to this website, this post will take a step back and ask how far should a beginner aim to run? Many novice runners dream of completing their first 5,000 meters without stopping, but is that a realistic target? What about runners recovering after a serious injury?

Running 5,000m seems like a rite of passage for some runners, and certainly completing that distance is a significant achievement. But a training plan for beginners needs achievable goals. It is better to run one mile comfortably before tackling anything longer. For an inexperienced runner, completing a first mile is a better first step than tacking 5,000m. The mile is a classic distance, covered by many famous stars of track and field, without demanding the endurance of the 5,000m, let alone the 10,000m or Marathon.

To get to a position where you can run a mile quite easily, I suggest you try a simple one to four week campaign aiming to end up with you being able to run a mile without walking. What is important is completing your first mile, however long you take. Speed is just not important as a novice.

Are you ready for your first mile? You can begin your plan right now if can walk at least for twenty or thirty minutes at time without stopping. Just get hold of a pair of good quality running shoes. If you can’t walk for twenty minutes without a sit down you had better spend a week or two walking at least 10 minutes most days before thinking about tackling your first mile.

Once you are ready to get started you will need to find an accurate quarter mile. Rather than a full one mile, for this plan to work you need intermediate quarter miles. Ideally, you could find a local running track, where four laps of a typical 400 meters track is just 9 meters short of a mile. If you can’t get to a proper track you can make do with alternatives such as a local park or even streets, provided you can mark out a 400 meter (or 440 yards) circuit. That circuit will be a “lap” in this plan.

The first mile plan means working through a series of “stages” at your own pace. It is designed to be completed in four stages. Each stage involves a combination of running and walking until you are able to run four laps without stopping. Take as long as you need on each stage.

Each stage is designed for one day’s exercise of running and walking. When the plans says you should run, it means you should run or jog at a pace which would let you chat with a training partner, while walking will let your rest and give your body time to rest and build up its cardio vascular fitness.

Stage 1. An easy start: Walk 3 laps, then run 1 lap, and finish up by walking 1 more lap

Stage 2. Still easy: Walk 2 laps – Run 2 laps – walk 1 lap

Stage 3.  When you’re ready: Walk 1 lap – Run 3 laps – walk 2 laps

Stage 4: And finally: Run 4 laps – Walk 2 laps

Great news! Once you have completed Stage 4 you have run your first mile!

Like many things, this plan may be easier said (or read) than done. Although theoretically the whole plan could be completed in four days, or even less, that is hardly realistic for a true novice runner. Only move up from one stage to the next if you are not too tired. Move through the stages steadily, building up your cardiovascular and respiratory systems as you go. Avoid injuries prevented by not running too much too soon.

When you have met your goal, then you can aim to reduce the time it takes you to cover that mile, or perhaps start to extend the length of your runs, always basing the changes on the formula set out in this article, with walks before, during or after running steadily increasing distances. You can have a long term benefit from the training you did when you covered your first mile

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