You can spend months, even a year thinking about starting a running program, but never get started. The key is to find that inner motivation, lace up, and get moving! It may be challenging to keep up and make it a habit, especially for beginners. Fitness experts suggest using a walk to run program to ease your way into a running routine. Today we explain what a walk to run program is and give a sample of one.
What Is A Walk To Run Program?
As the name implies, this is a routine that has both walking and running. Typically, you start by walking, progressively evolving into more running than walking. The idea is to help you ease into a running program and make it sustainable.
Is The Walk To Run Method Good For Weight Loss?
The program can help you shed pounds, which is why it is becoming increasingly popular among weight watchers. If you choose to use this walk-run routine for weight loss, there are a few things you must know.
First, the focus should be on maintaining a calorie deficit, as weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume (3). Secondly, note that exercise and diet go hand in hand. Focus on a weight loss diet and mindful eating to help maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss (3).
You may also have to tweak your lifestyle to support the calorie deficit for weight loss. For example, you may be required to move more, practice mindful eating, get a good night’s rest, and manage your stress levels (3).
How Much Weight Can You Lose In A Walk-To-Run Program?
Many factors come into play when determining how much weight you will lose. These include your genes, gender, sleeping patterns, age, diet, and physical activity habits. We understand that you may want to drop a tremendous amount of weight after a week or so of starting such an exercise routine.
Note that that may not happen because of the factors mentioned above. Be patient and do not strain your body. So long as you maintain a calorie deficit and make the necessary lifestyle changes, you will see the results soon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a target of losing one to two pounds weekly (6). Such a target is considered safe and more sustainable long-term.
A 12 Weeks Walk To Run Program For Beginners
The routine is nothing short of what we have discussed above. It entails alternating between walk and running routines. The first stage is walking, then progressively moving into a run, then into a walk, and the cycle continues.
As time passes, you will slowly increase the time spent running as you reduce the time spent walking. Additionally, you will have to increase the running reps. The idea is to ease into running. Here are a few things you should know about this program:
- You start by walking for a few minutes, followed by running. As you progress weekly, the time spent walking will reduce, and that spent running will increase.
- Take breaks if needed. We understand that it might be hard to keep up, especially if it is your first time exercising. Although the walk breaks can help you cool down, they may not be as effective for cool-downs for some people. Please listen to your body and take breaks as needed. But avoid unnecessary breaks as they compromise your exercise efforts.
- Warm-up. Even if we have not included a warm-up session, please remember to warm up to loosen stiff joints and muscles. (2).
- Rest. You are only required to perform this program three to four times weekly. That means you could perform it on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. You only perform it four or three times a week to give your body muscles time off to recover and grow (2).
- Hydrate! Drinking water before, during, and after your exercise regimen is important to replace the fluids you lose when sweating. Additionally, it helps cool you down on a hot day.
Walk To Run Program For Beginners
With that said, here is an overview of a walk-to-run program for beginners that runs for 12 weeks:
- Week 1: 5 min walk, 1 min run (5 reps) = 30 min
- Week 2: 5 min walk, 2 min run (5 reps) = 35 min
- Week 3: 4 min walk, 2 min run (5 reps) = 30 min
- Week 4: 4 min walk, 3 min run (5 reps) = 35 min
- Week 5: 3 min walk, 3 min run (5 reps) = 30 min
- Week 6: 2 min walk, 5 min run (5 reps) = 35 min
- Week 7: 1 min walk, 5 min run (5 reps) = 30 min
- Week 8: 1 min walk, 10 min run (3 reps) = 33 min
- Week 9: 15 min run, 5 min walk, 15 min run = 35 min
- Week 10: 15 min run, 7 min walk, 15 min run = 37 min
- Week 11: 20 min run, 2 min walk, 10 min run = 32 min
- Week 12: 30-min run
Sample Of A Walk To Run Treadmill Program
Some people prefer to work out indoors. That is not an issue when following a walk to run program because you can still accomplish it if you have a treadmill machine. This program is perfect for individuals starting a running routine or recovering from injury and getting back to running.
In this program, the target is taking it slow and avoiding overexerting yourself as it may lead to more harm. Additionally, the program allows you to properly warm up before you get into the running phase to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving (2). Here is a simple walk to run treadmill program to try:
- Walk 1 min
- Jog/Run 1 min
- Jog for 3 min to get your heart rate up and your breath heavy.
- Walk 1 min
- 3 min at The Slow Walk speed
- 1 min run at the sprint speed
- 1 min at the Slow Walk speed
Continue alternating after every minute at the sprint speed.
Continue with this routine for a total of 30 minutes!
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How To Maximize Results From This Walk To Run Program
Of course, your very first expectation by the end of this program is to have transitioned into a running routine with ease. But that might not be the case for some people, particularly those who find it hard to stick to this program.
It might happen due to a lack of motivation or injuries sustained by not maintaining the proper form. Here are a few drills or tips that can bring you one step closer to the goal. Take a look:
Maintain The Proper Running Form
It will take more than lacing up to ease into a running program. Another thing that you must also do which, unfortunately people overlook is mastering the proper running form. To sustain your running routine, you must work on your form to minimize injury risk. Below are a few suggestions to help improve your running form (5):
- Use an appropriate stride, preferably your natural stride, to maintain your running speed (4). An appropriate stride will help you land gently and prevent pounding your feet, which may result in injuries.
- Draw your shoulders back, engage your abs, and lean slightly forward when running on a treadmill.
- Shorten your stride when running on a treadmill because a long stride can kick you to the front of the treadmill.
- Always gaze forward, broaden and lift your chest, and engage your core when running.
- If you choose to sprint, use short and fast strides as they help conserve more energy.
Get The Proper Nutrition
Regardless of the exercise program you choose to follow, the underlying fact is that you must adjust your diet to align with your goals. For example, if your goal is to shed pounds, you must consume low-calorie meals to help you maintain a calorie deficit. Similarly, if you want to add pounds, you must consume more high-calorie meals.
The goal is to adjust and sustain a running routine in this case. According to Medical News Today, a runner’s diet plan should comprise three macronutrients: carbs, protein, and healthy fats (7).
It would help if you tried to consume 45-65% carbs, 10-35% protein, and 20-35% fat (7). Similarly, make sure you are consuming enough calories to sustain your training program. Remember that the calorie count varies from person to person depending on factors such as your daily activity, resting metabolic rate, running conditions, and body composition (7).
When Yo Eat
One of the major mistakes new runners make is not eating before or after they are done training. Remember that just as you need fuel to keep you going, so you must also eat before and after training with this program.
Ideally, you are urged to eat within fifteen minutes of completing this program (4). This is because it will help your body re-synthesize muscle glycogen and quickly recover (4). Additionally, eating within this timeframe reduces or prevents delayed-onset muscle soreness (4).
Aim to have your pre-snack one to three hours before you work out (8). According to WebMD, this timeline allows more blood to go to your muscles during training, leaving less for digestion (8). Additionally, it saves you tummy problems if you were to chow it down minutes before exercising (8).
Similarly, the New York Times suggests having a snack instead of a meal (4). Note that the idea is not to replace your meal with a snack but to add pre- and post-workout snacks to your diet plan.
Foods To Eat Before And After Training
The idea of eating before you start exercising is to give your body enough fuel to see you through your workout. According to WebMD, it would be best to have carbs, as they are the body’s primary energy source and protein to keep you full (8). Some of the best pre-workout meals and snacks to consider include:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit
- Fruit-and-yogurt smoothie
- Trail mix
- Low-fat latte and an apple
- Pre-workout shakes
After your workout, you can consider having any of these healthy and convenient post-workout snacks and meals (4):
- Greek yogurt and fruit
- Egg and whole-wheat toast
- Low-fat chocolate milk and pretzels
- Post-workout recovery smoothie
- Whole-grain turkey wrap
- Chicken, brown rice, and vegetables
- Turkey on whole-grain bread with vegetables
- Salmon with sweet potato
Rest is paramount when following any exercise routine. As mentioned earlier, this program only requires you to exercise three to four times a week. But ideally, this may change depending on your age, overall health, and exercise goals. Medical News Today suggests that a person who runs safely and regularly has more health benefits than risks (5). Please do not push your body to its limit but listen to it and respond accordingly.
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Unfortunately, we are so consumed with what we have not achieved or where we have failed and forget to celebrate what we have attained. But we urge you to celebrate the small wins as it takes longer to see real changes (8). Additionally, the small wins are enough motivation to keep up with the program.
So, whether it is losing one pound or sticking to your program until halfway, go out and celebrate. But it would be best to celebrate in ways that do not compromise your exercise goals. For example, you could go out and get a pair of jeans or the shoes you have been eyeing.
Tag A Friend
Sometimes, the voices in your head will ask you to hit the couch instead of the treadmill and skip the program. If not, they will ask you to cheat on your meals to “celebrate.” Do not listen to either voice because doing any of these will steer you back to where you started.
Luckily, tagging a friend can help steer you in the right direction in such instances. It is easier to tag a friend in this program because they will keep you accountable and on track. Additionally, it will be hard to bail out or give up on the program when your friend is also in it and you both share the same goal.
Believe it or not, it is way easier to stick with a program when you choose to see the fun side of it. If you view it as torture, chances are you will hardly stick to it till the end due to the negative mentality. Ideally, you are less likely to give up on something you enjoy. We urge you to activate your fun meter and have fun nailing this program.
The Bottom Line
Diving into a running routine can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to the fitness industry. In addition, you can end up giving up because of biting too much way too soon. It would be best to ease into the routine to avoid these and associated injuries. One way you can do that is by trying a walk to run program.
As the name implies, the program incorporates walking and running programs. Eventually, the program should help you ease into a running routine. Please talk to your doctor and trainer if you are interested in following our 12-weeks walk to run program.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 12 Tips to Help You Stick With Exercise (2021, webmd.com)
- A one-month treadmill workout to get you back in shape (2019, nbcnews.com)
- How to naturally lose weight fast (2022, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to Start Running (2022, nytimes.com)
- Is it good to run every day? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Losing Weight (2022, cdc.gov)
- What is a runner’s diet plan? (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to Eat Before and After a Workout (2021, webmd.com)