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Beginners Running Program to Lose Weight

Updated on August 28, 2013
Abby Campbell profile image

Dr. Abby Campbell is a Naturopathic Doctor & President of 911 Body ResQ, an online store providing organic and non-GMO supplements.

About the Author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)

Crank Up Your Cardio

Whether you are a regular fitness junkie or someone who has never lifted a weight, you need to get your heart pumping for a balanced fitness regimen. Why not take up running? Some trainers say that the best cardio for weight loss is running as it not only targets your heart, but every leg and glute muscle is activated. Even better, running helps with body fat loss, including the stubborn belly fat.

Whether it's treadmill running or pounding the pavement, this beginners running program to lose weight will help you get started. Include it as part of your weight loss exercise plan along with with a good diet, and you will find body fat drop like flies running into an alcohol shower. After a few months of consistent practice, you may even include a 5k run as a future goal. After all, this beginners running program is geared towards helping you reach that goal.

Beginners running program to lose weight will help you run your first 5k race.
Beginners running program to lose weight will help you run your first 5k race. | Source

Beginner Running

First thing's first! No matter what your age, running is a great way to get fit fast. It's important not to do too much too soon. Remember that the first days of anything are the hardest. Take it slowly as you begin to run. If you need to pull out your virtue of patience during this time, then do so as you don't want to injure yourself and end up quitting before you've really begun.

The small muscles of your feet and lower legs that are involved with running need a few weeks to develop. Starting out with intervals of walking and running is your best bet. Try the following 20 minute regimen for your first month.

  • Week 1 - Start with 3 minutes of walking and 2 minutes of jogging. Do 4 circuits.
  • Week 2 - Start with 2 minute of walking and 3 minutes of jogging. Do 4 circuits.
  • Week 3 - Start out with 1 minute of walking and 4 minutes of jogging. Do 4 circuits.
  • Week 4 - Jog 20 minutes solid.

Are you a beginner runner?

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Best Workout Sneakers for Running

Running is a high-impact activity, and you should want the best workout sneakers to prevent injury. Go to any of your local fitness stores like Dick's Sporting Goods or Academy Sports and get properly fitted for shoes. The staff will determine the best shoes for you after watching you perform a few exercises.

Most people over-pronate which is when the foot rolls inward too far or quickly on landing. A small percentage of people are the opposite where their under-pronate. Under-pronation is when the foot is too stiff and doesn't roll in enough. Both over-pronation and under-pronation can cause injury. Therefore, it's very important to be fitted properly for shoes.

Also, don't forget to change your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. New shoes will cushion your step and protect your back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.

Include running in your weight loss exercise plan for body fat loss fast.
Include running in your weight loss exercise plan for body fat loss fast. | Source

The Talk Test - RPE Guide

Nothing at all.
Very easy; can converse with no effort.
Moderately easy can converse with little effort.
Moderately hard; some effort is required to converse.
Very difficult; maximum effort is required for conversation.
Extremely difficult; peak performance eliminates talking.

Heart Rate Zones

You've probably heard other runners talk about running at an intensity where you can still carry on a conversation. That is part of a scale called 'Rate of Perceived Exertion' or 'RPE.' This scale rates how hard you feel you're running. Zero means you're not exerted whatsoever, and 10 indicates that you are at peak performance, out of breath, and definitely not able to talk. A conversation pace is between a 4 and 6 on the scale, and most of your running will be done at this intensity. Look to your right for the RPE Guide.

Body Fat Loss With Running

Once you're able to run for a whole 20 minutes without stopping at an exertion pace of 5, you can begin mixing your exercise plan to increase calorie burn. Mixing up your weight loss exercise plan should include:

  • Tempo Runs - slightly above conversational pace (around 7 to 8), 1 time per week
  • Long Runs - at conversational pace (around 4 to 6), 1 to 2 times per week
  • Speed Runs - intervals (15 sec. around 7 to 8, then 15 sec. 4 to 6), 1 time per week

By mixing up your runs, adaptation of the different muscles and fat burning mechanisms are eliminated.

Below you will find an 8 week plan you can use to train for your first 5k run. This should only be used after you've accomplished the 4 week plan given earlier and can run 20 minutes solid at an RPE pace of 4 to 6. Tempo runs will be indicated, and all others should be long runs. When you run a 5k, you will be running in a tempo run.

Train for Your First 5k Race!

1 mile
1 mile
1 mile
1.5 miles
1.5 miles
1.5 miles
2 miles
1.5 mile
* Tempo - 1.5 miles
2 miles
2.5 miles
2 miles
* Tempo - 2 miles
3 miles
2.5 miles
* Tempo - 2.5 miles
2.5 miles
3.5 miles
3 miles
* Tempo - 3.5 miles
4 miles
2.5 miles
* Tempo - 4 miles
3 miles
4 miles
* Tempo - 2 miles
1.5 miles
Treadmill running is a great alternative for rainy or cold days.
Treadmill running is a great alternative for rainy or cold days. | Source

Treadmill Running

Pounding the pavement outdoors is always going to be more difficult than treadmill running. After all, you'll have hills and valleys that will make you work a bit harder. However, there may be days that you can't get outdoors to train whether it is snowing, raining, or just too cold. That is when treadmill running will be a great alternative to running outdoors.

If you're just beginning to run, add a 0.5 percent incline to the treadmill. This mimics the great outdoors with the exertion levels. As you become acclimated to running a bit, you may want to dial up more intense interval workouts by changing the incline and/or intensity. You may even want to use a pre-programmed training that the machine provides as well.

Running and Weight Loss Success

Before you start your beginners running program to lose weight, please read five tips to running success:

  1. Be good to yourself. Instead of focusing on speed and distance, focus on consistency. Through your dedication, you will reap significant rewards not only with body fat loss but quality sleep at nights and more energy throughout the days.
  2. Listen to your body. If you are feeling overly tired, cut yourself some slack. Take a day or two off from training. If you need to take a week off, that's fine as well. When you return, you will be stronger than ever. However, speak to your doctor if you have any concerns whatsoever.
  3. Use the talk test. Unless you're training for a sprint, you should be running at conversational pace. That's a 4 to 6 on the RPE scale.
  4. Stay hydrated. Before heading out on your runs, drink a couple of cups of water. Also, take a water bottle with you to sip on the go.
  5. Keep a workout journal or plan. Those who have succeeded in their goals usually stay tuned in with their workout plans. Print your plan out or jot it down in a journal. It will also give you the opportunity to look back to see where you had the best success as well. You're always welcome to use the two plans in this article to get you started.

Good luck on your mission!

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Helping those who desire it!
Helping those who desire it! | Source

About the author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.


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    • Abby Campbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Abby Campbell 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Those are awesome ways to exercise, Paula! Keep up the great work! :-)

    • fpherj48 profile image


      5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Abby.....Running is an excellent activity for several reasons...which you have explained in your usual superb manner. Since I have not been able to run for quite a few years, I needed to make some changes and get creative, in order to try to stay fit, flexible and healthy. I do yoga 2 mornings, pilates, 2 mornings.....and I have a "strider," aka as a sort-of eliptical...only it has a seat. I hop on it the other 3 days of the week for 20 minutes. Where there's a will........UP+++

    • Abby Campbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Abby Campbell 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Keep it up, Mark! You will definitely get your 6 or 8 pack abs if you continue your fitness along with a good diet. ;)

    • Abby Campbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Abby Campbell 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      That is too funny, Crafty! Thank you for sharing your story. I'm glad you're no longer making excuses. You will build your stamina quickly. Where 1/2 mile (and another 1/2 of a 1/2 mile) makes you beat red and sweaty, you will find that it will be a cinch in the coming weeks. You just watch! Keep up the great work. I'm so proud of you! :-)

    • Mark Johann profile image

      Mark Johann 

      5 years ago from Italy

      These week I am running about 5km before evening. I play basketball. I have a little tummy but gradually I believe this will have 6 or 8 abs. :) Thanks for sharing this one important hub. I learn a lot.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      5 years ago

      Great Hub! I'm not a runner. I have asthma. I do like walking though. But, I do have a funny story for you. I'm always making excuses as to why I don't get out and walk more. Over the summer it was because my daughter wouldn't go with me and I couldn't leave her by herself. So, my children are in school and I have no more excuses except I'm being lazy. Today I started walking. I'm out of shape. My face turned beat red and I had sweat pouring off the side of my face, down my chin, you get the picture. This was after 1/2 mile and another 1/2 of a 1/2 mile.....anyway, as I got to the school to pick up the children this afternoon, a lady comes running up to me. She grabs a hold of me and asks if I am ok. I said, yeah, I'm just late to the get the kids, they are already walking down to the crossing guard. I have to catch up...she says, "well calm down, there ain't no need to be crying about it, they'll wait for ya!" LOL She thought I was crying. hehehehe

    • Abby Campbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Abby Campbell 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Glad to hear you use running to stay healthy, Ms. Dora. If my hub helps you in making progress, all the better. Thank you for commenting. :-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Abby, this is very helpful. I've been a beginner for several years now. I think the workout journal will help me make progress. Thank you.

    • Abby Campbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Abby Campbell 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Thanks for stopping by, epbooks. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. I also use my elliptical quite a bit. :-)

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Fantastic advice! I used to jog a lot, but now, it's more walking and elliptical. I'll bookmark this in case I ever decide to pick it up again! Voted up and shared!

    • Abby Campbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Abby Campbell 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      That's great to hear, Bill. I'm glad you're staying healthy! :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All good advice, Abby! I recently started up running again after a twelve year layoff and I feel great. Thanks for the tips.


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