How to Start a Running Routine

The FIRM Master Instructor Team by The FIRM Master Instructor Team | November 10th, 2009 | 1 Comment
topic: Fitness

Annie-croppedBy The FIRM Master Instructor Annie Lee

Once fitting in a workout has become second nature to you, it’s sort of like brushing your teeth. You know you need it, you do it, and you feel better when it’s done. However, you may be in a place where you want to try something new.

So how about running? The wind in your hair, your heart pumping, the swiftness in your feet, time to focus solely on yourself,  the positive energy you get being outdoors …

But how do you go from walking to jogging to running? How do runners become runners? Those are all questions I asked myself when I began. I had to run in high school P.E., and I would definitely run if someone were chasing me. But how did I learn to run to lose a few extra pounds, and more significantly, for the pure joy of it?

I began my running journey my sophomore year of college. Fellow Master Instructor and friend, Alison Davis-McLain, found a little article in a fitness magazine with a chart of how to add running into your fitness routine. At that time, we were going to The FIRM classes on a regular basis, four to five times a week. We were definitely addicted, and we coordinated this “how to start running” chart with The FIRM class schedule. Using that plan — and each other for support — helped us to evolve into runners.

Running plan: Follow this intensity chart

You can do the same thing with my “FIRM to run” chart, which incorporates the Borg scale of perceived exertion, a handy guideline for gauging intensity. You will also need a stopwatch and a safe area to walk/run.

The Borg scale of perceived exertion (RPE)

6 No exertion at all
7 Extremely light
9 Very light
11 Light
13 Somewhat hard
15 Hard
17 Very hard
19 Extremely hard
20 Maximal exertion

Weeks 1 through 3

  • Warm up for 10 minutes. This should be at a walking pace: RPE 9-11. Get the heart pumping, warm your muscles and lubricate your joints, and prepare mentally for picking up the pace.
  • For 30 seconds, kick up the speed to a jog: RPE 13-15. Your breathing should be labored and your heart rate increased.
  • Reduce your speed back to brisk walking for 60 seconds: RPE 11-12. (Not at your warm up pace, slightly faster). This is time to catch your breath.
  • Continue this cycle until you reach a total of 20-30 minutes. A duration of 20 minutes will comprise about 13 cycles of 30 seconds run/60 seconds walk. And 30 minutes would be 20 cycles of 30 seconds run/ 60 seconds walk.
  • After completing your intervals of walk/run, cool down by walking for about 5-10 minutes. End with a final stretch for your lower body muscles.

As you become more advanced and your stamina and endurance increases, you should increase the time that you are running interval by 15 seconds.

Weeks 3 through 4

Follow the same basic routine as weeks one through three, but run for 45 seconds and walk for 60 seconds.

Weeks 5 through 6

Increase your running time to 60 seconds continuing your intervals of walking for 60 seconds. Continue this way until you can remove the walking intervals completely.

Cross-training: Add running to your workout routine

It is very important that you cross-train when you run. Walking and running only work the muscles that help us move in a forward direction. However, our body moves in multiple directions, so we have to do other activities to keep our bodies strong, fit and injury-free.

There are a few options when scheduling your exercise routine, depending on your fitness level and how long you have been doing The FIRM:

  • If you are a beginner, complete two to three FIRM workouts per week and add two to three sessions of the walk/run program.
  • If you are at an intermediate level, complete three to four FIRM workouts and add the walk/run program three to four times a week. (You would exercise every day.)
  • If you are an advanced exerciser, try to FIRM four to five times a week and add the walk/run program three to four times a week. You can do this by separating your exercise sessions: FIRM in the morning and walk/run in the afternoon (or vice versa). I recommend completing the “two-a-days” (two exercise sessions in one day) only two to three times a week to prevent burning out and fatigue.

This is how I started running for the pure joy of it. The plan is completely adjustable to fit your needs. When you’re just starting out, it’s no cake-walk, but as long as you keep at it and stay consistent, you’ll become “a runner.” Hey, you never know, you might even end up training for a marathon!

the-firm-logoThe FIRM Master Instructor Team blog is shared courtesy of The FIRM Believers Club, an online community that helps you reach your fitness goals. With maximum-efficiency home workouts, support and motivation from The FIRM Master Instructors, daily tips, personalized workout rotation calendars, and access to other members through discussion boards, The FIRM Believers Club provides all the tools you need to get in the shape you want.


  1. [...] it or not, there is no significant calorie difference between walking and running. Keeping the intensity down will reduce sweating, which means you can leave the “I don’t have [...]

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