How to Start Running: 8-Week Walk to Run Plan

How to Start Running: 8-Week Walk to Run Plan

When I was 17 I tried to learn how to start running. I failed.

I wanted to be a runner like my boyfriend. It looked fun!

He ran cross country in high school. And I went to the gym. Occasionally.

So one day I threw on some old sneakers and (cotton, eek) sweats and went out for a run. How hard could this be, right?

Hard. But only because I had no idea how to run (or how to start running the right way). I literally did everything wrong.

I made it about 1 mile, and that’s a generous assumption, before heading back defeated. Running must not be for me (or so I thought then). If only someone had told me how wrong I was.

Don’t be like 17 year-old me. 

Instead, follow this 8-Week Walk to Run Plan and understand how to start running the right way so you can successfully run 30 minutes straight!

Note: if you want to run your first 5K (and don’t necessarily care about running straight through), try the 5K Training Plan for Beginners instead of this challenge.

The 8-Week Run to Walk Challenge – Are You In?

This plan has you “walk/run”-ing 3 days a week for 4 weeks, and 4 days a week for the last 4 weeks.

Tip: If you can, do some other form of exercise 1-2 other days of the week (yoga, strength training, biking, etc).

This leaves 2-4 rest days, depending on what you choose.

Rest days are important too! Don’t over-train. 

8 Week Walk to Run Challenge

Some notes for this Walk to Run Plan schedule:

  • Feel free to modify this schedule to fit your fitness level – if it’s too easy, skip ahead a week or two. If it’s too hard, repeat a week once or twice until the level of effort is ok for you to increase running time in the next week
  • Rest or Cross Training Days – What does this mean? It means take a rest day if you need it, but if you don’t, do some other form of activity. Activities include: walking, yoga, biking, swimming, etc. More on cross training for runners if you’re interested.
  • Rest Days – are very important. I know I said this already, but seriously. You’ll either really look forward to them (great!) or want to skip them and walk/run more. If you’re the latter, remind yourself not to over-train! Rest days are JUST as important as walk/run days!
  • Consult a Certified RRCA Coach or Doctor if you have questions – because this plan is very generic, it doesn’t take you fitness level, current health, or past exercise experience into account. If you have any questions about whether this plan is right for you or not, consult someone who can personalize a plan for your situation.

Before Starting: 3 Running Basics You Need to Know

Runners don’t become runners in a day. Or a week.

Understand that your body needs time to adjust to the new-ness of running movements, and be patient with yourself.

That’s why this plan gently increases the amount you run over time. Trust me, it’s better for your body this way. 

Patience and consistency make runners. 

And knowing the basics before embarking on your Walk to Run journey too. Read on for 3 basics to know before starting.


1.) Proper Running Form

How to Run Faster - Maintain Proper Running Form

Many beginners don’t know (or ignore) proper running form, but it’s the key to running. 

It prevents injuries. It helps you feel more comfortable doing this thing your body isn’t used to doing.

So what is proper running form?

Running form can be broken down into 4 main areas: Posture, Arm Positioning, Proper Foot Placement, and Core Strength.

Read the full guide on proper running form here.


Like in the picture above – keep your shoulders back, head up and facing towards the horizon (don’t look down looking at your feet all the time), and keep a very slight forward lean. Don’t hunch or slouch. Don’t tense up. Relax 🙂

Arm Positioning:

Keep arms at a 90 degree angle or less. Do not pump your arms, or cross them across your body. Instead use a natural front to back movement that will control your rhythm. Keep your elbows and arms close to your sides (not out away from your body like wings).

Proper Foot Placement:

Make sure your foot hits the ground under your body, not in front or behind it. Don’t land really hard or loud. Maintain shorter strides.

Core Strength:

Engage your glutes, hips and abs to keep a straight core while running. Do not twist or lean to one side or the other. This one becomes easier with time…especially once your muscles strengthen more.

2.) Proper Breathing Technique (aka: no huffing and puffing)

8 Week Walk to Run Plan - Proper Breathing

The basic rule of thumb for breathing while running is to inhale for 3 steps and exhale for 2 steps.

You don’t want to be huffing and puffing with uncontrollable breathing.

If you are, you’re going way too fast.

Learning to run is absolutely not about speed. Slow it down buddy! 

In general, you want to take in (and be able to use) the most amount of oxygen possible.

That’s why rhythmic, controlled belly-breathing (not shallow breathing) is important.

If you’ve ever done yoga, it’s very similar.

3.) The Right Running Gear

8 Week Walk to Run Challenge - Get the Right Gear

Ok, you probably don’t want to spend tons of money on running gear.

So focus on 2-3 main things to start:

  1. Good running shoes (that are right for your feet and body)
  2. Wicking/Performance shirt and pants (so sweat won’t cause blisters or chafing) – you can get these on sale pretty cheap if you don’t care about colors or styles being from last year
  3. A good sports bra (for the ladies) – if you are well-endowed, a good bra will make running WAY more enjoyable 🙂

Get way more details on running gear for beginners: Running Gear for Beginners: What You Absolutely Need to Get Started.

So, are you ready to rock n’ roll & learn how to start running??

Get started today and enjoy the glorious feeling of running for 30 minutes straight as a reward for 8 weeks of hard work!

Ready for more? I HIGHLY encourage you to sign up for my free Learn to Run course!

You Might Also Like:

5K Training Plan for Beginners – run your first 5K (3,2 miles) with this beginners program

How to Run for Beginners (Even if You Hate Running)

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Want to run, but aren't sure where to start? Follow this simple 8-week training plan and begin walking, but end by running for 30 minutes straight!
8-Week Walk to Run Plan: Learn How to Start Running
8-Week Walk to Run Plan: Learn How to Start Running
8-Week Walk to Run Plan - Learn How to Start Running
8-Week Beginners Running Program
8-Week Learn to Run Plan for Beginners

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