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From Couch Potato to a 10-k Run in 13 Weeks

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Running is the perfect form of exercise for the traveler: Everyone already knows how, it requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere, while enjoying the scenery along the way.

If you enjoy walking but hate running, you need to try this program!

The training is gradual - over a thirteen-week period, at the end of which you will be able to run for a full hour. (For most people this will be close to 10 km or 6.2 miles.)

This program (from The Beginning Runner's Handbook by Ian MacNeill ) is one that Randy and I first completed ten years ago and have followed several times since. I was struck by the simplicity and the precise instructions. Knowing exactly what to do each time we head out, makes the program very easy to follow.

You will need good running shoes, a digital watch that shows both minutes and seconds and allow approximately an hour, three times a week. Before each session, it's important to warm up to avoid injuries. For this, we simply walk at a vigorous pace for two minutes and then stop and do two minutes worth of stretches - try to stretch all leg, foot, hip and back muscles. Finish each session by repeating the same stretches.

If you think you will never be able to complete a 10-k run....just commit to the program for as long as you can do it. The program starts out pretty easy. In the beginning you will be mostly walking. When you do run, be sure to pace yourself so that you can complete the session without being totally out of breath. Each session builds on the last, however, when it gets tougher, every once in a while, you get a surprise shorter run. (We loved those reward days!) With a little bit of determination, I think you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish. We certainly were!

The Thirteen Week Walk/Run Program

Week 1

Session 1 (35 minutes)
Run 30 seconds. Walk 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Do this 7 times.

Session2 (40 minutes)
Run 30 seconds. Walk 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Do this 8 times.

Session 3 (40 minutes)
Run 30 seconds. Walk 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Do this 8 times.


Week 2

Session 1 (45 minutes)
Run 1 minutes. Walk 4 minutes. Do this 9 times.

Session 2 (40 minutes)
Run 1 minute. Walk 4 minutes. Do this 8 times.

Session 3 ( 40 minutes)
Run 1 minute. Walk 3 minutes. Do this 8 times.


Week 3

Session 1 (50 minutes)
Run 1 minute and 3 seconds. Walk 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Do this 10 times.

Session 2 (40 minutes)
Run 1 minute and 30 seconds. Walk 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Do this 8 times.

Session 3 (50 minutes)
Run 1 minute and 30 seconds. Walk 3 minutes and 3 seconds. Do this 10 times.


Week 4

Session 1 (55 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 3 minutes. Do this 11 times.

Session 2 (45 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 3 minutes. Do this 9 times.

Session 3 (50 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 3 minutes. Do this 10 times.


Week 5

Session 1 (60 minutes)
Run 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Walk 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Do this 12 times.

Session 2 (50 minutes)
Run 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Walk 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Do this 10 time

Session 3 (50 minutes)
Run 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Walk 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Do this 10 times.


Week 6

Session 1 (65 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 13 times.

Session 2 (50 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 10 times.

Session 3 (55 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 11 times.


Week 7

Session 1 (60 minutes)
Run 4 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 10 times.

Session 2 (54 minutes)
Run 4 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 9 times.

Session 3 (54 minutes)
Run 4 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 9 times.


Week 8

Session 1 (60 minutes)
Run 5 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 10 times.

Session 2 (48 minutes)
Run 5 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 8 times.

Session 3 (54 minutes)
Run 5 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 9 times.


Week 9

Session 1 (63 minutes)
Run 7 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 7 times.

Session 2 (54 minutes)
Run 7 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 6 times.

Session 3 (50 minutes)
Run 8 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 5 times.


Week 10

Session 1 (44 minutes)
Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 4 times.

Session 2 (41 minutes)
Run 20 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 20 minutes.

Session 3 (45 minutes)
Run 22 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 22 minutes.


Week 11

Session 1 (51 minutes)
Run 25 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 25 minutes.

Session 2 (56 minutes)
Run 30 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 25 minutes.

Session 3 (51 minutes)
Run 40 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 10 minutes.


Week 12

Session 1 (66 minutes)
Run 45 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 20 minutes.

Session 2 (66 minutes)
Run 50 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 15 minutes.

Session 3 (45 minutes)
Run 45 minutes.


Week 13

Session 1 (50 minutes)
Run 50 minutes.

Session 2 (40 minutes)
Run 40 minutes.

Session 3 (60 minutes)
Complete your first 10-k run or run 60 minutes.


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All tips and advice on this web site are purely the personal opinion of the author who assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences resulting from following said advice.