Four Weeks to One Mile

From Christine Luff, your Guide to Running & Jogging

running.about.com/od/trainingschedules/a/fourweekstoonemile.htm

Welcome to the “Four Weeks to One Mile” training program! This four-week training program is designed for total beginner run/walkers who want to build up to running a mile. This program is a run/walk to continuous running program. Each week, you’ll make a slight increase to your running distance and a decrease in your walking distance. By the end of four weeks, you’ll be able to run one mile without stopping. You should start each run with a 5-10 minute warm-up walk. Finish up with a 5-10 minute cool-down walk.

You don’t have to do your runs on specific days; however, you should try not to run two days in a row. It’s better to take a rest day or do cross-training on the days in between runs.

Week 1

This week’s workouts:

For measuring purposes, it’s best to do these workouts on a track, which is usually 400 meters, or about 1/4 of a mile. Each workout will have the track equivalent, so you know how far you should be running and walking. A treadmill is also a good option because you’ll be able to see exactly how far you’re running or walking. If you find that the program progresses too quickly for you, you can repeat a week before moving on to the next week.

  • Day 1: Run 1/16 mile, walk 3/16 mile – repeat 4 times (Track equivalent: Run 1/4 of a lap, walk 3/4 of a lap – repeat 4 times)
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 3: Run 1/16 mile, walk 3/16 mile – repeat 4 times (Track equivalent: Run 1/4 of a lap, walk 3/4 of a lap – repeat 4 times)
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Run 1/16 mile, walk 3/16 mile – repeat 4 times (Track equivalent: Run 1/4 of a lap, walk 3/4 of a lap – repeat 4 times)
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 7: Rest

Here’s How:

  1. It’s not a good idea to stretch cold muscles, so don’t start with stretching. Do about 5-10 minutes of light aerobic exercise to loosen up your muscles and warm you up for your run. Try walking briskly, marching, jogging slowly, or cycling on a stationary bike. Make sure you don’t rush your warm-up.
  2. Begin your run. Don’t start out racing, but instead jog slowly and gradually build up your speed. You should be breathing very easily. If you feel yourself getting out of breath, slow down.
  3. After you finish your run, cool down by walking or slowly jogging for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stretch fully after your cool down. Your body should be warm and stretching should be easy.
  5. Stretch your lower back, neck, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and groin area. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

Do Runners Need Rest Days?

One of the biggest misconceptions among runners who want to get faster is that they should run every day. In reality, the body actually needs rest days to recover and repair muscles to get stronger. So, if you run every day without taking days off, you won’t see much improvement.

Running puts a lot of stress on your joints, and taking rest days will give your joints a chance to recover from all that pounding. It’s also good to take a mental break from running, so you don’t lose motivation by running every day.

Most runners need at least one, even two, days off from running and other exercise. Research has shown that taking at least one day off a week reduces the frequency of overuse injuries, such as shin splints and stress fractures. Even the most elite runners take rest days, although rest days for them usually involve a low-impact cross-training activity, such as swimming. Those types of cross-training days are considered to be rest days because they give the joints and muscles you use in running a break.

Benefits of Cross-Training for Runners

Cross-training is any sport or exercise that supplements your main sport — in this case, running. Whether you’re a beginner runner or an experienced marathoner, you can benefit from cross-training. Here are several reasons why runners should cross-train:

  1. It helps balance your muscle groups. Cross-training helps strengthen your non-running muscles and rests your running muscles. You can focus on specific muscles, such as your inner thighs, that don’t get worked as much while running and may be weaker than your running muscles.
  2. You’ll maintain or even improve your cardiovascular fitness. Many cross-training activities are great cardiovascular workouts, so they build on those similar benefits of running.
  3. It reduces your chance of injury. By balancing your weaker muscles with your stronger ones, you’ll help reduce your chance of injury. Participating in low-impact cross training activities, such as swimming or water running, will also lessen the stress on your joints, which are often a sore spot for runners.
  4. You’ll avoid getting bored with running. Running day after day will eventually burn out even the most hard-core running enthusiast. Cross-training gives runners a much-needed mental break from their sport, which is especially important for those training for long-distance events such as marathons.
  5. You can continue to train with certain injuries, while giving them proper time to heal. Runners suffering from injuries are sometimes told by their doctor to take a break from running during their injury recovery. But, with certain injuries, it is possible to continue with cross-training. Cross-training can help injured runners maintain their fitness and deal better with the frustration and disappointment of being sidelined from running.

Week 2

This week’s workouts:

  • Day 1: Run 1/8 mile, walk 1/8 mile – repeat 4 times (Track equivalent: Run 1/2 a lap, walk 1/2 of a lap – repeat 4 times)
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 3: Run 1/8 mile, walk 1/8 mile – repeat 4 times (Track equivalent: Run 1/2 a lap, walk 1/2 of a lap – repeat 4 times)
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Run 1/8 mile, walk 1/8 mile – repeat 4 times (Track equivalent: Run 1/2 a lap, walk 1/2 of a lap – repeat 4 times)
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 7: Rest

Week 3

This week’s workouts:

  • Day 1: Run 3/16 mile, walk 1/16 mile – repeat 4 times (Track equivalent: Run 3/4 a lap, walk 1/4 of a lap – repeat 4 times)
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 3: Run 3/16 mile, walk 1/16 mile – repeat 4 times (Track equivalent: Run 3/4 a lap, walk 1/4 of a lap – repeat 4 times)
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Run 3/16 mile, walk 1/16 mile – repeat 4 times (Track equivalent: Run 3/4 a lap, walk 1/4 of a lap – repeat 4 times)
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 7: Rest

Week 4

This is your final week of this training program. Keep up the good work — you’re doing great! You’ll be running one mile by the end of the week. Congrats!

This week’s workouts:

  • Day 1: Run 1 mile (Track equivalent: 4 laps = 1 mile)
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 3: Run 1 mile (Track equivalent: 4 laps = 1 mile)
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Run 1 mile (Track equivalent: 4 laps = 1 mile)
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 7: Rest