30 Day Running Challenge for New Runners

30 Day Running Challenge for New Runners

Getting into running for the first time is daunting. Even can even be daunting for experienced runners starting again after a break or coming back from injury. You’re developing new muscles and building up some intense cardio fitness, so your body has to go through a tough adjustment phase that can be a shock to the system. Hopefully, that real talk didn’t put you off. I promise that the rewards you get from running are more than worth it. 

What are these rewards you speak of?

Well, you will see your body transform in some amazing ways. Hello lean muscle definition. Defined abs anyone? How about sculpted calves and quads? I’ll take two of those!

You will see your cardio endurance skyrocket as well. This is great in general, but even better if you do other sports like biking, surfing, hiking or climbing. It will all seem easier. I find that running takes the painful edge off of a lot of activities, making them way more fun. It’s great cross-training to compliment your other sports.

Running is also very easy to pick up any time. Just grab your running leggings, your running shoes and head out the door.

Start with a Plan

I find the easiest way to start something new or slightly intimidating is to have a structured plan of attack. Enter the 30-day running challenge. 30 days is enough to progress gradually into the sport and build confidence. It also has an end date, so there is no pressure to commit to something you don’t like FOR LIFE.

This 30-day challenge will get you running consecutively for thirty minutes. It’s a bit tougher than our training plan for absolute beginners, which you can check out here, but it wouldn’t be a challenge otherwise. This program is still designed for beginners though, so back yourself and give it a try.

Once you have completed the challenge, you can decide if running feels good and you want to progress to more advanced running plans.

How to prepare for your 30-Day Running Challenge

Start by grabbing your running leggings of course! Let’s get started.

Check Your Running Shoes

Make sure you have the right running shoes for your feet before you start a running training program.

If you are buying your first pair of running shoes for this challenge, pay a visit to your physiotherapist or a shop that specialises in running shoes and running assessments. They can observe your running style and suggest the best shoe to suit you. Everyone’s feet and running mechanics are different. It is almost impossible to understand your own running style without the help of a pro who specialises in running gait to watch your form. They can also help with technique and injury prevention.

Running Pace

Keep a steady pace you can maintain when you first start a new running program.

We’re not doing the 100-meter dash here. It would defeat the purpose of this challenge to exhaust yourself five minutes into the run and have to stop. Keep a comfortable pace that you know you can sustain. Speed trials can come later. Be kind to your body while it’s in the process of developing new muscles and building cardio endurance. 

Food

You need healthy food to fuel your run, but don't eat too soon before your run.

Food is essential running fuel, but eating strategically is key. Your meal will come back to haunt you and ruin your run if you eat too soon beforehand. As a rule, I don’t eat an hour before a run. You might need to experiment a bit to see what works for your body.

Hydration

Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after your run.

Staying properly hydrated is easy to forget, but your body will suffer if you don’t. Running causes you to lose a lot of water from sweat and evaporation. That water needs to be replenished. You don’t need anything fancy or expensive for this challenge. Plain water is perfect. Make sure you drink 500mL before your run. Not all in one go right before you head out the door though or it will be bouncing around in your stomach, which is very uncomfortable. Stop hydrating at least 15 minutes before your run. Then drink about 500mL of water after your run, and continue to hydrate for the rest of the day.

Warm-Up

It’s very important to get the blood circulating to your muscles and joints so they are ready to take the high impact of running. You can easily incorporate this into the run session itself with a brisk 5-minute walk before you pick up the pace and start running. You could also do some jumping jacks, forward jacks and/or squat walks at home before you leave. You need about 5 minutes of this kind of activity to get the blood moving to your muscles. 

Do Static Stretches After Your Run, Not Before

Save static stretching to release muscles after your run.

Static stretches, like calf and hamstring stretches, are great and highly recommended after your run, but you definitely don’t want to do these before. They loosen, release and relax your muscles, which will make running a lot harder than it needs to be. It can even lead to injury. Enjoy some deep stretching to release those muscles post-run. 

30 Day Running Challenge for New Runners

Challenge yourself to follow this running program for 30 days. Hopefully, you will see positive changes in your body and energy levels, and maybe even gain a newfound love of running in the process. Here we go!

Week 1

Day 1

Run length: 10-minute run

Notes: Take this first run gently. Jog at a reasonable pace you can maintain. This session will tell you a lot about where you’re at physically. If you found this run very hard, that’s normal, so don’t get disheartened. Keep at it. The first few runs will be hard, but they will get easier as you progress. It is a challenge after all!

Day 2

Run length: 5-minute run, 4-minute walk, 5-minute run

Notes: Alternate running and walking for this session. Set an interval timer on your phone or watch if you have one to make things easier.

Day 3

Run length: Rest day

Notes: Rest is a very important part of the challenge. Your body needs time to repair the little muscle tears you have created by running, and replace these with stronger muscle fibres. Rest is what makes you stronger.

Day 4

Run length: 10-minute run

Day 5

Run length: 5-minute run, 4-minute walk, 10-minute run

Notes: We progress the running ever so slightly in this session. Small progressions are important so that you improve and can run farther safely and without injury.

Day 6

Run length: 10-minute run

Day 7

Run length: Rest day

Week 2

Day 8

Run length: Rest day

Day 9

Run length: 20-minute run

Notes: Now we’re getting serious. This might be a tough run because of the length, but you can do it!

Day 10

Run length: 5-minute run, 4-minute walk, 10-minute run

Day 11

Run length: Rest day

Day 12

Run length: 15-minute run

Day 13

Run length: 20-minute run

Day 14

Run length: 5-minute run, 4-minute walk, 10-minute run, 4-minute walk, 10-minute run

Week 3

Day 15

Run length: Rest day

Day 16

Run length: 20-minute run

Day 17

Run length: 10-minute run, 4-minute walk, 10-minute run

Day 18

Run length: 20-minute run, 4-minute walk, 10-minute run

Day 19

Run length: 15-minute run

Day 20

Run length: Rest day

Day 21

Run length: 10-minute run, 4-minute walk, 20-minute run

Week 4

Day 22

Run length: 20-minute run

Day 23

Run length: 10-minute run, 4-minute walk, 10-minute run, 4-minute walk, 10-minute run

Day 24

Run length: 15-minute run, 4-minute walk, 20-minute run

Day 25

Run length: Rest day

Day 26

Run length: Rest day

Day 27

Run length: 20-minute run, 4-minute walk, 15-minute run

Day 28

Run length: 15-minute run, 4-minute walk, 15-minute run

Week 5

Day 29

Run length: 30-minute run

Day 30

Run length: 30-minute run

Congratulations!

You’ve completed the 30 Day Running Challenge. Celebrate with a new pair of running leggings and keep the momentum going!

If you have looked at this and would prefer a slightly easier program to get into running, try our Get Into Running: Beginner Running Plan for Non-Runners.

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