Welcome back to Part 2 of how to begin your path to a lifelong running career. We are going to continue with the two remaining components of a safe and effective running program:Runners in a Green Field Training for Duration and Intensity Duration and intensity. 


This refers to how long you run, whether it’s measured in time or distance. Either is fine, but time can be more manageable for new runners, allowing you to run more by feel rather than being ruled by distance.

For many new runners, running the entire time is unrealistic or unsafe, so I recommend starting with a run/walk program and often suggest they run by feel. If they can run for a minute but then get tired, I tell them to walk until they feel like running again.

I’ll be more specific for the type A personalities because they usually need those numbers, or they’ll go overboard. So, in that case, I’ll recommend a 1:1 run/walk ratio in minutes and then progress depending on how they feel.

Again, it’s ALWAYS easier to start conservatively and progress rather than have to drop back down because you burnt yourself out or got injured by running too much too soon. Most people can tolerate 10 minutes and build from there, but if you can only run 5, that’s your starting point.

The duration progression then depends on your overall goal as a runner. If your main goal is health and fitness, then building up to 30-60 minutes is plenty for the health benefits of running (that’s either running or walking or consistent running). If you’ve decided to run a specific race, then the duration will depend on the length of the race. 


The final component to beginning a running program is intensity. Luckily, I tell most of my new runners not to worry about this at first.

In the beginning, it is more important to work on frequency and duration to build up a base mileage so your body gets used to the activity of running. After a few months or even a year of training, tweaking the intensity may be more appropriate, especially if you want to improve your race time or hit a training plateau.

Run at the speed and intensity your body can handle. First, improve on doing that either more days per week or for longer periods before unleashing your inner cheetah.

Consistency Is Key

Follow these basic principles, and you will be well on your way to a safe, effective, and enjoyable running routine. Consistency is vital, and always remember what your goals are and why you started running in the first place.

Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t run in a week; start that day and get back on the wagon. Find ways to stay motivated and enjoy all the amazing benefits running offers.

Resources for New Runners

Resources I recommend ALL runners have on their bookshelf to get started:

  1. Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed and Injury Prevention by Jay Dicharry, PT, SCS
  2. Jack Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels, PhD
  3. You (Only Faster) by Greg McMillan, MS