30 Day Running Challenge For Beginners

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Have you ever felt a twinge of FOMO when you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, and you see photos of your friends triumphantly finishing races or showing their post-run selfie smile? Or, perhaps you used to run, but it’s been years since you’ve felt like you had the time, energy, and motivation to run with consistency.

Whether you’ve never been a runner before—and perhaps you even doubt your ability to be able to run more than a few steps without stopping—or it’s been quite some time since you’ve laced up a pair of running shoes and hit the pavement, the good news is that you can change that starting today.

We’ve put together a 30 day running challenge for beginners just like you. Even if you’ve never run a step, have 100 pounds to lose, or have never done anything athletic in your life, you can run. 

In this guide, we will cover: 

  • What Is the Marathon Handbook 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners?
  • What Are the Goals of the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners?
  • Why Does the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners Use a Walk/Run Approach?
  • Why Does the 30 Day Running Challenge For Beginners Have Cross-Training Workouts?
  • Why Does the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners Have Rest Days?
  • The Marathon Handbook 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners
  • 8 Tips for the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners

Let’s commit to getting fit! 

A woman ready to take on a 30 day running challenge dressed in a pink running top, watch, and headphones.

What Is the Marathon Handbook 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners?

It is a 30-day workout program we have created to help anyone get started running. It is designed to help sedentary or minimally-active people get into running and start incorporating exercise into their daily routine in an approachable, gradual, and sensible way.

Daily workouts take 35 minutes or less, and there are rest days along the way as well.

What Are the Goals of the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners?

This 30 day running challenge for beginners will get you started with running. The goal is not to mold you into a champion runner over the next month but to help you build a consistent habit and strong cardio base with enough stamina to handle running 20-25 minutes without stopping, and that’s amazing! 

By completing the Marathon Handbook 30 Day Beginner Running Challenge, you’ll have established a consistent workout routine of exercising five days a week for 25-30 minutes. 

You will also have developed a running base that will enable you to complete a 5k in just a few more weeks of consistent training. 

A calendar of January with a red box around the 30th day.

Why Does the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners Use a Walk/Run Approach?

You may wonder why the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners has walking breaks instead of just telling you to run as far as possible without stopping every day.

We have carefully designed the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners to take a safe and gradual approach to running while preventing injury.

Because running is a high-impact activity, you need to build up and progress slowly. Suppose you’re not currently running or just starting. In that case, the walk/run method is a practical approach to build cardiovascular fitness while getting your bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues accustomed to the stresses of running.

Essentially, walking breaks give you a chance to catch your breath and slow your heart rate, and because walking is a lower-impact activity, your joints and muscles also get a break. 

Jumping into a running program can lead to injury if you increase your volume and intensity too quickly because running places a lot of stress on your bones, joints, muscles, and tendons, so your tissues need time to adapt. 

Most exercise physiology literature reports that our cardiovascular fitness progresses faster than our musculoskeletal system adapts to the impact of running. So, even though you might feel like your heart and lungs can handle more running, it’s essential to take the walk breaks over the first few weeks of training to reduce the stress on your bones and joints.

A close-up of the back of person's tennis shoes while taking a step.

Why Does the 30 Day Running Challenge For Beginners Have Cross-Training Workouts?

You’ve come to this 30 day beginner running challenge to start running, so you might be wondering why there are so many cross-training workouts in your training schedule.

Cross-training, which is essentially any non-running exercise, is an important component of training for runners, especially beginners. This enables you to develop your aerobic fitness base and endurance without placing more impact forces on your bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues. 

Most cross-training activities also use somewhat different muscles than running, so cross-training can reduce muscle overuse and soreness and prevent the development of muscle imbalances from running only.

Examples of suitable cross-training activities for runners include hiking, cycling (indoor or outdoor), elliptical, swimming, pool running, rowing, cross-country skiing, and dancing. 

If you’re sore and tired from your run/walk workouts, choose a cross-training activity that’s particularly gentle on your joints, such as swimming, walking, or yoga

A person diving into a pool.

Why Does the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners Have Rest Days?

Since this beginner running challenge is only 30 days, it might seem unnecessary to have two rest days per week. After all, so many fitness challenges that circulate social media sites these days are “balls-to-the-wall” tests of pushing yourself every day.

This 30 day running challenge is not one of these sorts of programs. We want this to be a safe, sustainable program that builds confidence and consistency as it does fitness, endurance, and strength.

The rest days are an essential aspect of your training and this running challenge. Though many new runners get so excited about their training that they want to run every day, rest days give your body time to rebuild, repair, and recover. 

Regularly taking rest days reduces the risk of injury by allowing sufficient time for your tissues to recover before loading them with the impacts, strains, forces, and stresses of running again. Taking time off enables you to safely hit the next running workout with renewed energy and strength. 

A person tying her shoe getting ready to run.

The Marathon Handbook 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners

30-Day Running Challenge Printout

(right click the image to save and print this Challenge, or scroll to the end of the article for a text version)

A man jogging down the street.

8 Tips for the 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners

This may be your first foray into running or your first time in a long time, so there’s a good chance you have some trepidation heading into the Marathon Handbook 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners. 

Fear not: We’ve put together tips to help you complete the challenge successfully (and hopefully enjoy the process).

#1: Run By Effort, Not By Pace

Don’t worry about how fast you are running during your run intervals. Just keep moving and use effort as your guide.

#2: Set a Schedule

Choose a time of day for your workouts that works best in your schedule, and then try to be consistent with that routine. Although not a necessity, it’s often easier to make and keep a habit if you’re consistent with when and how you do it.

Perhaps you will find it’s easiest to get your workouts in as soon as you wake up. Or, maybe you have a long lunch break and enjoy breaking up your day with some exercise. Other people like to blast away the stress of a long day at work with an evening workout. 

Whatever works best for you, try to carve out the time every day as your sacred workout time to ensure there are no excuses or conflicts that get in the way of your training.

A woman riding a stationary bike in a living room.

#3: Plan Your Routes Ahead

Some runners really enjoy variety in their running routes to keep things fresh. Other runners prefer a small handful of routes or running on a track or treadmill. Find what makes you comfortable and feels motivating and fun.

Don’t be afraid to try new routes because you may get bored or feel unchallenged if your routine gets too repetitive. 

#4: Recruit a Friend

Running mates offer a lot of perks, from added safety to accountability, to companionship. Chatting also makes time fly by, and If it’s pouring rain on Monday morning when you wake up at 6 am for your run, you’re less likely to hit snooze again if you have a partner, neighbor, or friend scheduled to pound the pavement with you. 

#5: Invest In Some Running Gear 

Just because you’ve never considered yourself a runner before doesn’t mean you aren’t one the second you commit to this 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners.

Make sure you have good running shoes, moisture-wicking running clothing, and the gear essentials you need to be comfortable while you run.

3 people running down a path together.

#6: Push Through the Hard Days

Not every day will feel great. If you’re finding you’re struggling to make it through a run interval without stopping early, feel free to slow your pace as much as you want. Remember: your speed isn’t necessary here; you are just trying to train your body to keep running. 

A slow jog—even a shuffle—is okay, but try to focus on running with good form without hunching over to ensure you can breathe well. Try to keep moving through the walking beaks instead of stopping completely.

#7: Fuel Like An Athlete

As soon as you take your first step of the walk/run on day 1 of this beginner running challenge, you become a runner. It’s time to treat your body like the athlete you are becoming. Be sure you are fueling with nutritious foods and hydrating enough, especially before and after your workouts.

#8: Believe In Yourself

You, yes you, can do this. Take on our 30 Day Running Challenge for Beginners and allow yourself to become a runner. You’ve got this.

We also have training plans for your first Couch to 5k that you can check out here!

4 people running down a path together.
Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
10 x
30-sec run/
1 min walk

(20 min total)
20 min cross-training Rest Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
10 x
1 min run/
1 min walk

(25 min total)
20 min cross-training

Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
11 x
1 min run/
1 min walk

(27 min total)

Rest
Warm-up:
Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
10x
90-sec run/
1 min walk

(30 min total)
20-30 min cross-training Rest Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
10x
2 min run/
1 min walk

(35 min total)
30 min cross-training Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
10 x
90-sec run/
30 sec walk

(25 min total)
Rest

Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
8x
2:30 min run / 1 min walk

(33 min total)

30 min cross-training Rest Warm-up:
Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
8x
3 min run/
1 min walk

(37 min total)
30 min cross-training Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
6 x
4 min run/
1 min walk

(35 min total)
Rest
Warm-up:
Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
5x
5 min run/
1 min walk

(35 min total)
30 min cross-training Rest Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
2 x
10 min run/
2 min walk

(29 min total)
30 min cross-training Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
2 x
10 min run/
30-sec walk

(26 min total)
20 min cross-training 
Rest Warm-up: Brisk walk for 5 min

Workout:
20-25 min run nonstop

(25-30 min total)
         
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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