Running A Mile A Day: How To, Benefits, 30 Day Challenge

Depending on your current activity level and overall life schedule, running a mile a day might sound like a lot, or it might sound relatively easy, but no matter where you fall on the continuum, we believe you’re absolutely up for it.

Walking or running a mile a day with a 30-day mile-a-day challenge is a perfect foray into exercise if you’re currently inactive or haven’t been working out regularly, or if you’re coming back from an injury, pregnancy, or time off for one reason or another. 

Most of all, joining our 30-day mile-a-day challenge is an excellent opportunity to kickstart your motivation to move your body and make a commitment to yourself to regularly carve out time to be active in a safe, supportive, and approachable way.

Whether you have been struggling to work out consistently, or have always wanted to be able to run a mile without stopping, our 30-day mile-a-day challenge will help you reach your goals, establish an exercise habit, and become an athlete. 

That’s right. All it takes is a commitment to following our one-mile-a-day plan. You can do it!

In this guide, we will cover: 

  • What Is the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge?
  • What Are the Benefits of the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge?
  • Do I Need to Be a Runner to Do the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge?
  • Tips for the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge
  • How Fast Should I Walk and Run for the Mile-a-Day Challenge?
  • Why Does the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge Use a Walk/Run Approach?
  • Why Does the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge Have Rest Days?
  • The Marathon Handbook 30 Day Mile-a-Day Challenge

Let’s commit to getting fit! 

A person running one mile a day on the coast.

What Is the Marathon Handbook 30 Day Mile-a-Day Challenge?

The Marathon Handbook 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge is a 30-day training program with daily workouts progressing you from walking one mile on day one, to running a mile nonstop on day 30.

Each day, you’ll cover just one mile, because we believe the most successful way to form a good habit is to use a manageable approach. Even your slow walks should take no more than 20-30 minutes, making this 30-day mile-a-day challenge a doable workout program for busy lives.

In other words, you don’t have to overhaul your life. You just need to commit, find 20 minutes a day and believe in yourself.

A close-up of two people's feet talking on a stone walkway.

What Are the Benefits of the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge?

This 30-day mile-a-day challenge will get you started with consistent exercise. 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 a mile a day without stopping, and that’s an impressive feat. 

Equally important to the physical improvements in fitness you’ll gain over this mile-a-day challenge is the consistency, habit, and discipline you’ll build for fitting exercise into your daily routine.

Moving your body by walking, jogging, and/or running a mile a day is a good way to improve the health of your heart and lungs; lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers; strengthen your muscles, reduce stress, and improve your mood.

Running a mile a day helps you get closer to meeting the recommended 7,500-10,000 steps a day to reduce mortality or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, a guideline for adults established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A woman walking on the side of a busy street.

Do I Need to Be a Runner to Do the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge?

Absolutely not. This mile-a-day challenge is designed for anyone, provided you don’t have an injury or medical condition that precludes you from running. If you’ve never run a step in your life, you can join us!

Tips for the Marathon Handbook Mile a Day Challenge

Over the course of the Marathon Handbook 30-day Mile-a-Day Challenge, you’ll gradually increase the difficulty of the mile-a-day workouts by running more of the mile and cutting back on the duration of the walk breaks. 

You are building your aerobic endurance, helping you increase the length of time you can run without needing to walk. As your fitness improves during this challenge, your heart rate and respiratory rates will be able to drop back down quicker, even if you get pretty breathless by the end of the running interval

If you’re huffing and puffing and really struggling to get through the interval, ease up on your pace. It should be “comfortably hard.” In other words, you shouldn’t be able to sing a full song, but you can speak several words with no problem. 

Two people power walking in a park looking at each other.

Your speed isn’t important here; we 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 breaks rather than coming to a complete stop after a run interval.

Concentrate on running by effort or feel rather than trying to hit a certain pace or speed. If you’re sore and tired, you can always just take a walking day.

Remember to stretch after your runs and listen to your body when it comes to pace. Resist the urge to just plop down in a chair all day immediately after your workout. Your muscles will tighten up and you’ll feel sorer the next day. 

Walking around and doing some stretching or yoga will aid recovery by flushing out your fatigued muscles and shuffling in fresh, oxygenated blood to help nourish and repair them.

How Fast Should I Walk and Run for the Mile-a-Day Challenge?

We can’t overstate this enough: your pace doesn’t matter. Walk, jog, run, and sprint according to what feels right for you in each workout. You may notice that even day to day, your “comfortable” pace charges. That’s normal! 

Don’t worry if one day feels harder than several days earlier. Progress isn’t entirely linear and sometimes your body will be recovering from hard workouts; therefore, the effort to maintain a slower pace will be harder than usual.

Two people walking on a bright, sunny day.

While we don’t want to prescribe or suggest specific paces to follow during this 30-day mile-a-day challenge, you will notice the terms “walk,” “brisk walk,” “jog,” “run,” and “sprint” on the challenge training calendar.

In general, if you think of your effort level during exercise on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being rest and 10 being an all-out maximal effort sprint, you can aim for an effort level of:

  • 2-4 for the optional easy walks on rest days
  • 3-5 for warm-up walking pace and walking during recovery breaks
  • 5-6 for brisk walking
  • 6-7 for jogging
  • 7-8 for running
  • 9-10 for sprinting
Two women bent over after a run, looking at each other smiling.

Why Does the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge Use a Walk/Run Approach?

You may wonder why the Marathon Handbook 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge doesn’t have you running a mile a day right from the start. We use a gradual progression from walking to running to prevent injury.

Because running is a high-impact activity, you need to build up and progress slowly. If you’re not currently running, or are just starting out, a walk/run is an effective approach to building 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 running a mile a day if you’ve been sedentary for a while can make you really sore, which will then make it harder to stick to your routine. This mile-a-day challenge is all about building a healthy habit and exercise routine, not breaking records or going from 0-60 so fast you get whiplash.

A woman jogging on a quiet street.

Why Does the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge Have Rest Days?

Since this 30-day mile-a-day challenge only has you walking and/or running a mile a day, it might seem unnecessary to have a rest day every week. 

After all, if we are supposed to take at least 7,500-10,000 steps a day for health, we should be covering more than a mile a day in our daily lives.

However, rest days are an important aspect of your training. 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.

We have made the weekly rest day optional in this challenge as it’s unlikely physiologically necessary for everyone to take a rest day after walking or running a mile a day. It will depend on your current level of fitness as to whether or not you will need it. 

It can also be helpful to have a rest day for logistical reasons, in case you have a day where you simply can’t fit in your mile. We want this to be a safe, sustainable program that builds confidence and consistency as much as it does fitness, endurance, and strength.

If you feel good, you can also take a mile walk at a gentle stroll pace. 

A man jogging in a park holding a towel.

The Marathon Handbook 30-Day Mile a Day Challenge

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Walk 1 mileBrisk power walk 1 mileWalk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 30 seconds, walk 1 minute for the rest of the mile
Walk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Rest Day or 
Easy walk 1 mile 
Walk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 30 seconds, walk 1 minute for the rest of the mile
Walk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 1 minute, walk 1 minute for the rest of the mile
Walk ¾ mile, Jog ¼ mileBrisk power walk 1 mileWalk 5 minutes warm-up

Then sprint 30 seconds, walk 1 minute for the rest of the mile
Walk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 90 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Rest Day or 
Easy walk 1 mile 
Walk ¼ mile
Jog ¼ mile
Walk ¼ mile
Jog ¼ mile
Walk 2 minutes warm-up

Then run 90 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Walk ½ mile, Run ½ mileBrisk power walk 1 mileWalk 2 minutes warm-up

Then sprint 30 seconds, walk 45 seconds for the rest of the mile
Walk 2 minutes warm up

Then run 2 minutes, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Rest Day or 
Easy walk 1 mile 
Walk ¼ mile
Run ¼ mile
Walk ¼ mile
Run ¼ mile
Walk 2 minutes warm-up

Then run 2 minutes 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Walk ¼ mile, Run ¾ mileBrisk power walk 1 mileWalk 2 minutes warm-up

Then sprint 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Walk 2 minutes warm-up

Then run 3 minutes, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Rest Day or 
Easy walk 1 mile 
Walk ¼ mile
Run ¼ mile
Walk ¼ mile
Run ¼ mile
Walk 2 minutes. 

Run or jog the rest of the mile.
Brisk power walk 1 mileRun 1 mile!
Running A Mile Per Day Challenge Printout

Running a mile a day? You can do it!

After you’ve completed the program and are running a mile a day, let’s set a new goal; how about a couch to 5k program? Check out our training plans for the couch to 5k here.

Two women giving each other a high five after exercising.
Amber Sayer

Amber Sayer

Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. 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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