Walk, Jog, Run! Our Complete Walk To Run Program For New Runners

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If you are new to running, the very notion of running more than a couple of blocks without stopping can seem impossible.

However, taking a walk to run program approach can help safely transition you into the sport by giving your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems time to adapt to the physiological stressors of running.

For beginner runners, a walk/jog/run training program is a great way to decrease the risk of running injuries and not feel overwhelmed by allowing walk intervals within your running routine.

Our run-walk program for beginning runners includes workouts with reps of run intervals and walk intervals so you can adapt gradually to running.

In this guide, we will discuss how to take a walk jog run approach to build fitness, the benefits of a walk to run program, and share a 30-day training plan to help you get started on your journey as a runner.

Two people walking and talking in a park.

What Is a Walk To Run Program?

A walk jog run exercise routine involves combining walking, jogging, and running. 

Note that no official speed differentiates jogging and running, though jogging generally denotes slow running.

On the other hand, the distinction between walking vs. jogging/running is clearer. The actual gait patterns between the two forms of exercise are different even if the moving speeds are not. 

When walking, one foot always remains in contact with the ground. When one foot is in the swing phase (up in the air), the other foot is in the stance phase, supporting the body weight.

This makes walking a low-impact activity because one foot is on the ground at all times; there is no period of time when one is completely airborne.

In contrast, when you run—even when jogging slower than you might walk—there is a “flight” or “float” phase to the jogging gait cycle. 

A close-up of a running taking a step.

This “flight“ or “float“ phase in the gait cycle differentiates running from walking. There is a brief period of time when both legs are in the swing phase and no feet are on the ground.

Therefore, when running or jogging, you have to land on your foot from a completely airborne position, which is why running is a high-impact activity.

For this reason, walking and jogging/running look and feel different, even if the moving speeds aren’t drastically different.

In fact, although most people typically get from point A to point B faster when jogging vs. walking, it is possible to walk faster than you jog.

For example, someone might be able to walk briskly at a speed of 4.3 mph, whereas plenty of slow joggers might only be jogging at 4.0 mph (15 min/mile).

Running usually feels like a more intense and purposeful jog. Your running form might be more exaggerated, with more of a knee drive and a longer, fuller stride, and a faster cadence (steps per minute).

Two women jogging.

What Are The Benefits of a Walk To Run Program?

There are numerous physical and mental health benefits of a walk to run program.

Walking and running are both forms of aerobic exercise, so there’s a lot of overlap in the health and fitness benefits1Anderson, E., & Durstine, J. L. (2019). Physical activity, exercise, and Chronic diseases: a Brief Review. Sports Medicine and Health Science1(1), 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smhs.2019.08.006 of each.

These benefits include strengthening the heart and lungs, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, boosting aerobic capacity or VO2 max, decreasing blood pressure, improving blood sugar regulation, strengthening the muscles in the legs, reducing stress, boosting mood, and weight loss or supporting a healthy weight.

However, jumping right into running if you have been relatively inactive or haven’t been doing high-impact cardio exercise can be a recipe for injuries and mental defeat if you have poor fitness.

A walk jog run program allows you to enjoy the benefits of walking, jogging, and running while safely progressing to more jogging and running if you have been sedentary.

If you have even looked for any Couch to 5K training plans, you may have noticed they are also comprised of run walk run intervals.

People doing their workout from their walk to jog program.

Some people even decide to stick with a run/walk approach for all of their workouts, even when they become more experienced runners.

For example, the Jeff Galloway run walk method involves taking deliberate walking breaks at various intervals during your run, even when running marathons.

This can help improve endurance and give your legs, cardiovascular system, and mind a relative break periodically throughout the workout.

Running is a very high-impact activity.

For this reason, whether you use a walk to run program to run longer distances without stopping or as a way to add variety to your cardio workouts, combining walking with jogging and running is a great way to build cardiovascular fitness and endurance without placing so much stress on your bones and joints.

Including low-impact cross-training is another way to do the same, avoiding the pounding of only running. Examples include cycling, swimming, and the elliptical machine.

People at a Fun Run.

Can I Run a Race On A Walk To Run Program?

Don’t worry; it is normal to feel a little bit of anxiety about participating in your first race, whether you can run the whole thing or take a jog/walk approach.

If you are doing a walk to run program to build fitness and want to participate in an organized running event but don’t quite feel up to a “real race,” you can also try a fun run.

Whether you decide to do a race or a fun run, the good news is that you will not be alone in your nerves. 

A significant number of people participating in their first race or fun run will be a little jittery as well, as community running events and races often draw runners and walkers who are absolutely brand new to the sport and have no experience and very little fitness built up yet.

Additionally, you can always stop and walk if you need to; there are absolutely no rules about how fast you need to go and no pressure about achieving a certain finish time. 

Four women at a Fun Run.

The majority of community 5K races also have a very relaxed atmosphere, so if you would rather participate in a 5K race rather than a themed fun run but are a complete novice, rest assured that you are more than welcome to register for a regular 5K race with no experience. 

You can also walk or jog any or all of the 5K race, just as you can with a fun run. 

The only real difference will be that the atmosphere will likely be more competitive in the 5K race, particularly up front, but there are always many participants in community 5K races who take on the event with a casual attitude and want to have fun along the way.

What Is A Good Beginner Walk To Run Program Schedule?

We have created a 30-day walk-to-run program for beginners. Remember that your running pace is not important when following this beginner walk/jog training plan.

Run and jog by feel. Just try to keep making forward progress.

The process of getting in shape is not a race.

If you are using a walk/run training plan for beginners to get in shape and build up your endurance and strength to run longer distances without stopping, the goal should be to accrue total time on your feet and work on your stamina even if it means that you are jogging and running slowly.

Four people walking.
Walk/Jog for 10 minutes, taking walking breaks as neededWalk/Jog for 10 minutes, taking walking breaks as neededRest Walk/Jog for 15 minutes, taking walking breaks as neededWalk/Jog for 15 minutes, taking walking breaks as neededWalk 15 minutesWalk/Jog for 20 minutes, taking walking breaks as needed
Jog for 5 minutes without stopping, walk for 2 minutes,  
jog for 5 minutes without stopping, walk for 2 minutes
Walk 30 minutesJog for 10 minutes without stoppingRestJog for 15 minutes without stoppingWalk 30 minutesJog for 20 minutes without stopping 
Walk 5 minutes, jog 5 minutes, run 1 minute  
without stopping three times through
RestJog 20 minutes without stopping with 3 x 30  secs of faster running in the middle of your jog40 minute walkJog for 25 minutes without stoppingRestWalk 1 minute, jog 3 minutes, run 1 min 6 times 
Jog 25 minutes without stopping with 3 x 60 seconds of faster running in the middle of your jogRestWalk 1 minute, jog 3 minutes, run 3 minutes
Four times through
45 minute walk 10 minute run without stoppingRestJog for 30 minutes without stopping

Have fun and stop and walk if you need to. Stick with it and enjoy the journey.

Welcome to the world of running!

Walk, Jog, Run! Our Complete Walk To Run Program For New Runners 1

Once you get into longer, consistent runs, you’ll want to add a warm-up and cool-down to each one. Read our guides to know exactly what to do:


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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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