Unless running comes natural to you a 'la Forest Gump, the first part of a running program is to build the endurance base. This can be done by centering your program around three principles: consistency, incremental improvement, and rest. Add enough time to the equation and just about anyone can become a distance runner.

Being Consistent

When starting your running program, concentrate on running a specified amount of time instead of a set distance. The actual time you run in the beginning depends on your fitness level. It's ok to start at a 20 minute run or even a five minute run if anything higher is too challenging. The key is to pick a point that works for you. It's a good idea to run three times a week for two to three weeks at your beginning time to get your body used to running.

If it's been a long time since you've done a running program or if you've never done one at all, it's going to feel unnatrual and uncomfortable at first. Unfortunately, you just have to go through this stage as there is no way around it. As you become consistent, running will start to feel not only tollerable, but envigorating.

Incremental Improvement

After running for two to three weeks, dedicate at least one week per month but no more than three weeks per month to increasing the time you run. I recommend that you increase it by between one minute to two and a half minutes per run. So, for instance, if you were running 20 minutes per run prior to your improvement week, your running schedule might look like this.

Monday - 22.5 minute run
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday 25 minute run
Thursday - Rest
Friday 27.5 minute run
Saturday - Rest
Sunday - Rest

After an improvement week, 27.5 minutes becomes your new set time for your running program. Continue to run three times a week but it's ok to run less than 27.5 minutes for one of your runs. The increased pace on the shorter run will prepare your body for the speed workouts that will come later.


Overtraining is your worst enemy, especially as your getting your body used to a running program. There will be a day when things just click and running becomes much easier. You'll want to run more and more, and quite possibly do back-to-back improvement weeks for months until you're running a marathon. Resist the temptation to do this as you will most certainly end up with an injury.

Think of running as a maintenance activity like brushing your teeth. It's something you should do for the rest of your life. With that philosophy in mind, you'll realize that time is on your side so there is no need to push yourself until you break down.

Also, the slower you build your base, the more likely you will be to learn to enjoy running. If running is always a painful endevor, you most likely will not stick with it. But, by taking your time, maybe only doing one improvement week a month, you will have a better chance at being consistent.

After you've reached your desired endurance level and want to maintain your stamina while working on speed, adjust your schedule to look like something from last week's article.

This is a sound program for anyone who wants to start a running program but doesn't know how. Be sure not to neglect any of the three principles and you'll not only be able to run amazing distances, but you'll enjoy doing it.

Semper Fidelis!