Yup, even if you aren’t a “runner.”

By Jessica Cassity
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Running is one of the most straightforward ways to zap calories, move your muscles, strengthen your heart, and otherwise get into shape. All you need to do is put on a sports bra, lace up your shoes, and go. No fancy equipment or classes required. But if you’re intimidated by the idea of being a “runner,” you may have wondered how to get started. Not to worry: We have the perfect plan, even if you scoff at the idea of you, running—let alone racing.

This 13-week program smoothly transitions from walking to running to racing a 5k. It’s so basic anyone can follow it—including people who’ve never owned actual running shoes. (Be sure you get a pair before starting!) This ease-in approach—which comes from Paisley Meekin, owner of Honest Training in Portland, Ore., a training studio that specializes in small groups—is a must for having fun and staying injury free. “This sustainable plan builds a strong body,” she says.

Do the following routines three days a week for the next 13 weeks. If you miss a day, don’t sweat it. “When you miss a day you can totally jump in right where you left off and you will be fine!” says Meekin.

To keep your head in the game, sign up for a springtime race. “When you have a race on the books, you have something to work toward,” she says.

Week 1

Do a 5-minute warmup walk. Alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of fast walking for a total of 20-30 minutes. Do this 3 times during the first week.

Week 2

Do a 5-minute warmup walk. Alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 2 minutes of fast walking for a total of 20-30 minutes. Do this 3 times during the second week.

Week 3

Do a 5-minute warmup walk. Jog for 2-3 minutes then fast walk for 1 minute. Repeat for 20-30 minutes. Do this 3 times during the third week.

Week 4

Do a 5-minute warmup walk. Jog for 2-3 minutes then fast walk for 1 minute. Repeat for 20-30 minutes. Do this 3 times during the fourth week.

Week 5

Do a 5-minute fast warmup walk. Jog 3-4 minutes then walk fast for 1 minute. Repeat for 20-30 minutes. Do this 3 times during the fifth week.

Week 6

Do a 5-minute fast warmup walk. Jog 5-6 minutes (or ½ mile) then walk fast for 2-3 minutes. Repeat for 30 minutes. Do this 3 times during the sixth week.

Week 7

Do a 5-minute fast warmup walk. Jog 5-6 minutes (or ½ mile) then walk fast for 2-3 minutes. Repeat for 30 minutes. Do this 3 times during the seventh week.

Week 8

Do a 5-minute fast warmup walk. Jog 7-8 minutes (or ¾ mile) then walk fast for 1-2 minutes. Repeat for 30 minutes. Do this 3 times during the eighth week.

Week 9

Do a 5-minute fast warmup walk. Jog 10-12 minutes (or 1 mile) then walk for 1-2 minutes. Repeat for 30 minutes. Do this 3 times during the ninth week.

Week 10

Do a 5-minute fast warmup walk. Jog for 15-20 minutes or about 2 miles. Do this 3 times during the tenth week.

Week 11

5-minute fast warmup walk. Jog for 15-20 minutes or about 2 miles. Do this 3 times during the first week.

Week 12

5-minute fast warmup walk. Jog for 20-25 minutes or about 2-2.5 miles. Do this 3 times during the twelfth week.

Week 13

Run 30 minutes, or around 3.1 miles (Guess what? you just ran a 5K!)

Want to step it up a notch? You can improve your fitness and running by adding 5-15 minutes of strength training one to two times a week. Start with these 5 moves, suggests Meekin.

  1. Bridge lifts
  2. Planks
  3. Single leg deadlift
  4. Squats
  5. Lunges

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