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Newbies: How to Run Nonstop for 30 Minutes

As posted on Runner’s World.

If you’re already running, here’s how to eliminate walk breaks.
If you’ve been exercising regularly and following a walk/run program for at least six weeks, you’re ready to run nonstop for 30 minutes—without walk breaks. What does “exercising regularly” mean? That’s some combination of running and walking for at least 150 minutes per week (roughly 30 minutes, five days per week). During those workouts you should have been running for at least twice the amount of time you spent walking.

(Not ready yet? Check out our Start Walking or Start Running plans. Or if you’re ready to go longer, or faster, check out our Run Longer and Run Faster plans.)

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare to run for 30 minutes.

Find your place. Map out a few safe, scenic, flat, traffic-free routes that you can cover in various weather conditions and times of day. Or try a track at a local school, where the terrain is flat and free of cars, and the distance is measured. Many schools’ tracks are open to the public when they’re not in use. Not ready to venture outside? Find a gym nearby with treadmills and hours that fit your schedule.

Pace yourself. When you first start out, the trick is to be consistent enough that you’re building strength and endurance, yet slow enough that you don’t get hurt. In order to do that, you’re going to need to do all of your training at an easy pace. Get into a rhythm that feels like you could maintain it forever. It should feel comfortable and conversational. “A lot of runners try to run too fast because they see other people and feel like ‘I’m not a runner unless I’m going X pace,’” says coach Jeff Gaudette, founder of RunnersConnect, an online training service. “If you run faster than you should, it’s going to hurt all the time and you’ll never get to a point where you can do it for 20 to 30 minutes.” Develop endurance first; speed will come later.

Run relaxed. When you start running, it’s common to tense up a lot of the upper-body muscles that aren’t involve with running, which can sap the strength that your lungs and legs need. When running starts to feel difficult, do a “body scan.” Unfurrow your brow, unclench your jaw, bring your shoulders down away from your ears, and keep your hands loose. Avoid clenching your fists. Imagine that you’re holding a piece of paper between each thumb and forefinger.

Stay flexible. Use the training plan as a guide, but don’t hesitate to swap workouts around to fit them into your busy schedule. While longer sessions are ideal, if you’d like to split up the workouts into two or three sessions at first, that’s okay. Make time to work out—and take care of yourself—first thing in the morning, before meetings and family responsibilities can interfere. Set your clothes out in a brightly lit room so you can wake up without waking up everyone else in the house. Make a date with a buddy so you’ll be less likely to hit the snooze button. Midday, block out the time on your calendar, and treat it like a meeting that you can’t miss. If you have to switch around your workouts from the morning to the evening, or vice versa, don’t be surprised if it takes awhile to adjust. You may have a sluggish, jet-lagged feeling at first. That should go away within two weeks.

Get distracted. Tuning out—not in—can help you get through those tough first workouts, says Christy Greenleaf, a professor kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin. Recruit a friend to walk the neighborhood with you; watch your favorite sitcom while you’re on the treadmill; put together a workout mix with tunes that evoke happy memories. “Any way that you can focus your attention on something other than how your body feels will help,” says Greenleaf.

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Dress well. When it comes to running shoes and clothes, splurge, don’t scrimp. While you’re there, invest in shirts, shorts, pants, and jackets made of technical fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin. This may feel like a luxury, but it will keep you comfortable and injury-free for hundreds of miles. Avoid wearing cotton, which absorbs moisture and causes chafing.

Fuel up for your workouts. It’s okay to head out for a workout on an empty stomach, but you may have more energy if you have a wholesome snack and some fluids beforehand. Drink 8 to 16 ounces before you go; water is best. (No need for sports drinks on any workout that’s less than 75 minutes). Have a 200-calorie snack that’s low in fat and low in fiber (less than 2 grams of fiber per serving) before you head out. Eat at least 30 minutes before your workout. Each individual is unique in terms of digestion time, so you may need to eat closer to your workout or a few hours earlier than what’s prescribed here.

You might check out these great ideas for preworkout fueling:

1 cup low-fiber cereal with ½ cup skim milk
2 fig cookies
1 cup of berries with ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
3 graham cracker squares with 1 teaspoon of honey
1 orange
applesauce (without added sugar)
Get the plan. Start our Run Nonstop plan with a 3:2 running vs. walking ratio, and build up gradually so that eventually you can run for 30 minutes without stopping. Below is the first week of the plan. Get your Run Nonstop plan here.
Here’s more about the plan:
Length of plan: 7 weeks
Number of workouts a week: 4 days, with an optional fifth day
First workout: 25 minutes, with a run:walk ratio of 3:2 (about 1.9 miles)
Goal workout: Run 30 minutes with no walk breaks.
Room to maneuver: Want more of a challenge? Skip ahead when you’re ready. If the plan is moving too fast for you, spend two weeks or more at each stage.

Get your Run Nonstop plan here.

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