30-minute run plan | Women's Running

30-minute run plan

Read Time:   |  January 13, 2016

Sporty pretty woman jogging in a park

If you’re a relatively new runner, you may be daunted by the thought of running for more than 10 minutes, but you’ll be surprised by how quickly your stamina will improve if you do it regularly.

By following a plan which works on building up the duration of your runs, week on week, you’ll very quickly be able to run for 30 minutes solid. In fact, with our plan below, you’ll get there in just six weeks.

Before you get started, here’s some key things to think about:

Set yourself a target

“It’s really important to build goals into your programme – ideally short, medium and long-term goals,” says Sport Scientist, former Olympian and Fitbit ambassador Greg Whyte. “For three weeks it may be moving from a one-minute run to a three-minute run. Make those goals public. Tell everybody you are trying to run 5K or 10K and stick your goals on the fridge.”

Do strength training

 “I would look at three days of run/walking and a session of strength work to reduce injury prevalence,” says Whyte. “People new to running always think they have just got to run. Think about the foundation that you are building your running on. One of the key elements to that is strength.” Squats, lunges, single-leg knee dips and core exercises like plank and side plank are good choices. Here’s five body weight exercises, focusing on the legs and core, which you can carry out at home: http://bit.ly/1FcipR0.

sport fitness woman

Break up those early running sessions

Alternate between walking and running for the first four to five weeks while you build stamina. “One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a running programme is they try and run too fast to start with,” says Winfield. “Then after a couple of minutes it becomes very uncomfortable.” As you get fitter, you’ll be able to increase the running intervals and decrease the walking ones. But don’t try and skip the walking intervals entirely at first (see plan). You’ll need them.

Don’t worry about speed

 It’s OK to run slowly while you build your fitness. Just focus on going a bit further each time. “Keep setting yourself goals and targets but make them achievable,” says Winfield.

Remember your breathing will get easier

It may be laboured at first but if you are consistent with your sessions, you will soon get fitter. “Thinking positive thoughts and being relaxed will help your breathing,” says Ellie Barnes. “Think about something completely different and you’ll forget about it. Running with somebody else is a distraction. Nine times out of 10 you will go further because you’re talking to them and you’ve got that distraction.”

Warm up

Always start every run with a five-minute warm-up and cool down at the end for three to five minutes, bringing the speed down gradually to bring heart rate down gradually.


Always stretch at the end of every run for at least 30 seconds – ideally a full minute – focusing on legs, glutes and hip flexors.

Cross train

You can boost your fitness, without putting excessive strain on the muscles employed when running, by doing lots of other cardio activities, including swimming, cycling, rowing or hitting the cross-trainer.

Young Woman Swimming in a Pool

One last word…

This plan assumes you can run nonstop for five minutes and will build you up to running non-stop for 30 minutes in six weeks’ time. If you are a completely new runner, it will take a couple of extra weeks to get there and you would ideally aim to start with shorter blocks of intervals. So rather than doing 4x (3 minutes of running, 2 minutes walking) in week one, you’d start with running for 1 minute, walking for 1 minute, then repeating up to five times. In the second week, you’d increase to running for 2 minutes, walking for 2 minutes, then repeating up to five times again. Feel free to adjust the work/rest intervals based on how you feel but don’t skip the recovery intervals in the earlier part of your training. You can shorten them if you feel particularly strong.

Stop if you feel faint, dizzy or very out of breath. If you’re completely new to exercise, make sure you see your GP and get the all-clear before you start.

Here goes…

So what are you waiting for? Download the plan here.