How To Run Your First Mile, Even If You’re Unfit

Everyone, no matter how fit they are, can do things to increase their fitness level.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done a sit-up, you can always start implementing more activity into your life.

If you’re thinking about becoming more active, you’re already on your way to improving your health.

How To Run Your First Mile, Even If You’re Unfit

Running is one of the best exercises you can do. As long as you’re challenging yourself, you’ll notice better stamina and endurance with every run that you do.

Lots of runners set themselves a certain amount of miles to cover within a workout session. This may be two miles, three, or even more than five, depending on how fit they are.

But what if you’re out of shape and haven’t ever run before? How do you run one mile when you are unfit and are new to the running field?

It’s important to follow the correct advice for this, as your future running ability depends on this.

If you’re out of shape and want to run a mile without stopping, you need to assess your present fitness level.

Once you’ve found out how fit (or unfit) you are, you’ll need to follow a consistent training plan that involves periods of walking and running.

The amount of time it takes somebody unfit to run a mile continuously will vary from person to person.

In most cases, the process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 9 weeks depending on their starting fitness level.

You’ll learn more about how to run a mile without stopping when you’re out of shape in this article.

Evaluating Present Fitness Level

If you’re on this page, it’s safe to assume that you’re either a completely new runner, or haven’t run for a long time.

If you are particularly out of shape, running a continuous mile may take many weeks.

Don’t let this discourage you from starting. You can easily reduce the amount of time needed to improve your fitness level, but this will require dedication to your training plan.

It goes without saying, but please do not attempt to begin running a mile if you have injuries. Running on injured muscles can make them worse in the long run.

As long as you haven’t got any injuries, and can walk well without struggling, you should be fine attempting some of the following training plans.

You’ll find three training plans that suit different fitness levels below. These are as follows:

  • Very poor fitness level: This training plan is suitable for those who have never exercised before. You may be carrying some extra pounds and may have issues when walking.
  • Poor fitness level: This plan is for those who have exercised in the past, but haven’t been consistent with their training. You might not remember when you last set out on a run.
  • Less-than-average fitness level: This plan is for people who try to go to the gym a few times each week. You may go out for short walks regularly.

Wear The Right Running Shoes

How To Run Your First Mile, Even If You’re Unfit

Before you can start training, you need to get your hands on a pair of running shoes. These don’t need to be very expensive, but by the same token, don’t settle for cheap sneakers from general stores.

Shoes that cost between $30 – $40 will be fine for your needs. You can find a lot of these shoes available at specialty sports stores.

Remember that if you do upgrade your current running shoes to a new pair, you can donate your old ones to charity running organizations.

Remember To Warm Up

Even some of the most experienced runners forget to warm up from time to time. Warm-ups are essential to prepare your muscles for a hard workout.

These don’t have to be long, even a five-minute walk can be enough for your session. However, it’s best to allocate yourself 10 minutes to fully loosen up your joints.

When you move from a seated position to a walking one, the switch in positions will tell your body that you will begin running soon.

This has effects on the mind too. Your brain’s receptors will send signals to the rest of your body, letting it know that you’re going to start running.

Warming up will connect the body and mind, better preparing them to take on the challenges of exercise.

Deep Breathing

It’s a good idea to practice deep breathing before you run. Deep breathing is different from shallow breaths in which you solely focus on your lungs. To take a deep breath, you’ll need to focus on your belly.

As you inhale, imagine that your stomach is filling up with air, not your lungs. As you breathe out, think about letting out the air that was in your belly out into the air.

As you run, aim to breathe in after three steps, then breathe out after the next three. If you need to breathe quicker, you can implement the same technique, but do so after two steps instead.

Remember to breathe evenly through both your nose and mouth. The term aerobic refers to oxygen. If you breathe out more carbon dioxide, you’ll be able to inhale more oxygen.

Oxygen is very important, as 80% of your running will involve aerobic exercise. If you don’t breathe through your mouth, and only breathe through your nose, you’ll lower your oxygen supply.

This will make running a lot harder, and you’ll feel more tired overall. Aim to inhale and exhale using your nose and mouth.

Should You Stretch Before Running?

How To Run Your First Mile, Even If You’re Unfit

If you do want to stretch before a run, do not carry out static stretches. These are stretches in which you hold a muscle stretch for a particular amount of time, for instance, 15- 30 seconds.

It’s best to switch to dynamic stretches instead. These don’t involve holding a muscle stretch, but they do involve movements like high knees, side gallops, and leg swings.

If you can’t carry out any dynamic stretches, a walk for 5 to 10 minutes is enough to warm up your muscles.

Tight muscles can prevent you from having a good run, but you can use a foam roller or trigger point ball to help with the knots.

Use these tools in your warm-up routine, as well as your cool-down to prevent the muscles from becoming tight again.

How Many Days Should You Train For?

If you’re serious about running a mile when you’re currently unfit, you need to set aside 4 days of training each week (Find out Will Running Two Miles A Day Get Me In Shape? ).

If this isn’t possible, three days, at a minimum, will suffice, but you’ll notice less progress. Remember that consistency is the only thing that will give results.

Can Overweight People Run?

This will vary depending on how overweight the person is. To figure out if you can run when overweight, you’ll need to use the BMI to work out what your ideal weight should be.

Once you find out this value, you need to multiply this number by 20%. This will give you an idea of how much you can weigh before attempting to run a mile.

Example One

For instance, if a person weighs 200 pounds and their ideal weight was 180 pounds, they are 20 pounds more than their ideal weight.

Next, 180 pounds multiplied by 20% is 36 pounds. 36 added to 180 is 216 pounds, which is the maximum safe weight for that individual to begin running.

As they weigh 200 pounds presently, they should be able to begin their training plan safely.

Keep in mind that this calculation is meant as a rough guide only. If you are overweight, it’s best to consult with your doctor and get their recommendation to begin running.

Example Two

Here’s another example that illustrates when an overweight person shouldn’t begin training.

If a person weighs 270 pounds and their ideal weight is 200 pounds, they are 70 pounds more than their ideal weight.

200 pounds multiplied by 20% is 40 pounds, and 40 pounds added to 200 pounds is 240 pounds.

As the person weighs 270 pounds, they weigh more than 240 pounds, so they should avoid running in the meantime.

If you can relate to the second example, it’s best to focus on adopting a healthier eating plan to lose weight.

It can be dangerous for heavier people to run as they will add extra stress to the muscles and joints.

Once you get closer to an ideal weight, you may be able to begin running unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

A good substitute for running is walking. Walking won’t add as much pressure on your feet as they will always be in contact with the floor while you walk.

Walking is a much gentler way of getting in activity, so if you need to avoid running for medical reasons, consider creating a walking training plan instead.

Walking And Running Interval Plans

How To Run Your First Mile, Even If You’re Unfit

Now that we’ve covered the basics, we can get into the three different training plans outlined above.

The following training plans involve walking-and-running and running-and-walking actions. These will help prepare your mind and body to move from walking movements to running.

As you begin running, remember to take it slow and steady. Your fitness level isn’t strong enough to handle quicker runs.

You should also remember to walk at an appropriate pace during your walking periods.

Don’t walk too fast as you’ll tire yourself out for the running interval. Aim to walk slightly faster than you would when walking casually.

You can find smartphone apps and watches that can manage the running and walking periods for you. These will act as a timer and beep when you need to start the next interval.

Training Plans

All of these plans will cover five training days, but you can choose which days you want to train.

Aim to keep active for the leftover two days of the week. Try to take a 20-minute walk, or if you prefer to measure by distance, aim to cover 2 miles.

Keep monitoring your fitness level as you move through the plan. If you feel ready to try running a continuous mile, give it a try, but don’t feel discouraged if you struggle to get through it.

Aim to space out the training days throughout the week instead of running one day after the next.

For instance, train on days 1 and 2, then take an active rest day. Don’t run three days in a row.

If you find that a certain week is particularly hard to complete, Perform the week to avoid progressing too hard.

Level 3 Running Plan – Less Than Average Fitness Level

How To Run Your First Mile, Even If You’re Unfit

This plan should take you around 2 weeks to run a mile.

Cross-training involves a form of different training, like swimming, biking, or yoga.

Week 1

  • Day 1: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform Twice
  • Day 2: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform Twice
  • Day 3: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform Once
  • Day 4: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform Once
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 2

  • Day 1: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform Twice
  • Day 2: Run 3 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform Thrice
  • Day 3: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform Thrice
  • Day 4: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform Thrice
  • Days 5,6,7: Run 1 Mile

Level 2 Running Plan – Poor Fitness Level

This plan should take you around 5 weeks to run a mile.

Week 1

  • Day 1: Run 2 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 2: Run 2 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 3: Run 2 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 4: Run 2 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 2

  • Day 1: Run 3 minutes / Walk 3 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Day 2: Run 3 minutes / Walk 3 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Day 3: Run 3 minutes / Walk 3 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Day 4: Run 3 minutes / Walk 3 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 3

  • Day 1: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 2 times
  • Day 2: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 2 times
  • Day 3: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 2 times
  • Day 4: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 2 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 4

  • Day 1: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 2 times
  • Day 2: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 2 times
  • Day 3: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform Once
  • Day 4: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform Once
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 5

  • Day 1: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 2 times
  • Day 2: Run 3 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Day 3: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Day 4: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Run 1 Mile

Level 1 Running Plan – Very Poor Fitness Level

This plan should take you around 9 weeks to run a mile.

Week 1

  • Day 1: Walk 4 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Day 2: Walk 4 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Day 3: Walk 4 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Day 4: Walk 4 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 2

  • Day 1: Walk 3 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Day 2: Walk 3 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Day 3: Walk 3 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Day 4: Walk 3 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 3

  • Day 1: Walk 2 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 2: Walk 2 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 3: Walk 2 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 4: Walk 2 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 4

  • Day 1: Walk 4 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 5 times
  • Day 2: Walk 4 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 5 times
  • Day 3: Walk 4 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 5 times
  • Day 4: Walk 4 minutes / Run 1 minute – Perform 5 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 5

  • Day 1: Run 2 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 2: Run 2 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 3: Run 2 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 4: Run 2 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 6

  • Day 1: Run 3 minutes / Walk 3 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Day 2: Run 3 minutes / Walk 3 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Day 3: Run 3 minutes / Walk 3 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Day 4: Run 3 minutes / Walk 3 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 7

  • Day 1: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 2 times
  • Day 2: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 2 times
  • Day 3: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 2 times
  • Day 4: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 2 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 8

  • Day 1: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 2 times
  • Day 2: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 2 times
  • Day 3: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Day 4: Run 6 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Rest or Cross-Train

Week 9

  • Day 1: Run 6 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 3 times
  • Day 2: Run 3 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 3: Run 4 minutes / Walk 1 minute – Perform 4 times
  • Day 4: Run 4 minutes / Walk 2 minutes – Perform 3 times
  • Days 5,6,7: Run 1 Mile

Remember To Cool Down

How To Run Your First Mile, Even If You’re Unfit

Cooling down is important so your heart rate can gradually return to a normal resting pace. All you need to do is walk at a gentle pace for five to ten minutes after your run.

You can also add foam rolling and stretches to your cool-down routine to improve your muscle flexibility.

Don’t Give Up!

When it comes to running a continuous mile, some runners will have to spend more time training than others to do so.

It can be discouraging when you haven’t reached your ideal fitness goals yet. However, please remember that what matters more isn’t how long reaching a fitness level takes, it’s that you keep training regardless.

Many beginner runners fail on their journey as they try to do too much too soon. Try to take your time and keep a regular training plan, and sure enough, you’ll notice a difference in your ability.

Keep in mind that it can take as many as three weeks to notice the benefits of running.

If you’re feeling frustrated right at the start, try to stick with it for at least a month, then see how you feel. You may grow to love running and turn it into a lifelong hobby.

The Bottom Line

Every runner, whether they are just starting or are professional athletes, will encounter training issues from time to time.

Despite this, it is usually the beginners who struggle more than those who are more experienced.

This is because experienced runners have been training for years, developing the mental resilience that is needed to stick with this form of exercise. Running isn’t just a physical workout – it’s a mental one too.

The most common reason why beginner runners might struggle is that they run too fast, or they attempt to run for longer distances than their body can handle.

The training plans above will help you run a mile, regardless of your fitness level, but they all involve starting slowly and gradually working your way up.

If you are struggling a lot, try to stick with it, at least for a few weeks. You might be surprised at what you accomplished in that time!

Jessica Knight