Now that I have my running shoes and am ready to get back to a running program, I need to decide which program I am going to use. I have been looking at a variety of different beginning running programs and have come up with 4 viable options which I will list here with pros and cons. The other consideration is whether or not to run outside or on the treadmill at the gym.
The first program is from Runner’s World Magazine. It’s an 8 week beginner’s running program that starts off slow but rapidly increases running time after the first week. I like that the early runs are short with longer walking times in between. I also like that it builds up the run timing to 30 minutes by the end of the 8 weeks. I am a little intimidated by the thought of increasing the running times so quickly after the first week and by the 4 running days each week.
Next on the list is the Couch to 5k (C25K) program. This one is designed for the beginner as well and also starts slow. The primary differences between this program and the Runner’s World program is that this program gradually increases run time over a 9 week period and has runs three days a week. You have the option to run a specific distance or a specific time. This program is downloadable to your I-pod or I-phone and has downloadable podcasts as well. I again like that this program starts slower, I also like that it has 3 days of running vs. 4. I would prefer an 8 week program rather than a 9 week program, but overall think this program is good.
The third program is the 5k Your Way Rookie Running Program from Sparkpeople.com. To follow this program, you would need to be a member of Sparkpeople, which I am. This program is also 8 weeks, starts slow and builds gradually. The downfall of this program is that it only takes you as far as 4 minutes continuous running with a 1 minute walk between, whereas the other programs take you up to 30 minutes of continuous running. This one is definitely less intimidating that the others and does offer the added bonus of a team of supporters on Sparkpeople.com to cheer you on.
The final program is from the National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS) which I found in the book The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Half-marathon Training by Heather Hedrick. There are a few levels to choose from, though the “run/walk” program would be the closest to the other programs, you can then choose a training plan based on distance varying from 8 weeks (5k) to 15 weeks (half-marathon). In this program the run time is always the same (3 minute run/ 1 minute walk) and you increase the distance each week. The advantages to this one is the varied training levels and 3 days of running this week. A disadvantage is that the actual run time itself starts a little high (for me) and never increases even though the distance increases.
For me, I feel the C25K program is probably the best bet to meet my goals. It has what I need in a slower start, but builds up into longer continuous runs. While the fact that it’s a 9 week program means that I will be finishing it up the week that I am home for a visit, it also means that I should be able to time the final training run with my goal of running the boardwalk at Mission Beach, so it’s a win-win.
To look at the other consideration of where to run, I definitely prefer outdoor running (and walking) to the treadmill. While the treadmill has the advantage of being indoors in the event of rain, I feel confined on the treadmill.
What training program would you choose? Do you prefer treadmill or outdoor running?