A running program can prepare you for your first race, help you become a more serious runner, or simply get you up and moving. But, knowing where to start can be intimidating. If you feel overwhelmed by the many training options, you're not alone.
There are hundreds of running programs as well as the option to hire a coach. The plan you choose will dictate how well you stick with the plan and how well you progress, so consider what will work best for you.
Here's a look at the three most common types of running programs for beginners.
1. Private Coaching
While there are hundreds on running plans online (see option number 3), a private coach is perfect for a beginning runner. "It's really helpful to have somebody there to write a plan, to run with you, to give you motivation, to answer questions—a lot of times the questions come up while you're running, and a coach is there to answer those questions," says Jennifer Gill, a Road Runners Club of America-certified running coach.
With a custom-made running plan, you can avoid injury and progress at exactly the right pace.
However, a customized running program isn't the only benefit to this option: a one-on-one coach is ideal for someone who needs something or someone to hold him or her accountable. Cost alone, which ranges anywhere from $30 to $80 a session, is enough to motivate most people to show up for every meeting. And if someone's waiting for you, chances are you'll show up.
Though the cost may be higher than other available running programs, you pay for the expertise. When there's a change in your running schedule because of bad weather, illness, injury or vacation, your coach can, "Change the plan if need be, adjust if need be," says Blake Miller, director of Team VAVI Running Club.
Best for: Someone who's never run before, who needs extra motivation, and would like one-on-one guidance during and after runs.
More: How to Run Your First 5K