Regardless of your fitness level, there are a few important things to look for in an online running program:
- Rest days: Your plan should have built-in rest days after each workout. Gill says not to run two days in a row at first to avoid burnout and injury.
- Progression: In order to see results without getting hurt, you need a plan that slowly progresses over time. Miller suggests one that lasts 8 to 12 weeks, and doesn't, "Over-promise quick results."
- Alternating days: While it's crucial that there's a mix of running and rest days, "The best way to see progression is to alternate easy and hard days so you want to look for a plan that does that," says Gill. For example, your plan might look like this: 20-minute run, rest day, 10-minute run, rest day.
- Schedule-friendly: Running 5 days a week will help you progress faster, says Miller, but does it work with your schedule? If the answer is no, you may not stick with it. Have a, "Holistic approach—take everything into perspective," he says.
Best for: Someone who is confident managing his or her own running program and doesn't want to pay for training.
As a beginner, your running program will be critical to your success. With it, you can progress at a safe pace, stay on track with goals, and prep for your first race. What it won't prep you for: how great crossing that finish line feels. That's something you just can't imitate.race.