Beginners Running Plan for Weight Loss

A lot of exercises take up running to lose weight, and it’s easy to understand why. Running is a simple but effective way to burn calories and get fit. Other than a good pair of running shoes (find our favorites for both women and men here), you don’t really need any special equipment, and you don’t need any special athletic skills either. All you need to do is lace up your sneakers and get running!

That being said, if you want to get the best possible results from your workouts, you need to follow a plan.

Why? Good question!

Exercise is a form of stress. When you run, you place a lot of demands on your body and your body responds by making you fitter and stronger so that, next time, your workout won’t be so stressful. 

If you always do the same length run – say three miles – you’ll only ever be three-miles fit. If you want to get fitter, you’ll need to run further, faster, or more often. Running, like all types of exercise, never really gets any easier, your body just gets better at it, so you can do more. 

As an added benefit, the further you run, the more calories you’ll burn, and the more weight you’ll lose. 

To help you lose weight, I’ve created a beginner’s running plan for weight loss. It’s simple to follow, only lasts a month, and should help you to start shedding those unwanted extra pounds. It’ll also make you a better runner. 

Before you start

If you are new to running, a strongly suggest you follow the beginners running plan from my article Running for Beginners. Why? Because for the plan in this article I’ve assumed you can run for at least 20 minutes without stopping. 

If you are very unfit at the moment, it would be a good idea to prepare yourself even more by doing the four-week walking plan in my article Walking for Health. It’s a good way to develop some basic fitness and get you ready for more the demanding running workout plans. 

Doing too much exercise too soon is a good way to end up sore and tired. It’s often better to rein-in your enthusiasm and excitement and start off slow and easy. That way, you are more likely to keep going. 

Don’t forget your diet 

I don’t want you to follow a super-strict, starvation diet. They never work for more than a few weeks – something I talk about in my article Why Diets are Doomed to Fail. However, I do need you to start watching what you eat. Follow these simple guidelines to create the healthy eating habits that will help you lose weight and keep it off forever. 

  • Cut down on added and refined sugar 
  • Cut out soda 
  • Eat more veggies and fruit, and less processed food
  • Prepare your own meals 
  • Only eat until you start to feel full; don’t overeat 
  • Drink lots of plain water 
  • Give intermittent fasting a try 
  • Replace 1-2 meals per day with low calorie meal replacement shakes 

You don’t need to follow a strict diet to lose weight and keep it off. In fact, it’s better that you don’t. Instead, change your eating habits for life and you’ll not only lose weight easily and without feeling miserable or hungry, you’ll keep it off for good. 

Warming up and cooling down 

Before you start any of the workouts in the plan, make sure you spend a few minutes warming up, so your body is ready to work. Do the following: 

  • Walk briskly for 5-10 minutes 
  • Stretch your lower body muscles and your lower back
  • Start your workout slow and easy, increasing speed gradually over the next few minutes 

Once your workout is finished, make sure you spend a few minutes cooling down to prevent your muscles from getting short, tight, or sore. I like to do some yoga, but you can just repeat the stretches you did in the warm-up if you prefer. 

The workout plan 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Rest Run 20 mins Walk 30 mins Run 22 mins Rest Run 24 mins Walk 28 mins
Week 2 Rest Run 22 mins Walk 32 mins Run 24 mins Rest Run 26 mins Walk 32 mins
Week 3 Rest Run 24 mins Walk 34 mins Run 26 mins Rest Run 28 mins Walk 36 mins
Week 4 Rest Run 26 mins Walk 36 mins Run 28 mins Rest Run 30 mins Walk 40 mins


How fast should you run? 

All your runs should be done at what I call comfortable pace. This means that you are running fast enough that you are a little out of breath, but not so fast you feel like you want to stop. You should be able to speak but need to take pauses for breath every sentence or so. If you measure your heart rate, it should be about 60% of your maximum. You calculate your heart rate like this: 

220 minus your age multiplied by 0.60

For example, if you are 35…

220 – 35 = 195 x 0.60 = 111 beats per minute

How fast should you walk?

For the walks, I want you to walk as fast as you can without breaking in to a run. Your heart rate will be a little lower than when you run, but because you’ll be going for longer, you’ll burn a similar number of calories. Unlike the runs, I don’t mind if you split the walks into 2-3 smaller walks per day. For example, if you don’t have time to walk for 40 minutes, it’s perfectly fine to do two 20-minute walks during your day. 

What other exercises should you do?

In my article Running for Beginners, a listed three exercises that will boost your running performance and help reduce injuries. To make sure you get the most from this running for weight loss program and avoid any problems, I recommend you do these exercises 2-3 times a week, preferably on non-consecutive days, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps of each one will make a big difference. 

Clear your schedule, grab your calendar, and pick a day to start my beginner’s running plan for weight loss. It worked brilliantly for me and my friends, and I know it’ll work for you too. 

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Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m so happy that you’re here! I've shared my story here

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