Begin a running program

Ready to start a running program? What is your fitness level? Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. We already know you have a couple of screws loose upstairs. How else do we explain your commitment to run a marathon?

That’s okay, runners are a little crazy.

We talked, in a previous post, about the mental preparation you go through as you begin a running program and as you prepare for a marathon. So, you’ve already done a deep introspection to determine your physical fitness level.

Problems with running programs

I have discovered that there is a hole in a lot of marathon training programs. Many of them begin with a 4-day running schedule right out of the gates. Some require an even greater time and physical commitment. If you struggle to put one foot in front of the other, a multiple-run week may be really tough. And this could ultimately lead to discouragement. If you are unprepared for the rigorous schedule, it can even lead to injury. You need to be well prepared to start the marathon training program on Day 1 of the training schedule. To be properly prepared, you will need to fill the gap from no running whatsoever to the start of the marathon training with a solid running program.  

Quick physical assessment

We need to start with a baseline to give us a starting point. After we know the starting point, we can begin to plan for success. Let’s go through a quick assessment checklist.

Ask yourself, Can I:

  • Ride a bike for 30 minutes?
  • Jump rope for 30 minutes continuously?
  • Play a game of basketball for 30 minutes?
  • Run for 30 minutes without barfing up a lung?
  • Walk consistently for 30 minutes?

Can I dance to The Blues Brothers, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” on Just Dance 4 on the Wii? For me, the answer was no. I love the Blues Brothers. After dancing for just 10 minutes, I was totally winded. And, that’s how I knew I was out of shape.

This will give you a couple of ideas to gauge your physical fitness level.

Ready for a running program

If you can complete any of these without a problem, you are in pretty good shape and you’re good to go.  You may not need a running program. You may already be in a position where a multi-run week won’t completely shock your system. Which is great. We’ll chat more about how to get started in the training program in upcoming posts.

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The build-up running program

If you can’t, that’s fine. No problem whatsoever. We’ll just have to start a build-up running program before we get into the longer-term marathon training. Sound good?

Pre-training training plan

The pre-training training program. This will get us over the hump from walking consistently to running consistently. Walking is probably the best precursor to a solid running program.  There are many other activities that help your cardiovascular training, including cycling, swimming, stair climber-ing, breakdance fighting, trying to look cool on the elliptical, circuit weight training, angry punch dancing, and many, many more.


First, consult your physician before starting any physical training. They can provide advice specific to your individual physical condition.

When you talk to your doctor about your desire to run a marathon, they may ask if you’re crazy. And they may have a bunch of questions for you. Questions like, “did you fall and hit your head?” Or, “did someone hit you in the head with a blunt object?”

Next, you say, “I’ll show you doc, I will run a marathon with your consent or without it.” 

The good news is that most doctors are on board with the whole marathon idea. It’s exercise. And it gets you outside.

To help you prepare for a full running program, “The Chubby Runner Pre-Training Training Plan” was designed to help build continuous cardiovascular activity for 30 minutes. As you begin, pick your favorite cardio activity. Follow the schedule strictly, we are building endurance and cardiovascular strength in preparation for the marathon training program. If you want you can exceed the time listed. Try not to fall below.

Good Luck.

running program

Final thoughts on beginning a running program

Now that you’ve completed the running program, you can move on to a full marathon training plan. We will talk in other posts about the next steps as you begin your marathon training program. Great work. Now go eat some pancakes. You’ve earned it!