This 20-Minute Beginner’s Running Workout Helped Me Get Back on the Treadmill After Two Years

Photo: Getty Images/ LeoPatrizi
When it comes to making time for movement each day, I am not typically someone who struggles with motivation. However, when it comes to lacing up my sneakers and getting myself out the door for a run, even a 20-minute beginner run, I can think of approximately one thousand reasons not to: My good leggings aren't clean, I'm not warmed up, I don't have time, tomorrow would be better, I just washed my hair, I'm about to wash my hair, it's a Thursday, mercury is in retrograde...need I say more?

While I'm not a proponent of forcing yourself to do a workout that you don't want to do, there are things about running that I do really like. As an over-thinker, I find putting one foot in front of the other can be really meditative. Plus, maintaining even a semi-regular running practice definitely gives you a sense of accomplishment.

My earliest memory of running was not so positive: The Presidential Fitness Test. (I have since learned that this particular trauma is widespread), which included running a mile in a given amount of time or you were deemed "unfit." Having never run for one single, solitary moment in my entire life, I gave it my all for about 20 seconds, petered out quickly, and failed the test. From that moment on it was decided: I. Hate. Running.

But a few years ago, I realized that I shouldn't let one moment in 7th grade define my whole life, and it was time to give running a real shot. I started slowly, built endurance, and, shockingly, began enjoying it. Unfortunately, just as I was gaining confidence as a runner, I injured my shoulder and had to take a break. In my mind, running was too physically demanding, and I'd probably never be recovered enough to pick it up again.

Then two years and one shoulder surgery later, my physical therapist broke the good news: I was officially cleared to try higher-intensity exercise! She explained that I had likely developed a mental block around running, and it would be perfectly safe to start slow with one-minute intervals. Plus, as she explained, there are some real benefits to interval running—it can reduce your risk for injury, decrease stress levels, and increase your overall aerobic capacity.

For my first run back I kept the speeds on the slower side, but even after being away from the sport for a while, I could still find moments to push myself. I'm confident that if I keep at it, I'll start to see some slow progress in no time. If you want to ease back into the sport yourself, trying starting with this 20-minute beginning running workout.

20-minute interval run for beginners

Minutes 1–3: warm-up at a brisk walking pace (2.5 mph3.5 mph)

Minutes 4–19: alternate between a fast jog or run (5mph–7mph) and your brisk walking pace every 60 seconds

Minute 20: cool-down with brisk walk (2mp–3mph)

Don’t forget to warm up your core before you hit the ground running: 

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