I'm pretty new to running and can only run for 2-3 minutes at a time. Is there any rule of thumb I should know of for setting goals? For example, each week run two minutes more or something like that?

I find it really hard to know what I should do, and I think my current method of running till I'm really puffed probably isn't the best way.

  • Adidas MiCoach has an option on their website to create a training schedule based on your goal and current level of fitness. These workouts seem very balanced and have similar variations as those in @Chris S's answer. Best of all: it's all free (AFAIK).
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Mar 8, 2011 at 20:52
  • That sounds great too - if you want to put it as an answer, I'll +1 it.
    – Ciaocibai
    Commented Mar 8, 2011 at 22:02

3 Answers 3


The general rule of thumb is to add no more than 10% (measured in either time or distance) per week. If you're just getting started running, I would recommend the Couch to 5k program. I used this last year to start running (after having never done any running in the past), and completed my first marathon in December.

  • While I applaud you for managing to to train up to a marathon in such a short time, this doesn't really help him decide how often he should be running and whether to use interval trainings or recovery runs.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Mar 8, 2011 at 20:55
  • that program looks so nice for a total newbie like me. But what could I do in the case that near home there are only uphills and downhills ? Do you know anything similar?
    – nuc
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 14:12
  • @nuc It shouldn't matter too much. The program consists of short intervals of running with walking breaks in between. You'll have a slightly more difficult start but your body should adjust do compensate pretty quickly (unless the hills are really extreme). Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 19:08

Runner's world has a great tool called Smart Coach for improving your speed gradually over time.

The formula is:

  • You run 3 days a week
  • Day 1 Long run (whatever that means for you)
  • Day 2 break
  • Day 3 short run
  • Day 4 break
  • Day 5 speed run or sprints
  • Day 6 Break
  • Day 7 Break

So if you did the long run on Sundays:

  • Sunday: long run
  • Monday: break
  • Tuesday: short run
  • Wednesday: break
  • Thursday: sprints
  • Friday: break
  • Saturday: break

The smart coach is geared towards training for a 5k/10k/marathon competition over a 12 week training period, so you will probably need to reduce the times/distances it gives you quite a bit if you're only running 2-3 minutes. Increasing by one minute or two minutes a week would be more achievable.


I'm pretty new to running and can only run for 2-3 minutes at a time.

I was in your situation. During a martial arts belt test, they sent us out for a couple-mile run, and I wound up having to walk most of it. Since I knew it would only get worse at higher belts, I decided I needed to become a passable runner.

So here's generally how I did it, using a battery-powered kitchen timer, and running three days a week with a recovery day in between. I focused solely on time, not distance, and would do each step either for a week (three running sessions), or move on faster if I felt comfortable but not like I was pushing myself into injury.

  1. 15 minutes, alternating run one minute, walk two (1/2).
  2. 15 minutes, alternating run one minute, walk one (1/1).
  3. 15 minutes, 2/1.
  4. Stick to 15 minutes, but progressively lengthen the cycles (3/1, 4/1, etc.) until you're at run seven, walk 1, run seven.
  5. Run 15 minutes straight. By this point, it will probably be a breeze.
  6. Increase the time by 2-3 minutes until you get to 30.

At that point, I was doing about 4 km in 30 minutes, which is really a jog. After than, I stuck to 30 minutes but worked on lengthening my stride, which increased my speed and distance.

Worked great for a chubby old geek in his late 40s whose prior running experience was mostly in high school gym class. :-)

Now I consider myself a runner, and have done it literally around the world while on business trips.

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