Regardless of your fitness level, you can easily start from zero to running 20 minutes continuously in 10 weeks. The program below, adapted from the New York Road Runners Club, does exactly that and is an example of an ten-week run/walk strategy, aimed at beginners in good health. You can do it.
All it requires on your part is the commitment to go out and run 3, preferably 5 times, a week.
Depending on how often you are running, try to allow for a day of recovery between runs. For example, if you are running 4 times a week, avoid running 4 consecutive days.
Warm up before you start with a 5 – 10 minute fast walk and cool down with 5 – 10 minutes of slow walking.
Run at a moderate pace, at 60 – 70% maximum heart rate and walk briskly for the walking phases.
You should be able to pass the “talk test.”
If you run flat out, you will be too exhausted to repeat the intervals and will probably vow to never run again. The walking breaks are important too. Walking intervals allows you to recover and means that you can run for longer.
Remember, you are running for endurance, not sprinting. It also breaks your run into manageable parts, decreases the likelihood of aches, pain and injury. You feel great afterwards, not overwhelmingly fatigued and completely exhausted. You can for long distances, which you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.