Training schedule for beginning or injury-prone runners

© April 2017 Paul Cooijmans


This is a running training schedule for beginners and for runners who tend to experience injuries when trying to follow a running programme. The schedule represents a careful approach to running as explained in Principles of running training; it is recommended to study that article before proceeding. The schedule has forms for 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, or 2 sessions per week. While a high training frequency is optimal in this philosophy, the below form for 3 sessions per week is a compromise between practicality and effect. An electronic booklet with all forms of the schedule, covering all of the just named frequencies, is available at the bottom of the page.

Training schedule for beginning or injury-prone runners - cover image


  1. The programmes of the schedule are identified by their weekly run distance, for instance "2 km/week".
  2. Start with the first programme of the form. If you are confident you may skip the easiest programmes, but avoid starting higher than 2 km/week. Repeat the programme until you are certain it causes no injuries or other symptoms of overtraining, and until you feel it can not further improve your running. Then, go to the next-higher programme. If you are confident you may skip a programme at your discretion.
  3. When a programme causes injuries or other symptoms of overtraining, reduce your speed and/or try to run so that your feet strike the ground with as little sound as possible, thus reducing the impact on the kinetic apparatus; if that does not solve it, go back to the next-lower programme. The basic idea is that a training session should only be so hard as to allow you to recover fully in one day. This implies a much lower intensity than most runners consider normal for a training session.
  4. Execute a session as follows: Walk 1 to 2 km by way of warming-up. Run the indicated number of runs of the indicated distance, for instance, 5 x 100 means five times hundred metres. In between the runs, shake your legs loose and walk the same distance as just run; in case of the 1000 metres, the recovery distance may be shortened if you find it too long, but not shorter than 500 metres. Walk 1 to 2 km by way of cooling-down. All walking should be brisk, and never stand still during the session. If a session consists only of walking, leave out the warming-up and cooling-down.
  5. Run at fairly easy paces such that, after the 100, 200, and 400 metres, you do not pant heavily. During and after the 1000 metres, breathing should be deeper, but without suffering serious discomfort.
  6. The first few runs should be done extra slowly to ease into it; in case of the 1000 metres, this concerns just the first one. This is needed because you have walked in the warming-up phase, so are not fully warmed-up for running at the start of the first run. This deviates from the conventional approach of jogging or slow running for warming-up, followed by acceleration runs ("strides", Steigerungen), and has the advantage that you have better control over the total distance run, which makes it easier to prevent injuries and overtraining.
  7. If the 1000 metres sessions feel too long or strenuous, replace them with 800 metres (and the corresponding 800 metres recovery intervals, to be shortened if desired but not shorter than 500 metres). If that is still too long, go back to a programme with 400 metres as its longest distance. When replacing the 1000 metres with 800, use the same number of repeats as prescribed for the 1000.
  8. If you wish to run on a course without measured distances now and then, replace the prescribed training distances with times that approximate how long you normally take for that distance, for instance 30 seconds for 100 metres, 1 minute for 200, and so on. Do not do this too often though, as it is less accurate than running by distance, and therefore offers less control over the total amount of strain on the kinetic apparatus.
  9. Try to run races regularly, like every two to three weeks, in the programmes that advise such. Start with distances around 3 km, and go on to the next-higher available race distance when you can not easily improve your time any more. In the days after a race, possible training sessions must be done extra slowly, or left out altogether if experience has proven that necessary. The number of easy days depends on the distance of the race; a safe rule of thumb is to take one easy day per 1.5 kilometres run in a race, so that, for example, after a 3 km race on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday must be easy, and normal training is resumed on Wednesday. This rule of thumb also forces one to be more sparing with races over longer distances.
  10. Keep in mind that the distances up to 400 metres serve to develop a light-footed, resilient, economical running style, which takes several months to a few years. The 1000 metres serve to improve aerobic capacity, as do possible 800 metres, if you prefer those over 1000. The races serve to improve both aerobic and anaerobic endurance.
  11. If no course with distance signs is available near you, use one of the "Measure your course" web sites on the Internet to find suitable stretches of road or path. Use satellite view, zoom in and use features like curves, crossings, and trees as starting and end points.
  12. Running on soft (unpaved) surface is safer than running on paved roads, with regard to most running injuries.
  13. When possible, run with tailwind. This is better for style. For instance, walk back in the recovery phases so that the same stretch of road or path can be used to run with tailwind each time.
  14. You need not make it to the highest programmes of the schedule. There is probably a programme beyond which you can not advance without suffering injuries. This is normal.
  15. If you can do the most voluminous programme of a form without problems and are not making progress any more, try going to a higher training frequency. When not progressing any more even at the highest training frequency you are willing to do, the next step would be to incorporate jogging or slow running in the warming-up, cooling-down, and recovery phases. However, this increases the total load on the kinetic apparatus, and thus falls outside the scope of the present schedule. See the literature at the end of the book for a training approach beyond the present schedule.
  16. Next to the running sessions, do core stability and flexibility exercises at least several times per week.
  17. Before entering a running programme, you should be able to walk briskly for an hour without interruptions, and you should be confident that you do not have a heart condition that precludes running. Consult a doctor first if in doubt.

Form for 3 sessions per week

0 km/week

Sundaywalk 6 km
Wednesdaywalk 6 km
Fridaywalk 6 km

1 km/week

Sunday5 x 100
Wednesday5 x 100
Fridaywalk 6 km

2 km/week

Sunday10 x 100
Wednesday10 x 100
Fridaywalk 6 km

3 km/week

Sunday10 x 100
Wednesday10 x 100
Friday10 x 100

4 km/week

Sunday15 x 100
Wednesday10 x 100
Friday15 x 100

5 km/week

Sunday20 x 200
Wednesday15 x 100
Friday15 x 100

6 km/week

Sunday20 x 200
Wednesday20 x 200
Friday20 x 200

7 km/week

Sunday15 x 200 or race up to 3 km
Wednesday20 x 100
Friday20 x 100

8 km/week

Sunday15 x 200 or race up to 4 km
Wednesday20 x 100
Friday15 x 200

9 km/week

Sunday15 x 200 or race up to 5 km
Wednesday15 x 200
Friday15 x 200

10 km/week

Sunday10 x 400 or race up to 6 km
Wednesday15 x 200
Friday15 x 200

11 km/week — Advanced

Sunday10 x 400 or race up to 8 km
Wednesday15 x 200
Friday10 x 400

12 km/week

Sunday5 x 1000 or race up to 10 km
Wednesday15 x 200
Friday10 x 400

E-book "Training schedule for beginning or injury-prone runners"

An electronic booklet with all forms of the schedule, covering training frequencies of 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 sessions per week. By way of example, the form with 3 sessions/week is shown above on this page. Order with the below PayPal button, or use one of the alternative methods of payment. The book will be sent to you by e-mail within one or two days, mostly within hours.

Training schedule for beginning or injury-prone runners - cover image Title: Training schedule for beginning or injury-prone runners
Author: Paul Cooijmans
Publisher: I.Q. Tests for the High Range
Format: E-book in P.D.F.
Pages: 26
Language: English
Price: € 2.50

Review by reader

"A profound and brilliant work. This approach to running breathes the spirit of the parable of the Chinese boy who became a Shaolin monk. And even though the author is depicted on the cover wearing shoes, it will work for barefoot flight-phased locomotion just as well. Moreover, explicit attention to running technique is avoided by prescribing short intervallic efforts with long recovery as the basis of one's training, which instinctively and involuntarily leads to an efficient style. No boring technical exercises, therefore. Revolutionary is also the insight that injury-prone runners — and are not all runners injury-prone at heart? — are, in practice, so hindered by injuries that, in training, they can or should really never exceed the level of beginners, so that all they need is a beginner's schedule."

Ina (Excutatrix in the Field of eternal integrity)