City Fit Girls' Guide To Run 1-Mile [For NEW Runners]

By Takia McClendon

If you're reading this blog, it's safe to assume you're thinking about running your first mile. No matter what you're reason is to take on this new challenge, working up to run a mile can be great for your overall health. We created a 3-week plan, with beginners in mind, that will take you from walker to runner in 21 days. Keep reading to get started.  

Who is this plan for?

This 1-mile training plan is for anyone who wants to run one mile continuously but hasn't run a mile in their adult life (or in a few years). To start, all you'll need to be able to do is walk comfortably for 30 minutes. 

Why do you want to run 1-mile? Before we get started, let's think about why you want to set this goal. Some popular reasons include:

  • Improve overall fitness
  • Weight loss
  • Increase happiness/relieve stress
  • Reduce the risks of some preventable diseases
  • What's YOUR reason? 

What should you expect from this plan?

This is a 3-week self-guided training plan with tips and resources to help you make it to the end. Most of the workouts included can be done at your home, local park, gym, trail, or track. This is NOT a personal training program. Be sure to join the City Fit Girls PA/NJ or D.C. group to find out about group runs and workouts. 

What you'll need to get started:

  • A good pair of comfortable, running/workout shoes. 
  • A bottle of water for EVERY workout. A reusable bottle is recommended. 
  • A smart phone or training log to track your runs and workouts. 
  • A smart phone or internet access to do 30 minute cross-training workouts. 

You get what you give: 

If you want to run a mile, you're going to have to put in the work. Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. Follow along the plan as much as you can and you'll run a mile continuously in 3 short weeks.  


Your training weeks - Explained. 

  • Sundays: Active Recovery - Take time to stretch for 20-30 minutes or go to a yoga class. In order to keep your knees and muscles pain-free, you'll have to make stretching a part of your normal routine. 
  • Mondays: Walking + short workout - Today's workout is about building endurance and focusing on your breathing. Walk at a faster than normal pace (don't forget to hydrate) and follow the walk immediately with the workout. After you complete your workout, be sure to cool down and stretch for 5 minutes. 
  • Tuesdays: Intervals - Your interval workouts should feel challenging. Start with walking and finish each interval with running. After you've completed the workout, take a few minutes to walk until your heart rate has return to normal then stretch for 5 minutes. 
  • Wednesdays: Cross-Training - Use this day to switch up your routine with your favorite fitness class, a swim or an at-home cardio workout On Demand. These workouts should get your heart rate going but focus on using different muscles. Don't run on these days. 
  • Thursdays: Strength-Training - If you want to be able to run a mile, you'll have to strengthen your muscles to take on the impact of running. Start by downloading the free Nike Training Club app and completing a beginner's 30-min workout. Unlike your cross-training days, your strength training workouts should focus on functional movement and building muscle. Check out this post for other workout ideas. 
  • Fridays: Rest Day - You earned it. Your body needs a full day of rest (meaning no working out) to recover properly. If you don't rest, it will take longer to see improvement in your fitness. You'll also increase the risk of injury.
  • Saturdays: Intervals/Long Run - These workouts are very similar to your Tuesday Intervals except they include distance-based intervals in addition to time-based intervals. 


  • 1/4 mile = .25 mile or 1 time around the track. 
  • 1/2 mile = .5 mile or 2 times around the track
  • 1 mile = 4 times around the track

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I do a burpee? Burpees are tough - but worth it! They combine functional movements - the squat, the plank, the push-up, the squat thrust, and the straight jump - for a great workout to make you a stronger runner. Click here for video instruction. 

How fast should I be running? Not fast at all. Your primary goal is build up to run a mile without stopping. Your runs should be completed at an easy pace. If you're brand new to running, try running no faster than a 10 minutes/mile pace. Your pace may be closer to 13 or 16 minutes/mile and that's okay. 

How will I track my runs and walks? There are two free apps that we recommend. Try downloading MapMyRun or the Nike+ Running App. They are both free and will track your distance and pace with a tap of a button. 

Will this program be hard on my knees? Unless you've been instructed by your physician to avoid running, this program should be fine. As long as you commit to  stretch after every workout and complete your cross-training and strength-training days, you should be fine. 

Can I switch a few days around? Of course. The plan should work into your busy schedule. Just don't do your two interval workouts on back-to-back days.

Can I skip a workout or run if it's too easy/too hard? Nope. A training plan is carefully crafted to help you build up to your goal. Try to follow the plan closely unless you believe you are at risk for injury.  

What should I do if I'm not motivated to workout? We wrote this blog just for you. 

Ready to get started? Share this post with your friends and family members. Let them know what you plan to do and invite them to join you! Share your runs and workouts using the hashtag #cityfitgirls. 

Disclaimer: Please do not start a new training program without consulting your doctor. City Fit Girls, LLC. is not liable for any injuries sustained from following this plan. By participating, you assume all risks associated with running. Run safe, and run smart. 

Takia McClendon is the co-founder of City Fit Girls. She's a shoe expert and manager at a running store in Philadelphia and a Certified Level 1 USATF Coach. Follow her online at @takiamcclendon. 

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