learn to run


Thank you for joining us here to learn to run. I am so excited to be part of this with you. You probably have a million questions so I thought I’d try to answer as many as I can here.

How is this going to work?

I am going to take you week by week through a training program that will take you from walking to running non stop for 30 minutes in 12 weeks.

Each week you will be given a walk/ run program which you do three times. Most weeks it will be the same session, occasionally they will be different each time. It’s best if you could do the sessions with rest days in between, for example Monday, Wednesday, Saturday or Tuesday, Thursday Sunday etc.

If you have weeks where you can only get two walk/ runs in that’s fine. If you are finding this is a regular thing rather than a one off let me know, because I believe that you can learn to run even if you can only run twice a week. I’d rather you had a go doing it twice a week and taking a bit longer to complete the program than not do it at all because you couldn’t do it perfectly and fit in all three sessions.

If you are really fit already but not running, you might find this program a bit too gradual. My approach is very gentle with small incremental changes that will get your body and mind ready to run further and further. Please stick with the program even if you are finishing the sessions easily to start with. Too often we jump in and do too much and find ourselves sore or injured and demotivated. If you want to do extra exercise during the program, go ahead, but don’t do any extra running – strength work and other cardio like walking, cycling and swimming is fine.

If you have any health concerns, please see your doctor to check that it’s all okay before you start.

I’d love for you to look ahead and see if there’s a 5km fun run or race in your area in April. The Run for the Kids is on the 13th of April in Melbourne. Look around and see if there’s an event in your area mid to late April or May. It’s great to have an event to aim towards and experiencing the high of completing a fun run will ensure you want to do more!

Another really fab thing to do is get yourself a GPS app to record all your runs. That way you can track your mileage and your pace and see improvement over time, which I have personally found very motivating. A lot of people on Operation Move use Strava, but there are others too such as Nike plus, Runkeeper. It’s a personal preference.

If you are full of self doubt, I encourage you to read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. That book made me believe I could run anywhere!

For those of you who don’t know me already, I started my learn to run journey in August 2011. It’s a journey that I am endlessly grateful that I embarked on as my effort has paid me back ten-fold – it has improved my mental health and energy levels and perhaps best of all, I’ve met heaps of awesome, positive, people, who have become friends. Many, having finished their own races, were at the MCG in October 2013 when I completed my first marathon.

Before the end of the month I will post the following weeks sessions in the Learn to Run group, clearly marked with the date the week begins and the week number. If anything is unclear at any time, please let me know.

If you aren’t walking already, please get walking briskly three times a week for 30 minutes ASAP.

I really look forward to your feedback along the way. It would be great if you could report in regularly to let me know how you are going and so we can support each other.

So tell me, do you have a goal race in mind? Are you a returning runner or a never run before runner?



Lee is a mother, a runner and a life coach. She is here to help and support you on your learn to run journey, and looks forward to reading about your successes and your challenges as you work together to achieve something fantastic


Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. I am a non-runner but want to be a runner. I have tried numerous times to start running but for some reason don't continue. Maybe it is self-doubt, maybe it is "all too hard", but this time I am determined. Looking forward to joining in the group

    • Zoey Dowling

      Loving the sound of that motivation Karen. Perhaps having support will help you get started.

  2. I used to run and I loved it. I'd love to get back into it if my knees will co-operate :)

    • Zoey Dowling

      I hope your knees behave too Vanessa. Make sure you stretch after each run. I'll post a basic stretch routine over the next couple of days.

  3. I am looking forward to following the program, I have weird knees so I will try very hard to look after them- any tips?

    • Zoey Dowling

      Hi Jessie, Running is challenging with weird knees but not impossible depending on your issues. Main thing is to stretch afterwards and especially make sure your ITB isn't getting tight. I will provide some links about this as we get started. Also my big tip is to not run fast, go really slow, like shuffle, and think about running lightly on your feet. The other thing that will support your knees is having the right shoes.

  4. Zoey Dowling

    I'm going to be following along and hope to jump in when you get to where I am, I have no idea where that is yet so will just wait and see lol. I'm up to running 20 mins non stop but have only done it once, not 3 times a week!

    • Zoey Dowling

      Yay Jo! How many times are you running each week at the moment? If it's once or twice, you could join in from the start but swap one of the sessions for a 20 minute run until we get to that stage which I think is about week 7. If you are running for 20 minutes consistently and want to do more I suggest you run for 12 minutes, walk for 1 minute, walk for 12 minutes. Do that a few times and then do a 25 minute non stop run. Your head might tell you that you can't do it, but your legs will be able to. Ignore your head!

      • Zoey Dowling

        I'm only running twice a week at the moment and want to bump it up to 3. I will jump in at the start and see how I go with a couple of days of it and then a long run the other day. Thanks Lee!

  5. I've signed up but I'm a little worried because I'm so unfit. I figure everyone here will be supportive. I'm like Karen a non runner but I want to give it a go. E.

    • Zoey Dowling

      Hi E! Great to see you here. Have a go and if things are moving too quickly I will make adjustments to get you there. It might take longer but we will get there. We all have different starting points.

    • We can support each other through this and before you know it, we will become runners!!

  6. Hi there, I'm a mum of 4 small children, my last two are 1yr old twins. I can't remember the last time I exercised or left the house without a child attached to me! I live in beautiful countryside in France and really want to get outside, see and appreciate what's around me and do something for myself, Feb is the coldest month of the year here so if I can start in Feb then the rest of the year will be easy :)

    • Zoey Dowling

      Fabulous Christina! I hope some gentle running will warm you up! Welcome!

  7. Zoey Dowling

    Hi Lee, I joined this group to improve my running and hopefully finally break that damn 5km unbroken which has been messing with me for some time. Ultimately my goal at the moment is to run as much as possible of the GOR 14km in May. Today its feeling like I've bitten off more than I can chew but I know deep down that I may not be the fastest but I WILL cross that finish line. For those of the group that don't know me I'm a working mum with one son (8) and two step daughters (7 &9), the majority of my running has my little running buddy Hank (our 6mth old Staffy pup) joining me.

    • Zoey Dowling

      14k is a big jump but I am sure if you do running and walking intervals you will finish and more importantly enjoy it Heidi!

  8. I am not as planned, structured or professional as Lee but I started running from zero and have learnt to run the hard way by making every mistake possible so I will be watching this thread and providing my 2 cts - This comment is just to let all of you know of my intent so you don't freak out at this dude offering advice :D

  9. I have joined the group (a while back) I have a 5k race at the start of march, I want to do in under 45min... under 40 even better! I did the 5k cadbury run at the start of Jan in 45.?? so beating that is my main priority!

    • Zoey Dowling

      Great goal Katie. With consistent running and walking I am sure you'll PB.

  10. I have never run tend to hold my breath and hate it. Worry about shin splints, dodgy joints, the hot weather, time, what to do with the kids as my husband works afternoon night shift. I only said about 2 weeks ago I will NEVER ever run! My friend posted a link and i thought maybe my problem is not knowing how to run and maybe i could learn! So I've come here to learn and try something new at least :) my friends who run look fantastic would love those benefits!

    • Zoey Dowling

      Awesome Trudy. Have you joined the group? It won't hurt to have a crack! With the holding your breath, I tend to run with a rhythm to my breathing, like step, step in, step, step out. Also slowing down and running really slow and with your body relaxed might help?

  11. I've never been a runner but i have recently started. Very slowly. But I'm keen to get into it. With 3 kids under 4 it can be a challenge to get out more than twice a week but I'll give it a go!

    • Zoey Dowling

      Kids can be a pretty big hand brake to self care, but it's important we still find a way!