Okay, I admit it, I am addicted to running. I have run sporadically throughout my life, but was never serious about it until about five years ago when my marriage began to fall apart. Needing an outlet for my stress and a way to lose the extra pounds I had put on, I turned to running. I haven't looked back since! Now it's become a major part of my family life. My new husband and children also take part in this sport. In fact, on many weekends you'll find one or more of us competing.

Before you begin running, it helps to choose a 5k race at least 2 months in advance as your goal. Sign up early if you need an incentive or additional motivation. This way you are committed to running a race and less likely to back out of training.

With effort, determination and a little bit of planning you can be ready to run a 5K race in 8 weeks, even if you've never run before! Having a goal like participating in a 5k is a great way to motivate yourself to start running, especially since you'll have better health, more energy, and a body that's in fantastic shape.

A lot of well-intentioned runners begin their training regimen starting out too fast, too hard, and too quickly. All too often, they burn themselves out or they become discouraged and quit. Like most things in time, with a little effort and patience, running gradually becomes easier on your body and the excuses in your mind begin to fade away.

It's imperative that you have the proper shoes and clothing. Proper shoes aid in preventing injuries. Being properly dressed for the outdoor elements helps curtail the excuses of not running for that day. A watch or a timer will help you keep track of time. You may also want to invest in an MP3 player if you don't have one. Some people prefer not to run with music. Others alternate their workouts with silence on some runs and music on other runs. Music is nice company and can motivate you to run longer and faster. Silence, on the other hand, is wonderful for working through whatever is on your mind or for repeating a mantra or affirmations throughout the run.

On a calendar, mark every other day as your running days. You may wish to make Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays or Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays your days to run with an additional day as a day for some type of cross-training exercise. Create and commit to a plan that works for you on your own schedule. If you are running outside, plan for bad weather by having a treadmill available as a back-up plan. Die-hard runners will run outside in most weather conditions except when there's ice on the ground or lightning storms.

The first weeks of running, since you are a beginner, will be alternating walking and running. Start all work outs with a fast-paced 5-minute walk to warm up and a 5-minute walk to cool down. I've adapted coolrunning.com's plan as a general guideline for beginners, but work at your own pace. This is something that is better off not being rushed because you may encounter injuries or a lack of motivation because you went out too fast, too soon.

Ready, Set, Go!

Week One: Warm up for 5 minutes. Alternate 1 minute jogging with 1 1/2 minutes walking. Do this for 20 minutes. If it's hard to keep track of the time, go from telephone pole to telephone pole, alternating jogging with walking. Cool down (walk slower) for 5 minutes. Stretch afterwards.

Week Two: Warm up 5 minutes. Alternate 1 1/2 minutes jogging and 2 minutes walking. Or, jog a telephone pole and a half, then walk two telephone poles. Do this for 20 minutes. Cool down.

Week Three: Warm up 5 minutes. Jog 1 1/2 minutes, walk 1 1/2 minutes. Next, jog 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Repeat the sequence. End with jogging 1 minutes, walking 1 minute. Cool down.

Week Four: Warm up 5 minutes. Jog 3 minutes, walk 1 1/2 minutes. Jog 5 minutes, walk 2 1/2 minutes. Jog 3 minutes, walk 1 1/2. Finish by jogging 5 minutes. Cool down.

Week Five: Day 1 - Warm up for 5 minutes. Jog 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes, jog 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes, and jog 5 minutes. Cool down.

Day 2 - Warm up for 5 minutes. Jog 8 minutes, walk 5 minutes, jog 8 minutes. Cool down.

Day 3 - Warm up for 5 minutes. Jog 20 minutes - no walking. Cool down.

Week Six: Day 1 - Warm up. Jog 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes, jog 8 minutes, walk 3 minutes, jog 5 minutes. Cool down.

Day 2 - Warm up. Jog 10 minutes, walk 3 minutes, jog 10 minutes. Cool down.

Day 3 - Warm up. Jog 25 minutes without walking. Cool down.

Week Seven: Warm up. Jog 25 minutes. Cool down.

Week Eight: Warm up. Jog 30 minutes (approximately 3 miles). Cool down.

You did it! Congratulations for completing this running program!

Author's Bio: 

Nicole Nenninger is the author of "Transforming Divorce: How to Get Back on Track and Create a Life You Love" and the "Transforming Divorce Workbook." She is currently pursuing an advanced degree in psychology and is the founder of www.nicolenenninger.com and co-founder of www.mydailymotivator.com. Nicole and her family reside in New York with their 4 children, 2 dogs, and a cat.