The beauty of many beginner runner programs, most notably the Couch to 5k program, as well as a run-walk program like runDisney's training consultant Jeff Galloway's, is that they start slow and simple, and build up your mileage (or time running) slowly. Danny Dreyer, of Chi Running, calls this Gradual Progress.
This is beautiful. Take Cool Running's original couch-to-5-k program. You start with a lot more walking than running. In fact, on Day 1 you only run (actually jog) for 60 seconds at a time. 60 seconds! interspersed with longer periods of walking. Then day by day (with ample rest in between), you increase the running time and eventually decrease your walking time until (if all goes well), eight weeks later you are running 30 minutes continuously, or 5k.
This progress has many advantages. The steps are challenging enough to keep you motivated, and help you celebrate "small victories," and give you a sense of accomplishment each day! However, they are not so challenging that you give up. The gradual progress also allows your body to become accustomed to exercise, to become conditioned, to increase physiological thresholds (VO2 max, etc) so that you can "tolerate" harder exercise for longer.
This was a wonderful feeling when, for me, in the the midst of my initial couch to 5k training, I felt I could keep running. and I did. even when it was hurting. (and maybe that's why I got a stress fracture).
In any event, today I'm taking my own baby steps...
Yesterday my orthopedic surgeon told me I can start weight-bearing on my injured leg, and start to try to walk. Next week I should be off crutches. Then in a couple of weeks I can start non-impact exercises, like the elliptical, then eventually running again!!
I hope I learned my lesson. Today I took my first steps without crutches. I am limping along, one shuffle at a time, but it feels good to not have to ask for help carrying everything, cleaning up, making a meal. I still need crutches most of the day, but, although I'm still looking ahead to run the Walt Disney World marathon and then the Goofy Challenge, I am so happy today because yesterday I was unable to do this without a huge ordeal: