Running is a great cardio activity to participate in and a lot of people find it a very freeing experience. But if you go too hard you run the risk of injuring yourself – the body can be pushed but it also has limits.
You should always find a balance between how often you run, and how often you rest. If you don’t give your body enough time to recover, it can’t get stronger.
Read on to learn about how often you should run, and how you can build up your running routine.
Is It Good to Run Everyday?
As a new runner, it’s not wise to run everyday. When you’re just starting out you should include a variety of activities in your exercise routine as this will help you build up your fitness. Participating in a variety of exercises will provide better conditioning and will also help reduce the risk of injury.
Mixing it up will keep you stimulated and engaged, and lowers the risk of you abandoning your training out of boredom.
Once you’ve advanced, or you’re already quite the athlete, running everyday may be a part of your routine, and your body is used to the activity. Just bare in mind that resting should be a part of your training plan or fitness routine.
Downtime let’s our bodies rest and recover as they adapt to the physical stress that they have undergone. If you don’t incorporate rest days into your training you run the risk of injury, burn out and can even develop “over-training syndrome”.
What’s the Difference Between Rest and Recover?
Rest days mean no exercise at all. You take the whole day away from training/exercising.
Recovery days are slightly different. On recovery days you can participate in easy/moderate exercises to help circulate your blood flow. You should take a recovery day after more intense workout/exercise days.
You shouldn’t run when taking either a rest or a recovery day.
How Often Should You Run a Week?
How often you should run in a week will depend on your current fitness levels and how far along on your fitness journey you are. Most health professionals recommend that beginners run three to four days a week on alternating days.
It’s important to alternate days so that you can automatically incorporate recovery days into your training. On recovery days, try some strength and flexibility workouts as these will help you get further along in your fitness goals.
It is also recommended that you should take at least one rest day off a week regardless of your current fitness level. This will prevent injury and allow your body time to heal/repair any soft tissue damage that might have occurred during the week. It’ll also prevent you from burning out.
If you notice increased fatigue, lingering soreness or lack of motivation, this can be a sign that you need to take more rest days as you’re overworking yourself. Believe it or not, rest days actually help your body become stronger, and will help you carry on your fitness journey for longer.
It’s also worth considering your lifestyle when thinking about how often you can run. As well as your running goals, you need to consider your job, your family, your study and your social life. For most people, it’s not realistic to run every single day.
Make sure you’re fitting your running schedule around your life, and not the other way around.
Running One to Two Days a Week
Beginners, people returning from injury and those with busy daily schedules will often run once or twice a week.
As a beginner it’s important not to go too hard too fast, and running a mile once or twice a week is a massive accomplishment. Once you build your fitness up (or re-build it) you’ll be able to handle running more and at longer distances.
If you’re a new runner and you’re struggling, consider doing 2-3 run-walks – switching between running and walking – per week and build yourself up from there.
Running Three Days a Week
Once you’ve built up your fitness a little, and you find that you can run the full distance without needing walking breaks, try running three days a week. Make sure you alternate your running and recovery days. Once you get a little more confident you can up your distance.
Running three days a week is also recommended for those who have a history of injuries, or like to run hard but need recovery days afterwards.
Running Four or Five Days a Week
If you’ve been running for a while, consider upping your running schedule to four or five days a week. You’ll easily be able to log 30-50 miles per week.
With harder training you can make your heart stronger and improve your lung capacity, whilst also making sure you have some time to recover. It’s also important to note that if you’re upping your weekly mileage, spreading it across more days will reduce the risk of injury.
Running Six Days a Week
Advanced runners can consider running six days a week. If you have the time, and your body can handle it, you can improve your performance by running more often.
If you’re a younger runner you can participate in more running training and only need a limited recovery time. If you’re older, however, you’ll need more rest time so you don’t overexert yourself.
If you’re training for a half or full marathon, it can be beneficial to run six days a week, making sure the seventh day is a total rest day.
Running Seven Days a Week
If you’re an elite athlete, or have Olympic ambitions, you should be capable of running everyday of the week. Just bear in mind that you’ll need to factor in some rest and recovery to prevent you from injuring yourself.
How to Build Up The Number of Days You Run Per Week
- After a few weeks of running, assess whether you can step it up a gear or not. If you notice signs of fatigue or slower performances, consider scaling it back slightly.
- Once you’re confident that adding an extra day won’t break you, try adding an extra mile every two weeks until you can match your other running days’ distances.
- You can always test it out before you commit to it. Start by adding a short and easy run into your routine and build up from there. If you notice an increase in fatigue, return to your previous routine.