One of the questions I get asked is …
How many days a week should I run?
The question behind the question is…
How many days a week can I get better but not injure myself?
How Often You Should Run Should Depend On Your Current Ability And Ambitions As A Runner.
Look, so many runners run too far too quickly, ending up with injury and frustration.
Whilst injuries can be a part of running; unnecessary injuries are not.
Often many injuries are based around overuse issues; looked at it another way, you are putting too much strain on the part of your body that is not yet strong enough to withstand that impact and stress.
However, training in itself is, in fact, a stress inducer; from that, stress becomes growth and improvement.
So the balance is a fine one.
To begin seeing progress from running, you need to build or run for 30 minutes at a time, even if this means initially utilising a run-walk method.
So initially, you have to recognise…
What is your current level of fitness and ability?
What does it is you wish to achieve from your running?
And what the gap is between the two.
Also, initially deciding what type of running you wish to do or identify with, this, of course, may change over time.
But it has an impact on the running and how often you do it.
So, for example, there is a difference between someone who jogs and runs; that difference is very much around the running performed.
Joggers will tend to be more one-paced, enabling them to talk freely when running, whereas a runner will tend to have variations of pace within their running schedule.
It’s fair to say many beginner runners will more than likely fall into a slower type of running but will progress as their endurance improves.
What’s The Sweet Spot To Get The Best From Your Running Plan?
It’s often hard to access your fitness; this is where I have found it fantastic to have a coach, where you can go out do a benchmark run which enables the coach to have insights into your current levels of fitness and ability.
For many people, just starting out having a running coach might be beyond them so, it’s really about asking yourself simply…
- Have you ever run before?
- If so, how recently and for how far and for how long?
- Then looking at what your goal is…
- Do you wish to take up jogging?
- Do a couch to 5k?
- A 10K
- Or perhaps a half or full marathon?
Have A Training Plan.
After you know what you wish to achieve, then you need a structure to work too.
This is often called a training plan.
A popular training plan for many beginners is couch to 5k.
The only problem with an off-the-shelf training plan is that it will not consider your current level of fitness and ability; this is often where many runners come unstuck running too many miles over too many days.
However, the plan is a good starting point.
If in doubt, start with fewer days and build up.
It’s fair to say that if you aim for longer distances, the commitment of days running and milage will be needed more.
For example, if you are running a marathon, their minimum requirement would be 25-30 miles a week broken down over three days.
This begs an interesting question…
How Many Miles A Week Should I Run?
It all very well focuses on days; however, as my above marathon example shows, if you wish to do the minimum milage for a marathon, then you have to be aware of the days you are willing to run because 25 miles is easier to achieve over four days than it is over three days.
So a balance between the days and milage you wish or need to run has to be struck.
Increasing The Days, You Run.
Finding your perfect running Frequency will balance your current level of fitness and what you wish to achieve from your running.
Running 1-3 Days A Week.
This is an excellent place for beginners to build their confidence and endurance while minimising injury risk. Remember to listen to your body, not other runners performance.
Build the days based on how you feel while you run and the recovery that you experience.
Running 4-5 Days A Week.
This is for more advanced runners that are looking to achieve a race time. As mentioned, this can be done in fewer days; however, the extra days enable you to vary the types of running you do.
Running 6 Plus Days A Week.
Running at this level is for experienced runners looking to build endurance. However, even experienced runners should listen to their bodies.
Overtraining is a real risk, plus running can be very addictive.
Sometimes you can achieve the same goal you are aiming for and run fewer days and miles and, in turn, reduce your injury risk.
Don’t let ego ruin your running, especially if you are an older runner.
Remember, Not All Runs Are Equal.
Just as important as the days you run is what you do with those runs.
As you progress, you can use varying types of tempo and repeats to help you build speed.
The foundation of running is endurance; you need to focus on if you are new to running, basically building the ability to keep going and do it without causing injury. This is your base mileage.
You are often overlooked by experienced runners, the need for runs of a leisurely pace, to a point where you could hold a conversation if required.
Sometimes even walking to slow the heart rate down is a great way to make sure your easy runs don’t become harder than they should be.
Remember Strength Training
I always think of my strength training as part of my running. I tend to do my strength training after my speed work.
However, you could use one of your running days as a strength training day if you start and get your body adjusted to the impact of a regular running routine.
As I have gotten older, I have found that strength training has become key for me as a runner. So much so, if need be, I would sacrifice days running to make sure I got practical strength training included in my routine.
Remember Rest And
Recovery Are Part Of Your Running
Rest days should be considered part of your running. They enable your body to recover and build on the gains you have made from your running.
Rest days don’t have to be inactive; you can walk or cross-train muscles by doing exercises such as swimming or cycling.
I would love to say there is a finite amount of days or miles any runner should do; however, this is not the case. It does come down to starting and listening to your body and adjusting downwards if you are getting overtired or coming up against injuries.
Or increasing steadily if you are finding the time and distance you are running either isn’t challenging you or is not relevant to perhaps new goals you are setting yourself.