How many days a week should I run?
A question frequently asked by beginner runners, here’s everything you need to know.
As a beginner to the sport, you may find yourself wondering how many days a week you should be running. While running six or seven days a week may be easy for one runner, it does not necessarily go to say you should be doing the same.
To answer this question, we first need to determine how new you are to running, what you are training for, whether or not you’ve had any previous injuries, and how your running fits into your weekly schedule.
Beginner or veteran?
Whether or not you’re a complete beginner or have been running for years will ultimately determine how often you should be running.
As a complete beginner, we suggest running no more than three or four times a week on alternating days. While running more will increase your fitness, as a beginner, this will also increase your risk of injury. As a beginner, you can improve your cardiovascular fitness by implementing cross-training such as cycling or swimming one or two times per week. Cross-training will reduce your risk of injury while making you a faster and stronger runner without actually running.
If you’ve been running for years, chances are you already know how often to run. If not, we suggest increasing the number of days you run a week slowly, while following our beginner advice.
Regardless of how many days a week you train, we recommend incorporating at least one rest day into your weekly training routine. This will reduce your risk of injury and allow your body time to recover from each run or workout.
Recommended blog post: The importance of sleep as a runner.
What are you training for?
If training for an event such a half-marathon or marathon, you’ll find yourself needing to train more than say a 5 or 10k. After following our beginner’s advice, you’ll want to create or follow a training plan. Be sure to include at least one rest day per week while building slowly into your training. Suddenly increasing your running from two days per week to seven days per week is a recipe for injury.
Tip: Set a minimum of 12-16 weeks to train for an event to reduce your risk of injury while making considerable improvements
If you’ve had any previous injuries, or are returning from an injury, this may limit the number of days a week you’re able to run or train. While you should always follow the physio’s advice, we do advocate playing around and seeing what works best for you. If you were previously injured while running six days per week, why not try five and an additional cross-training or weights session instead?
Tip: To reduce your risk of injury incorporate strength training at least once per week
Chances are you’ll only have a set time to run either every day, every few days, or a couple of times a week. Finding what works best for you and when you’re able to actually run will ultimately determine how many days a week you should run.
If struggling for time to fit in your training, we suggest planning out your day or running in the morning instead.
How many days a week you should run ultimately depends on whether or not you’re a beginner to the sport, what you’re training for, any previous injuries, and what your daily life and schedule will allow. Remember to include at least one rest day per week to reduce your risk of injury while becoming a stronger runner.
Matthew is an avid runner, freelance writer, Durham University graduate, and the founder of Running101.