How Many Days Per Week Should I Run?
A very common question that a lot of runners ask is “How many days per week should I run?” When I first started running, this is something I wondered about myself. How many days is too many? I wish there was a straight-forward and easy answer to this question. The short answer to the question is it depends!
It really depends on your experience level as a runner and how your body handles the stress of running. It also depends on how much time you have throughout the week to dedicate to your training. Some people have the time to workout everyday while others have busy schedules and are lucky to squeeze in 2 or 3 workouts.
I’ll explain some recommendations about the maximum frequency of running if you are a beginner or experienced runner. I’ll also provide some other factors to consider that are more important to consider than how many days per week you run.
Beginner runners are new to the sport of running or have not been running very long. Typically, their bodies are adapting to running and making it part of their routine. For those of you who are beginner runners, you should focus on easing into it and not taking on too much running too fast. It’s safe to assume that running 2-3 days per week is a safe amount of running for a beginner.
Many beginner runner programs, such as Couch to 5k, will start you with a series of walk/run intervals. The running part of the run/walk intervals will gradually increase over time.
Beginners should also try to add around 2 days of cross-training to their weekly schedule as well. Cross-training activities for runners could consist of biking, yoga, using the elliptical, strength training, or swimming, etc.
If you are running 3 days per week, my advice would be to spread those runs out throughout the week. It is best to have them spread out so that there are rest days in between, rather than doing all 3 runs back to back. This will allow your body more time to rest and recover between runs.
As your training and fitness level progresses, you will be able to begin running more.
As you make progress on your training, you will be able to increase the frequency of your runs (if you choose to).
What does it mean to be an experienced runner? Experience is not based on speed or ability. It is based on mileage completed and years as an active runner. You are considered an experienced runner if you have been through a series of training plans and built up stamina and endurance over time.
Experienced runners are usually able to run up to 5-6 days per week. Some are able to run 7 days per week. As I mentioned before, it depends on how much your body can handle. If you are planning to run 7 days per week, it is important that at least 2 of your runs are very easy so that you’re able to provide your body with a bit of a break.
Other Important Factors to Consider:
When you are beginning a running training plan, one of the most important factors of your training is consistency. If you are consistent, it will lead to better performance. You should aim to be consistent in your weekly mileage and how many days per week you run.
It’s also important to be consistent when it comes to rest and nutrition. Making sudden changes to any of those things can have a big effect on your training and performance.
Never Train When Injured or Sick
It is very important that you take a break from training when you are injured or sick. Continuing to run when you are injured is never a good idea. Always talk to your doctor or a Physical Therapist to get injuries diagnosed so that they don’t get worse.
When you are a runner, your body is like a car. When your car needs to be fixed, you should take it to the shop. If you ignore the issue and continue to drive it, there is a chance that it could get worse or that you could damage the car.
Also, if you are sick, give your body time to rest and heal. Treat your body with care so that you will be able to run sustainably in the future.
Rest days are an important part of training and I typically recommend at least 1 rest day per week. A rest day means truly resting and not doing any type of other cross-training activities.
The purpose of rest days is to allow your body to rest and recover from your workouts so that you can continue to perform your best. It also prevents burnout and injury.
Listen to Your Body
The most important way to decide how many days per week you should be running is to listen to your body. Your body will send you signs if you are running too much or not enough.
At the end of the day, the amount of days per week you choose to run is personal and depends on your lifestyle and running goals.