How to Determine How Often You Should Run

how many days a week should i run

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

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.

Experienced Runners

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:

Consistency

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

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.

Other Blog Posts You Might Be Interested In:

How Important Are Negative Splits?

Advice for Running Your First Half Marathon

The Surprising Benefits of Running Hills

What is a Running Coach? Why Should You Hire One?

Linking up with Runner’s Roundup! Mile by MileConfessions of a Mother RunnerRuns with Pugs, Coach Debbie Runs, and Laura Norris Running

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31 Comments

  1. I tend to be an injury prone runner, so I like to give my body a day off in between runs. I run 3 times a week and that seems to be my happy spot

    1. That’s great that you found a routine that is working well!

  2. My body is happiest when I run 4x a week. I can do 5 but I find that puts too much of a strain not so much on my body but definitely my head! I’ve done a few streaks which are enjoyable but for a short period of time. And I LOVE my rest days. I always hear runners say that they are restless on their rest days. But I totally embrace it, LOL!

    1. I agree Shathiso, those rest days are so important!

  3. Four days per week seems to be my sweet spot- my body responds well to it and it keeps my anxiety quiet. Right now, with our brutal winter and the dark , cold mornings, I’m mostly getting 3 days per week. Ugh.

    1. I can relate Wendy – it’s a tough time of year but looking forward to better running weather soon!

  4. I definitely think it depends on alot of factors like you said. Right now I’ve been running 6 days a week and thats working for me. I like having 1 full rest day! A few years ago I stuck to 3-4 days a week when I was dealing with some injuries.

    1. That makes sense! It is so important to have that rest day!

  5. Working up to 6 days a week but 80% of them are nice and easy paced!! And lots of recovery!

  6. I absolutely love running 6 days a week. Right now I’m recovering from plantar fasciitis (grr) so have worked my way up to 5 days/week after taking some time off. The thing I discovered is that running your easy runs REALLY easy allows you to add in those extra days. I agree with you that beginners should aim for 3 days a week. Nice post!

    1. Thanks Jenny! Yes, I agree!

  7. Thanks for these tips! As soon as it warms up in NY I want to get back into running. I always struggle with getting into a routine of it though!

    1. I know, it is tough to stay motivated!

  8. This is such a great guide! I have found that I absolutely cannot run with a mask on (we have really high case numbers so really strict mandates) so I’ve been doing mainly strength and HIIT indoors, but am looking forward to getting back outside when it’s safe to. I always liked doing 3-4 runs per week and then doing yoga or Pilates to really get good stretches in. Thanks for the tips! Love your site!

  9. Great stuff.

    Right now, I am running four days per week. I think I need to stay at this point for a while – I am coming back from a broken ankle and don’t want to rush anything so I can stay as injury-free as possible.

    1. Thanks Jenn! That sounds like a smart gameplan!

  10. I’ve had to take some time off of running due to an injury. I think I’ll start easing back into it in a couple of weeks, start off 2x a week for 1-2 miles. I’ll build up from there. Hopefully I can get back to training for half marathons. When I train, I’m usually running 3-4x a week with cross training.

    1. That is great and sounds like a good plan!

  11. I’m glad to hear you say not to run when sick. I had a running buddy who would insist we should run through a cold but I never would. I felt like it was important to rest my body. I have read that it’s ok to run with a head cold but not a chest cold though. I’d rather rest for both.

    1. That’s good! Better to be safe than sorry!

  12. So good! Thank you, I’ve been wanting to start running for a while and this gives me a good outline of where to begin!

    1. That’s great! I am so glad it was helpful!

  13. I’ve never been a high mileage or daily runner — too many other forms of fitness I enjoy! Right now I’m coming back from illness, so I’m very happy with short runs and 3 x week.

    This is a really great guide!

    1. That is great, Judy. Thanks!

  14. Ahhh, I so needed to read this! As someone that has a love/hate relationship with running, I will over-do it one week and crash the next! Having this gentle reminder that 2 to 3 days per week of running is suggested gives me the breath of relief I need. Thank you for sharing <3

    1. I am so glad it was helpful!

  15. Rest days are like the prize at the end of the week, just to get a little break. And I realized my running improved so much (and less injuries) when I cross-trained! I’ll have to keep all these tips in mind!

    1. Yes, I agree. Rest and cross-training and so important! I’m glad you found it to be helpful!

  16. Five to six days is the sweet spot for me. I cap all my runners at six days; some people can do seven, but most people with jobs and families need time to rest and recover, since we aren’t elites who can nap.

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