If you’re new to running or just trying to create the most effective training plan, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how often you should run.
How many times a week should I run?
Is it bad to run everyday?
Both beginner and seasoned runners alike find themselves grappling with these questions from time to time. As training goals change, we wonder if our current running schedule is enough to keep up with the demands.
On the flip side, sometimes we wonder if we are doing too much and question whether we’re overtraining.
If you’re wondering how many times a week you should run, you’re not alone. This question is one of the most important questions to answer when creating or selecting a training plan. The number of days that you run each week will set you up for either success or burnout.
How often you should run depends on your goals and fitness ability.
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how many times you should run per week, there are a few helpful guidelines to keep in mind as you structure your training.
Each runner is different, and a few people thrive on running every day, most runners need at least one (and usually multiple) rest days per week. Cross training, the length of your run, running pace and strength are also key components to keep in mind when deciding how often you should run.
Here are a few tips and guidelines to use when deciding how many times a week to run.
How Many Days a Week Should I Run?
One of the first question runners ask themselves as they begin training is this: how many days a week should I run?
Creating any training plan, whether you’re trying to lose weight, stay healthy, or train for a race, requires first that we decide how many times to run per week.
Running 1-2 Days a Week
Deciding to run 1-2 times per week is a great choice for those who are coming back after injury, illness or pregnancy. Some runners chose to run just one or two times a week if they are navigating an especially busy season but don’t want to give up the sport entirely.
This running frequency can help maintain or build a running base without requiring too much time or physical effort. When you’re returning from a break, easing back in with just 1-2 runs per week can help build mileage without causing injury.
After staying injury free for a few weeks or months while running 1-2 times a week, most runners will benefit from increasing the number of times they run per week.
Running 3 Days a Week
Deciding to run 3 times per week is a great choice for beginner runners. This running frequency is just enough to maintain consistency without causing burnout, injury or overtraining as you are just getting started.
Running 3 times a week sets a solid foundation and will allow you to build a great training base before increasing mileage or speed. Most beginner runners find that running 3 days a week keeps them accountable, and still feels attainable.
Some runners continue running three times a week throughout all seasons, even as their goals continue to increase in distance to half marathons or more.
While a great deal of runners find that running 3 days a week is beneficial for losing weight, staying healthy, and training for short races like a 5k or 10k, others hope to increase their running frequency even more.
Running 4-5 Days a Week
Deciding to run 4 or 5 days a week is a beneficial choice for most seasoned runners, or new runners training for a marathon or half marathon. This running frequency provides plenty of opportunity to gradually increase mileage while still incorporating workouts and speed training each week.
Many long distance runners and seasoned athletes choose to continue running 4-5 times a week throughout all training seasons. A few runners may still wish to increase their running frequency, simply because they enjoy it, or because they have high mileage or speed goals.
Running 6 Days a Week
Deciding to run 6 times a week is usually only beneficial for advanced runners. Most new and even seasoned runners find that running this often leaves little time for cross training and rest, thus putting them at higher risk for injury and burnout.
While most runners want to avoid running this often, it can be beneficial for those who are advanced and used to running high mileage. Runners should only choose to run 6 days a week if they have time to complete strength training and cross training workouts in addition to running this many times a week.
In most cases, increasing running frequency past 6 days a week is not advised. However, if you are aiming to complete a running streak, place in a race or qualify for elite status, you might choose to add another day of running.
Running 7 Days a Week
Deciding to run 7 times a week is usually only a decision made by elite athletes or those on a running streak. When running every day, you’ll need to be sure that you have adequate time to incorporate strength training, cross training and multiple recovery sessions after running.
Most elite runners train seven days a week as a full time job, providing them with the time required to focus on the recovery measures needed to stay injury free when running so frequently. If running is not your full time job – even if you are a seasoned distance runner – running seven days a week is usually not in your best interest.
How to Increase the Number of Days Per Week that You Run
Whether you’re just getting started or are training for a specific goal, you might find yourself wanting to increase the number of times you run per week. While adding another day of running might initially feel intimidating, the transition can be relatively seamless if you keep a few guidelines in mind.
- Start by adding only short, easy runs. Keep things to an easy pace, don’t push yourself, and only add a mile or two to your overall distance each week. Continue with just short runs for a few weeks until you see how your body responds.
- Try using your additional run as a recovery run. Depending on the number of days per week that you currently run, you’ll likely find that adding a run involves running a few days back to back. Try using your additional run as a recovery run, to increase overall frequency but not intensity.
- Repeat your efforts for multiple weeks before increasing. When adding an additional run each week, be sure to stick with short, easy efforts for multiple weeks before increasing mileage or intensity. The key to remaining healthy and injury free is to listen to your body – and it often takes a few weeks of consistently adding that additional run before you truly know how your body will respond.
- Add an additional run during the off-season. Increasing your weekly running frequency is best attempted during an off season, or when your race goals are still far off. Doing so provides you with the opportunity to adjust as needed, without the pressure of an approaching goal.
Ultimately, deciding how often you should run depends on a number of factors and varies from one runner to the next. Taking the time to experiment with running a different number of days each week will help you narrow down your own personal preference, as well as decide what works best for your individual training goals.