A great question I get from new runners is, “How often should I run?” or “How many days a week should I run?”.
Experienced runners draw on their mileage base, injury history, and training cycles to make that decision. For new runners, the answer is simpler. So let’s tackle that today.
*This post is part of the January Newbie Runner Blog Series. Click the “Newbie” tag to read the posts and grab my New Runner Essentials ebook for free.*
How Often Should I Run?
Generally, I recommend new runners start with 3 days a week.
If you were inactive before your running program, I recommend light walking on the other days if you want.
If you are adding running to an already active lifestyle, you can continue activities (like swimming, biking, or yoga) on non-running days. Just make sure to leave at least one day for rest.
Three days gives you plenty of rest and recovery in between runs, so you’ll be less likely to set off on sore muscles.
It’s also flexible, which makes it easier to add running to your weekly routine. You have days available to make up for missed days.
Once running becomes routine and you begin working toward more goals, I recommend adding a 4th day. Four days is versatile for a lot of running goals, giving you a safe way to increase weekly mileage and/or add a “long run” into your week.
It’s preferable that a long run be considerably less than half of your weekly mileage. So, it’s easier to keep that percentage down if you have 3 other days to support your long run.
Intermediate and Beyond
After that, it’s really dependent on your goals and lifestyle.
If you’re busy with other hobbies like hiking or yoga, 4 days of running might be plenty.
If you have a lot of big running goals or running is your only activity, you may end up running more days a week than that. I’m running 5 days a week, right now. During peak training, world-class runners might go out twice a day.
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