The number one way to get better at running is to run more…to a point. Running is a balance of stress and rest. Run too little and you don’t get fit. Run too much and you get hurt. This begs the question: How many days a week should I run?
There is no magic number of days to run a week but there are guidelines that can help you determine what’s right for you. And we are here to help with that!
Consistency in running is important to becoming a better runner because each time you hit the pavement or trail, you spur changes in your body that make you a more efficient and stronger runner—allowing you to run faster and further.
However, these changes cannot happen optimally without rest. If you don’t allow your body to recover from the impact and stress endured from your running, it will eventually break down. And, while everyone needs recovery, some need more and some need less.
In this article, we’re going to help you answer the question: How many days a week should I run?
We will cover:
- The factors that help you determine: how many days a week should I run?
- How many days a week should I run?
- A breakdown of the number of days to run each week
- The minimum and maximum number of days a week to run to get better
- Is it okay to run every day?
- How long should you run each day?
- How to safely add days of running
So, if you’re wondering, how many days a week should I runkeep on reading!
How can I determine: how many days a week should I run?
To figure out how many days a week you should run, you need to do a self-assessment:
First, review your current fitness. How many days are you running right now? It’s risky to add more than one running day to your week if you haven’t been consistently running. A good place to start is to run every other day or every two to three days.
Second, examine your schedule. How many days a week do you have time to run? How long do you have time to run? Put it on your calendar and make a commitment. Ensure that running fits into your life. If you must move mountains to make it happen, then you likely won’t stay committed.
Third, look at your running background. Do you have a history of injury? Are you new to running? Then you may need to run fewer days a week for more than a month before adding another day.
Fourth, pay attention to how you feel. If running four days a week leaves you feeling fatigued and cranky, then it’s too much for right now and time to back off. Be aware of how your body responds to training.
How many days a week should I run?
You should run at least three days a week if you want to get better at running. Running three days a week (every other day) for at least 30 minutes is enough to spur the physiological adaptations needed to become a more energy-efficient and stronger runner.
However, there are so many exceptions to pretty much every rule when it comes to running. This is because every body is different.
Related: The benefits of running 3 miles a day
Here is a breakdown of examples of how many days a week a person should run based on their current situation.
Run 1-2 days a week if:
You are coming back from injury, had a baby, or are just too busy to run more. Some running is always better than none.
Run 2-3 days a week if:
You are a runner who is new to running, coming back from an injury or time off, wanting to lose weight, building a running base, or looking to maintain fitness.
Running three days (every other day) a week is enough to spur physiological adaptations to get fitter or maintain a level of current fitness. Ideally, you would combine these running days with cross-training and strength training to aid in your fitness.
Run 4 to 5 days a week if:
You are a seasoned runner looking to log 50 miles or more a week, have a solid base of running every other day, have running goals like training for a half-marathon or marathon, and do not have a high risk of injury.
Running four to five days a week is a lot of running with a lot of stress on the body. People running this much need to ensure they run easy and have 2-3 days of rest and recovery during the week—ideally with one day of complete rest.
People running 4 days a week are likely able to adequately train for a half marathon. People running 5 days a week can adequately train for a marathon.
Run 6 days a week if:
You are an advanced runner and a younger runner (older runners need more rest days). People running 6 days a week are seasoned runners who are likely training for time goals in distances from the half marathon to a marathon.
Related: How to start running at age 50 (and beyond!)
It is very important if you run 6 days a week to take a day of total rest, run the majority of your runs at an easy pace, and stay diligent about your warm-up and cool-down routines. This is to insure against performance plateaus, burnout, and running injuries.
Run 7 days a week if:
You are an elite athlete or on a run streak. In most cases, it is not advised that you run 7 days a week as the body needs time to recover.
Even the Kenyans take a day of complete rest! If you choose to run 7 days a week, it’s important to stay focused on easy running days and have one day of very low mileage.
Related: The risks and benefits of running every day
What is the minimum number of days I should run a week?
If you want to get better at running, you should run at least 3 days a week. This will lead to stronger bones and soft tissues, a stronger heart, more efficient usage of fuel and oxygen, and improved lung capacity.
What is the maximum number of days I should run a week?
For most seasoned runners, running 5 days a week is enough to gain adequate fitness while reducing your risk of injury and burnout. Be sure to include one complete day of rest in your training schedule.
Is it okay to run 7 days a week?
In most cases, it is not advised to run every day. Your body needs time to recover from the stress of running. Growth from your efforts happens in the time off.
Running every day puts you at risk for injury, mental burnout, and overtraining syndrome. If you are on a run streak, run just a mile on your 7th day of running at an easy pace.
Related: How much running is too much?
How long should I run every day?
You should run for at least 30 minutes a running session. This is long enough to trigger the physiological changes needed to make you fitter.
Your body doesn’t know the distance, but it does know how long you are on your feet. So, don’t worry about how far you have run. Instead, aim for time.
If you are new to running, aim to do a run/walk for these sessions, gradually increasing the time you run and decreasing the time you walk. This will prevent injury.
Related: The 10% rule: Is it a valid way to increase running mileage?
How can I safely add days of running without getting hurt?
Running is a high-impact sport that comes with a high risk of injury if you add running volume too fast.
Here are 7 steps to add a day of running a week:
- Add a day after several weeks of consistently running your current volume.
- Do it when you don’t have any races, new training stressors, or travel coming up.
- The additional day of running should include half the running volume you typically do a day. So, if you run 5 miles a day, run 2.5 miles (or 40 minutes a day, run 20 minutes to start) on the extra day.
- Repeat this schedule for 2-4 weeks before increasing volume on your extra day of running.
- Add a mile or two to your new day of running. Hold for 2+ weeks, then add more until you reach your average daily running volume.
- Be sure you are running most of your runs, including the added mileage, at a very easy conversational pace!
- Include a cutback week of about 30 percent reduction in total weekly running volume about every 4 weeks to absorb training. So, if you run 30 miles a week, run 20 miles a week for one week, before going back up in your mileage.
Now that we’ve answered the burning question, how many days a week should I run, let’s get training!
We’d love to help you with your next running goals. Check out our training resources for the half marathon, marathon, ultra marathonand beyond.