How Many Days a Week Should I Run? – Running Frequency Guide

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If you are trying to improve your stamina and get in better overall shape, you may assume that you should run as often as possible. While there is no doubt that running can be a healthy and rewarding form of exercise with countless physical and mental benefits, you also need to ensure that you are not overdoing it.

At its very essence, running is all about balance. Without proper rest, you can burn out or even suffer a debilitating injury that could prevent you from running for weeks to months. With this said, you are probably left wondering, “How many days a week should I run?” 

To help you develop a running schedule that finds the perfect balance between rest and exercise, we will explain everything you need to know!

What to Consider When Deciding How Often You Should Run

Female runner looking at her sport watch while at the track

Unfortunately, there is no magic number when deciding how many days a particular individual should run. Everyone is different, so numerous factors determine how many days you should be running in a typical week.

To figure out how often you should run, you must self-assess your current fitness, running background, ability to recover between runs, and more.

To perform an accurate self-assessment, consider the following:

  • Your Current Physical Fitness and Running Abilities – Consider how far you are currently running and what type of shape you are in. If you are already running multiple days per week without injuries or exhaustion, you will be much better off than someone who only runs occasionally.

Your age also plays a role, as younger runners tend to recover faster than those who are older. Again, this is not an exact science, but you know how long your body takes to recover after running or gym sessions.

If you are a beginner runner and currently run less than once per week, start by running two or three times per week. Leave at least a recovery day or two between runs to give your muscles and joints plenty of time to recover. After you are comfortable with this schedule, you can increase the duration and frequency of your runs.

  • Assess Your Running Background and Injury Record – Are you an experienced runner or new to it? If you have a history of running, you will find it easier to run more frequently. As mentioned above, if you are new to running, you will want to start slow, allowing your body to adjust.

Your injury record is also essential, as running too often can put you at risk of aggravating an old injury.

  • Take a Good Look at Your Current Schedule and Availability – One of the keys to becoming a better runner is practicing consistency. If you have a busy work or school schedule that only allows you to run a few times most weeks, you should stick to that schedule and focus more on improving your running speed and form and the duration of your runs.

If you have a more flexible schedule that allows you to run numerous times per week, you can stick to a specific schedule and stay consistent. 

So, How Many Days a Week Should I Run?

Once you have put some thought into your current running abilities, injury risk issues, availability, and overall physical fitness, it is time to determine how many days a week you should be running.

You should run at least three days a week with at least one rest day in between to become a better runner. This frequency will spur the physical and mental adaptations required to run better. By running three or more times per week, your cardiovascular endurance will improve, as will your physical strength and mental toughness.

That said, some people will need to run less per week, while stronger runners with more flexible schedules can usually aim for more than three runs per week. 

General Rules for Weekly Running Schedules

Man running on walkway in city

Since running schedules vary from one person to the next, we decided to provide a rough breakdown of how often different types of people should aim to run in a week:

Running 1 to 2 Days Per Week

One to two days a week is suitable for those who have recently recovered from a running-related injury, suffered a severe injury, or struggled with their physical fitness. 

Remember, even a casual running schedule is better than not running at all. If you are in poor physical shape, you can always increase the frequency of your runs as your fitness improves.

Running 2 to 3 Days Per Week

You are relatively new to running but in good physical shape. You are running just for the physical benefits rather than to become a competitive runner.

Running two or three days per week can offer plenty of physical and mental benefits, but it will be challenging to improve your running abilities unless you increase the frequency. You should combine this type of running schedule with other forms of exercise, such as strength training with weights.

Running 3 to 4 Days Per Week

Running three or four days per week will improve your running abilities and physical fitness. With this frequency, you will want to run every other day, as this will give your body plenty of time to recover between runs.

You should only start running three or four days per week if you are in good physical shape or returning from injury. Allow your body to adapt to running and become stronger before you start running this often.

Running 5 to 6 Days Per Week

You should only run this frequently if you are an advanced runner without serious injury concerns. This will allow you to complete a marathon or half marathon training program.

This running schedule is also better suited to younger runners, meaning those under 40 years old, as their bodies can typically recover faster than older runners and are somewhat less prone to overuse injuries.

You should always leave aside at least one day per week for recovery, even during marathon training, meaning you do not run at all. This is important for injury prevention and allows your muscles to recover and repair themselves before you start a new week of running.

How Long Should Your Runs Be?

While running frequency is important, it means nothing if you do not know how far you should run on those days.

If you are hoping to trigger the physical changes required to become a stronger runner, you should run at a semi-challenging pace for at least 30 minutes each time. With that said, you can do an interval workout by mixing running and walking if you are just starting and cannot continuously run for 30 minutes.

You can always increase your running time and decrease your walking as your skills improve. As long as you are challenging yourself each time you run, you should see improvements.

How Can I Reduce the Chances of Injuring Myself?

As mentioned, consistency is key when attempting to become a more skillful and competent runner. Aside from mentally dedicating yourself to a running schedule, one of the best ways to stay consistent is to avoid running-related injuries.

While injuries are not always preventable and accidents happen, there is plenty that you can do to reduce your chances of picking up an injury. We suggest taking note of the following injury-prevention measures:

  • Make sure you warm up before you start running. Mix static and dynamic stretches to thoroughly stretch the muscles and get the blood flowing throughout your body. Make sure you focus on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. 
  • Cool down after you complete your run by walking and performing a basic stretching routine.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run. If you are dehydrated, your chances of picking up a muscle injury while you run will increase dramatically.
  • Try to run on clear, obstacle-free surfaces. Running on uneven surfaces, such as severely cracked concrete roads, will increase your chances of tripping and injuring yourself.
  • Make sure you are wearing supportive running shoes that are the correct size. Proper running socks will also help you avoid developing painful blisters.

Final Words on Running Frequency

Now that you know how many days a week you should run, you just need to get out there and commit to a schedule. Make sure you are challenging yourself by setting realistic goals. Once you find that your current running schedule is becoming easy, add weekly mileage, time, and even an extra running day each week!

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