Understanding how often should you run will be one of your first challenges as a runner. When you are working and don’t have a lot of time for running, it is generally easier to fit in a few runs per week. But what if you have the time to run every day? Should you do it? Simply put, the frequency of your runs should relate to your goals and desired fitness level. However, running every day is almost never a good idea, no matter the type of running. Your muscles and joints will always need at least one day off in the week to regenerate and be back into optimal condition for your next run.
To determine your ideal running frequency we will first go through the various running skill levels and then see how often should you rest based upon that same factor.
Running frequency based on skill level
In this chapter, we will take a look at how often different people can run based solely on their skill level. There are three types of runners:
- Intermediate runners
- Advanced runners
Now let’s see how you should adjust your runs depending on your abilities…
After learning how to properly warm-up, beginners tend to focus on running as much and as often as possible. That is usually their first mistake. When you are new to running and not particularly fit, you will have to give your body a few weeks or months of working in. The body will then start slowly adapting to these conditions. Your muscles will get stronger, your joints will become more resilient, you will be more flexible and all that will result in you being able to recover faster. Faster recovery means more frequent runs.
In this first stage, runners should run 2 to 4 times per week and try to be as mindful as possible about their body’s response to this change and how they feel the day after a run. If you want to get more out of your workouts make them longer instead of squeezing another one into your schedule.
Intermediate runners are generally far more resilient and are already used to running quite often. Some intermediate runners can run up to 4-5 times per week without putting too much strain on their muscles and joints. By that time, you should start thinking of improving various aspects of your run, such as long-distance or speed endurance, strides, tempo, average times, and others.
In this stage of your progress, you should also become even more mindful of your heart rate and start using it to your advantage. You can learn more about heart rate zones by going to my detailed article on the topic.
Advanced runners have running as a permanently embedded part of their life. They can usually run very often, almost every day. Still, if they want to target a specific aspect of their run such as speed endurance, they will most likely need a recovery day after that workout or (as some others prefer) a mild jog in their rest day. So if you count those recovery runs, some advanced runners might even run 7 days a week with rest days only appearing before major competitions to give the body some time to properly fuel up for a long or fast run.
Some runners, such as sprinters, train twice a day in their intensive training periods. This usually raises the question of whether running in the morning is better than running in the evening, to which I’ve dedicated a whole article.
I already touched briefly on rest periods but we should talk about them a little bit more nonetheless. Having a rest day after your run is generally well-accepted, especially if you are a beginner. It is known that rest days are the key to your progress and that, in fact, you level up more during those days than the days with actual workouts in them. Some people prefer having a slow jog of a few miles on their rest day just to get their blood going but that isn’t mandatory.
As a general rule of thumb – the harder your workout is, the longer rest your body will need after it. Keep that in mind and always plan your runs according to the efforts you will put in.
Different running plans have different rest days and periods. You can learn how to create your own running plan by clicking here! Something that further enhance your rest periods or even allow you to push your body further on your active days is a foam roller. Finding a good foam roller will help your muscles relax and will keep your tendons and joints happy.
Another aspect that will greatly affect your ability to just go out and run is the weather. Let’s take a look at how that can affect your sessions…
Even if you want to run every day, sometimes the weather might not allow it. There are a few correlations between the weather and running frequency.
Hot weather tends to look more inviting for a run but that isn’t usually the case. If you are a beginner, try avoiding running in the hottest hours as you are yet not used to being mindful of your core temperature. That can lead to your body quickly overheating if you don’t take the proper measures.
Cold weather, on the other hand, is relatively easier to tackle since you can always layer up your clothing and take a layer off if you get too hot. As a whole, try taking advantage of the weather and hours of the day by planning your runs according to that. If winter runs are your thing, I suggest checking out my guide on some of the best winter running thighs.
If you don’t want to be limited by the weather outside, check out my guide on the best folding treadmills for this year!
So, how often should you run? That depends on a lot of factors. If your goal is to become a professional long-distance runner, then running 6 days a week is a good strategy. Beginner runners, however, will reap the benefits of this exercise even if they train 2-4 times per week. Always be mindful of your body’s energy levels and response to the workout as that can hint you what type of rest you should consider and how long it should be.