Running has loads of benefits, it keeps you fit, strengthens your bones and boosts your mood … when you first catch the running bug, it can be pretty addictive. So it’s no surprise, one of the things many newer runners want to know is, just how often can I get out there and run?
While we’d all love a magic number to make us a faster, fitter, stronger runner, the truth is there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The number of times you should run a week depends on various individual factors, including:
- Your personal goals
- Your fitness
- How long you’ve been running
- Your existing time commitments
- Your injury history
If you’ve just started running and are doing it for stress release and a bit of me time, for example, one or two runs a week might be enough. However, if you’re a seasoned runner training for their next marathon, you’ll probably be running five or six days a week.
The most important thing is not to do too much too soon, your body needs time to adapt to the physical stresses being put on it. Running too far, too fast or too often can lead to injury, burn out and mental fatigue. While it is physically possible to run everyday, that doesn’t mean you should.
So how often should you run? NURVV Community Manager and Coach, James Poole, gives us his advice for beginner runners.
Break things up into bitesize pieces.
Rather than worrying too much about how many days you’re running, James advises thinking about how far you’re running each time instead.
‘Going out and doing short runs more frequently is better than doing one long run infrequently,’ he says. ‘If you’re brand new to running and go out and and run 10k, it’ll hurt and you’ll be sore for about a week. It’s much more sensible to cut that down into smaller chunks and do four runs of 2.5k, for example.
‘You’ll still get most of the benefits of running 10k in one go but without pushing your body to its limits and risking injury.’
Try to build in rest and recovery
‘Running is an impact sport – each foot hits the ground around 100 times a minute – and your body needs time to adapt to the stress being put on it,’ says James. ‘You should always schedule at least one rest day into your week and for beginner runners I’d recommend around one to three non-running days a week.’
Rest days allow your body to replenish its energy stores and your muscles to adapt and become stronger. They also prevent mental burnout – so you’re looking forward to going for a run again rather than seeing it as a chore.
While you should have at least one day a week completely free of exercise, you can also try active rest days, where you do a very gentle form of exercise such as going for a walk with friends.
Make sure you’re enjoying it
Rather than getting hung up on times and numbers, James says:
‘Beginner runners should go out and say I’m going to run until I don’t want to run anymore. If that’s 10 minutes that’s great because you didn’t hate it. You didn’t wake up super-sore and you’re more inclined to go out and do it on day two.
‘By contrast what most runners do is aim for a certain number like 5k, run really fast for that 5k, don’t enjoy it because it was hard and then don’t want to run again.
‘Running is about building an experience. If you enjoy it and can see yourself getting better, you’ll want to keep doing it.’
Get the tech
How many times you should run a week is highly individual but there is tech that can help ensure you’re not overdoing it. NURVV’s Training Load feature looks at how far and often you’ve been running and gives you guidance on how to progress sensibly without risking injury and fatigue.
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