How Often Should You Be Running?





Very often both beginner runners and experienced runners don’t understand how to put together a training plan that helps them get the best out of their running.

Some people don’t run enough but expect great results.

Other people are the complete opposite. They believe that they need to run all the time and end up training like a full time athlete when there’s really no need to.

In this blog post you’ll learn the basis for a good training plan and will know just how often you should be running to get great results.

There are two main ways you can structure your training plan which are…

  • Splitting your running into segments
  • Consistently running all the time

Segmenting your running

The idea with this sort of training plan is that you push yourself hard for several weeks and then ease back for a short time period to help your body recover. You then keep repeating the process to build on your previous running ability.

For example, you keep pushing yourself for 4-8 weeks and then have an easy week where you reduce the amount of running that you do and the difficulty level by around half.

During the easy week you can cut out the hard runs and replace them with easier runs or other forms of training such as swimming or cycling.

The main benefit with this type of training is that the easier week allows your body to fully recover which helps you avoid over-training and injury.

It’s often used by professional athletes who regularly push themselves to the limit and need to give their body an easier period in order to recover.

Another good thing about having the occasional easier week is that it refreshes both your body and mind so you feel eager and motivated to get back to full running.

It can also be motivating knowing that after you’ve trained hard you’ll have an easier week coming up. This can feel like a reward for all your efforts.

The easier week can also be scheduled to fit in with other things in your life. For example, when you go on holiday or Christmas.

These are times when your training plan may have been interrupted anyway but now it’s all part of the plan. You can ease off with your running without feeling guilty about it.

There are a few downsides though. You need to make sure that you don’t always use the easier week as an excuse for a week off and totally ignore your running and what you eat.

It’s about easing back with your running and maintaining your healthy diet rather than stopping running altogether and adding a few pounds.

You also need to feel confident that you’ll be able to get back into full running straight after the easier week, rather than letting it drag on for weeks or months.

Consistent running

For most people I suggest to use consistent running rather than segmenting their running.

With consistent running the aim is to keep running at the same effort level each week and keep trying to improve your running ability week by week.

This keeps you continuously running and helps you stick to a routine that’s easy to maintain. You simply follow your weekly training plan and keep trying to improve each week.

The main advantage of consistent running over segmenting your running is that it’s good for maintaining your momentum. If everything is going great then you can just keep going without easing back for a week.

Consistent running is also good for people who would struggle mentally to get back into their routine after having an easier week.

However, you do need to be careful with consistent running because if you push your body too hard all the time then eventually you’ll become injured.

Therefore, you should still be prepared to take a few days off or ease back with your running when you feel tired or you’re getting more aches than normal.

How many days should you be running?

I recommend that you run (or run plus other forms of training) 3-6 times per week.

Less than 3 times per week means that your body has too long to recover between runs. Therefore, your fitness and running ability won’t improve as quickly as it could.

More than 6 times per week and you’d be training more like a professional athlete who has support like masseurs and nutritionists to help them get through their training.

Your performance would be unlikely to improve due to over-training and you’d have a much higher risk of injury.

In the end though, the key to a good training plan comes down to quality rather than quantity.

Very often people run 5 or 6 times per week but they still have a poor training plan. All of their runs are the same or very similar which means less running improvement and not losing as much weight as they could.

On the other hand, someone else could perform 3 quality runs per week and get much better running and weight loss results.

The other good thing about aiming for quality rather than quantity is that you also perform more efficient runs. You get better results out of the time you spend running.

James

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2 Responses to How Often Should You Be Running?

  1. GAYLE NELSON says:

    Hi there, i am a beginner who is working toward a 5k . I am carrying alot of extra weight (4st) but doing a run walk programme, so i’m being sensible, however my knees are in complete agony am i doing something wrong?? I bought new trainers before i embarked on this from my local running shop so i dont think its that. I’m enjoying my runs apart from the knee pain so i dont want to give up already. What should i do?

    • James says:

      It may just be that you’re new to running so your body still needs to adapt and get stronger. You should ease back a bit with your running and see if that makes a difference.

      If the problem persists you may find it useful to visit a physiotherapist because they will help you pinpoint the exact cause and help you run pain free.

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