How Often Should You Run?

Running strips life back to the bare essentials

So you’ve been running for a while now, and you’re starting to feel like you might want to take on some longer runs, or even do some 5K races. But there’s always the question: how much running should you do?

A lot of that decision depends on how long you’ve been running, what types of activity you did before you began running, plus that one crucial element: time. You probably have a very busy life, and dedicating, even more, time to running could take away from family, social or work time. There are a number of things to consider when deciding how often you should run. Let’s look at some of them so you can choose what’s best for you.

What do you want to get out of running?

First of all, you need to define what you want to get out of running. Do you have some goals?  If you don’t, it’s a good idea to set some goals, it will help you to plan your training schedule. For example, if you want to run a personal best in a race, you’ll need to put together a specific training plan. If your goals are focused on the health benefits of running such as weight loss, stress relief, and cardiovascular health, the amount you need to run is more flexible.

From a cost-benefit perspective, running every other day is the way to get the most bang for your buck. Because of the law of diminishing returns, if you run more you’ll still get benefits from training, but not the same amount of benefit you get from 3 to 4 weekly runs.

Don’t add too much too quickly

From a health and wellness perspective, you need to be careful not to add too much running to your schedule all at once. If you do, you risk injury. The general rule to follow is to add no more than 10% to your training from one week to the next. Some people can handle more, but the 10% rule is good to follow. This will make sure that your body can take the added stress without breaking down.

Listen to your body

Maybe you’re tired of hearing this, but it’s really important to listen to your body.  You’re going to feel some soreness from running, but it should be muscular soreness. Unless you’re training like a pro, running should never be really painful. If you start to feel sharp pains in specific areas, especially the knees and ankles or isolated points within a muscle, you’ve probably pushed yourself too hard too soon. It’s time to take a couple of rest days, let that body heal itself, and then get back into your running routine.

Really, how often you run depends on what you prefer, as long as you run somewhere between 3 to 6 days per week. You might love the feeling of getting out there every day for a run. Maybe it wakes you up and gets you going for the day. Others like to run fewer days per week, but for more time during each of the runs. Make sure you give yourself, at least, 1 rest day per week. Your body needs it to recover, and your mind needs it too. Just like all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, doing the same thing every day makes Jill a dull girl.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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