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How Often Should I Be Running?

Author: Dave Ringwood, USATF Certified Coach

The short answer, like most burning questions in life, is “it depends.”

There are many factors to consider when determining your optimal number of days per week to run. Some of the things a runner should take into account includes: their training background, injury history, training environment, goals and general lifestyle – just to name a few. Below is a brief, but important guide to helping you plan your running schedule, according to your running level.

 

Beginner Runners

Congratulations! FRC welcomes runners of all strides to the tread empire. It is not about how fast you can run, but how hard you run towards your goals. Whether you’re completely new to the sport of running, just getting into a fitness routine or are looking to get back into running after taking time off – everyone begins with that first step! 

For beginners with few to no reference points, a more concrete answer to ‘how often should I be running?’ can be better asked as how many days are you able to run while maintaining your health physically, mentally and emotionally. Sounds easy, right? The most elite runners and beginner runners must learn how to listen to what their mind and body is telling them. The trick is to not push it early on and to get into a healthy habit/routine of running. 

Recovery days, especially for beginners, will be essential in keeping your physical, mental and emotional energy at sustainable levels. We have the philosophy that each athlete should strive to incorporate recovery into their overall training plan in at least a 2 to 1 ratio (training to recovery), however, every runner is unique, so the number of ideal recovery days and what to do on those recovery days varies. Remember to listen to your body. If you are not feeling well or just feel a little off, do not hesitate to take a recovery day. 

For beginners, we recommend between three and four days of rest per week. We want to provide opportunities to recover after each run, but we also want to develop a pattern of running with regularity. Once this regularity is established and endurance builds, we look to assign each run with a specific purpose. An ideal week of purposeful training consists of at least:

  • 1-2 Easy/Regular Runs
  • 1 Workout
  • 1 Long Run

The variables we discussed earlier will affect the volume/intensity of these runs, as well as how many, if any, additional runs should fill out the week.

 

Intermediate and Advanced Runners

As you progress from beginner to intermediate and advanced, the weekly structure remains relatively consistent. The framework holds, but the supporting pieces around it may increase:

  • 2-4 easy/regular runs
  • 1-2 workouts
  • 1 long run

This structure still provides a wide range of days per week, anywhere from four to seven. There are many combinations of training patterns that work for some, but not others; the key is identifying what works best for you.

If you are prone to injury, replace easy/regular runs with cross training, active recovery or take one of our assessments so you can better understand and prevent these injuries. If you get bogged down or too busy, take an easy day off and recover mentally as well. If you are increasing mileage or intensity without issue, consider a full week of workouts, potentially even adding doubles.

The key is to be honest with yourself about how you are responding to varying degrees of work and to respond appropriately. Remember to listen to your body. As the other variables in your life shift and change, don’t be scared to change your training structure too.

 

Runners of All Abilities

These strategies might be difficult to put into practice but don’t be discouraged. Even the most elite runners, at times, might feel off and need to adopt a running schedule more similar to a beginner runner. Professional running coaches and athletes, like the ones at FRC, have developed an understanding of the relationship between life and running. It is important to maintain a healthy sense of balance in your overall lifestyle and we can help you find your unique Formula to reach and conquer your personal fitness goals. 

 

Running Focused Classes

For those runners who don’t know their level, or are interested in finding out where they are in their running journey, we encourage you to drop by and take either a Formula 101 or a Formula Run class. These classes are structured to provide runners an opportunity to test out their limits and to find out their level of running ability. Our expert running coaches facilitate each class so that runners of all strides can participate. These coaches take time to learn about your fitness goals to tweak and modify your workout experience according to your needs. No matter what your skill level, or fitness goal, running can help complement your workouts and leave you smiling with a runner’s high.