How many days to run in a week, for both beginners and seasoned runners?

Every runner, beginner or seasoned, keeps asking this question at various stage of their running. Read more to find out.

How many days to run in a week? 3, 4, 5, 6, or all 7 days? One of the most pressing questions for many runners who find it challenging to decide. This article intends to throw help on this topic.

I recently came across a survey in a running group that asked, “how many days do you typically run?”

The answers varied from 1 day through 7 days, and each answer got a different number of voting, with 3 and 5 days with most votes, followed by 6 days and 4 days in that order.

There is an important fact to notice in these results. The answers have come from runners who have varying running experience. Each one is at a different experience level in running and their adaptation to options based on their individual running goals.

If you are a runner who is finding it hard to decide on how many days to run, here are some pointers that you might find helpful to pick your approach. Remember the rule of one day of complete rest for all options below. Rest days are essential to recover and rejuvenate your body and muscles, removing waste products such as lactate that generate over time with training.

For beginners: If you are very new to running, running two days a week would be more than sufficient to ensure you recover better because running is hard as your body is yet to adapt. The fewer days you run, you give your body a chance to recover better for the upcoming days. You can do cross-training such as Yoga, cycling on other days, which is less strain to your body.

For 5K to 10K runners: If you are someone who runs 5K to 10K regularly and does up to 10K races, you may run 3 days a week, which should be sufficient to get you the running mileage for your 10K races. You can add speed workouts (tempo and intervals) in these three runs along with easy runs, while you could do strength workouts for two days and another day for flexibility and mobility.

For Half Marathon (HM) and Marathon runners: If you are a seasoned HMs and FM runner, you might look at running 4 to 5 days. It is implicit that you would be running very consistently to get the mileage that you need for HMs and FMs. If you are young and an athlete training for competitive races, you might run up to 5 days since you might recover faster than someone is who is a recreational runner and maybe a little older. Your time improvements for HM and FM can come from high weekly mileage as well, apart from speed workouts. You might consider running more than once a day (like I have briefed in the next option) to get additional non-running days in your training schedule.

For Ultra runners: If you are running ultras, how many days you run could probably vary from 5 days to 7 days. It would all depend on how you have adapted to your running, training for different races. There are a couple of ways to get the mileage that you need for ultras. It need not be always that you run all 7 days in a week. You could run 4 days a week, still get the high mileage. How? You run twice a day, morning run and evening run, each 10K rather than a single run of 15K. This way, you give your body time to recover between runs. Also, you get more days in your hands to do other cross-training. This is just an example. Likewise, you can get creative in how you get both high-mileage and at the same time, stay strong through running without injuries.

Key Takeaway Notes:

- Always listen to your body and train accordingly. You have your training plan for a defined goal. You continue to execute that plan to get the outcomes. But that doesn’t mean you over-train in any way that works negatively against your goal. If you are too tired for a day, you should lean towards an easy workout, less demanding cross-training, or resting.

- Consider running less number of days if you are prone to running injuries. Adequate cross-training over too many days of running has really helped many runners to stay injury-free in their running journey. This is very applicable to all recreational runners who pick running for their health and wellness.

- Nothing should be written in stone when it comes to how many days you run. It depends on your goals, other life priorities (family, kids, and work), recovery adaptation, nutrition, and other things.

- Do not follow anyone when it comes to deciding on this. You definitely have suggestions, including this article, but try to experiment based on your goals and your personal adaptation. That is one way to discover and master your abilities in running.

There is a famous quote which I like very much as a runner.

Run often. Run long. But never outrun the joy of running — Julie Isphording

Keep running. Cheers.

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Ganesh Kuduva

Ganesh Kuduva


Founder — Runner Forever. Health & Wellness Coach. Internationally Published Best-Selling Author.