It can often be a balancing act between how far you should run each week to stay healthy, and yet keep your fitness improving. Over train and you run the risk of injury, yet if you don't log enough miles you'll likely not achieve your fitness goals.
You'll need to put in the time and distance into your runs to ensure you're burning calories and working up enough sweat to make a difference. However, sometimes it's not about the distance, but rather the changes in intensity levels. This guide will go through how to stay healthy and the average amount of running you'll need to do each week to keep your fitness at a healthy level.
Average Running Distance Per Week
Most people assume you need to run ridiculous distances every week to be able to stay at a really healthy level. But that simply isn't the case.
Although, it can be different for everyone, many people find that even 5- to 6-miles per week, spread across 4 sessions is enough. Keep in mind, runners who use this type of maintenance distance often build in a gym weight training workout.
Don't forget to build in your recovery throughout the week. If you work your body too hard when it isn't ready, you'll be prone to injuries.
When it comes to staying healthy, running is on top of the list. You won't need to buy expensive workout equipment, and you can set your own limits and scenery.
But it is important to have a clear understanding of why you're training and your expected outcome.
Because there's a number of different types of running and running workouts, you'll be able to target specific areas to help improve your performance.
However, if you're not consistent, you'll be less likely to see the benefits you're seeking, or see much progression physically. But that's not to say you can't benefit from the mental focus and relaxation that helps you block out the world on your runs.
Are You a Beginner?
If you're a beginner, you need to become comfortable with running before you can start setting huge weekly goals. It's a good idea to start off with a 20-minute jog.
The slow jog will help get your muscles used to working in this kind of motion. It can be a bit of a shock to the system if your body isn't used to using these muscles.
Aim to do a 20-minute jog about 4 times a week, building in rest days in between to give your body a chance to recover.
If you build in a couple of weight workouts during the week, that will also help your muscles prepare for your running journey.
As the weeks pass, your routine will begin to increase in intensity and your muscles will be trained during the week to make this transition a lot easier. It's all about working your way up, building upon each workout.
It's better to take small steps that can be built upon, then to start out big and get discouraged or injured.
Using running to get fit has many advantages, but it's not something that can happen overnight. You'll need to prepare your body for the workouts, learn how to control your breathing, and increase your endurance and stamina.
Running Longer or Faster?
When setting your running goals you're going to need to decide the outcome you want to achieve from your exercise.
Whether you choose to focus on running longer or faster, they'll both increase your health. However, they also provide different benefits. Let's take a look at each:
If you're looking to lose weight, focusing on running faster is a good choice. Faster running workouts are great for burning fat and calories because its a high intensity workout with few stops in between.
You'll want to include hill work, weights and other exercises to enhance the workout.
If you're looking to build muscle faster, this is a great option because the fast runs burn fat and build muscle more efficiently.
In addition, you'll also be able to get your workout done faster, yet still burn the same amount of calories. So individuals who have tight schedules often opt for the "running faster" choice.
Also, since the workout will be anaerobic, it's a great choice for those who enjoy competitive sports.
Others enjoy the mental clarity that goes with a long evening run. Longer runs are at a slower pace which allows the body to develop high endurance and stamina.
Running for a longer period of time in comparison to fast runs actually decreases your chances of injury. This is because you aren't moving your muscles as fast and relying on your joints and ligaments as heavily.
It's easy in fast running to tear or pull something which can take awhile to heal properly. This can severely limit your workouts, or put you on the bench entirely.
Longer running is a great example of aerobic training which will increase your heart capacity. After you've been running awhile, you'll really start to feel the workout across your whole body - not just your legs.
Mixing them Both
If you want the best of both worlds, you should do a mix of both fast running and distance running.
Mixing a high and low intensity workout over you week will help you balance your training and you'll be able to take advantage of the benefits from both.
You'll not only keep your body guessing about what workout you'll be doing next, but it'll also help you from becoming mentally bored.
When you stop enjoying the process, you're more likely to stop altogether. By mixing it up, you'll be able to keep your workouts interesting.
Increasing Your Running Distance
If you're currently jogging up to 5k without any problems, then you'll want to start adding to your mileage. The way to add distance is to do it slowly by increasing the duration of your runs each week.
You won't be able to do it overnight because your body is trained to running the 5k distance and won't be able to do more initially. If your next goal is to reach 10k, then you need to add distance each week in order to achieve the increased distance.
It's important to do slow and steady distance increases without pushing yourself too hard, otherwise you may end up injuring yourself. You'll want to find a balance between pushing yourself too hard without going too easy.
When making increase adjustments to your runs, you'll also need to take a look at your diet if you want to stay healthy.
A common mistake new runners make with their diet is to stop watching what they eat.
They often think since they're exercising more they won't need to pay attention to what they eat. You'll need to be careful not to eat too much or not enough, in addition to eating the right things.
Without proper nutrition you won't be able to improve or progress in your health or fitness.
Before your workout it's a best practice to eat something small. It'll give you a boost of energy from your food without making you feel full or bloated. A small snack such as a banana or cereal is a great option to eat before your run.
Drinking plenty of water is another important part of your routine. Without good hydration, you won't be able to perform your best and you may feel drowsy, weak, or have difficulty concentrating.
When you feel weak during physical activity, you tend to feel light-headed which could lead to fainting. This is especially a concern in hot weather or during gym workouts. Staying well hydrated before and during your workout will help you get the most from your training runs.
- Whether you're running faster or slower, you'll want to aim for about 15 to 20 miles a week.
- It's always good to set targets for yourself so you'll have something to work towards.
- Establishing a regular routine can ensure you are consistently getting your workouts in.
- Your workouts should include a mix of slow and fast running.
- Remember, it's not always about the distance, rather, it's about what you intend to specifically achieve. Running workouts hit different areas, so it's always a good idea to do a mix of workouts to get the best from each.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions when it comes to distance running training.
How Many Miles is Healthy to Run Weekly?
If you're training for a race, you'll want to consider the race distance when setting your training plan. As you might expect, longer races will require longer training mileage.
If you're training for a 5k, then you should expect to do about 10 to 15 miles a week. However, if you're doing a marathon, you'll want to bump up your mileage to at least 25 to 30 miles a week.
But mileage alone doesn't tell the whole story. You'll want to watch the percentage of miles in relation to hard workouts, and long runs vs. easy miles. Tempo runs and track workouts are far more tiring than easy miles.
How Many Miles is Too Many to Run Each Week?
Keeping in mind that everybody's body is different, runners will see gradual improvements when running 30 miles per week, while increasing mileage up to 60 miles per week.
As a general rule, running more than 70 miles a week may still show improvements, however, it'll also increase your chances of injury.
Most running experts agree that running between 75 to 120 miles a week will show diminishing results and will likely result in your body breaking down. With that said, there are some elite runners that rack up insane mileage!
How Many Days Each Week Should I Run?
The frequency of your training will vary depending on a number of factors. Here are a few guidelines:
3-Day a Week Training
Training 3-days a week is a good choice if you are brand-new to running. It's also great for those with busy schedules or if you have fitness based goals vs performance goals.
In addition, if you enjoy cross-training, a 3-day a week running schedule will allow you to fit in a variety of different workouts on your "off" days.
4- to 5-Day a Week Training
For many runners, a training program where you run 4-to-5-days a week is the sweet spot.
If you've been running for at least 6 months and you typically run long-distance races, then 4- to 5-days a week of running is a good match.
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