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How Many Miles Should I Run A Day? Tips For Developing And Sustaining A Running Habit

Running is a great form of exercise that can help you stay in shape, release endorphins, and feel good. It’s also very affordable, so if you’re looking for a new way to get in shape on the cheap, running may be exactly what you’re looking for.

If running sounds like something that interests you, but you’re not sure where to start or how much you should do, this guide is exactly what you need. More specifically, if you’re wondering “how many miles should I run a day?” then this is the article for you. Read on to learn more about running and how to incorporate it into your life.

How Many Miles Should I Run a Day?

The answer to this question is – it depends. Running is a great sport with plenty of benefits (13). Several factors determine how many miles you should run each day, including:

Goals of the Runner

Many people like running because they can enjoy their time outdoors and explore new places while getting fit in the process. Other people run for recreation, but they don’t necessarily push themselves beyond what feels comfortable or safe. In this case, they may be done with their workout after 30 minutes on the trails.

However, the majority of runners train to run long distances or compete in races. In this case, endurance and stamina are the most important factors – you need to find a good balance between speed and distance. Once you’ve established your goal (and if it’s recreation), then it’s easier to determine how many miles you should run. 

Fitness Level

Another factor that affects mileage is your level of fitness. For example, if you’re new to running, it’s important to build endurance slowly. If you try to run too much, too soon, you could end up with an injury.

On the other hand, more experienced runners don’t have this problem as they have better stamina and know their limits, so they can push themselves beyond without getting injured or sick. To continue making progress as a runner and avoid stalling out at a certain level, it’s important to keep testing yourself by pushing your limits gradually.

When starting as a runner, particularly if you’ve never been very active before, you should start with just one to two miles a day. For example, you could run one mile on Monday and Wednesday and two miles on Friday.

You can then increase your mileage by 10% every week until you reach your desired number of weekly miles.

See also
Types Of Cardio, Their Pros And Cons

Other Exercise Activities You’re Participating in

If you’re a runner but also cycle, swim, or engage in another sport, you’ll need to adjust your running routine accordingly. Most other types of exercise work similar muscle groups to running, and these muscles must be given enough time to rest and recover between workouts.

For example, if you run for 30 minutes every day (Monday through Friday) and then do the elliptical on the weekends, your legs will constantly be tired. This can lead to injuries that sideline your training efforts for several months.

So if you’re an avid runner who likes to mix it up with other activities, give yourself at least two days off per week (e.g., Saturday and Sunday) so your muscles have a chance to rest and recover. Make sure not to overtrain your muscles (10).

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Daily Running Guide: Here’s How Many Miles You Should Run per Day 

In reality, there’s no set number of miles you should run per day. What’s more important is how many minutes you spend doing it. This matters whether you’re a beginner or an experienced runner. Here’s a simple guide for those who are looking to build or sustain a running habit:

New Runner: Start Gradually

New runners should start with what they can do and then set an achievable goal. They must start slowly to avoid injury. It’s also a good idea to take a running test, which indicates how many miles a runner can do before hitting a wall. The Cooper fitness test is commonly used (3).

To Lose Fat: Consider Three Miles a Day 

If you’ve been wondering, “how many miles should I run a day to lose body fat?” you should consider the three miles a day rule. The reason three miles is so popular is that it’s challenging but doable for most people.

Build Endurance: Increase Your Mileage to 30 per Week

It’s important for runners to gradually increase their endurance so they stay injury-free and have the energy for other activities. A good way to build endurance is by following the 10% rule: add about 10% each week until you get up to 30 miles per week. Going past this mark won’t really help you achieve your goals quicker or improve your abilities faster.

See also
HIIT Vs Cardio For Weight Loss And Health Benefits: Which One Should You Do?

Training for a Marathon: Focus on Quality over Distance

To train for a marathon, you’ll build your running up to 60 miles a week or more. Make sure to hire a running coach to help map out your marathon training.

how many miles should i run a day  

Does This Mean You Should Run Every Day?

No. Running every day is not advisable as your body needs time to rest and repair itself. Your joints and muscles need time to recover. Ideally, you should alternate between high and low mileage days (e.g., one day of 4-6 miles and then the next day off).

What Are the Benefits of Running Every Day?

Running frequently (with enough rest in between) can have the following benefits:

Cardiovascular Health

Running is an incredibly efficient cardiovascular exercise. It’s just as effective as cycling and it’s better for weight loss.

It also strengthens the heart by making the muscles pump more blood with each beat, thereby strengthening over time (9). This can be particularly important for individuals who are sedentary for extended periods or work desk jobs that limit movement.

Enhanced Metabolic Efficiency

The process of running involves a complex series of energy transformations from carbohydrates to fats and onward to a final form called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). What this means is that if you run long enough and often enough, you become more efficient at metabolizing your daily intake of calories to produce ATP without going into oxygen debt (7). In other words, your body becomes more efficient at processing energy.

Improved Brain Health

Long-term studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise can improve cognitive function in the elderly and those with early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease (12). One reason is that exercise stimulates the production of a protein called a brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This facilitates neurogenesis or new neuron formation in portions of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

Improved Bone Density

Running triggers a response in your body that causes bones to grow larger and stronger as a reaction against damaging forces (5). One way this happens is by stimulating osteocytes to produce RANKL, which then goes on to stimulate osteoclasts. The result is stronger and denser bones. In other words, running helps keep your skeletal structure strong as you age.

Improved Joint and Muscle Health

Running strengthens your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This prevents injuries that can wreck an active lifestyle (4). It also helps with weight management as lean muscle mass plays a role in determining your body fat percentage.

Enhanced Feelings of Well-Being

In addition to all the benefits listed above, there’s also an emotional component to running that keeps people coming back to it as a daily practice. Many runners learn the hard way that if they miss even one day of running, their mood and general psychological well-being are affected.

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No Equipment Needed: These Are The 10 Best Cardio Workouts To Do At Home

Several studies have demonstrated the stress-relieving and mood-boosting properties of running. Scientists have found that running releases endorphins, hormones that give the user a feeling of euphoria that is similar to morphine (6).

Running Reduces Cancer Risk 

Studies have shown that long-term runners reduce their risk of developing colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer by approximately 40 to 50% (11). The reason for this is twofold: running improves cardiovascular health, including reducing inflammation throughout the body, and also stimulates apoptosis in cells. 

Apoptosis is when your body kills its own cells to maintain homeostasis (i.e. balance). Cancerous cells are much harder for your body to kill than healthy ones, so the more you can do to boost the apoptosis process, the more efficient your body will be at removing harmful cells from your system (1).

Read more: Intermittent Fasting and Running: A Winning Combination or a Terrible Mistake?

how many miles should i run a day  

How to Start and Sustain a Running Habit

Research has shown what many people already knew – that running regularly is good for you. So let’s get to it! 

Based on what we know about how habit formation works, here are some key elements of a running program that will make it part of your life for good:

Equip Yourself with the Right Gear

If you’re going to stick with this for a while, set yourself up for success by getting shoes that feel great and outfits you like. In the long term, it will be much easier if you don’t need to worry about equipment as you get started.

Start Small

Running distance compounds like anything else. So while there’s no magic bullet to changing your habits, starting with very short runs and adding just 10 minutes or so each week until you reach an hour or more at a time will get you into the habit without overloading yourself, which will keep you from giving up if you’re way out of shape when you start.

Always Warm Up and Cool Down

Start every run with a few minutes of light exercise and dynamic stretches that get your blood pumping. That’s the quick and dirty version of how to start running for beginners. And as you get to know your body better through training, you can figure out what additional elements make sense as part of your post-run routine. This could include foam rolling, stretching, or ice baths. It’s important to always do a warm-up and a cool-down (2).

See also
Cardio Kickboxing: Benefits, How To And Sample Beginner Workout

Don’t Overthink It

Your first goal should be to figure out a simple, enjoyable way of integrating running into your life. Running with other people is great if you can make it work, but even solo runners eventually find friends and family members who don’t mind joining them for an occasional run. 

Once your feet hit the pavement, minor details such as exactly how far or at what pace you’ll run or whether you’ll listen to music or podcasts as you run should be the last thing on your mind. You won’t be going for a personal record today, so just go.

Find a Running Buddy

Running is more fun when you do it with others, and the people in your life will be much more likely to encourage you to stick with it if they’re there for moral support (1). So put out some feelers in your neighborhood, workplace, or social circles about potential partners, or even better, groups that already exist. 

If other members know you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to ask them how their first runs went. They’ll remember what it was like and are generally happy to share advice.

Reward Yourself

Beyond a certain point, the running habit is about so much more than simply getting out and going for a run. It also requires planning and commitment in your free time. So, when you complete a week of training runs with no problem, you should treat yourself to something nice that you’ve been looking forward to buying or doing but haven’t allowed yourself. 

Take Advantage of Technology

There are now many tools available in both online and smartphone apps to help ensure you stay engaged with your running program (15). Find one or more that work for you, so you can quickly track your progress toward your goals without having to keep the data in your head – and they will also remind you of all those milestones along the way!

If you wish to free yourself from all the extra pounds that have been weighting you down for way too long, start using the BetterMe app and overhaul your entire life!

Know It’s Okay to Take a Break

If today isn’t a good day for you to run, that’s totally fine. Just take it as easy as you need to and do something else active if possible (yoga, swimming, tennis). Remember, it takes several weeks of regular exercise before you’ll see any significant physical improvements.

See also
Fun Cardio: The New Way To Enjoy A Workout & Get In Shape

So instead of panicking or feeling guilty about being out of commission today, focus on what you can do to take care of yourself right now, and simply commit again to hitting the pavement as soon as you’re ready.

Don’t Forget to Adjust Your Diet Accordingly

You need to fuel your running just like an athlete would, so make sure you factor in many of the things that apply to your training. Depending on how long or hard you run, you might want to bring snacks along with you for before and during the run, plus extra water for afterward. 

However, you shouldn’t put yourself through a full-blown cleanse or make other dietary changes abruptly. You need to find something healthy that will work for you and get used to it gradually, allowing at least two weeks between any major changes.

If you want to run to lose fat and get in shape, you’ll need to overhaul your diet. Go from processed foods to whole foods. Cut out the sugar and alcohol. Work protein into every meal (16).

Prioritize Rest and Sleep

Running is great, but it places a lot of stress on your muscles and can leave you feeling wiped out, quite literally. If this is the case with you, give yourself more time between training runs to rest and recover, or cut back on your mileage so you don’t risk overtraining. 

It’s also important to get enough sleep, so your body has time to repair and rebuild itself at night after all those miles during the day. Aim for at least seven hours of good sleep every night to recharge your batteries before you tackle another run in the morning (8).

Read more: Beach Running Workout 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Sand Training

how many miles should i run a day  


  • How many miles should I run a week to stay healthy?

The distance you cover during your weekly runs depends on your fitness level and goals. For example, beginners should start small. They may start with 3 or 12 miles per week and check how it works out for them. You can run 1-3 miles a day to reach this goal. Generally, maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit requires running 10 miles a week split over 3 to 5 days.

Joshua Funderburg, who is a fitness expert, says that if you run for 20 minutes a day, not too hard, five times every week, or if you run harder for 20 minutes three times a week, it can help make you healthier. However, you should take baby steps if you’ve only just started running. Analyze how your body reacts to those initial days of running and then devise a plan for yourself.

  • How many miles a day is ideal?

Running 20 miles a day can be too much for most people. It works well for those who’ve been running for a long time and are in good shape. Others are recommended to run around 1 to 3 miles each day. Around 30 minutes of running is considered safe if you can warm up and cool down easily. In fact, running for 30 minutes can give you many benefits such as increased blood flow, an efficient body, and improved heart and lung function.

That being said, you don’t need to run every day to hit your fitness milestones. You can spread your runs to 4 or 5 days a week. Rest days are important to make sure you allow your body to heal and recover from stress. Don’t fix a certain number of miles for yourself if you’re a beginner. Start with 1 to 2 miles and gradually increase the distance.

  • Can I get abs by just running?

Yes, running can definitely accelerate your efforts to get defined abs. This happens as running creates a calorie deficit which burns the padding around your abdomen when it’s combined with a proper diet. Before you start running, you should learn a few tips on running a mile so you don’t overexert yourself and achieve the results you’re aiming for.

Those who have a strong desire to get abs in a certain period should also perform strength training exercises such as sit-ups, planks, and crunches.

  • What is a runner’s body?

The term “runner’s body” refers to a certain type of physique. This is characterized by a body that has a lean build, low body fat, and a defined shape to the legs, core, and hips. There is no specific shape or weight that determines a runner’s body. A person can get such a body by running regularly and prioritizing good nutrition.

Associating a certain build with runners isn’t always a good idea. Many runners have a muscular build while others carry some extra weight. Remember that running is a diverse sport with different kinds of runners having different bodies.

The Bottom Line

How many miles you should run a day is dependent on several factors. Building a running habit is a gradual process of gently pushing yourself, one day at a time. You need to get used to the feeling of running before you can push your body beyond its comfort zone. When it comes to building endurance and training for marathons, you should focus on quality over quantity.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1.  3 Reasons to Work Out With a Friend (2021,
  2. Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down – (2021,
  3. Cooper Test Provides Better Half-Marathon Performance Prediction in Recreational Runners Than Laboratory Tests (2019,
  4. Current Concept of Muscle and Tendon Adaptation to Strength and Conditioning (2015,
  5. Does running strengthen bone? (2015,
  6. Endorphins and mood changes in long-distance running (1982,
  7. Interaction among Skeletal Muscle Metabolic Energy Systems during Intense Exercise (
  8. Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review (2017,
  9. Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk (2014,
  10. Overtraining Syndrome (2012,
  11. Physical Activity in Cancer Prevention and Survival: A Systematic Review (2019,
  12. Physical Exercise as a Preventive or Disease-Modifying Treatment of Dementia and Brain Aging (
  13. Running for health: Even a little bit is good, but a little more is probably better (2014,
  14. The effect of acute running and cycling exercise on T cell apoptosis in humans: A systematic review (2019,
  15. Tracking physical activity using smart phone apps: assessing the ability of a current app and systematically collecting patient recommendations for future development (2020,
  16. Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2003,
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