unning is one of the best ways to keep fit. However, before you grab your trainers, you need to know a thing or two about running. For example, you need to know the difference between running outdoors and on a treadmill. Even more importantly, you need to know the miles you need to cover. So how many miles should I run a week? This is the main focus of this read. Check out what fitness gurus say about this.
Why Should You Run?
There are so many reasons why people run every day. Some do it as a training program for a marathon, leisure activity, or fitness purposes. Whatever the case is, most people relate running every day with a string of health benefits.
However, Medical News Today reveals that most of these benefits are the general advantages of physical activity and not specifically running every day. Furthermore, they argue that there is no concrete evidence showing any effects of running every day (4).
That said, running every day results in the following as interpreted by most people:
- Weight Loss. Weight loss is one of the significant benefits of running every other day. You get to shed unwanted pounds and also benefit from additional benefits linked to weight loss. These include decreased risk of stroke, obesity, heart disease, better sleep quality, improved mobility and moods (5).
- Lower Resting Heart Rate. A lower resting heart rate is good as it shows your heart is functioning well. When this is lower, your heart maintains a regular beat and pumps blood with each contraction (5).
- Raised High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Levels. High-density lipoprotein is considered the good cholesterol. This is essential because it helps remove bad cholesterol in your blood by taking it to the liver, where it is broken down (3). Experts state that you may have high HDL levels and low body fat if you run more than 50 miles per week (5).
- Cardiorespiratory Fitness. This is the ability of your heart to pump blood stronger and more efficiently and your muscles to use oxygen efficiently (5). When you run every day, you become aerobically fit, and your heart pumps more blood and oxygen with each beat. This is known as stroke volume (5).
- Reduced Disease Risk. Running daily has also been linked to reduced risk of death from heart attacks, heart failure or stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (5).
- Reduced Mortality Risk. According to Medical News Today, regular running helps in reducing mortality risk from medical issues by roughly 29%. It also reduces mortality from heart disease by 50% and from cancer by 30 to 50% (4).
- Improved Overall Health. Running can also help in improving overall health by improving functionality, sleep, cognition, brain health, bone density, muscle strength, and quality of life (4).
Read More: Running 6 Miles A Day: Is It A Good Idea?
How Much Running Is Enough?
Like with any other physical activity, running too has its limits. Any running routine is determined by several factors.
These include your age, goals, and overall health (4). As we know, our fitness declines as we age. This means you will be less active than you were in your twenties. Do not expect to run at the same intensity, speed, or for the same distance as you did back in the day.
You also may not run as much if you have a medical condition that hinders your running ability.
Your exercise goals will also affect your running limit. For example, if you are training for a marathon, you may be required to run every day, especially if you are at the advanced fitness level. However, if it is for weight loss, you may be required to run three or four days a week.
So, in a nutshell, your running program takes into account three important factors. These are your age, health, and goals. Even so, Medicine Net recommends healthy individuals to take into account the following (5):
- Frequency of the Running training program. They recommend running three to five times a week.
- Training Intensity. You are advised to start small and increase your intensity over time, and if need be. Medicine Net suggests maintaining a 55/65% to a 90% maximum heart rate (HRmax).
- Training Duration. Many fall in the category of twenty to sixty minutes of continuous or intermittent aerobic activity like running. However, some run for more than an hour. If you need to increase your training duration, let your trainer know, and they will direct you.
- Mode of Activity. Running is one aerobic activity that uses large muscle groups that must be maintained continuously and in a rhythm. Running outside is entirely different from running on a treadmill.
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How Many Miles Should I Run A Week?
The miles you cover are highly influenced by your goals for taking up this activity. If your goal is weight loss, you cannot cover the exact miles as someone running in preparation for a marathon. So how many miles should you run in a week, depending on your goal? Well, let us find out!
In Preparation For A Marathon
According to The Guardian, the timeline influences the miles you cover in a week when preparing for your marathon. This is because you cover different miles at the start and end of the training program. Let us break this down using an example.
Perhaps your target is to finish a marathon between 2 hrs 20 min and 2 hr 39 min. In this case, The Guardian states that you may need to cover 1, 200 miles over the 16 weeks pre-race (2). It means that you have to run 75 miles (1200 miles/16 weeks) per week.
If you are preparing for long runs, The Guardian suggests running 500 miles in 16 weeks. This means covering 4.5 miles every day and 27 miles a week if you are to rest on one day (2). However, before you start training for these long runs, WebMD recommends running a base of 10 to 20 miles a week (7).
For A Healthier Lifestyle
Running is a physical activity that you can also participate in if you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle. If it is your first time running, you can start by running one mile a day. Running a mile a day results in better performance and increased endurance.
Even so, beginners are advised to stick to a 5K run, which is 3.1 miles (1). Mayoclinic acknowledges that a 5K run is a perfect distance for a beginner. However, you are advised to start at a slower pace and exercise for shorter times (1).
For Weight Loss
Running is one of the most effective aerobic activities for weight loss. As a result, most people are picking up the activity to help them shed pounds. But, first and foremost, if you are interested in running for weight loss, talk to your doctor and trainer.
You are advised to kick start your weight loss journey by running at least three miles a day in most scenarios. It means that in a week, you can aim for 18 to 21 miles. However, keep in mind that weight loss only occurs if you consume fewer calories than your body is burning.
So, calculate or find a way to keep track of the number of calories you burn when running. Do not worry about the speed or intensity when you are starting. These are things that you work on down the line and not when starting a running routine for weight loss.
Additionally, remember that the more you weigh, the more work you need to put in for faster results. However, this does not mean killing yourself running every day to the point that you are out of breath.
You need to rest and take it slow because steady and healthy weight loss keeps the pounds at bay, unlike rapid weight loss. Lastly, even if you are confident in your abilities, it is better to work with a professional to design a running weight loss plan.
Tips When Running Outdoors
Now that you know the miles you need to cover, experts suggest you also take heed of the following factors. These simple yet highly overlooked factors profoundly impact your running, safety, and health. They include:
Unlike on a treadmill, the outdoors has varying terrains. It could be asphalt, concrete, or soft. It would help if you chose a terrain that minimizes injury risk. Fitness gurus advise most people opt for smooth terrain like a dirt trail because it is easier on the body.
This enables the structure of the soft tissues in your body to absorb more, resulting in less impact on your joints and bones (6). They also hold that concrete terrain is the hardest and that asphalt terrain has little to offer (6).
However, they also state that as we age, we prefer trails close to concrete terrains. They argue that an older individual lacks the same elasticity they had in their twenties in terms of their soft tissue structure. So, they might prefer the trails next to the concrete sidewalks (6).
Most people make one mistake when they start running as a fitness activity: doing too much too soon. You find that most focus on increasing the intensity, which as a result increases their injury risk.
Experts suggest you start slow when you embark on running either as a training program, perhaps for a marathon, or weight loss. First, you need to start at a conventional pace and then build up the intensity and aerobic capacity (6).
Such an approach is associated with minimal injury risks. Similarly, it is an excellent way of building endurance and stamina.
That’s right, you also need to work on your form. When running on a treadmill, the form you maintain is entirely different from that you keep when running outside. You find that most people who run on a treadmill are heel strikers because they are not running the treadmill, but rather the treadmill is running them (6).
When such people start running outside, they may experience problems with their foot placement. That said, they are advised to work on a better foot strike, especially when landing on the forefoot or midfoot (6).
Fitness gurus also recommend doing things with cadence. For example, for every mile you run, count the number of times your right foot strikes the ground. This will give you an overall idea of what cadence is. The ideal cadence stands at 90 steps per 60 seconds (6).
Time Over Distance
Although it is vital to track the miles you run, some fitness experts suggest you focus on the time instead of the distance covered. The argument is that our bodies perceive better the time we run instead of the miles we cover. But, again, it is easier to mentally track the time instead of the distance covered (6).
It would help if you also changed some variables when running to keep your body guessing. Experts acknowledge that changing things can help elongate tissues and incorporate other muscle groups which absorb some impact (6).
You can try to change the terrain or the direction of your runs. For example, if you were running in a clockwise direction, you can go counterclockwise, which also changes your foot direction.
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Before you even head out to run, you must be familiar with the course. Although some people like being spontaneous and prefer determining their course in the morning, experts recommend familiarizing yourself with the course beforehand.
The most significant benefit of familiarizing yourself with your running trail is assessing the safety element. You need to be familiar with the route, especially if you are running alone for security purposes (6).
Safety does not have to be assessing the number of people in your route. It also involves watching out for cracks or bumps on the running trail that may increase your injury risk. For safety purposes, most trainers recommend you use a familiar route.
If you must use a new route, you are advised not to try it when it is dark outside. It is better to explore during the day when you can see the terrain and trail. But, again, no matter how comfortable you feel, tag along with your friend or family member.
You also have the choice of finding a running group that uses the route you follow (6). There is safety in numbers, plus it is also motivating and fun. These are not the only things that guarantee your security.
Besides watching out for your safety and the terrain, you also need to look out for cyclists and other runners. Most people forget to watch out for other runners and cyclists, so keep your third eye open and watch out for these individuals.
The Bottom Line
How many miles should I run a week? It all comes down to your goals. If you are training for a marathon, experts suggest running 75 miles a week. However, if it is for long runs, you should consider running 27 miles and 18 to 21 miles if you want to shed pounds. Even so, make sure you talk to a professional for more guidance and insight.
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 for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 5K run: 7-week training schedule for beginners (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- An updated formula for marathon-running success (2018, theguardian.com)
- HDL cholesterol: How to boost your ‘good’ cholesterol (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Is it good to run every day? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Running (Jogging) (2020, medicinenet.com)
- What you need to know before running outside (2018, nbcnews.com)
- You Can Become a Runner (2003, webmd.com)