Do I Need To Run Every Day? How Often a Newbie Should Run?

 

If you are a new runner, you are probably wondering how often you should run in a week. Is it two, three or four times a week enough? Besides running, should you exercise on the other days? These are the most common questions every beginner runner would like to know.

Should beginners run every day? How much do I need to run? How to set an ideal running frequency?

So, how often to run and do You need to run every day as a beginner?

There is no single right answer to this question. Just because your fitness level is different from others. Also, your fitness goal as well as how busy and active you are during the day is unique, including how fast and how far you run. All these and more will dictate how often you need to run per week. In general, the basic answer, to the question oh how often should I run as a beginner is three to four days a week with some cross-training thrown in.

Your Running Frequency – Create A Balance

Most experts recommend running three to four times a week. Will you run once a week, three to four times a week, it will depend on a few factors. The most important piece of advice I can give you is:

  • Number one – It is necessary to be active and do some sort of exercise or physical activity every day.
  • Number two- Doing too much too soon is a mistake, and it might result in an injury.

I have been running for over 20 years now. However, whenever I start running again, after a long break, it always feels as if I am a newbie, so I give my body some extra time to get back into the running mood. I start slowly with walk-runs to warm up the body and to build up my running endurance and prepare my muscles for a new challenging journey.

The first week, I begin training routine by running three times a week. If I finish the first week with no injuries and my lungs do not cry for extra oxygen :), it means next week, I can easily increase my runs to four times a week. I also make sure I eat nourishing and nutritious meals,  and I hydrate my body well before the week I’ll start my running routine. As sugar and carbs make me feel slow, clumsy and sluggish, I make sure I also stay away from these two ingredients (I have no sugar of any kind and no products with flour).

Whether I start my runs with two or three times a week, it will depend on how long my break was, how my body and my knees, ankles feel, what are my energy levels and so on. The reason I would have a pause from running is that I often travel and not always I am able to keep up with my running or exercise schedule. Long break for me means, not running for over a month.

Every time I am ready to get back to training, I’ll start slowly, and I’ll increase my training gradually.

The reason I am super cautious?

During two decades I injured my knee twice (the same knee). The first time I hurt my knee was because I started training too much too soon where my body was not ready, and the second time was I overdid, I pushed my body over the limits. So, as I learned from my own mistake, I do not rush anymore to get back in shape, to get ready for a next half marathon, get fit, and so on.

When I re-start an exercise program, my idea is to start slowly and build up.  This way I reduce my chances of feeling burned out and bored of running. This strategy works for me.

In addition to running, I always do some sort of exercise.

When starting a running program for a half marathon or a bigger race, I run five times per week, plus cross-train (if I have time and energy) once a week or on non-running days. I always make sure to have at least one day off doing nothing just resting my entire body and mind. But that is for another post.

How should You define your training plan and your running frequency?

For a complete beginner, get a note book and a pan. Schedule a training plan or a weekly running schedule. You do not need to schedule running for every day. But if you have a set goal and want to see progress, you would need to run at least one to two times a week, and do some extra activity during a week (if you have time). Be realistic.

Create such a plan where you will be physically active, but where you will also have some time off during the week. Create a schedule that works for you. The best training plan is the one that not only works for you, but it also allows you to meet your goals.

Set Your Goal

If you have not yet, set your goals right now. Why should you set a goal? When you set a goal, you will stay focused, and you will have something to work toward. Realistically set goals will always motivate you to keep going.

Your goal can be anything, but be specific. You need to be able to deliver and measure your goal. Ask yourself, what am I training for? What and when am I hoping to achieve?

If your goal is big, do not get discouraged, just split the goal into three parts, in your calendar. For example, set short, medium and long-term goal. Short and medium goals should contribute tot your long-term goals. Try, you will be surprised how it can be motivating.

Your goal should be measurable, and you should define how you are going to achieve and how you will keep track of your progress.

Here are a few goal ideas:

  • I want to lose X amount of weight in what time? Be realistic. It is better to lose wight gradually and slowly than fest where you exhaust your body, you get injured.
  • I want to train running for my first half a marathon and to finish it under X time.
  • I want to get back in shape by the end of next winter and run three times (each time 30 minutes) a week before work.

If your goal is big, do not get discouraged, just split the goal into three parts in your calendar. For example, set short, medium and long-term goal. Try it, you will be surprised how it can be motivating.

For example, first set a small goal, such as to lose 10 pounds in three months. Based on your current fitness, weight, and health determine how often you would need to run in a week to achieve a set goal. Assess your endurance, increase your weekly running.

My First Running Frequency

You can choose any number of different running frequencies, based on your personal needs. Running once a week is also a good starting point especially if you are a total newbie to running, you are overweight, and you have some health issues. Run once a week, and if you can, slowly add cross-training and then extra run days. On the other days, you can walk, fast walk, do yoga, clean your home, whatever, as long as it keeps you physically active. But remember, don’t let rest be an excuse for not running. Your goal should be achievable and challenging. 🙂

  • Be consistent. Only then, you will develop endurance, increase running speed and you will see positive results, which will motivate you not only to continue your training but to get closer to achieving your goal surely.

 

  • Start slow. Let the first week be a trial week. Why? First of all, you need to understand your general health and the level of your fitness to ensure you do not over- or under-train. Many runners start running four to seven times a week and in a short period of time get injured.

 

  • To minimize injury risk, the first two weeks start with walk-run only, twice a week, each time 20-30 minutes. See how you feel. If you can add another form of exercises, such as yoga or swimming, do it. Do you feel good after a week or two? Add this to your weekly training schedule: two run-walks (30 minutes), one running (20 minutes), one fast walking or cycling (swimming or any other cross-training activity) no longer than an hour.

 

  • Remember always to rest and have no running or cross-training day a week. Allow recovery time, have one day off a week. By allowing recovery time between training, you reduce the risk of injury, and your muscles will have enough time to restore. Also, when your body has the time to repair from the trauma of a run, it will reduce the risks of injuries such as shin splints, Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures, which are very common in runners.