How many miles should I run a day? Like most runners, you probably pay attention to both your watch and your feet. But your body feels the miles you run, and ultimately, that’s what you should be paying attention to.
Some runners can run more miles than others. But how many miles you run depends on your running goals and other factors.
In this guide, we look at how many miles is safe to run. We’ll also see whether running by time rather than distance has any advantages.
So, how many miles should you run a day?
Does Running a Lot Make You Faster?
When you increase your mileage, you build not only endurance but also speed. You’ll find it easier to run long distances. At the same time, you’ll notice improvements in your speed. The gains are especially noticeable in new runners.
A 2007 study on US Olympic Marathon Trial qualifiers found that women who trained more had faster race times. That said, jogging will primarily burn fat rather than build speed. Running at easy to moderate paces will make your speed gains plateau.
More specific exercises like interval runs, Fartlek runs, and running drills can boost your running speed more than jogs. Put another way, you have to run fast to accustom your body to run faster.
So, to build speed as a runner, it’s important to combine running a lot with running fast. Without pushing yourself to the point of breaking.
Wondering how long to run in a day? Studies suggest that running for at least 30 minutes at a time leads to physiological adaptations that make you a faster runner. While there are no hard and fast rules, it’s better to run for 30 minutes than 20 minutes or less.
Running for longer can be even more beneficial for some runners. But if you’ve just started running, 30 minutes is a good run time to aim for.
Aerobic fitness plays a key role in high-intensity exercise. Boosting your aerobic fitness is crucial if you plan on running far and hard.
Is It Better to Run for Time or Distance?
The mind processes time and distance differently. When you run for time, you have to keep glancing at your watch. Because the progress feedback you’re getting is not continuous, you’ll be more likely to maintain an even pace.
When you run for distance and see progress cues, such as the curves of a track, you may accelerate more at certain points. In some cases, this can lead to a better finish time.
However, the advantage of running by time rather than distance is that you know how long your running session will take you. You’ll be less likely to push yourself too hard and risk injuries.
How to Increase My Mileage?
Your body needs time to adapt to the stress running puts on it. This is why it’s best to increase your running mileage gradually, by no more than 10% every week.
Every fourth week, decrease your weekly mileage by 30%. This will make it easier for your body to absorb the stress.
Increasing your mileage too fast could get you sidelined. Yet, in the beginning, the runner’s high can make it tempting to keep on adding the miles.
The thing to remember is that good runners know when to rest. Don’t think of rest days as time wasted not running. Rather, see them as necessary components of your running journey.
In the end, the safest and most effective way to increase your mileage is to follow a personalized running plan. The plan should take into account your fitness level, weight, running experience, and running goals.
How Do I Know if I’m Running Too Much?
Your body will be the first to tell you if you’re running too much. And you don’t have to wait to develop a runner’s knee, Achilles tendonitis, or a stress fracture to cut back on those miles.
Running too much can lead to overtraining syndrome, which comes with a host of symptoms. Some of the key signs that you’re running too much include:
- Running feels difficult – you have heavy feet
- Drop in running performance
- Poor recovery between runs
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- Decreased appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Aches and pains
- Difficulty focusing
- Lack of motivation
If you’re experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, take a break from running. You should also stop running if you develop a running injury.
Recreational runners have an injury rate as high as 65%. A significant number of these injuries involve Achilles tendonitis, a type of chronic inflammation.
Strength and resistance exercises can help you strengthen your Achilles tendon to avoid injuring it when running. Meanwhile, intermittent running and downhill exercises can help strengthen your bones. But don’t forget that running is a high-impact activity.
Running too much may cause bone fatigue, stress fractures, and other injuries. Resting in between runs is crucial to prevent these.
How Many Miles Should I Run a Day? Factors to Consider
When planning your running sessions, weigh your fitness levels and goals, age, and a few other key factors. Let’s take a closer look at these.
Your running or fitness goals
Do you want to lose weight? Train for a running event? Something else? If you want to burn fat, you can see results by running just one mile a day.
Your fitness goals are one of the big factors when deciding how much to run. Take them into account.
Your fitness level
If the couch has been your best friend over the last few years, you need to start slow. But if you’ve been running, training, or playing sports, you may be able to handle longer runs.
Even if you’re an experienced runner, don’t push yourself too hard. There are only so many miles a day your body can handle without injury.
Your other activities
Do you strength train? Cycle? Swim? Dance? Play football? Factor in any other physical activity you do simultaneously with running and lower your mileage to account for it.
You can enjoy running well into old age. Take Rod Waterlow, for example. At 83, he was the oldest qualifier for the 2020 Boston Marathon.
But the older you get, the less stress your body can handle. Lower your daily mileage accordingly.
Your overall training program
Running every single day of the week isn’t sustainable in the long term. It’s good to give yourself at least a day or two of rest every week.
How much you run every day ultimately depends on your weekly target. Divide that by the number of days you run to determine the weekly average.
Daily Running Guide
Planning on lacing your running shoes every day? That’s great. Here are quick guides to help you get started. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced runner, we got you covered.
If you’re new to running, consider taking the Cooper fitness test to measure your aerobic fitness level. During this test, you run for 12 minutes, trying to cover as much distance as you can. Ideally, you’d do it on a running track.
Based on the results, you can set running goals you can achieve.
- Running a mile a day. Is running a mile a day good? Yes, it is if you’ve never run regularly before. The benefits of running a mile a day include losing weight, better heart health, stress release, stronger bones, and cognitive improvements. It also has an antidepressive effect.
- Running 2 miles a day. Already in decent physical shape? Try running 2 miles a day. Increasing your mileage to two miles a day can help you burn more calories and build endurance. Plus, you get all the other benefits of running daily.
- Running 3 miles a day. Logging 3 miles a day is a great way to shed pounds faster. It’s a challenging distance for beginners while remaining manageable.
For advanced runners
Have you been running for at least a few years? You can run several miles every day. But keep in mind that more is not necessarily better.
- Running 3–4 miles a day. This is a good distance for many experienced runners.
- Running 5 miles a day. It’s doable if you’re a seasoned runner. But if you’re overweight or prone to injuries, you may have a higher risk of stress fractures, runner’s knee, and other injuries.
So, Should You Run Every Day?
Running every day for short distances of 1 to 3 miles or up to 30 minutes is safe if you warm up and cool down properly. That said, you don’t have to run every day to enjoy the benefits of running.
Whether you want to shed weight, become a better runner, or prepare for a running event, rest days help you get there.
Running every day carries risks, especially if you’re new to running. You may push yourself too hard without realizing it and injure yourself in the process.
Benefits of Running Every Day
Running is one of the best activities for health. And it does more than make you feel great. According to a long-term study, even 5 to 10 minutes of running every day at a low intensity can add years to your life.
Like other physical exercises, running has a protective effect on the brain. It may reduce cognitive decline and improve neuroplasticity, which facilitates learning. What’s more, high levels of physical activity reduce the risk of breast, prostate, colon, and other cancers by 10% to 50%.
A 2019 review found no clear links between acute running and cycling on T cell apoptosis. This brings into question the theory that exercise helps the immune system flush out exhausted cells. However, running has plenty of other documented benefits to make it well worth your time.
In the end, the benefits of running every day apply only if you run without pushing yourself too hard. If you run for miles and miles every day, running injuries will offset any benefits.
If you plan to run every day, run for no more than 30 minutes. Warm up and cool down properly. And build cross-training such as swimming or cycling into your schedule to ease the pressure on your bones and prevent stress fractures.
How to Build a Habit of Running Regularly
Start small. Run a mile a day if that’s all you can or have time for. Even a daily mile run can have significant benefits on your body. You can also alternate running with walking a mile a day.
Get a pair of comfortable running shoes and other running gear. Leave these where you’ll see them.
Plan your runs and track and share your progress to stay motivated. Following a running plan and using a running app can make this easier.
Before running, it’s crucial to warm up and cool down. According to the Mayo Clinic, warming up increases muscle blood flow and raises your body’s temperature. It may help reduce the risk of injury as well as muscle soreness.
Cooling down, meanwhile, helps ease your cardiovascular system into a comfortable heart rate and blood pressure.
Before you start running a mile a day or more, here are a few things to remember.
- Run a mile a day or more for health benefits and to feel great.
- Ask yourself, “How many miles should I run a day?” now and then. That’s because the answer depends on dynamic factors like your fitness level, weight, age, and running progress.
- Running at least half an hour a day can be better for optimal health than running a set number of miles.
- You can experience the benefits of running without having to run every single day of the week.
- Running every day can cause injuries and be detrimental if you push yourself too hard.
- Listen to the signals your body is sending you to increase or decrease the mileage accordingly.