People run for many different reasons: to stay in shape, de-stress after a long day, nail a new race PR. Whatever your running goals, it’s important to put a little thought into how long and how often, you’re lacing up your sneakers each week. Even if you’re just running to enjoy sunny spring days, paying attention to how many miles per week you’re running can mean the difference between continuing your fun runs and winding up with an injury.
“A lot of people ask this question—how much they should be running per week,” says running expert Meghan Takacs. “There isn’t just one answer. The amount you’re running depends on the level of expertise and on the goal for the runner.” An experienced endurance runner can likely pound the pavement five or six days a week. Whereas a newbie will want to dial it back while they get their feet wet.
Read on for Takacs’ tips about how to schedule your running week to meet your goals, whatever they may be.
Then check out Aaptiv. We’ve got outdoor and treadmill classes for every level—and indoor cycling, elliptical, and stair master classes for when you want to switch up your cardio!
If You’re a Novice or Prepping for a 5K
When you’re starting out, the name of the game is to add mileage little by little. Aim to cover ten to 12 miles per week, broken into three days of running. If that sounds like too much out of the gate, don’t worry. You can walk as much as you need to. “Start with walk-run sessions and working in steady pace jogging for increasing durations,” Takacs advises. For instance, speed-walk for two minutes. Then run for one minute until you’ve reached your total mileage for that outing. Each week, try to up the number of minutes you’re running instead of walking.
Make sure to take a rest day after every run day, Takacs says. She also recommends adding some strength training to your routine to help support the increased stress on your muscles and tendons.
If You’re Gearing Up for a Half Marathon
When training for a half, it’s best to gradually increase your mileage (about 10 percent each week) over a 12- to 14-week period, Takacs says. Your goal for ground to cover each week is 20 to 30 miles. There’s one staple long run per week—which you’ll probably do on the weekend—and some middle-distance runs in between, she says. The long run will likely make up about 20 to 30 percent of your total mileage.
Increase your mileage with Aaptiv classes.
If You’re Training for a Marathon
You definitely don’t want to skimp on how many days a week you run when you’re preparing to cover 26.2 miles in one day. Most marathon plans are about four months long. You’ll average about 30 to 40 miles per week, ideally broken up among five days. As in half-marathon training, you’ll have one long run per week that tops out at 18 or 20 miles during the peak weeks of training. Because the long runs get so much lengthier than those in half-marathon training, they’ll take up a greater percentage of your total weekly mileage, Takacs says. About 30 percent when you’re starting out and up to 50 percent as race day gets closer. (Try not to let the long run become more than half of your weekly mileage to help sidestep injury.)
If You’re Running to Cross-train or Lose Weight
It’s rather unfortunate for cardio lovers, but running by itself probably won’t help you shed pounds. “In order to lose weight, you have to incorporate some kind of strength training to gain lean muscle, which helps you burn excess fat,” Takacs says. That’s not to say that a few days of running can’t help you nudge the needle of the scale in the right direction. Takacs recommends two to three days of running interspersed with strength training and other cross-training each week. Make the non-running workouts speedier to increase your calorie burn afterward and net the biggest effect on your waistline.
Aaptiv has classes in multiple classes, making cross-training as easy as can be!