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How Many Miles A Week Should I Run?

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It is a question many people find themselves asking. How many miles a week should I run? As is true with many things, there is not a one size fits all answer. The number of miles you should run is a very personal number. This is in reference to how far you should be running at once and what your long-run distance should be. It is also true for how many miles you should run in a week and a month.

There are many things to take into consideration when you are determining how many miles a week you should run.

How Do I Know How Far I Should Run?

First things first. You determine how far you should be running based on some basic things. What does your current level of fitness look like? Have you been running? If you have been running regularly, how far have you been running?

The next thing to consider is what your goals are. Are you currently training for something?

If your goal is just to get some regular exercise a few times each week and to engage your cardiovascular system, you can do that by running 30-45 minutes 4 to 6 times a week. Notice I did not say anything about distance. According to the American Heart Association, you just need to get your heart rate up for a certain amount of time to maintain adequate heart health.

People hoping to improve their running based on speed or distance goals need to think about things differently. You may have a goal to run a faster 5K. Or perhaps you are training for your first half marathon. Maybe you have been bit by the marathon bug and you are training for your first 26.2. These are all three very different goals that will have you running very different mileage in order to see success.

5K Training

You can train for a 5K by running less mileage than any of the longer distance events. This is especially true for newbie runners. If you are just starting out, or running recreationally without a deep commitment to the sport, you can probably get away with running anywhere from 12-18 miles each week.

If you are running 2-4 miles, three to four times each week, you will find yourself in decent 5K shape by race day. If you have aspirations of a personal record (PR) race, you may wish to get into more specific training. However, that is a different blog topic.

Half Marathon Training

When you amp up your race distance, you also need to amp up your weekly running distance. As your weekly long runs venture into double digits, it stands to reason that your mileage will start to creep up.

mileage running

Depending on how many days each week you are committed to training, you will likely find yourself running 20-30 miles each week.

Simple rules to follow as you begin to get deeper into training are as follows:

  • Do not add too much to your long run each week. Raise your long run distance by small increments.
  • Only up your total weekly mileage by about 10% each week.
  • Consider taking a non-impact day following your long run.
  • Your long run should be done considerably slower than your shorter runs.

The Big Dog: 26.2

As runners embrace the marathon, they often find themselves with more questions. Depending on how much experience you have with the distance, your weekly mileage could range anywhere from 25-55 miles each week. If you are wondering if you read that right, you did.

Most first-time marathoners are following a pretty basic plan from Hal Higdon or another popular coach who posts plans online. These plans will have you running some pretty standard mileage and one long run each weekend. Many plans have a “step back week” every other week, so if you run 18 miles one weekend you might “step back” to 14 the following week. These plans are great for first-time marathoners because they keep you from getting burned out with the program and time on your feet.

Hal Higdon training plan

Those who have been running for a while, and have completed multiple marathons, often dig a little deeper into the training and look to complete higher mileage. This is especially true for those jumping from beginner or novice plans to intermediate or advanced plans.

Plans for intermediate or advanced runners do not just have higher mileage. They also include longer mid-week runs and speed work sessions. These things are necessary to help a runner stay strong and focused in the final miles of a marathon.

What Is Considered High Mileage Running

High mileage is relative. What do I mean by that? It depends on who you are. For me, a high mileage week is 25-30 miles. For most recreational runners, if you google “high mileage running” you will find an answer of 40-60 miles. Elite runners, on the other hand, often run 90-100 miles in a high mileage week.

If you’re like me, you don’t even want to think about what ultrarunners do in a high mileage week! The mileage any given athlete is running really depends on the person’s goals, overall fitness and what they are training for.

Is It Unhealthy To Run Everyday?

The one thing that often comes up in dialogue is streak running. This is when people run every single day for either a pre-determined or an indefinite amount of time. There are many people who feel that this is unhealthy and borders on obsession.

On the other hand, there are people who maintain streaks for years and years. They run no matter the weather, they run even if they are sick or injured.

The question is, who is right? Honestly, it depends on who you ask. Personally, I think that if you are injured or sick you should listen to your body and rest.

training running

However, I have friends who are deeply committed to their streaks. If they are sick or injured they don’t stop, they just slow down. Sometimes their pace mirrors a crawl as they limp along for that lone mile necessary to keep the streak.

They would tell you that the mental discipline and toughness it takes them to maintain the streak is worth it for them. And who am I to judge that?

Honor The Rest Day

Unless you decide that streaking is for you, be certain to honor the rest day. If you insist on some form of exercise each and every day, at least choose a non-impact exercise like swimming, biking or yoga for runners on that rest day.

Your body relies on you to keep it healthy and for most of us, rest is part of the equation!