For runners who are not following a specific training plan, it could be difficult to know how long to run in a day or how far to run in a day.
Is there an ideal duration or distance to run per day? Can you run too long in a day? Do you have to run for a certain amount of time a day to see benefits?
If you’re wondering, “how long should you run a day?”, keep reading to learn what factors you should consider and recommendations for how long to run per day.
In this article, we will cover:
- How Long Should You Run A Day?
- Factors to Consider When Deciding How Long To Run A Day
- How Long Should You Run A Day for the 5k?
- How Long Should You Run A Day for the 10k?
- How Long Should You Run A Day for the Half Marathon?
- How Long Should You Run A Day for the Marathon?
- How Long Should You Run A Day for Health?
- How Long Should You Run A Day to Lose Weight?
- How Long Should You Run A Day to Get Faster?
Let’s get started!
How Long Should You Run A Day?
Before we consider how long you should run in one day, it’s important to establish what runners may mean when they ask, “How long should I run in one day?”
Although the question seems simple enough, it’s not actually all that straightforward, as it could be referring to two different things—distance or time.
Generally speaking, how long to run a day in a matter of time is how many minutes you should run per day.
In contrast, if distance is the variable you’re more interested in, the question you’re actually looking to answer is, “How far should I run in one day?”
The good news is that we will actually address both of those questions because no matter how you quantify your running (time or distance), the same factors will affect how much you should run a day.
Factors to Consider When Deciding How Long To Run A Day
How long you should run per day really depends on the interplay of quite a few factors, which is why there’s not a simple, single answer for all runners.
Here are the primary factors to consider:
#1: Your Goals
The single most important factor to consider when deciding how long you should run in a day is your running goals.
Ultimately, the question needs to be, “How long should you run in one day to _______?
The blank serves as a placeholder for your goal:
- How long should you run a day to train for a 5k? 10k? Half marathon? Marathon?
- How long should you run a day to lose weight?
- How long should you run a day to get faster?
- How long should you run a day for health?
The list of potential questions is virtually limitless, as your unique goal might alter the exact ideal daily run length.
However, later in this article, we will address how long you should run a day based on the four common running goals listed above.
#2: Your Fitness Level
Your current fitness level and experience as a runner have a significant impact on how long you should run a day.
If you are a beginner runner or are returning to running after time off, you will want to keep your runs on the shorter side until your fitness improves and your body adapts.
You can gradually increase the length of your runs as your body becomes more accustomed to the impact of running and your cardiovascular system becomes stronger.
#3: Your Pace
The pace you run influences how long you should run a day.
Faster runners will run further than slower runners during the same time duration, which makes giving recommendations for the number of minutes to run per day quite difficult.
As a simple example, if one runner trains at a pace of 12 min/mile and another one runs at a 6 min/mile pace, the faster runner will run twice as far per any length of time.
#4: Your Injury Risk
Runners who are injury prone or who are returning from an injury may not be able to run as long each day as those who are not.
#5: Your Overall Workout Plan
Running may or may not be the only type of exercise you do in the week or each day.
Runners who also strength train, cross train, or have physically active jobs may not want to run as long per day, as doing too much exercise can lead to overtraining and injuries.
Essentially, how much you run per day needs to be considered in the context of your overall workout routine.
#6: Your Availability
Your schedule and time availability certainly influences how long you should run a day.
In most cases, running should fit into your lifestyle rather than dictating the schedule for the rest of your life unless you are a professional athlete.
If you are working full-time and have other responsibilities during the day, your runs may need to be shorter so that they are not encroaching on the rest of your responsibilities, sanity, and enjoyment.
#7: Your Health Status
Your health status can influence how much you should be running per day.
For example, runners with chronic diseases or who take certain medications may not be able to tolerate as much vigorous physical activity as those in good health, and elderly runners may need to reduce their training volume over time.
How Long Should You Run A Day for the 5k?
It can be seen that there are several factors to consider when deciding how much to run a day so recommendations will be presented as ranges.
You may fall on one end or the other of the range or nowhere on it all, based on your personal situation. Think about your own needs and how the aforementioned factors affect you.
Average runners training for the 5k should aim to run about 15-25 miles per week, which might break down to 20-40 minutes 3-5 days per week.
Again, slower runs will be out there longer to accommodate for a reduced running speed.
More competitive runners training for a 5k will probably want to run 45-60 minutes per day on most days of the week.
How Long Should You Run A Day for the 10k?
For the 10k, your daily run should probably be around 45-60 minutes, with a weekly long run potentially extending up to 80 minutes or so.
How Long Should You Run A Day for the Half Marathon?
How long you should run a day for a half marathon training program is usually in the ballpark of one hour or so, with the important caveat that your weekly long run will be upwards of two hours or more.
How Long Should You Run A Day for the Marathon?
The time commitment when training for a marathon is all over the map based on the training program you are following.
In many cases, the length of time you should run a day isn’t that much more than for the half marathon, though the long runs will be upwards of four hours or more.
Some longer workouts during the week will also be closer to 90 minutes, depending on your level and pace.
How Long Should You Run A Day for Health?
The good news is that if you are primarily running to improve your health and reduce the risk of various diseases, the guidelines for how long you should run a day are much clearer.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults should be active on most days of the week or accrue a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise.
These guidelines can be thought of as jogging or running for 30 minutes five days per week or running more intensely for 25 minutes three days per week.
How Long Should You Run A Day to Lose Weight?
There aren’t any specific guidelines for how long you should run a day if you are trying to lose weight.
Obviously, the more you run, the more calories you will burn, which theoretically means you will lose weight faster. However, the other key component of the equation is your diet and the number of calories you eat per day.
Running too much per day can overstress your body, disrupting hormones like cortisol and ghrelin (a hunger hormone), making it hard to lose weight. Not running long enough per day will cause your weight loss to stagnate or will require you to cut more calories from your diet to see any weight loss.
With that in mind, a good recommendation is that runners looking to lose weight should run 30-60 minutes most days of the week with at least one full day off.
How Long Should You Run A Day to Get Faster?
If you are looking to get faster, how long you should run a day mostly depends on how much you are currently running.
A gradual progression in training volume and intensity is the most effective way to run faster.
This is best achieved by incorporating structured workouts into your training program instead of just doing steady-distance runs every day.
In other words, rather than running 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity every day, take your 30-minute workout time, and run intervals, hills, or a tempo run twice a week instead.
Again, it’s important to reiterate that running should enhance your life and not overwhelm you.
Therefore, when it comes to deciding how long you should run per day, there are no “rights” or “wrongs”—do what works best for you.
If you are just beginning and would like to train for your first 5k, check out our Couch to 5k training plan and guide.