How Many Days A Week Should I Run? Here’s The Optimal Running Frequency

Exploring the importance of finding the right balance between running and rest for optimal performance and injury prevention.

Run too little, and you don’t get fit. Run too much, and you get hurt.

This begs the question: How many days a week should I run?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, understanding your body’s needs for both exercise and recovery is key. Running 3-4 times per week is typical for many runners.

Consistency in running is important to becoming a better runner because each time you hit the pavement or trail, you spur changes in your body that make you a more efficient and stronger runner—allowing you to run faster and further. 

However, these changes cannot happen optimally without rest. It will eventually break down if you don’t allow your body to recover from the impact and stress endured from your running. And, while everyone needs recovery, some need more, and some need less. 

In this article, we’re going to help you answer the question: how many days a week should I run?

We will cover:

So, if you’re wondering how many days a week I should run, keep on reading! 

A man runs along a beachfront with the sun shining.

How Many Days A Week Should I Run?

To figure out how many days a week you should run, you need to do a self-assessment:

First, review your current fitness. How many days are you running right now? It’s risky to add more than one running day to your week if you haven’t been consistently running. A good place to start is to run every other day or every two to three days. 

Second, examine your schedule. How many days a week do you have time to run? How long do you have time to run? Put it on your calendar and commit. Ensure that running fits into your life. If your training plan is unrealistic, then you likely won’t stay committed.

Third, look at your running background. Do you have a history of injury? Are you new to running? Then, you may need to run fewer days a week for more than a month before adding another day. 

Fourth, pay attention to how you feel. If running four days a week leaves you feeling fatigued and cranky, then it’s too much for right now, and time to back off. Be aware of how your body responds to training. 

Two women run along a path net to a river.

What Is The Optimal Number Of Days Per Week To Run For Improving?

You should run at least three days a week if you want to get better at running. Running three days a week (every other day) for at least 30 minutes is enough to spur the physiological adaptations needed to become a more energy-efficient and stronger runner. 

However, there are so many exceptions to pretty much every rule when it comes to running. This is because every BODY is different. 

Here is a breakdown of examples of how many days a week a person should run based on their current situation. 

Run 1-2 days a week if:

You are coming back from injury, had a baby, or are just too busy to run more. Some running is always better than none. 

Run 2-3 days a week if:

You are a new runner or beginner, coming back from an injury or time off, wanting to lose weight, building a running base, or looking to maintain fitness. 

Running three days (every other day) a week is enough to spur physiological adaptations to get fitter or maintain a level of current fitness. Ideally, you would combine these running days with other workouts, such as cross-training and strength training, to aid in your fitness. 

How can I build up the number of days I run per week?

A runner runs along a forest trail.

Run 4 to 5 days a week if:

You are a seasoned runner looking to log 50 miles or more a week, have a solid base of running every other day, have running goals like training for a half-marathon or marathon, and do not have a high risk of injury. 

Running four to five days a week is a lot of running with a lot of stress on the body. Even an experienced runner running this much needs to ensure they include easy runs and have 2-3 days of rest and recovery during the week—ideally with one day of complete rest

People running four days a week are likely able to adequately train for a half marathon. People running five days a week can adequately include enough volume for marathon training.

Run 6 days a week if:

You are an advanced runner and a younger runner (older runners need more rest days). People running 6 days a week are seasoned runners who are likely training for time goals in distances from the half marathon to a marathon. 

It is very important if you run six days a week to take a day of total rest, run the majority of your runs at an easy pace, and stay diligent about your warm-up and cool-down routines. This is to insure against performance plateaus, burnout, and running injuries. 

Run 7 days a week if:

You are an elite runner or on a run streak. In most cases, it is not advised that you run seven days a week as the body needs time to recover. 

Even the Kenyans1The importance of rest and recovery for runners (Part 2) | The Kenya Experience. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2024, from https://www.traininkenya.com/2018/09/11/the-importance-of-rest-and-recovery-for-runners-part-2/take a day of complete rest! If you choose to run seven days a week, it’s important to stay focused on easy running days and have one day of very low mileage. 

A couple run up a hill on a sandy trail.

What Is The Minimum Number Of Days I Should Run A Week?

If you want to get better at running, you should run at least three days a week. This will lead to stronger bones and soft tissues, a stronger heart, more efficient usage of fuel and oxygen, and improved lung capacity. 

What Is The Maximum Number Of Days I Should Run A Week?

For most seasoned runners, running five days a week is enough to gain adequate fitness while reducing your risk of injury and burnout.

Be sure to include one complete day of rest in your training schedule. 

Is It Okay To Run 7 Days A Week?

In most cases, it is not advised to run every day. Your body needs time to recover from the stress of running. Growth from your efforts happens in the time off. 

Running every day puts you at risk for injury, mental burnout, and overtraining syndrome. If you are on a run streak, run just a mile on your 7th day of running at an easy pace. 

A woman wearing an orange vest runs along a bridge.

How Long Should I Run Every Day?

How many times a week you run doesn’t necessarily correlate to the number of miles or weekly mileage you do. In theory, you could run 1 mile a day.

You should run for at least 30 minutes of running time during a running session. This is long enough to trigger the physiological changes needed to make you fitter. 

Your body doesn’t know the distance, but it does know how long you are on your feet. So, don’t worry about how far you have run. Instead, aim for time. 

If you are new to running, aim to do a run/walk for these sessions, gradually increasing the time you run and decreasing the time you walk. This will prevent injury. 

How Can I Build Up The Number Of Days I Run Per Week Without Getting Hurt?

Running is a high-impact sport that comes with a high risk of injury if you add running volume too fast. 

Don’t drastically change your running routine or training volume. Doing so puts you at risk of overuse injuries and excessive soreness.

Make sure you are including adequate recovery time.

Working with a running coach who has a wealth of running experience is a great way to ensure you are getting the most out of your training. They’ll find the sweet spot for you.

If you want to increase your fitness level or cardio volume, you can also include different forms of exercise, such as long-distance cycling

A runner wearing trail shoes runs along a rocky path.

7 steps to add a day of running a week:

  1. Add a day after several weeks of consistently running your current volume. 
  2. Do it when you don’t have any races, new training stressors, or travel coming up. 
  3. The additional day of running should include half the running volume you typically do a day. So, if you run 5 miles a day, run 2.5 miles (or 40 minutes a day, run 20 minutes to start) on the extra day. 
  4. Repeat this schedule for 2-4 weeks before increasing volume on your extra day of running. 
  5. Add a mile or two to your new day of running. Hold for 2+ weeks, then add more until you reach your average daily running volume. 
  6. Be sure you are running most of your runs, including the added mileage, at a very easy conversational pace!
  7. Include a cutback week of about 30 percent reduction in total weekly running volume about every four weeks to absorb training. So, if you run 30 miles a week, run 20 miles a week for one week before going back up in your mileage.

Now that we’ve answered the burning question, how many days a week should I run? Let’s get training!

We’d love to help you with your next running goals. Check out our training resources for:


Photo of author
Whitney Heins is the founder of The Mother Runners and a VDOT-O2 certified running coach. She lives in Knoxville, TN with her two crazy, beautiful kids, pups, and husband. She is currently training to qualify for the US Olympic Trials marathon.

5 thoughts on “How Many Days A Week Should I Run? Here’s The Optimal Running Frequency”

  1. Hi. During the Covid pandemic last March, I decided to do something different in terms of exercise and try my hand at jogging. Fast forward this April, my Church supports a non profit Health Center for people who have limited or no health insurance. So we put on a run called the Good Samaritan run. Next year it will 10 years. I started training for the 5k and got first in my age group. I was a bit surprised when my name was called. I ran it in 33 min. I was so proud of myself. I want to continue running, sometimes I just need a slight push to get out there. Any advice?

  2. Hi,
    Good article. I have run many half marathons and one marathon (before Covid stopped everything). I have put my name down for another one later this year (around 18 weeks away). I am also a very keen cycling, more endurance than speed – I cycle Audax, 200-300km a ride is quite a normal monthly ride with plenty of other cycling during the month.

    I have been trying to overlay these cycling activities with most marathon training plans, it isn’t easy. The only fairly consistent advice I’ve been able to find is that cycling is good cross-training and do about 1.5 intensity.

    My question – would these extra long rides be considered cross-training or a replacement for the long run? Should I drop to 3 days a week on Audax weeks by dropping the long run? (probably reducing the Audax rides as I get closer to the normal very long run build up)
    I would think that other weekend rides of around 100km ish would definitely be cross training, particularly if I keep the power in the endurance range. – correct?

  3. Thanks for your help;
    but for my first time as a new runner, I don’t know how new runner start as a new runner, I run for long mile more than one hour, after that I loose balance complete and burn!¿ I learn mistake for that and make short run 25 to 30 minutes


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.