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How Many Miles Should I Run A Day? Tips From Our Running Coach

Get your daily volume right for efficient and successful training.

One of the benefits of following a training program is that it eliminates daily guesswork and decision-making of your daily runs.

Questions like, “How many miles should I run a day?” “At what pace should I run?” and “Should I do a speed workout or a distance run?” are eliminated because precisely what you should do daily is already decided for you.

However, not every runner enjoys following a structured training program. You might prefer the flexibility to run according to your schedule and how you feel each day.

You might have zero interest in running a race and just want to know the number of miles you should run a day for general health or weight loss.

Or you might find that the rigid nature and perceived expectations of a training schedule detract from your enjoyment of running and cause you to feel stressed.

In cases where you’re not following the instructions of a training schedule or running coach, it’s common to wonder, “How many miles should I run a day?” In this guide, we’ll do our best to answer that question.

how many miles should I run a day

Factors That Affect How Many Miles Per Day You Should Run

When people ask, “How many miles should I run a day?” they are looking for their target daily mileage to tick two boxes.

It should be enough to help them achieve their fitness goals and reap the benefits of running while simultaneously not too much to increase the risk of overtraining or injury.

While there are likely countless factors that can potentially come into play when determining how many miles per day you should run, the following are typically the most important considerations:

#1: Your Running Experience 

It should go without saying that your running experience level will play a role in how many miles you should run a day. Advanced runners will have higher daily mileage than less-experienced runners.

New runners will lack aerobic fitness and need to build endurance to handle the mileage that experienced runners can run comfortably. 

In addition to the cardiovascular adaptations that must occur when you take up running, your bones, muscles, joints, and connective tissues need time to adapt to the impact, forces, and metabolic demands of running.

This build must be gradual to keep new runners injury-free and with minimal muscle soreness.

how many miles should I run a day

#2: Your Current Fitness Level

Although they may seem similar, your current fitness level and your experience level with running are two distinct factors that can independently impact your ideal daily running mileage. 

For example, you might be brand new to running.

Still, if you come from a robust workout program with other regular cardio exercise like cycling, rowing, swimming, or soccer or have been strength training, you can probably handle longer runs per day than someone who hasn’t been working out at all.

On the other hand, even if you have quite a bit of experience in long-distance running but have recently been sidelined by an injury, illness, pregnancy, or busy lifestyle, you will want to run fewer miles per day.

#3: Your Running and Fitness Goals

How many miles you should run per day is largely based on your fitness goals.

Why are you running? Are you running for health benefits? Are you training for a race such as a first marathon? In general, longer races necessitate longer training runs and higher daily mileage.

Are you running as part of a weight-loss plan? If so, are you also adjusting your diet? Or are you primarily running for stress relief? Or to spend time with friends?

how many miles should I run a day

#4: Your Schedule and Availability 

Of course, your schedule and availability to run can fully dictate how many miles you can run a day. You may only have a particular block of time, and your workout will be limited to this window of opportunity.

Running should improve your quality of life, but try not to let a high-mileage training schedule take over and add even more stress if you don’t have enough time due to a busy schedule.

#5: Your Overall Training Program

When deciding how many miles a day you should run, you’ll want to think of each day in the greater context of the entire week. For example, are you running five or six days a week, or more like two or three? 

As a running coach and personal trainer, I do not recommend that any athlete run every day. Rest days are essential for recovery and to improve performance.

You’ll be spreading your target weekly mileage over the number of days per week you plan to run so that you can calculate the average daily mileage. 

For example, if you want to run 30 miles per week and will be running five days a week, your average daily mileage should be six miles, but if you only have four days to run, this volume bumps up to 7.5 miles a day.

how many miles should I run a day

#6: Your Injury History and Risk

Your injury history and general risk level significantly impact how many miles a day you should run because the limits of target mileage are primarily aimed at minimizing the risk of injury.

Runners with current injuries or niggles, as well as those with a history of numerous or repetitive bouts of overuse injuries, will want to err on the conservative side with daily mileage and consider supplementing with cross-training (elliptical, pool running, pilates, etc.)

This can be achieved by running fewer days per week (cross-training on off days), running fewer miles per day, and adding cross-training before or after a shorter run.

#7: Workout Intensity and Structure

The intensity of your workout also affects the wear and tear on your body and the benefits to be gained. High-quality mileage, such as a threshold run, tempo run, intervals, hills, or race-day-pace miles, will advance your performance and tax your body more than an easy recovery run.

As such, the actual mileage on a hard workout day may be lower than an easy or moderate long-distance aerobic run.

how many miles should I run a day

#8: Your Age

Although the adage, “Age is just in number,” is true in many ways, in general, the older you get, the less physical stress your body can handle and the lower your daily running mileage should be.

#9: Your Workout Preferences 

Some runners prefer to run longer runs, and others enjoy shorter runs. Either is perfectly valid, and one approach may be more appropriate for your fitness and running goals.

So, How Many Miles Should I Run a Day?

Given the breadth of running research and advice available, it may be surprising that there are no definitive answers to how many miles a day you should run.

However, as can be seen from our non-exhaustive list of factors that can impact how many miles a day you should run, determining your ideal running volume is often best answered on a case-by-case basis. 

Most of the existing running mileage guidelines are presented for weekly mileage goals, yet it’s possible to adjust those recommendations for daily targets. Here are some general guidelines for runners to follow:

how many miles should I run a day

How many miles should a beginner run each day?

Beginners are often advised to focus more on minutes than miles when getting started, especially as they work up to running continuously by reducing the frequency and duration of walk breaks.

Run/walks should be kept to 20-30 minutes or 2-3 miles of combined running and walking as you gain fitness. 

What is the recommended daily running distance for maintaining fitness?

If you are primarily running for general health and to reduce your risk of lifestyle diseases rather than to race, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition. In health.gov (pp. 1–118). https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf recommends that adults accrue a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.

These guidelines can be thought of as easy jogging for 30 minutes five days per week or running more intensely for 25 minutes three days per week, which might work out to running 2-4 miles daily. 

how many miles should I run a day

How many miles should you run each day when training for a 5K?

If you are an average runner training for the 5K, you might run an average of 3-7 miles a day, depending on how many running days you include in your week. Elite runners will likely run more.

How many miles should you run each day when training for a 10K?

The typical weekly mileage for average runners training for the 10K is 20-30 miles per week, so a daily mileage of 4-8 is reasonable, with a weekly long run closer to 10-12 miles.

What is the recommended daily mileage for improving running endurance for a half marathon or marathon?

The weekly mileage for an average runner training for the half marathon usually falls in the ballpark of 30-40 miles, so running 5-9 mile runs a day, with a long run of up to 15 miles or so, is expected, depending on the number of days you run.

The range of weekly mileage for marathon runners is varied, but it tends to hover around 35-60 miles a week, and most runners average about 6-10 miles per day.

how many miles should I run a day

How to Adjust Your Daily Mileage

The dynamic interplay of all the factors that can affect how many miles a day you should run is evidence enough that your daily mileage targets will be ever-changing as your circumstances change. 

See what feels best for your body, works best with your lifestyle, and leads to the performance improvements you’re looking for without causing undue fatigue, burnout, running injury, or physical or emotional stress.

Remember, running should be an enjoyable and rewarding part of your life. Just getting out there and logging miles is a wonderful investment in yourself and your health. Even if you fall short of your mileage goals, you still gain so much from the sport. 

The bottom line is that the best way to determine how many miles you should run a day is by following a training plan and getting running tips from an expert coach.

Check out some of our free training plans to guide you:

5K Training Plan

10K Training Plan

Half Marathon Training Plan

Marathon Training Plan

how many miles should I run a day

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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