How Many Miles Should I Run Each Week? Find Your Training Sweet Spot

Check out our guidelines for beginner and more advanced runners alike to plan your weekly mileage.

Whether you’re a seasoned runner or a complete beginner, knowing how much to run or what your weekly mileage should be is key.

Overdo it, and your risk of injury and overtraining increases. Go too easy, and you hamper your progress. So, what’s the magic number?

Finding that perfect balance in between can be tough. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

In this guide, we will help you find your perfect training volume to work toward your running goals and avoid overuse injuries, and ultimately answer your question, “How many miles should I run each week?”

how many miles should I run each week?

How Much Should I Run When I Start Running?

So you’ve decided to pick up your running shoes and build a habit. Great!

Running is an excellent way to tone up, get in shape, boost your immune system, and keep your lungs and heart strong. Many runners will tell you that deciding to run regularly was the best thing they ever did for themselves.

It’s okay if you don’t know where to start. You don’t have to face this journey alone. You have the experience and knowledge of millions of runners before you to show you the way.

For those with no prior physical activity:

While it may be exciting, it’s best to start gradually as your body needs to make adaptations. Hitting the road at a dead sprint for your first run can lead to injury and kill all that newfound motivation of yours.

For your very first time, we recommend just walking. Your body will tell you how well it can handle using these muscle groups. Pay attention to how your muscles feel going up steep hills. Watch for the stress on your joints as you descend.

If you’re not too sore the next day, add a bit of running using a run walk method. Keep it light! 10-30 seconds of jogging followed by 1-2 minutes of walking for 30 minutes will be a good start. 

If that still feels good the day after, gradually increase the time you spend jogging while lowering the time walking. Keep making adjustments until you can jog continuously for 30 minutes. 

For your first few runs, don’t focus too much on distance or high mileage. Think of them as a gauge. You can start setting distance goals for yourself once you get comfortable raising your mileage safely.

If you do best with a hard distance goal, aim for somewhere between 1-3 miles. Pace yourself well, and stop if you become too fatigued. Ask a doctor if you have any concerns.

A person running.

For those with an athletic background or running experience:

“How many miles should I run each week ?” – if you already have some athletic background, starting from scratch may be too easy for you, so try jogging for a mile. 

Bump it up to 2-3 miles if that feels good and you can keep your breathing comfortable. Then wait, and see how your body does the next day. 

Even if that still feels too simple, don’t push too hard right away. There may be muscles you are not accustomed to using in your other activities that need to be strengthened.

Keep in mind that sports or training programs have different demands on the body. Not all workouts are created equal.

how many miles should I run each week

How Do I Increase My Distance?

The most often used rule of thumb for building up your endurance and pushing your limits is the 10% rule.

The 10% rule states that you should increase your weekly running mileage by no more than 10%. Jumping into a more intense workout in any field before your muscles are ready can easily lead to injury.

Plus, you want to be able to sustain this new habit of yours without burning out. Making new demands on your body when it’s ready should feel good – not leave you exhausted and out of energy. Though there are many great rules distance runners can follow, the 10% rule is key.

If you’re just starting out, keep your mileage consistent for the first 2-3 weeks. Allow your body to adjust to running first. Then, you can build your running volume and include higher mileage from there.

If you find the 10% rule too hard on your body, aim instead for increasing your distance every second week. Customize your running training schedule so it works for you whether that means 6 mile weeks or 20 mile weeks.

A person tying their shoe.

How Many Miles Should I Run Each Day?

The number of miles depends on your overall goals.

Are you just looking for a good occasional cardio workout to go with your routine?

For people who want to run only as an addition and don’t plan to run every day, the rules are slightly different. You may have muscle tone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the ones you’ve built are the ones best suited for running. 

Say you do team sports one day a week and swimming on other days, adding running into the mix where you have time.

If you are only running one day a week, keep that your muscles may not adapt to distance as quickly as someone running multiple times a week. 

Go easy on yourself. Start at the beginner section of this article, and go from there.

Method also comes into play here. For cardio workouts, distance may not factor as much as intensity. Timed interval training with combinations of running and walking may be a better fit. 

Do you plan to make running your main form of exercise?

If you are planning on running being the main event of your exercise program and are planning on running a number of days a week, endurance should be your main goal.

For basic fitness goals or weight loss, the real question isn’t “how far should I run,” but “how long should I run?” Increase your cardio endurance using the 10% rule mentioned earlier. 

Using this, you will naturally find the pace and distance that feels most comfortable for you. Maybe at your current fitness level, three miles a day is best. If you’re doing super well, ten miles might feel better. It all depends on you.

Are you hoping to run a marathon?

When training for these long-distance races, things start to get specific, and where the general 10% rule starts to bend a bit. 

If you’re shooting for a 5K, your distance goal each day will be very different than someone aiming for a full marathon. You’ll want to have a training plan prepared by a running coach and a clear running schedule to help you get to the finish line. 

For many, running a marathon or even a 5K can seem impossible. Not true! With the right help, of course.

Take a 5K training plan, for example. Some days may focus on time, while others are length-based. The distance sections might go something like this:

Week One Distance Day: 1.5 miles
Week Two: 2 miles
Week Three: 3 miles 
Week Four: 5K!

It seems simple, but it gets a whole lot more complicated once you start adding half-marathons and such into the mix. Be sure to have a specialized training plan to make sure you meet your milestones and finish strong.

A person high-fiving someone else.

How Many Miles Should I Run Each Week?

For beginners:

For now, it’s best to keep a buffer of space between running days. Give your muscles and joints time to heal. Rest is crucial.

2-3 days a week for 20-30 minutes is a great starting point. It gives you the recovery time you need while keeping your momentum going. Distance-wise, this would be around 2-4 miles. Avoid overextending yourself until you’ve built a solid foundation.

If you don’t want to be completely stagnant during your off days, we recommend adding some cross-training to your weekly workouts.

Almost any type of cross-training will up your running game, and if you add a couple of days of strength training, even better!

For athletes: 

Experienced runners can push their runs to five days a week if they find their bodies are up to the task. As always, listen to the signals your joints and muscles send you to know if you need to slow down or call it a day. 

A 2019 collection of data from Strava put the average distance per run at 4.4 miles for men and 3.7 miles for women. This data was pulled from over 14 million logged runs.

Keep in mind these numbers are based on a pool of people who are active fitness app users, not the average person. If your own distances don’t match these numbers and you log lower mileage, it does not mean you’re behind. 

Body type, height/weight, and underlying conditions are all important factors in determining the right pace and distance for you. 

Two people running.

General Guidelines For All Running Levels

If there is one thing that you should take from this, it’s that even if you’re running a marathon, distance doesn’t matter as much as time. 

Asking, “How many miles should I run each week” means you’re already on your way to success.

Setting a distance goal for yourself can be a great way to feel accomplished. But the true measure of physical fitness will depend more on how long your body can sustain all that hard work you’re putting it through. 

If you’re finding it difficult to increase your run time, don’t get discouraged. A study of over 55,000 people1Lee, D., Pate, R. R., Lavie, C. J., Sui, X., Church, T. S., & Blair, S. N. (2014). Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology64(5), 472–481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058 found that just 5-10 minutes of running per day:

  • Increases your lifespan
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular problems
  • Reduces risk of health issues overall

You’re already helping yourself just by doing it, no matter how short the amount of time. Hang in there!

For those that want to get serious on their running journey, check out our library of FREE marathon training plans. They range from complete beginner fitness levels for your first marathon to the dedicated athletes. No matter where you are, there’s a plan for you.

References

  • 1
    Lee, D., Pate, R. R., Lavie, C. J., Sui, X., Church, T. S., & Blair, S. N. (2014). Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology64(5), 472–481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058
Photo of author
Mia Kercher is a hiker, cyclist, and runner. After finishing her first marathon in 2013, she continued the sport but found a new passion in trail running. She now explores the glorious mountains in Portland, Oregon.

2 thoughts on “How Many Miles Should I Run Each Week? Find Your Training Sweet Spot”

  1. Thanks for guidance. I am 72 years old from mysuru India.
    I run walk 12 to 15 km per day for the past seven years. No health issues so far. Normal pace 7 to 9 mints. Per km. On race days 10 km races mostly 6.5 to 7 mp. No injury issues.
    Can i continue to run daily.

    Reply
    • Hello Mister Mohan,
      Thanks for your message! If you have been covering 12-15k every day for 7 years with no issues, then absolutely you can keep going!
      Never feel bad about taking a rest day if you think you need it.
      A little bit of cross training can go a long way (stretching, basic bodyweight strength training).
      Regards,
      Thomas from Marathon Handbook

      Reply

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