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Have you ever wondered how many days a week to run?

That is the question that I am going to answer on this episode of The Conscious Runner podcast. Interestingly I never thought about this question for myself. In college, I ran 5 days a week. After graduating I added on a 6th day and have been doing that for the last 20 years. More recently I added a seventh cross training day. What I have found is that if I do some sort of activity on that 7th day, it keeps the neuromuscular pathways fresh and sharp and I tend to feel better during the run that next day. 

Here are some guidelines that you can use when you are trying to decide how many days a week to run:

1. How much time you have available to run

The first thing that you want to consider is how much time you have available to run. If you only have one or two days a week then that’s all you’ve got it has been said that we make time to do the things that are most important to us period while that is true it is not as simplistic as that. Let’s say you’re getting up at 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock in the morning to get your run in before heading to the office and then returning home to family and other duties. Depending on when you’re able to turn in for the night this schedule may not be sustainable  and therefore would limit the number of days a week that you had to train.

I’ll give you an example. there is a gentleman at my club who was only able to run one day a week because of his long work schedule. so he would come out every Saturday morning and run 20 miles and the next time he would run would be the following week. amazingly he completed several marathons with this kind of training schedule. I am certainly not advocating running 1 time a week for such a long distance but it was all the time that he had.

More recently he’s added two to three more days to his week including a track workout. if you have 2 days a week to train great if you have 3 days a week to train great if you have 7 days a week that you can fit training in great depending on how much time you have and what your goals are select the number of days that are most appropriate for you.

2. How much mileage do you want/need to run

The next thing to consider is how many miles a week you want/need to run. Let’s say that you want to run 40 miles a week there is no way that that can be accomplished all in one or two days. You would need to spread that mileage out over the course of several days. You could run 8 miles across 5 days of the week to start and then you could mix it up a bit following the easy hard principle of training. For example you could throw in longer 10 mile days with shorter 6 mile days.

If you are running 15 miles a week you could run 3 miles across 5 days a week or you could run 5 miles across three days a week. You could start with the 3 miles across 5 days and then increase the distance of each run by reducing the number of days and running 5 miles across 3 days which is actually going to be more effective if you are wanting to compete in a longer distance event. Of course if you wanted to perform your best, you would need to incorporate some form of speedwork, specific to the demands of the race in your mileage.

3. What are your goals

Lastly, your goals must be taken into consideration when deciding the number of days a week to run. If you want to go out stay fit have a good time enjoy being active and do not have any races or race goals, how many days a week you choose to run is not much of a concern. Although you want to make sure that you’re running in a safe way by not doing too much too fast too soon. But if your goal is to complete a certain race distance, set a personal-best, qualify for Boston or run under a 2 hour marathon, that is going to require running more than one day a week. 🙂 

So, I help all of this helps you with how to decide how many days of the week to run.

Until next time, run strong, run long and be happy!