How Many Miles Should I Run a Week? What About a Day?

woman running

How many miles should you run a week? What about per day?

Figuring out your weekly mileage can be a challenge for any runner, whether you’re brand new or a seasoned marathoner. It depends on your current ability level, the amount of time you have to set aside for running, and your personal goals. Determine how many miles you should run on a weekly basis by following these general guidelines.

Pro tip: Some runners like to count minutes of running versus miles, but it’s a good idea to invest in a device (like an Apple Watch or Fitbit) that can track your miles.

As you get faster, you’ll run farther in less time, so you want to make sure you’re tracking your weekly mileage accurately! Alternatively, you can also pre-measure distances with your car or a marked trail.

How Many Miles Should I Run a Week?

1. Determine Your Current Fitness Level

If you’re a newbie who doesn’t have much experience with the sport, you’ll want to start slow. You might not be able to run for more than a few minutes at a time, and that’s ok.

Start out with a quick warm up and figure out how many minutes you can run at a comfortable pace. Run that many minutes at the same pace four to five times, with a one to two-minute break in between.

If you start out running 20 miles per week and you’re feeling good, it’s tempting to add on more, but this can increase your risk of injury. As a rule of thumb, only increase your running mileage by about 10% per week to keep your legs feeling fresh and muscles healthy.

Pro-tip: Especially if you’re just starting out, don’t forget to account for rest days. You can take a day off from exercise completely–it’s okay!  Or, you can infuse your training plan with cross-training. Consider activities such as cardo elliptical running, strength training, yoga, swimming, or pilates to give your legs a break from the impact on the road or trail.

2. Consider Your Goals

man running

Every runner has different reasons and goals for their running, which impacts how many miles you should run in any given week. Let’s say weight loss is your goal–you’ll want to work your way up to long-distance runs at a slower pace. If you’re planning to run a 5k, you’ll run a lower number of miles. However, those miles will contain lots of faster-paced runs like tempo runs, interval training, and hill repeats.

If you’re following a training program for a half-marathon or your first marathon, you’ll build up your mileage incrementally each week. You’ll reach a fairly high mileage with a mix of high-intensity runs, long runs, and easy days to get you ready to cross the finish line with confidence.

Finally, there is no shortage of training programs out there to guide you along the way and prevent overtraining. Check out TRE’s training plans here!

3. Listen to Your Body

Don’t be a slave to your training plan. Let’s say you have a 50-mile week planned out and you’re determined to get every mile in. But, on Wednesday, you encounter a stabbing pain throughout your run in your left ankle. It’s tempting for a lot of runners to try to push through the pain, hoping it will go away with time.

However, in this case, your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. If you keep pushing, you can end up making the injury worse and risk not being ready for an upcoming race.

Cut your run short, ice the injury and try again the next day. If it doesn’t get better, visit your doctor for diagnosis and advice and supplement with cross-training until you can hit the road again.

Pro-tip: When you’re coming back from an injury, you can’t hop right back into where you were in your training plan. Take your mileage down by about 10-15 percent and ease your way back into it, depending on how long you were injured. Again, listen to your body!

4. Days Per Week of Running

Just like everything else, the number of days you run every week varies for each runner. I’ve met many runners that like to run seven days a week and they do just fine with that–but they always incorporate an easy run every week. Most runners who run daily also have an “off-season” where they take a week or two off running to let their bodies rest. How many runs you do a week is ultimately up to you.

However, you can follow a training plan that has you running between three and six days with great results. For example, you might start out by running 15 miles three days a week, then 20 miles four days a week, and up to 30 or more miles five days a week depending on how your body responds. Play around with your schedule to see what works best for you.

5. Not All Miles Are Made the Same

woman standing with hands on hips

Every type of training run is made out of different types for miles. For example, a race is 100% effort–a 5k race pace is going to deplete you more than a 10k easy run. A six-mile tempo run at 80% effort is going to take more energy than a nine-mile jog.

The point here is that developing a custom training plan involves a lot more than simply how many miles you are logging. To perform your best, you need to infuse your running schedule with all different types of miles that train your aerobic and anaerobic threshold, work different muscles, and strengthen your endurance in various ways.

Plus, a variety of workouts keeps you from getting bored and brings something new to look forward to each day!

How Many Miles Should I Run a Day?

Well, that depends. Your daily mileage will be determined a lot by your weekly mileage.

How many miles you should run a day will be impacted by how many you’re trying to run the entire week. More weekly miles will require more daily miles. However, bigger mileage days will need to be followed by lower mileage days or complete rest days—you’ll have to get strategic with your training and recovery.

How to Figure Out How Many Miles You Should Be Running

The question of "how many miles should I run a week or a day?" depends on individual goals, experience, fitness levels, and physical health. Furthermore, the answers to these questions are essential because they impact training outcomes, injury prevention, and overall enjoyment of running. Let's break down each aspect:

1. Purpose and Goals:

  • Beginners: If you're new to running, you might start with 10 to 15 miles a week, distributed across 3-4 days, ensuring you also have rest days.
  • General Fitness: For maintaining health and fitness, 20-30 miles a week can be ideal for many, split over 4-5 days.
  • Race Training: If training for a specific race, mileage varies based on the race distance. For instance:
  • 5K: 20-30 miles per week might suffice.
  • 10K: 30-40 miles per week.
  • Half Marathon: 30-50 miles per week.
  • Marathon: 40-60+ miles per week, although experienced runners or elite athletes might log 70-100 miles or more.

2. Individual Factors:

  • Experience: Seasoned runners typically handle (and might require) more mileage than newcomers.
  • Age: Younger runners might recover faster, but age isn't always a limiting factor. Many older runners log significant miles and perform exceptionally, though recovery and injury prevention become even more crucial.
  • Health and Injuries: Those with a history of injuries or specific health concerns should be cautious about increasing mileage.

3. Balancing Intensity:

It's not just about miles but also about intensity. Running 5 miles at an easy pace is different from running 5 miles of intervals. The latter requires more recovery. Hence, weekly mileage should be adjusted based on the intensity of your runs.

4. Progressive Overload:

It's essential to increase mileage gradually to give the body time to adapt. A common rule is the "10% rule," where you don't increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% from the previous week.

Why Do These Questions Matter?

  • Injury Prevention: Overtraining or ramping up mileage too quickly can lead to injuries like stress fractures, shin splints, and IT band syndrome.
  • Training Effectiveness: Aligning your mileage with your goals ensures you train effectively. For example, if you're training for a marathon but only running 10 miles a week, you're unlikely to be prepared come race day.
  • Recovery and Adaptation: Understanding optimal mileage helps in planning adequate recovery, which is when the actual adaptation and strengthening occur.
  • Enjoyment and Burnout: Running too much can lead to burnout or loss of interest. Finding a balance ensures sustainability and enjoyment in the long run (pun intended!).
  • Holistic Training: It's not just about how many miles you run but also about the quality of those miles and incorporating other aspects like cross-training, strength training, and flexibility exercises.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many times a week should I run?

How many times a week you is personal and will depend on your body, preferences, and training experience. However, running fewer miles more frequently should give your body better time to adapt rather than running fewer times with higher mileage.

Remember, this is personal. Some runners might find they like to run 3-4 times a week, while others prefer 5-6. Keep track of your progress and injuries to determine the ideal amount for you and your goals.

How many miles a month should I run?

There’s no magic number. It’s easier to track per-week training rather than per-month training, and this number will ebb and flow with your training progression, tapers, and race goals.

How should I go about running 20 miles a week for the first time?

Let yourself build up and acclimate slowly. Don’t just head out the door with a goal to run 20 miles this week. Instead, start with a week where you run 10 miles, then 12, and then 15 (all the way until 20). Once you can run 20 miles a week consistently without injury, you’ll be ready to bump up your mileage even further.

Let Us Help Figure Out How Many Miles You Should Run a Week (or Day)

Are you ready to develop a training plan that brings your running to the next level? Whether you’re getting ready for an upcoming race, trying to get in better shape, or looking finally lose those extra pounds, The Run Experience has tons of resources for you.

Our professional coaches and community will help you discover how many miles you should run a day or per week to maximize your results and avoid injury.

Have you downloaded our new mobile app? It’s loaded with workouts, videos, tips, and advice from expert coaches to keep you motivated every step of the way. Don’t forget to check out our range of training plans for runners of all levels, too!