Is it good to run every day?

By Thuy Hanh   April 28, 2024 | 03:00 pm PT
Maintaining a daily running habit can bring numerous benefits but it isn't necessarily a good idea for beginners.

Running, like other sports activities, can boost your health and fitness if done regularly. Experienced runners use structured plans to enhance their body's endurance via races. Some may spend hours daily running over 10 km to accumulate stamina. However, for beginners, daily running not only exhausts your body but may also ruin your motivation to exercise.

Firstly, you should identify why you want to run. If it's for long-term health, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 75 to 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. For running, it’s about three sessions a week. Running over 150 minutes is still beneficial for health, but achieving higher goals like half or full marathons requires a planned approach.

Secondly, consider your available time and how many sessions you can realistically do each week. For beginners, daily running is the easiest way to get injured. Pushing yourself to run every day may build fitness, but overdoing it is never a wise thing. If you want to be more active, try cycling, swimming or joining fitness classes to build endurance. This allows your body time to recover and reduces the risk of injury.

A group of runners in a residential area in HCMC. Photo by Huynh Thanh

A group of runners in a residential area in HCMC. Photo by Huynh Thanh

The importance of rest days also can't be overstated. Your body needs time to adapt and properly recover from exercise. Rest days are just as crucial as running days, for muscle and tendon regeneration.

In general, how many days a week should you run? There's no size that fits all. Jack Daniels, a renowned running coach, has shared his training plans for various levels. Beginners should aim for three to four runs a week, while experienced runners may do it twice a day.

For beginners, Daniels suggests starting with a five-minute warm-up walk. Then repeat the following 10 times: one minute of easy-paced running followed by a one-minute walk for rest and end with a five-minute cool-down walk.

If you’re a beginner, you should follow this plan for four to six weeks for your body to adapt. Afterward, you can increase your training volume. Typically, after 4-6 weeks, you should be able to run continuously for 30 minutes or 5 km.

While our cardiovascular system quickly improves with running and respiratory benefits are significant, our musculoskeletal system doesn't adapt as fast. After three to four weeks, you might feel strong and tempted to run faster and longer, but this is also a prime time for injuries. Therefore, be patient and give your body more time to adjust. Eventually, you'll be able to run faster.

For those aiming for distances of 10 km or more, the best advice is to maintain three to four runs a week. For distances between 21 km to 42 km, plan at least five sessions a week. When you’ve gained experience, a light run can be easier than walking for an inactive person.

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