How Many Days Per Week Do You Really Have To Run?

Here, Race Pace Jess shares what is more important than how many times you run—and a glimpse at how to structure your schedule.

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It’s well known that in order to be a runner, you must run. It doesn’t matter how often or how long you run, if you run you are a runner. However, if you want to run a specific race distance or achieve a personal best how much, how often, how fast or how slow you run matters.

It is possible that running too much or running too little will prevent you from reaching your goals. Running an appropriate amount is crucial, but there isn’t an exact science that can tell you exactly how many times you should run each week. Sure, I’d love to be able to tell you if you run five times a week for x number of miles you’ll hit your goal, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

If you have a busy life (who doesn’t?), rest assured you don’t have to run every day to reach your goals. There was a time when I use to run 5-6 days a week and now I only run 3-4 times a week. I even qualified for Boston while only running 4 days per week.

What’s more important than the number of days you run per week is giving each run a specific purpose. The types of runs included in a training week depend on your specific goal but most runners will need to include the following types of workouts into their weekly training plan:

  • 1-2 short easy runs
  • 1 speed workout (fartlek, tempo, hill repeats, intervals, etc)
  • 1 long run

As you can see, this means you need a minimum of 3-4 quality runs on your schedule each week. Running 3-4 days per week verses 5-7 days per week allows plenty of time for important cross-training activities to help prevent injury and allows for one to two rest days per week. Keep in mind cross-training is a key component to becoming a stronger runner. If you spend all your available workout time running, you’ll shortchange yourself over the long haul.

Many runners can run more than three or four days per week if it works with their personal schedule and they aren’t prone to injury. And that’s fantastic! However, it’s important to know that if you don’t have time to run more than three or four days per week you can still met your running goals with the right combination of workouts!