Beginners Running Tips

How Often Should I Run to Stay Fit

If you think you must run every single day in order to stay fit – think again.  Depending on your definition of “fit,” you likely don’t have to run as many days per week as anticipated.  Discussed here is how often you should run in order to maintain fitness.

Definition of Fit
To determine how often you should run in order to stay fit, you must first define “fit.”  To you, does “fit” mean weight loss, cardiovascular health, maintaining the ability to run without stopping, or regularly completing long-distance races, such as half and full marathons? 

For Health
The good news for runners who are simply trying to improve their cardiovascular fitness is that any duration of running – even 5:00 once per week – can cause beneficial adaptations in the heart and lungs for improved health.  The trick is maintaining these adaptations, which requires an athlete to regularly continue this habit.  To reap the full benefits of running for your health, you should run/walk a minimum of 3 days per week for at least 25:00 – 30:00 minutes. 

For Running without Stopping
How often should you run in order to maintain your ability to run without stopping?  Once you have worked up to that point of fitness (such as with a 10, 15, or 20 week fitness program), you only need to run 3 – 4 days per week in order to maintain this conditioning.  For instance, if you have worked up to running 3k without stopping, you should aim to run 2k – 3k, three or four days per week.  If you would like to continue growing your ability to run longer distances without stopping you may wish to increase the distance that you run through longer periods of running and walking.  

For Long Distance Racing
What about if you want to work up to – or maintain – the ability to run longer distances, particularly for races?  Even here, 3 – 5 days per week are sufficient to maintain this type of fitness.  If choosing to run 3 days per week, you should increase the distance that you run each day, making sure that your long run distance does not comprise more than 25% of your weekly total.  If you choose to run 5 days per week you should choose to run shorter distances throughout the week with a longer run on the weekend.

What if I want to run more? 
Of course, it is always okay to add an extra day of light running or walking into your training plan.  However, the number of days listed here are purely for maintenance purposes.  “Fit” is a relative term, and in order to maintain a certain level of fitness you must keep up with your designated schedule of days in order not to lose the conditioning.

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