If you’re a new runner pushing through those first few weeks to build consistency and momentum, you may wonder why on earth anyone would want to run every day.
But when you finally feel it, the runner’s high can feel great, and you may want to run more often. Still, even if you want to run every day, should you? The answer depends on a number of factors, including your previous experience, goals, motivation and injury history.
Where Are You Starting From?
Whether or not you run every day doesn’t have to depend on your level of experience, but it’s best to have some miles behind you before you decide to make it a daily commitment. New runners and runners ramping back up after time off are typically the most susceptible to injury, so it’s important to make sure your body is prepared to handle consistent running.
Schedule Days Off When You’re Just Starting Out
No matter how much you love running when you first get started, it is safest to include scheduled days off in the early months of training. This allows your body to acclimate to a repetitious and high-impact sport.
Walking or cycling on alternate days is an excellent way to build endurance as you gain fitness, and regular strength and mobility work will ensure your body can hold up to the physical demands.
What Is Your Injury History?
Runners with a history of chronic injuries have to be especially careful when planning their training. Runner-specific strength training is usually an essential part of staying healthy, and some injury-prone runners need to stick with reduced volume or implement cross-training to stay healthy. Daily running may not be easy or ideal for runners who frequently struggle with injuries.
If running every day is important to you, it may still be possible if you find your “sweet spot” for weekly mileage and make sure that the majority of your miles (80 to 90%) are at an easy effort.
If you have struggled with injury — whether acute or chronic — make sure you are fully healed before you attempt to run every day. Pay close attention to any minor pain or soreness as it arises so you can address it before it becomes something more serious.
What Are You Training For?
Your goal for your running routine will impact how often you run, and at what intensity.
Training for a Goal Race
For some people, running every day arises from an inherent love of the sport. Others may feel driven to run daily as they prepare for an important goal race. Keep in mind there is no need to run every day, no matter how long or challenging your race may be.
For most people — amateurs and not professional athletes — taking at least one day off each week offers a mental and physical break. This can help prevent burnout and reduce your risk of chronic injury.
Running to Lose Weight
Weight loss is a common goal for many new runners. Getting out the door every day can be a great way to burn calories and stay lean. Keep in mind that your body becomes more efficient over time, however, so you’ll need to vary your pace, distance and intensity over time to maintain the same calorie-burning benefits.
Running to Stay Happy and Healthy
If running is your happy place and you just want to get out the door every day, go for it. But the same rules apply: run smart, with the bulk of your runs at an easy effort. Make sure you have plenty of shorter runs built into your schedule. And strength and mobility work are still your best bet to keep your body healthy and able to withstand the daily miles.
Maintaining a Running Streak
Some runners want to hit the pavement every day to start or maintain a running streak. Sometimes this is for a certain stretch of time (such as during the holidays) or it can be an ongoing, long-term commitment.
To maintain a streak, you must run at least one mile each day. In the United States, the current longest running streak is over 50 years — an unimaginable number for most people. A lengthy running streak is a worthy goal, but always prioritize your health and love for the sport over a streak.
The Bottom Line on Running Every Day
Whether you decide to run every day is a personal choice. It’s up to you to make the decision about what is best for your mental and physical well-being. Keep in mind, however, that running every day is never a necessity and shouldn’t feel like an obligation. Even the best runners in the world take time off.
When you debate the pros and cons of running every day, make sure to take into account your training and injury history, as well as your short- and long-term goals as a runner. Find the balance that will allow running to be a happy and healthy part of your life for years to come.
Here to Help You Keep Running Strong
Our team at AdventHealth Sports Med and Rehab is here to support you, however you run and whatever your running goals may be. And if you’re facing a running injury, we’ll help you get started with the kind of rehab that works for you. Find our locations near you, today.