In this article, we’ll discuss the possible drawbacks of daily running in an effort to address the ever-important query of prospective run streakers and enthusiastic runners.
There could be some health advantages to running daily. According to studies, running for 5 to 10 minutes at a moderate pace every day can lower your risk of dying from heart attacks, strokes, and other common diseases. However, the same research also reveals that these advantages end at 4.5 hours per week, so there is no need to run for hours every day. Running has a high impact, and overtraining can result in injuries like shin splints and stress fractures.
Your goals and level of physical fitness will determine how many days a week you can run without risk. You should include days in your training plan for rest, strength training, and cross training. Your overall health and strength as a runner could improve as a result.
Can I Run Every Day?
Your health may benefit from daily running. Studies show that the benefits of running for just 5 to 10 minutes at a moderate pace (6.0 miles per hour) each day may include:
- reduced risk of death from heart attack or stroke
- reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- lower risk of developing cancer
- lower risk of developing neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
While a small amount of daily running can provide these advantages, a team of Dutch researchers advises running 2.5 hours per week, or 30 minutes, five days a week, to experience the greatest longevity advantages.
Running may also help you sleep better and feel better mentally. In one study, researchers tracked a group of healthy teenagers who ran every morning for three weeks for 30 minutes at a moderate pace. They scored higher on tests of daytime focus, mood, and sleep quality than a control group of non-runners.
30 minutes of other daily activities, such as walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga, may also provide you with the same advantages.
Why You Shouldn’t Run Every Day
Exercising the same muscles and tissues repeatedly can cause overtraining in your body, regardless of your level of experience.
“Running is great, but it’s important also to keep the tissue fresh and not have the same stress [and] the same load applied in a consistent manner all the time,” says Physiatrist and rehabilitation professor Edward Laskowski, MD, from the Mayo Clinic.
Your chance of developing overuse injuries, which are brought on by repetitive trauma, can rise if you run regularly. According to Laskowski, overuse injuries include stress fractures as well as injuries to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Shin splints, a condition marked by pain and swelling in the muscles and tendons along the shin, are another possible ailment.
The number of consecutive days of running and total mileage are two risk factors for overload and stress injuries, according to Laskowski. “If you run seven days a week and log a lot of miles on each of those days, it’s like a linear graph; you fall into a higher risk category.”
How Often You Should Run
While you shouldn’t run every day, you should try to do so three to five days a week. This is due to the fact that running has a lot of advantages when done properly.
“Running is going to improve your quality of sleep, it’s going to decrease your stress levels, and enhance your cognition,” says EsdotFitness in Chicago is run by Slater Nelson, MS, who also serves as its head coach.
Running can help you lower your risk of developing cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease, just like other aerobic exercises. Along with strengthening your muscles, it can also improve endurance and lessen fatigue.
Nelson recommends that when you’re a beginner, you run for 30 to 45 minutes, including a warm-up and cool-down. Don’t just start running as quickly as you can. For the first few minutes, start out with a light jog and gradually increase your pace. When you’re at your best, you’ll be walking quickly and then jogging or running briefly before slowing down again.
It’s recommended that runners only increase their mileage by 10% a week when attempting to add distance in order to prevent overuse injuries.
Do You Require Additional Exercise?
Running enthusiasts may benefit from cross training, which involves engaging in physical activity other than running. Some potential benefits include:
- reduces risk of injury
- engages different muscle groups
- increases flexibility and core strength
- aids injury recovery without compromising fitness level
- offers variety
To experience the above advantages if running is your primary form of exercise, think about cross training once or twice per week with cycling, swimming, yoga, or Pilates. One to two times per week, you ought to think about including anaerobic exercises like strength training and weightlifting in your routine.
Why You Should Cross-train
Running frequently can increase your risk of overuse injuries, but cross-training, which is defined as using several different types of exercise to train, can reduce this risk. It also tones and strengthens the muscles that help you run.
“I always say you shouldn’t play your sport to be in shape, you should be in shape to play your sport,” says Laskowski.
According to a 2015 study, women who engaged in cross-training had greater muscular and aerobic endurance than those who only engaged in one type of exercise. Another small study published in 2018 found that cross-country runners who cycled outdoors and on an elliptical machine twice a week improved their running efficiency.
Running should be alternated with low-impact exercises, says Laskowski, to keep your muscles exposed to a variety of signals. Running on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is, in his opinion, a good illustration of this. Then go biking on Tuesday, work out on the elliptical on Thursday, and go swimming on Saturday. By using various muscles, you can maintain your energy for running while lowering your risk of overtraining.
Signs You Should Take A Rest Day
Giving your body time to recover requires rest days. According to Laskowski, signs you need a rest day include:
- Persistent soreness: There is some general muscle soreness associated with running, especially when you first start out, but if it lasts longer than 72 hours, it indicates that your muscles are not recovering and that your body needs more time to heal.
- Swelling: Your body might have been hurt if the soreness gets worse and there is swelling in a joint or a muscle.
- Compensation: If you are compensating for your soreness by limping or changing how you move because it hurts.
According to Laskowski, how long you rest really depends on the issue at hand. If you do have a stress fracture, you may need to stop running for four to six weeks for it to heal. Otherwise, a day or two should be sufficient to recover from sore muscles.
How To Run Every Day
You only need a few pairs of running shoes, some socks, and you can start running every day. In the event that one pair of shoes becomes muddy or wet, you might want to switch between two pairs.
Additionally, you’ll require sweat-resistant running apparel, such as shorts and T-shirts. Get a reflective vest or light if you run at night or in the early hours of the morning for safety.
Your goals and level of physical fitness should determine how often you run each week. For instance, if you’re a beginner, you shouldn’t begin by running every day because you run a higher risk of injury or burnout. Instead, begin by going for a 20- to 30-minute run every other day. Start by trying a couch-to-5K program.
It can be difficult to find the time to run every day or frequently throughout the week. Before your day gets busy, try to run as soon as you wake up. Alternatively, go for a run during your lunch break. To get support and motivation, look for local running meetups and clubs. Short runs during the week and longer runs on the weekends when you have more time are better.
It’s crucial to schedule your weekly training with a ton of variety if you’re an experienced runner and intend to run every day. You could, for instance, run for a long distance one day per week at your intended race pace. You could practice your speed for another day. Short recovery runs of one to two days are possible. On the other days, you can work out on hills by repeatedly running up an incline to strengthen your legs. Running or jogging in a pool is another option for an active recovery.
When you run, make sure to stay in lit, populated areas. Find out which local trails and running routes are well-liked. If you run at night or in the early morning, wear bright clothing and a reflective vest. A track is another option for speed training or running laps. When running on trails, be cautious of branches and sticks. They can hurt you and are a tripping hazard.
Stretching before a run is not always necessary. To warm up your muscles, you can walk for the first few minutes or jog slowly. Always stretch out after your run.
You could improve your health by running for a brief period of time each day. As indicated by research, it might even lengthen your life. But is daily exercise necessary to reap the rewards? No.
Keep in mind that scheduling rest days and cross-training days helps even the most seasoned runners avoid injuries. On cross-training days, try low-impact sports like swimming and cycling to recover and give your aching running muscles a break.