Running 101: How far and how often should I run?

Telling you how far and how often to run is kinda hard, to be honest. We can certainly generalize to everyone, but YOU aren’t everyone. YOU are you and without talking to you every single day about your running, it is hard for someone else to tell you how far and how often to run. Turns out, you might be the best one to do this.

Why? Because you know yourself and you are with yourself. True, maybe you are not a seasoned runner but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some wise training decisions.

General Guidelines:  How Far and How Often

How often: 3-4 times a week

How far: 20-30 minutes for the first month or so and then increasing your weekly time or mileage by 10% each week after that. Each month you will need a rest week too where you cut that mileage/time in half roughly.

How fast: Most of the time you will want to run at a speed that allows you to speak full sentences. This might mean walking some or all of it at first. Once you get settled into your routine and think you have a decent base, you can add in a short interval run (which we will cover in an upcoming post) but in the beginning, you want to do mostly easy, low intensity running.

Personal Factors To Consider

Overall Fitness: This is a plus in the running community. If you are relatively fit from doing Crossfit, biking, swimming or another sport, you will likely be able to be a bit more liberal with how far and how often you run.

Running History: Again, this is a plus. If you ran cross-country in the past or track or even just did some running as an adult, this is more advantageous than not having ever ran, right? Most of the time, your body remembers that it ran at one time. It all depends on how long ago it was AND how you have treated your sweet little body since then.

Age: Oh, man, I really hate admitting this one. I started running in my 20’s thinking I would never be in my 40’s. AND….now I am. AND, I have had to adjust a few things. One basic principle is that if you haven’t been active at all and you are now 50, all things being equal, you will need to take it slower and be more aware than say your 20 year old counterpart. Also, whereas a 20 year old can often get away with skipping stretching and core strengthening, you probably can’t.

Weight: I really don’t even like bringing this one up because there is no ideal running weight. Long gone are the days when only the teeny tiny people ran. But, there are some health and injury things that need to be considered. There is an athlete in everyone, but if you have a lot of weight to lose, you might want to consider walking for a good month or more before you start running or even getting a bit of the weight off before you start running. You certainly don’t have to, but more weight equals a greater chance for injuries especially in your feet. And, if your feet start hurting, you won’t be running anyways.

How You Feel On Any Particular Day: This is really important and the reason you are your best coach. No one else knows how you feel. No one knows how tired you are or how your ankles hurt or your back or whatever. Now, there are two types of people here and you need to decide which one you are. The first person is the one who will have the sharpest pain in their foot and will continue training until they literally cannot walk. The second person is the person who at the slightest twinge of pain decides it is better to go to happy hour instead of run.

Know which one you are and plan accordingly. If you are the first person, know that it is ok to walk and to deviate from your plan especially if you have significant pain that doesn’t go away. If you are the second person, make a plan and commit to it, pushing past small things like being tired.

Run on my friends……Because you can……