- How Far Should You Run?
- How far should I run on my very first run?
- How much should I run each week?
- How often should you run?
- REAL TALK ABOUT RUNNING FREQUENCY
- HOW MANY MILES SHOULD YOU RUN IN A WEEK?
- HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU RUN IN A WEEK?
- HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TAKE A BREAK FROM RUNNING?
- CAN YOU LOSE WEIGHT BY RUNNING EVERY DAY?
- RUNNING EVERY DAY?
- Quick Running Frequency Recap and Q&A
- How Many Days a Week Should I Run?
- How Far Should I Run Every Week?
- What Are the Benefits of Running Every day?
- Running Twice a Day? 30 Minutes a Day? A Mile every day
- How Long Does It Take to Get in Shape?
- Minimizing losses during breaks
- When Does Running Get Easier?
- Accept that it’ll always be hard, to some degree.
- Trust that running will get a little easier, over time.
- Understand that setbacks happen.
- Give yourself at least three months to see progress.
- Try to avoid running too hard, too fast, too long—or too much.
- Getting ready to run
- How to start running for the first time
- Should you run on a treadmill or the road?
- What to do before and after your run
- Try our 10-week beginner’s running plan
- Getting Ready to Run a Marathon
- Marathon Training : Novice 1
How Far Should You Run?
New runners are quite fortunate: They have their entire running career in front of them. Starting this new journey is an exciting time, and we want you to get you started on the right foot.
One of the most common questions that beginners have is, “How much should I run?” It’s a tough question. Depending on your fitness level and goals, the following advice can help.
How far should I run on my very first run?
If you’ve never run before, and don’t have much experience recently with other sports that involve running like soccer or basketball, you should start gradually. Your first run should be 1 to 3 miles at most. The goal isn’t to “get fit” or run fast, but rather to see how your body responds to running with the smallest risk for running injuries.
Run as comfortably as possible; keep the pace easy, and stop before you’re really tired. You’ll likely be sore so you don’t want to make things too hard on yourself.
More: How Fast Should Beginners Run?
If you consider yourself an athletic person and have played sports or stayed active recently, you can be more aggressive with your first run. Aim for 3 to 4 miles at a comfortable effort. Just like a total beginner, you want to make sure you’re not too fatigued.
More: Good Running Form for Beginners
How much should I run each week?
Beginning runners should start with two to four runs per week at about 20 to 30 minutes (or roughly 2 to 4 miles) per run. You may have heard of the 10 Percent Rule, but a better way to increase your mileage is to run more every second week. This will help your body adapt to your new hobby so you don’t get hurt.
More: Avoid a Running Injury With the 10 Percent Rule
After a few weeks, you should focus on adding 5 to 10 minutes to one of your runs so that once per week you’e doing a “long” run. This is the best way for new runners to gain endurance and become a faster runner overall (even if you’re training for a short race).
Those who have a background in sports can be more aggressive with their mileage increases, but it’s still helpful to increase volume every two weeks rather than every week.
More: How Often Should Beginners Run?
How often should you run?
Let’s discuss the running frequency! “Oh, you’re a runner. So you’re running every day?” – I’ve heard this question so many times that I have lost count, but it’s actually a common idea when non-runners picture a runner.
Heading outside every single day. No rest days. We don’t need breaks. We’re superheroes. Running superheroes! But seriously: How often should a runner run per week? How many times should you run a week?
▷ Do you want to become faster? Check out the 15 Best Supplements For Runners.
Is it okay to run every day?
First of all, running frequency—or how often you run—is one of three fundamental variables of training. How many days per should you run? The other two are the duration (how far you run) and intensity (how fast you run).
If you’re looking for some kind of benefits from running, you should at least run a couple of times per week. Running every day doesn’t make sense. In all honesty, your body needs rest to become stronger.
Interesting fact: Many elite runners run as often as 14 times per week. But assuming you aren’t yet an elite athlete, how often should YOU run?
REAL TALK ABOUT RUNNING FREQUENCY
HOW MANY MILES SHOULD YOU RUN IN A WEEK?
There is no book where you can find the right running frequency and how often you should run. Depending on your personal goals (weight loss, speed improvement, your first race) you need to figure out how many sessions fit into your schedule. Also, a beginner shouldn’t run as much as an advanced runner.
I wake up extra early and schedule my day perfectly to work out daily (sometimes twice per day). For beginners, this might sound a lot. It is necessary to do some form of exercise almost every day to optimize your general health. In addition, optimizing your general health also means getting the right supplements for runners for your training. It also means knowing which products can fuel your running success: some of my favorites can be found here.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU RUN IN A WEEK?
I also get asked a lot how many times a week do you need to run to lose weight? Or even how often it is healthy to run in a week? No matter if your a competitive runner, recreational runner, or a non-runner you should aim to exercise every day. The research is very clear on this score. 30 minutes of activity is very beneficial to your overall health both short and long term.
If you exercise daily, you will have a lower risk of chronic disease, be leaner, and live longer than if you exercise just a few times a week. This doesn’t mean you have to run every day. If you’re interested in running enough to see some kind of progress, you should run at least 3 times per week.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TAKE A BREAK FROM RUNNING?
You may be a very dedicated and motivated person as I am. So why take a rest day, when there is so much on your list that needs to get done, right? It’s simple: Not running is as important as your weekly long run.
On your rest days, you will strengthen your body, sharpen your focus, and reinvigorate your spirit. It makes you crave your training. Never forget that anytime you run, or hit the gym, your body needs time to adapt. If you rest right, you will always come back stronger. People who overtrain will hurt themselves and fall apart long term. Again, here is a list of great supplements for runners to support recovery.
CAN YOU LOSE WEIGHT BY RUNNING EVERY DAY?
If your motivation is to improve your runs, then make them count. So to answer the question of how many times a week you have to run to lose weight is simple: As often as you can and please make these miles count! But what does that even mean?
Most weeks those runs should be a tempo run to develop intensive endurance, a speed workout to build speed, and a long run to increase raw endurance. Most likely I add an extra run where I run how I feel. NO watch. No goals. The rest of my training days I implement cross-training like cycling on my road bike and weight lifting. I’m obsessed with abs and leg workouts.
RUNNING EVERY DAY?
Now you’re wondering why I’m not running every day? First of all to avoid injuries. Trust me, I’ve been there. Especially in the beginning, I tried to run as much as I could until I got injured. Your body needs rest days. Those days matter the most because that’s the time when you’re actually improving. Of course, you’ll find other runners who are hitting the road every day and who don’t need rest days.
My personal experience has proven me to stick with 4 runs per week, active rest and cross-training. One of the biggest misconceptions among runners who want to get faster is that they should run every day. In reality, the body actually needs rest days to recover and repair muscles to get stronger. If you need help with your training, find out more about my online coaching program.
Everybody has to find their own routine at the end of the day.
Please also read both my How to Run Well and my Tips for Running Beginners, if you’re new to running. And lastly, read below for a few quicker answered questions about running frequency.
Quick Running Frequency Recap and Q&A
As a recap of what has been discussed before, as well as a little more, I’ll conclude this article by providing quick answers to many of the most frequent questions on running frequency.
How Many Days a Week Should I Run?
It all depends. Running a little bit every day can be a good thing for elite runners and can get you in the habit of training frequently, but it can also lead to injury and plateaus in personal bests.
I suggest at least 3 times a week, but this all depends on what you’re training for. If you are training for a marathon or even a half marathon, your training frequency will obviously be different to condition your body.
The best answer I can give to this question is that you will most likely need a personalized plan that takes into account your unique fitness levels and aerobic capacity. Factoring in rest is just as important as running 3-7 times a week as well!
How Far Should I Run Every Week?
Very similar to the previous question, this one is also largely dependent on your experience and conditioning levels. But assuming that you are healthy enough and have the proper gear, supplements, and knowledge about training, experts have found evidence that long-distance runners (those who run more than 10 miles a week), experience close to an 85% drop in bad cholesterol prevalence.
But there are cutoffs for training frequency, as overtraining and not getting enough sleep or nutrition can be dangerous. It’s best to consult a coach and get personalized training feedback to avoid injury.
What Are the Benefits of Running Every day?
It’s great to get regular physical exercise every day. According to this study, over a fifteen-year period, the doctors involved measured that participants had lowered their risk of mortality by 29% with occasional runners and 50% compared to those who never ran at all.
So, if you are running solely for the health benefits, running frequently and consistently can be an amazing investment for your overall health.
Running Twice a Day? 30 Minutes a Day? A Mile every day
For the first question, unless you are an elite athlete, are working on sprints and explosiveness, or you have a crazy work schedule, running twice a day won’t be necessary. A rule of thumb is that if you are under 50 miles per week, you really shouldn’t be considering 2 separate running sessions as it will overtax your body.
For the second question, running 30 minutes a day is a great goal if you’re a beginner runner. And it’s also a great way to establish positive habits for training. But if you get more ambitious with your training goals, you will want to stretch out the length of your runs, especially if you’re wanting to complete 5k, half marathon, or marathon. But at the very least, 30 minutes a day can drastically improve heart health.
And lastly, the third question. Running a mile every day can be a fun little 30-day challenge, but in the long run, you are best structuring your training into more strategic sessions for your overall goals!
How Long Does It Take to Get in Shape?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), physiological changes — like blood lipoproteins, or the ability to use glucose for energy and body composition — can occur 1 or 2 weeks after you stop exercising.
A 1984 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology: Respiratory, Environmental and Exercise Physiology also found that when endurance athletes stopped training, their VO2 max dropped by 7% within the first 21 days of inactivity.
This stabilized after 56 days of no exercise. And after 84 days of inactivity, the athletes still had a higher VO2 max than people who had never trained.
Muscle strength may last longer during a break.
A 2000 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that young people lost just 8% of their strength after 31 weeks of inactivity. Older people lost 14% of their strength during that time.
Most of the loss of strength occurred between 12 and 31 weeks.
Even small breaks may not affect your overall strength progress.
In a 2011 study in Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging, beginners who took a 3-week break in the middle of a 15-week bench press program achieved similar results by the end of the study as beginners who worked out the entire way through.
So once you build a foundation of strength, it stays with you.
“When you undergo resistance training, you permanently change the physiology of your muscle cells — even if you stop training for long periods of time,” said Fauci.
“This makes the process of regaining strength and size after a long break from the gym much quicker.”
This is just as true for overall fitness.
“Everyone is going to be different when it comes to seeing results after a break from working out,” said Williams.
“But the longer and more consistent you’ve been working out and training, the less of an impact a break will have on you.”
Minimizing losses during breaks
The good news is you can minimize fitness losses during a break by continuing to exercise at some level, even if it’s less than what you were doing before.
According to the ACSM, you can maintain your current level of strength, performance, and health benefits with “as little as a single session per week of moderate- to hard-intensity exercise.”
What you choose to get you through a break depends on your circumstances.
If you stopped exercising because life got in the way, you might need to squeeze in physical activity wherever you can — do bodyweight resistance exercises throughout the day, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or bike to work.
If you are injured, you may have to modify your workouts significantly.
“I encourage students dealing with an injury — depending on the severity of the injury — to continue to come and train, but we obviously modify their workout around the injured body part,” said Angelotti.
“For example, a student with a shoulder injury can still come and work out their lower body so that they don’t get completely deconditioned.”
It’s also important to work with a doctor or physical therapist to develop a program that will keep you active, but still let your body heal.
People who are coming back from an injury also “need to learn to trust the injured joint again,” said Snow.
“Favoring the uninjured side for months or years after graduating from therapy only increases the risk of a new injury somewhere else in the body.”
If you have been inactive for several weeks, it is often safest to start fresh — working with your current level of fitness and health, not where you were before the break.
And for that, you’ll need lots of patience, the kind that got you in shape in the first place.
“After giving birth to my first son, it took me 4 months to get back to fit, and after triplets it took me 18 months,” said Clayton.
“It’s all about one step at a time and allowing your body to adapt slowly — this is often the best and most sustainable approach.”
“Nobody is going to look like Vin Diesel overnight.”
— Justin Fauci, Lean Muscle Project “The mental benefits of getting active are even more important than the external changes we are all so concerned about seeing.”
— Samantha Clayton, Herbalife “The longer and more consistent you’ve been working out and training, the less of an impact a break will have on you.”
— Rob Williams, EAS Sports Nutrition
Editor’s note: This piece was originally reported on February 3, 2017. Its current publication date reflects an update, which includes a medical review by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS.
When Does Running Get Easier?
I hate running. It’s too hard. I’m a bad runner. I can’t do it. Why do my legs feel so heavy? Omg, it seems like I’ve been running forever . . . oh, wait, just two minutes. This is the worst. Does running get easier?
Sound familiar? Welcome to the mental script of every runner, at least once in a while. As much as running can be an amazing stress reliever and a path to physical fitness, it can also be incredibly challenging, both mentally and physically.
However, running does get easier—eventually. Here’s how to get the most out of every run without dreading putting one foot in front of the other.
Accept that it’ll always be hard, to some degree.
The definition of what’s “hard” simply evolves the more you run. It depends on pace, length, and your personal goals. Also, every single time you begin a run, your body needs a little bit of transition time. Your heart beats faster and your blood vessels dilate to bring more oxygen into your blood, and then to your muscles.
“I half-jokingly say that running never gets easier—you just get faster or go longer,” says running coach Kyle Kranz. “For a new runner, an 11:00 pace may feel moderately easy, but two years later a 9:00 pace may feel just as moderately easy.”
Chances are also high that the first mile of every single run will probably feel slow, frustrating, or even bad, but that’s perfectly normal as your body warms up.
Give your body a moment to shift into an aerobic state, and ease into your speed with a steady focus on your breath. A pre-run warm-up can help with this considerably. Over time, you’ll find your perfect training pace while training on the side to increase running speed.
Above all, remember that running is a workout and some days will be tougher than others. You’ll get tired during long distances, feel a lack of motivation before your first race, suffer through side stitches, and/or want to puke during sprints. But, you’ll also have runs that make you feel good and ready to conquer the world.
Have you checked out the running classes from Aaptiv yet? Log in the app today to see the newest workouts.
Trust that running will get a little easier, over time.
Like anything else, the more you do a certain activity, the more your body gets accustomed to it. Running consistently means that at some point you’ll probably start to know what to expect, at least in a physical sense.
You’ll find a comfortable pace that you can stick to for miles upon miles, either on a treadmill or outside, and explore runs at various times of the day to see what works best for you, in terms of energy and performance.
You’ll discover your favorite Aaptiv trainers, tunes, or podcasts to listen to, which will help the time go by faster. You may notice how after a long, tough day some runs can be therapeutic, while others will be difficult from start to finish. Regardless, you’ll trust that you can get through any run as long as you keep moving.
Most of all, the mental ups and downs of running will likely become more tolerable. Running builds your confidence, and that goes hand-in-hand with achieving your goals.
A 2015 study says mental fatigue is one of the biggest roadblocks to running performance. This is because negative thoughts trick you into thinking that your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is higher than it actually is. But soon you’ll learn to focus more on what you can do, versus what you think you can’t do.
Understand that setbacks happen.
Even though you may be frequently running to a certain destination or mile mark, there’s actually no final endgame with the sport itself. You may get to a place where running is “easy,” then experience a setback.
Major life events or injuries can derail your progress and force you to “start over.” Or, as Kranz mentioned above, you might find one part of running has become easier (you successfully trained for your first 5K!), but now something else feels much harder (now you’re aiming for a half-marathon).
Trust that no matter what, you’ll find your groove again. “When returning to running after a period of rest, it’s important to be aware that while it took a long time to build up your fitness, and the fitness goes away pretty quickly upon a long rest, it also comes back fairly rapidly, as well,” advises Kranz.
“While you may not be in PR shape a month back into running, in most cases, this is plenty of time to get back into the swing of things for your general running fitness.”
Give yourself at least three months to see progress.
Usually, the first thing beginner runners want to know is exactly when running will get easier. It’s different for everyone, but most people discover a turning point once they can run for about 30 minutes consecutively.
Kranz tells clients it takes about four weeks to kickstart a workout routine, which includes a focus on strength and mobility, running habits, and scheduling your workouts.
“To see larger fitness gains, rather than habit or training improvements, I generally require a three-month commitment from new clients so the training stimuli we expose the runner to has time to show itself,” says Kranz.
Try to avoid running too hard, too fast, too long—or too much.
If running feels ridiculously hard all the time, most experts agree that it’s probably due to you doing too much, too soon. Research shows that your body “hits a wall” when it’s depleted of glycogen stores in the muscles and liver, which results in fatigue and low energy.
Why does this happen? Overtraining and low blood sugar.
Additionally, if running is the only thing you do, you may want to think twice. Effective runners utilize cross-training, such as other forms of cardio, as well as strength training and yoga, to stay fit and avoid injury. Aaptiv has strength training and yoga workouts you can do in app now.
They also practice self-care, in terms of getting enough sleep, skipping workouts if sick, using a foam roller to release tight muscles, eating a nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, and taking rest days, when necessary.
“Being able to run consistently and frequently over time is a key to improvement. The best way to make this happen is to make sure most of your running is done at an easy conversational effort,” says Kranz.
“Always end a run before you feel the drastic need to end it. You left a little in the tank, and this will be a good start for your recovery towards the next jog.”
Inspired to take up running but not sure where to start? Our beginners’ plan combines intervals of walking and jogging to build you up to 30 minutes of continuous running.
If you’re looking to improve your fitness, it doesn’t get a lot more efficient than running. This low-cost hobby will improve cardio-vascular health, increase metabolism and boost your mood from the get-go. So let’s get started.
Getting ready to run
Before you hit the road there are a few essential pieces of kit it’s worth investing in:
• Running kit basics
When you’re just starting out, try not to be dazzled by all the high-tech kit out there – a decent pair of trainers and some comfortable running apparel is all you need to begin with.
• Choosing running shoes
It’s possible to spend well over £100 on a pair of shoes for running, but if you’re new to running you might want to go for something lower cost – once you’re used to running you will be in a much better place to figure out what you need from a shoe (support, cushioning, type of upper etc). If you do, however, want to invest properly from day one, it’s a good idea to get a gait analysis in your local independent sports shop. They won’t try to up-sell – it’s not in their interest – they will just help you find the most suitable shoe for you.
• Choosing running apparel
Go for something that’s not too baggy and won’t restrict your movement. This doesn’t mean you have to go out head-to-toe in lycra, but a sweat-wicking fabric is a good idea.
You could do worse than investing in blister-prevention socks too, as this is a new way of moving for you, in new shoes, so blisters are a risk!
Be safe: hi-vis clothing and a clip-on light will make sure you’re seen if you run a night or early morning.
How to start running for the first time
For non-runners, going out in public to run can seem quite intimidating. It’s a completely new situation for you and it can feel like everyone is looking at you. Try not to worry; this feeling doesn’t last! Think about how often you stare at people running in your local park (probably never, right?) and when you see other runners with what looks like the perfect running style, remember it’s quite possible they’re putting it on because they think you’re watching them!
Some people feel better if they wear sunglasses when they go out running, as it feels a bit like they’re wearing a disguise. Do what you have to do to get out there; after a while it won’t bother you anymore anyway, I promise.
Should you run on a treadmill or the road?
If you really don’t want to go outside, you could train on a treadmill, but it is a different way of running. Treadmills are slightly easier as the ‘ground’ is moving underneath you so you don’t need to propel yourself forward like you do on stationary ground. It’s a good idea to add a percentage or two gradient when you set the treadmill, just to give it a more realistic feel.
What to do before and after your run
There are a few important points to consider for the ultimate run preparation and cool-down:
Before your run
Before you start running, never perform static stretches. Instead, go through a dynamic warm up (moving around) to get your body ready.
A good warm up before each run should last between 5 and 10 minutes.
✔️ Standing on one leg, swing the other back and forth. Alternate a few times. Rotate your ankles before swinging.
✔️ Walk along, bringing knees up to waist height about ten times each side.
✔️ Now do a walking lunge, about 10 steps altogether.
✔️ Carry on walking, and every 10 steps hop briskly from one foot to the other, with knees high for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 4 times.
After your run
Rather than just coming to a sudden stop, cool down by walking briskly for a few minutes. When your heartbeat has returned to normal, go through some stretches. Hold each one for about 10 seconds, or until it eases off.
• Quad stretch: stand straight, holding on to a wall or chair for support. With your knees together, take hold of one foot and bring your heel to touch your bottom
• Hamstring stretch: stand with your legs wide apart and trace your hands down both legs towards your feet, bending from your hips. You should feel a stretch up the whole of the back of your legs.
• Calf stretch: take a step forwards. The back leg should be kept straight, with heel on the ground. Now bend the front knee forwards, leaning into it while still keeping the back heel on the ground.
This will gradually return your heart rate to resting level and stretch your muscles to reduce tightness and soreness the following day.
Try our 10-week beginner’s running plan
It’s very important that you cross-train and don’t only run to keep healthy. Choose another sport like swimming, cycling, a gym class… anything that will complement your running training.
Make sure you cross train at least once a week – if this makes the running programme take longer that’s ok, it’s better to stay strong and get there without injuring yourself through overdoing it. Grab a watch, stopwatch or just use your mobile phone and get started!
Repeat this session on three different days, ideally with at least a day’s rest in between.
- Jog for 1 minute, then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 6.
Repeat this session on three different days, ideally with at least a day’s rest in between.
- Jog for 1-and-a-half minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 6.
Aim to go out three times this week, with a day’s rest in between each session. Choose to do either two of the Session 1 (and one of Session 2) or two of the Session 2 (and one of Session 1) if you feel ready to progress more quickly.
Go out three times this week. Choose to do Session 1 twice and session 2 once, or the other way around.
- Session 1: Jog for 3 minutes then walk for 1-and-a-half minutes. Repeat x 5.
- Session 2: Jog for 4 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 4.
Time spent on your feet increases this week. Again, go out three times but do the sessions in order.
- Session 1: Jog for 4 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 5.
- Session 2: Jog for 5 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3. Then jog for 4 minutes before cooling down.
- Session 3: Jog for 5 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 4. Jog for 4 minutes then cool down.
You should now be comfortably running for five minutes at a time. If this is still a challenge, repeat week 5. This week, make sure there is a day’s rest between sessions.
- Session 1: Jog for 6 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3. Jog for 5 minutes then cool down.
- Session 2: Jog for 6 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 4.
- Session 3: Jog for 7 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 2. Jog for 6 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 2.
Three sessions again this week, time spent running increases further so make sure you are strong and repeat Week 6 if you don’t feel ready.
- Session 1: Jog for 8 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3. Jog for 5 minutes, cool down.
- Session 2: Jog for 8 minutes then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 4.
- Session 3: Jog for 9 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3
Sessions are getting longer so they are designed to build up and down through each run.
- Session 1: Jog for 8 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Jog for 9 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Jog for 8 minutes, walk for 2 minutes.
- Session 2: Jog for 9 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Jog for 10 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Jog for 9 minutes, walk for 2 minutes.
- Session 3: Jog for 10 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Repeat x 3.
Now you’re running 10 minutes at a time easily, and completing sessions over 30 minutes, it’s just a case of building on this.
- Session 1: Jog for 12 minutes then walk for 3 minutes. Repeat x 2.
- Session 2: Jog for 15 minutes then walk for 3 minutes. Jog for 10 minutes then walk for 2 minutes.
- Session 3: Jog for 15 minutes then walk for 3 minutes. Jog for 12 minutes, cool down.
You should by now be able to build up to a 30-minute run. If you’re not ready, repeat the previous week.
- Session 1: jog for 20 minutes.
- Session 2: jog for 25 minutes.
- Session 3: jog for more than 25 minutes – aim for 30.
Last updated 24.09.2019
Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB) Dr Juliet McGrattan Dr Juliet McGrattan spent 16 years as a GP, two years as a Clinical Champion for Physical Activity for Public Health England and is the Women’s Health Lead for the 261 Fearless global running network. Her award winning book, Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health was published by Bloomsbury in 2017.
Most people don’t approach running as they do strength training. They just set out on unplanned jogs around the block, throw in some sprints, and call it a day.
But targeted workouts geared toward your fitness goals—training for a marathon, growing faster, getting fitter—make a world of a difference.
To help you become more methodical with your runs, we asked Gena Bradshaw, P.T., an assistant track and field coach and Life Time Fitness trainer, to suggest five training mainstays every runner should have in his workout regimen. Each workout is designed to train a different energy system to help you improve endurance, speed, and power. Plus, there’s a prescription for runners who are just starting out, and those who are more experienced.
Before each workout, though, remember to start with a dynamic warmup. “Warmups minimize your risk of injury, increase heart rate, raise blood flow to your muscles, and help you burn more calories mid-workout,” Bradshaw says.
Go for a comfortable 5- to 8-minute jog, then complete these drills to neurologically prime your body for your workout. Mark 20 yards. Focus on nailing the proper form for each drill, and increasing your speed as you progress.
- Walking lunges
- Knee hugs
- Ankle pulls
- High knees
- Butt kicks
- Straight-leg kicks
- Lateral shuffle
Also, make sure you cool down post-workout. Jog to flush the lactic acid out of your legs, and stretch while your muscles are still warm. Foam rolling will also help reduce soreness, and keep your muscles from getting knotted.
Ready to hit the ground running? Give these running workouts a try.
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Getting Ready to Run a Marathon
Running a marathon is a huge goal, one that requires months of training and commitment. But completing a marathon safely and without injury can offer great fitness benefits and personal satisfaction. Though it’s a long road before you even start the race, a good training program can get you in the best shape of your life and help you get across that finish line.
Starting Your Marathon Training Program
Running long distances can get your body into great shape, but it’s not without risks. Before you start any running or marathon-training program, you should get a complete physical from your doctor. If you have conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure, or you don’t get much exercise, get checked out to make sure your body can handle the stress of training for a marathon.
As you look for a training program, be realistic about your fitness level and the amount of training to which you can commit. If this is your first time running or exercising consistently at all, choose a program for beginners. Also, keep the following tips in mind:
- Set a schedule. You can find several marathon training schedules online that are tailored to your level of training and your current goals. These schedules will show you how to gradually and safely increase your mileage.
- Alternate between running and resting. At least once a week, don’t do any runs. These rest days give your body time to recover and keep you from getting burned out.
- Be flexible. Yes, it is important to run a number of miles each week, and to keep slowly increasing that mileage. But, it’s just as important to gauge how hard you are working out, and what your schedule can accommodate that week. If you’re sick or injured and need to take off an unscheduled day of training, do it, and don’t double up on another day. Get back on track when you’re feeling better and keep going.
- Pace yourself. Marathon training involves tempo running, which means running a few miles at 10 seconds slower per mile than the pace you hope to keep during the marathon. For example, if you want to run the marathon at 11 minutes per mile, a tempo workout would have you running a few miles at 11 minutes 10 seconds per mile. This is a bit faster than your other running workouts. Try these tempo workouts about once a week.
- Build endurance. Long runs (18 miles or longer) are key to the training program. It’s important to condition your body during training to run very long distances, and in conditions similar to that of the race. For instance, during long training runs, you could do tempo running at the end.
Marathon Training Tips
When training for a marathon, here are some things you’ll need to keep in mind:
- Get the right gear. Invest in a few good pairs of running shoes and some good clothing for runners. Head to a running store and ask for help in selecting a pair of running shoes that can protect your whole body from injury. Keep in mind that those shoes will need to last you around 500 miles; you should get a new pair at that point. You should also invest in good running clothes; synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene are a good choice to keep the sweat off your body as you run.
- Eat like a runner. Focus on a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plenty of proteins, and fats (but stick to healthy ones, such as omega-3 fatty acids). Make sure to get enough calories each day, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and sports drinks.
- Don’t forget to stretch. Stretch your muscles gently after a brief warmup. Do the stretches slowly and smoothly — never bounce or jerk.
- Search out running buddies. Find some runners who want to train together for a marathon and join them. It will help everyone stay motivated and keep a good pace, but never race during these buddy runs.
Registering for Your Marathon
If you’re shooting for a major marathon with a lot of applicants, you may have to run in a qualifying race and meet times based on your age and gender. You can register online for many marathons, or search online for races and contact the organizers for information on how and when you should register. If you are a beginner, allow plenty of time for training and enter several 5K and 10K races as training and practice for the marathon.
With the right training and preparation, and plenty of time, both beginners and seasoned runners can condition and train their bodies to run a marathon. Be patient and listen to your body along the way, and enjoy your training. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying that feeling of great physical and emotional satisfaction as you cross the finish line.
Marathon Training : Novice 1
Hal on his Novice 1 Program
Here is my Novice 1 Marathon Program, the most popular of all my marathon training programs and, arguably, the most popular training program used by first marathoners anywhere. Is this your first marathon? Have you only begun to run? Novice 1 was designed with you in mind. If you have been running for a year or more and have run a number of races from 5-K to the half marathon, you might want to consider a slight nudge up to Novice 2, although many experienced runners also favor Novice 1, because of the (relatively) gentle way it prepares you to run 26 miles 385 yards.
Let me explain some of the workouts you will run during the 18 weeks of Novice 1. More detailed training instructions sent to you in daily emails are available if you sign up for the interactive version of Novice 1, available from TrainingPeaks. I also have a Novice 1 app.
Long Runs: The key to the program is the long runs on weekends, which build from 6 miles in Week 1 to 20 miles in the climactic Week 15. (After that, you taper 3 weeks to get ready for the marathon.) You can skip an occasional workout, but do not cheat on the long runs. Notice that although the weekly long runs get progressively longer, every third week is a “stepback” week, where we reduce mileage to allow you to gather strength for the next push upward.
Rest: Novice 1 marathoners rest on Mondays and rest again on Fridays. This is both to recover after the weekend long runs and to gather energy before them. Scientists suggest that it is during the rest period (the 24 to 72 hours between hard bouts of exercise) that the muscles actually regenerate and get stronger. Coaches also will tell you that you can’t run hard unless you are well rested. And it is hard running (such as the long run) that allows you to improve. The secret to success in any training program is consistency, so as long as you are consistent with your training during the full 18 weeks of the program, you can afford–and may benefit from–extra rest.
Run Slow: Normally I recommend that runners do their long runs anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds or more per mile slower than their marathon pace. The problem with offering this advice to first-time novice runners, however, is that you probably don’t know what your marathon pace is, because you’ve never run a marathon before! Don’t worry. Simply do your long runs at a comfortable pace, one that allows you to converse with your training partners. As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as “too slow.” The important point is that you cover the prescribed distance; how fast you cover it doesn’t matter.
Walking: Don’t be embarrassed to take walking breaks. Walking is a perfectly acceptable strategy in trying to finish a marathon. It works during training runs too. While some coaches recommend walking 1 minute out of every 10, or walking 30 seconds then running 30 seconds before walking again, I suggest that marathon runners walk when they come to an aid station. Here’s why: you can drink more easily while walking as opposed to running, It’s a good idea to follow this strategy in training as well. Walking gives your body a chance to rest, and you’ll be able to continue running more comfortably. It’s best to walk when you want to, not when your (fatigued) body forces you too.
Cross-Training: Sundays in the Novice 1 training program are devoted to cross-training. What is cross-training? It is any form of aerobic exercise that allows you to use slightly different muscles while resting (usually) after your long run. In the Novice 1 program, we run long on Saturdays and cross-train on Sundays, although it certainly is possible to reverse that order. The best cross-training exercises are swimming, cycling or even walking. Activities requiring sudden or sideways movements are not always a good choice. You don’t need to cross-train the same each weekend. And you could even combine two or more exercises: walking and easy jogging or swimming and riding an exercise bike in a health club.
Strength Training: A frequently asked question is: “Should I add strength training to my marathon program?” If you have to ask, you probably should not. I strongly endorse strength training for maximum fitness and long life, but if you never have pumped iron before, now is probably not the time to start. Wait until after you have some bling around your neck. If you already hang out at the gym, Tuesdays and Thursdays work well for strength training–after you finish your short runs on those days.
Midweek Training: Training during the week should be done at a comparatively easy pace. As the weekend mileage builds, the weekday mileage also builds. Add up the numbers, and you’ll see that you run roughly the same mileage during the week as you do during long runs on the weekends. Midweek workouts on Wednesdays build from 3 to 10 miles. (I call these my Sorta-Long Runs.) There are similar slight advances on Tuesdays and Thursdays although they are planned as “easy” days.
Races: Normally, I don’t prescribe races–or at least too many races–for first-time marathoners. Races can get in the way, particularly if you taper before a race and need extra recovery afterwards. But some racing is convenient, because it introduces newcomers to the racing experience. I suggest you consider doing a half marathon in Week 8, a week when in the normal progression you might do 13 miles as your long run. No half marathon in your neighborhood that week? You can juggle the training schedule to match the local racing calendar. One advantage of doing a half is that afterwards, you can use one of the pace calculators available on the Internet (best is by Greg McMillan) to predict your marathon pace and finish.