In my role as a coach of two marathoners, I get asked a lot: “How often should I run?” Often the answer is “cycles.” You start out with low fitness and high stress levels, and then you build up the motivation to do better. Once you’re over that hump (or don’t hit that bump) you may want to downsize your workout to once per week, maybe even monthly.
I recommend people start out with a long run or another small, high intensity workout like interval training (e.g. 20 minutes at maximum intensity). Then, slowly add in short duration workouts. The goal of this new fitness approach is to gradually ramp up your intensity, while maintaining or adding length to your runs. Here’s a great example of how this is done:
Let’s assume you’ve selected your new marathoner. I’ve also chosen a distance for my first race: the half-marathon. Your goal is to run no more than nine miles. That’s easy! In fact, most half-marathoners do it all over!
If you are doing this as part of your fitness program, your goal is to have about one or two workouts per week. In other words, you want to build up your endurance, increase your fitness, strength train, run the right distance, and do enough training volume to get your body as aerobically fit as possible. Your new runner’s goal is to do the same thing, but doing it less.
Most experienced runners can tell you that the biggest mistake newbies make is committing to too much fitness training and long-distance running per day. I recommend staying under the newbie’s training plan of five days per week for at least two weeks. That will give the newbie a little “boost” in their fitness and health. After all, we don’t start training until we’re physically fit, right? We can always start slowly and add more if needed.
If you have to run a marathon in under a month, that’s going to be tough, but it’s doable. The trick is to start slow, maybe even take a week off at first. Then increase your mileage slowly over time, perhaps starting with a two-week easy run. Easy runs are great because they’re low impact. They’re also perfect for fat loss.
You’ll need to build some endurance. To do this, you can add short sprints to your running training plan. Run a couple of minutes hard, then two minutes easy. This does two things. First of all, it increases your stamina. It also helps you build up a lot of endurance for your next sprints.
How often you should I run is really dependent on what your current fitness level is. If you’re really new to running, I suggest that you stick with your plan. A lot of new runners see their first strides in a marathon and immediately try to work that distance in as fast as they can. This isn’t a good idea. Do your training gradually, add short sprints to your plan every week, and after a few months, you’ll have done several miles in a little while.
If you’re a bit stronger than you might be right now, you might want to consider an intermediate program. Begin with a week of good cardio and a long run or a sprint or two on your program. Then, you can add intensity training weeks two and a half or three months in. If you add some strength training into your program, you can increase your stamina and strength throughout the year.
Some runners prefer to mix in some interval training into their training. Interval training is a good way for new runners to get used to running in shorter distances. You can run every other day, for example. Or you could run every other Monday. After a few weeks, you’ll be running faster and more efficiently.
The most important factor in deciding how often you should run is whether or not you can maintain a high level of fitness after you’ve finished. This is why it’s important to plan out your fitness routine before you begin. Work out with a good trainer who can help you design a program that’s right for you. There are many options for what constitutes an effective workout program for runners. Some trainers suggest that runners vary their fitness routines by days instead of weeks so you can get used to running on short distances and build up a base of endurance.
Other trainers suggest that new runners split their weekly mileage up into six to eight different sessions. Runners can do one session per day, an early morning run, a mid-morning run, an evening run, another early morning run, and a late evening run. Whatever method you choose, the important thing is to get some quality cardiovascular exercise and build a base of endurance.