How far to run

There is probably no greater topic of controversy among runners than the ideal mileage.

As far as we know, aerobic capacity does not improve if you run more than 50 miles a week.  So if you are interested only in increasing your fitness, this is probably the maximum mileage you need to run.  You can, of course, maintain a good level of fitness on much less.

Dave on the home straight - photo by David Knight

Dave on the home straight

Running performance can continue to improve beyond 50 miles a week, however, even though aerobic conditioning does not.  The benefits of big mileage include improvements in the runner’s ability to burn fat, increased muscular endurance and maintenance of body weight. The upper limit for physiologically useful increases in mileage appears to be around 80-100 miles a week; though many elite athletes run 100-120 miles a week.

Most amateurs runners don’t run anything like this sort of distance each week.  Clearly, a number of factors affect the optimum mileage:

  • lifestyle constraints, such as family and work commitments, and other leisure activities;
  • the distances, if any, at which we want to race (marathon runners need a higher weekly mileage than 5km runners)
  • our capacity to train before we get injured or ill; this is greatly affected by how we train, but there are also some inherited differences.

Here is a table setting out a rough guide of recommended mileages for runners of different experience at different race distances.[i] The judgement you make about weekly mileages will depend on your own circumstances.

Table 10.3 Recommended maximum weekly distances (miles)

Race distance Beginner Intermediate Advanced
5km 10 – 20 15 – 25 30 – 40
10km 15 – 25 20 – 30 30 – 50
Half marathon 20 – 30 25 – 35 35 – 50
Marathon 30 – 40 40 – 50 40 – 60

You don’t need to run these distances all year round: these are weekly averages in the peak weeks before your race.  You should take regular breaks during the year – reducing your mileage, and then build up again.

If your goal is simply to keep fit, then you should be aiming for about 30 miles a week.

How rapidly to increase your mileage

You should not increase your weekly mileage too rapidly if you want to avoid injury or illness.  A good rule of thumb is that below 20 miles a week you should not increase your weekly mileage by more than 2 miles a week; above 20 miles a week, you should not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% a week.  So if you are currently running 10 miles a week, you should not increase to more than 12 miles next week; and if you are running 35 miles a week, you should not increase to more than 38½ miles the next week.

This is a very important guideline. All experience shows that excessively rapid build-up in training mileage is one of the most common causes of injuries.  Many new runners think that they can be the exception to the rule, because they feel they can go further than this.  Sadly, this enthusiasm often ends in tears.

How many times a week to run

If running is your main exercise, you should aim to run 3-4 times a week, in order to reap the full health benefits (see Chapter 1).  But runners who set themselves more demanding performance goals will need to run 5-6 days a week, giving themselves one or two rest days a week.

Elite runners will often run twice a day on at least some days of the week.  For example, they may do a track session in the morning, and a recovery run in the evening.  These runners may therefore run 10-12 times a week.  Even elite runners generally take one day a week off completely, but some only rest on one day a fortnight.

Running twice a day can have advantages if you are trying to do a big weekly mileage, since it seems to be less draining to run two six mile runs than one twelve mile run in a day.  But remember that there are time overheads, such as the time it takes to change, shower and recover, which you will have to accommodate twice. It is physically demanding to run twice a day, and you should not contemplate it until you have been running for a few years.

The length of the long run

A cornerstone of the running week for many runners is the long run, especially for runners focusing on distances more than 1500m. The length will vary according to the distance you want to race. Endurance runners will typically do one long run a week; shorter distance runners may do one long run a fortnight.

The long run should be between one quarter and one third (certainly less than half) of your weekly mileage.  So if you are running 10 miles a week, your long run should be around 3-4 miles.

The table below sets out recommended distances for long runs.  These are the peak distances for your long run during your training schedule, which you will build up to.

Table 10.4 Long run distances (miles)

Race distance Beginner Intermediate Advanced
5km 3 – 6 5 – 8 8 – 12
10km 5 – 8 6 – 10 10 – 15
Half marathon 10 – 13 11 – 15 13 – 20
Marathon 18 – 20 18 – 20 18 – 22

[i] Adapted from Bob Glover and Shelly-lynn Florence Glover, The Competitive Runners Handbook, 2nd Edition, 1999.

[ii] Adapted from Bob Glover and Shelly-lynn Florence Glover, The Competitive Runners Handbook, 2nd Edition, 1999.

90 Responses to How far to run

  • Margaret:

    Very good info. Thanks.
    I’m finally up to just shy of 4.25 miles twice a week without injury. I’ll take your 10 percent increase into account – sounds so reasnable!

  • Steven:

    “If your goal is simply to keep fit, then you should be aiming for about 30 miles a week.” Insane – 5 miles twice a week is fine

    • Christian:

      I totally agree 30 miles a week for general fitness is crazy, and for many people could be dangerous, you can get a good level of fitness running 3 x 3 miles per week.

      • Lewis:

        Surely that depends on your definition of a ‘good level of fitness’. It is often recommended that a person should do at least 30 mins a day of exercise. They would have a good level of fitness (compared to the general population who probably don’t do this). I expect many people here would to be fitter than that.

  • Paul:

    Good Article. For those who have only just started running I would recommend you start as low as a solitary mile two to three times a week for the first two weeks then up it to a two mile run. After a month add in one longer run a week but again start low at 3 miles. Once you feel conditioned to this then follow the good advise above of no more than an additional max increase of two miles a week. If you feel pain in your knees or shins you’re pushing too hard or fast !

  • brian:

    I’ve been through the cycle of upping mileage too fast then off injured for several months so many times. In the past it has got me as I try to push past 15 miles per week. Then it can be anything that goes, but often it’s my feet (plantar fasciitis) or my calves knotting up.

    This time I’m taking it ultra slow. I started in october with two 1.75 mile jogs a week, this week I’ll be doing three lots of 3.75 miles. This time my aim is to stop short of 15 miles a week, or at least hold it around 14 miles for several months until I am utterly confident I can take it further. Also I’ll be taking a few months to get to the 14 miles as well.

    Bitter experience has hopefully now taught me that it’s better to take one step back now and again in order to take two steps forward later on. I become obsessed with improving a little bit every week and it seems more important to record a slightly longer distance or a slightly quicker time than to listen to what your body is saying. This time I’ve had a couple of weeks where I’ve dropped a run completely or deliberately reduced my pace/distance drastically because it doesn’t feel quite right. Stuff the running log. Sod the plan for inexorable progress to Olympic glory in 2024.

    Rest days aren’t lazy days, they’re part of the plan. You’re not a machine.

  • Ron:

    I don’t agree that aerobic fitness is tied to mileage and certainly not to some arbitray number of 50 miles a week. Aerobic fitness is a combination of mileage WITH interval training. I am mystified by runners who talk about running as if it was only just “jogging”. To run a race faster one must increase aerobic fitness through intense interval training combined with easy recovery runs. The purpose of interval training is to stress your system so that your anerobic/aerobic threshold is moved forward. Just jogging 50 miles a week is not that…

    • Luke:

      You do not need to do interval training to be aerobically fit. Aerobic fitness in running is best brought about by longer, slower distances, preferably 6-7 days a week and for as long as possible. When you are ready to race, 6 weeks or so prior you start doing intervals to bring the speed. The reason American distance running is in tatters and not competitive against the Kenyans, Japanese, and Ethiopians (and Russians, etc…the list goes on) is because the 80s was the era of high intensity interval training in the U.S. To date, they have still not recovered….there are no shortcuts to aerobic fitness.

      • e barker:

        gedt real mate the reason for the kenyans and the ethiopians being as good ass the are is simply the fact that they are born at high altitude live at high altitude and train at high altitude its no mystery why they win long distant races but how many of them can sprint zero is the answer you see oxogen in the blood does not help sprinters but for long distants it makes all the diferance.

        • Jon:

          Yes, they are born at high altitude, and have an advantage because of that. They outperform the whole world, including other Africans such as those in more developed areas like Nigeria. The reason is they start running everywhere they go as children. They run from village to village, to avoid criminals, rival clans, and wild animals. They learn to run properly…with a natural method without shoes. It’s their environment plus total conditioning. Once they become more advanced technologically they’ll become like the rest of us: Generally lazy and wondering when we will order our next pizza. Unfortunate side of progress…

    • Bren:

      Frequent training of real intervals, that is to say intervals that last longer than around 45 seconds (so this excludes strides and I guess easy fartlek), causes glycogen depletion and an increase in muscle acidity, from what I’ve read. This causes burnout and injury. This is why runners only do medium sized or longer intervals at high intensity and/or bulk for approximately the latter half of the training cycle.
      That’s not to say they do not help you aerobically, but they’re more like anaerobic training, which can’t be sustained for as long. I know many weight loss sites advertise intervals as a magical way to get fit, but they have their disadvantages for sure.
      Feel free to refute and I’m not 100% sure about any of this, but this is what I can determine from what I’ve read.

    • andy:

      I am absolutely fascinated with the thinking on this site. I jog for 40 minutes. Every 5 minutes I sprint /accelerate for ten seconds. This does not cause any lactic acid build up and prepares me for the next forty minutes after a 5 minute walk. What a beautiful day it is too, then start the next 40 minutes at 70 to 80 percent heart rate, then run at vo2 max for the last 3,000 meters. That’s Monday and Friday. Wednesday the first 40 minutes with alactic sprints every 5 minutes, then my little walk then 3 x 400s flat out. What a beautiful day. I am now 58 yrs, once a month, half marathon in 1 hour 10 minutes, what a beautiful day……………………… 3 days training per week, 3 days off per week Sundays with the grand kids every day, you got it what beautiful day.

  • paul:

    Agree with Ron,although one should make sure that a good level of Aerobic fitness is achieved before doing Intervals to improve Anaerobic fitness.

    • Luke:

      Then you agree with me, not Ron. Intervals have their place, but certainly not while building aerobic fitness. Ron appears to subscribe to the view that intervals are necessary to increase aerobic fitness. Nothing could further from the truth.

  • Farty:

    Hat off to anyone that runs. I can road bike good distance reasonable times and on a single speed 39.16 with hills, but running is a different story. Just started back running 2 or 4 times a week depending on road biking and it kills me great for the lungs as your on it almost all the time, doing around 3 miles in 23 mins. Anyone who does big miles big respect!

    • Megan:

      If you are running 3 miles in 23 minutes you are quite fit. I average 8 mile runs and run at 10 minute mile. I couldn’t sustain your pace for 3 miles…. So well done to YOU! 🙂

  • Andy:

    As your overall fitness increases, if you are a runner or consider yourself one, you weekly mileage must also increase just to maintain where you are. I am not speed demon or elite, but I do agree that the 30 mile per week mark for overall fitness is true. Two years ago I was 28 years old and 240 lbs. I was diagnosed with extremely high blood pressure and I decided I wanted to live to see my young kids grow. I started running. It was a long and slow process going from thinking I was going to die after a quarter mile to where I am now. I do run 30 miles per week now. Some weeks it kills me still to run, but I do it. Here I am now 30 years old, 175lbs. I can run a 5k in 18-19mins, I can run 5 miles in 32-33mins, and I got a 10k in under 40mins. I now have normal blood pressure with no meds. I have a healthy BMI and body fat percentage. I can do better. I am “fit” in all areas with my 30 miles per week, but I know if I dig deep I can do better. I can get past just being fit and get into the next category! The moral of the story is go hard. Never quit, and do not balk at those high weekly mileages. It can be achieved. Medical conditions sometimes can be conquered. Focus, just focus. I do not interval train. I watch what I eat and when I run, I run hard from start to finish. I can’t speak when I run, I am probably at 80-90% of my maximum heart rate the entire run, every run. When I finish my run I do 4 sets of 50 pushups, crunches, and leg raises. Needless to say running is a way of life for me!

    • Peter:

      Agree with Andy I used to take medication for Asthma then started running and take nothing now.
      Saving a fortune at the chemist as well as keeping fit

      • Amu:

        I also agree with Andy…I had HP,Asthma and on chronic for heart condition….ever since I started running my health has improved so much I haven’t seen a Dr or take medication for the sicknesses I was diagnosed with I run twice a day, 8km in the morning and another 8 in the evening. …to be fit you must try hard. I normally rest 2 days in a week.

    • Darcie:

      Great post, Andy. You outlined a real success story in having incorporated running into your life and already in such a short number of years have begun to reap the benefits. As someone with 15 years of running behind me, I can tell you the benefits both physically and mentally are just beginning to manifest for you. I just happened upon your post and thought, I’ve got to high-5 this guy. Your kids are lucky to have a Dad who cared enough to get in shape for both himself and them.

    • Robert:

      Hats off to you, Andy. Well done!

    • Slim:

      Great post Andy. Sometimes all you need to do is exercise a little bit at a time and set goals to push further. I too had high blood pressure,was overweight,and felt like crap from eating fried and fast foods regularly. Last year this time I started jogging. I couldn’t run 50 feet. Now, a year later and 60 pounds lighter I run at least 15 miles weekly. I run 5 miles straight non-stop,no water every other day. My eating habits are much healthier too. I treat myself twice a month to anything I want. Mostly my food is baked or grilled. I feel great and continue to raise the bar. To anybody reading this that needs some motivation, just go a little at a time steady. Set goals for jogging/running a further distance. Eat healthier.. Baked or grilled. If you believe you shall achieve.

  • James Ellis:

    30 miles a week for “general fitness”. That is utter bollocks I’m afraid, which is a shame because the rest of the article is really good. I aim for 30 miles plus a week but sometimes fall short because of studying, weather or because I am doing gym work. My 10k time is 40:50 and I’ve got a sub 1:45 half marathon. This is higher than “general fitness”. I do have age on my side only being 17 but still, my dad has decent “general fitness” and does 1-2 gym sessions a week. ‘Tis a ridiculous notion

    • Thanks James. Do you have some references to support your view, or is this just your opinion?

    • Don:

      I started running five months ago. I also quite smoking five months ago. I also have mild asthma. At the outset I could run five minutes and I’d shut down completely out of breath. These days I can run an average 6 miles before I tell myself to stop running. I could keep going though. Honestly if I wanted to I could run ten miles a day, every day.

      That is my problem!!! Moderation in all things. I came to this article/reply thread in order to find the best amount of miles to run on the weekly.

      *All information that I have found is both arbitrary or contrary!

      So my question remains the same; what is the most effective amount of miles to run per run. Moreover what is the most effective weekly average of miles?

      My goal is to get down to 180lbs. I am 32 years old, I am 5’10” with a very muscular frame. I have the shoulder width of Arnold! So for me it is essential to lean out as much as possible in order to not appear massive like a body builder or simply stocky. The thinner I get the taller I look!

      I also just started my career in TV News Reporting so for me it is essential to get as lean as I can as the camera does add on about 15lbs.

      Is there any benefit to working out 3 hours a day with a combo of running and weight training vrs working out 1 hour per day?

      • greg:

        i think what the main point of the messages here is that it is entirely up to you & what your particular body type is and what it responds to. i rotate my cardio meaning on “on” days i will run flat out for about 30 – 40 minutes at between 9 – 11 kms/hour, then drop down to 7.5 – 8.5 kms/hour for a 15 minute cooldown. on “off” days i will go for endurance and run between 7.5 – 8.5 kms/hour for 2 hours….on all days i will do a warm up before my runs by leg & calf pressing weights before running, usually 180 (just over my body weight). then after running i will leg press again this time lower weight with more reps. i also have two days of doing nothing but this also rotates, so sometimes it will be mon/tue or th/fr or wed/thu rest days… works for me but i duno if it would work for you. best thing to do is to play around with different styles to see what works for you and what your particular goals are. also cannot forget diet…you have to eat for what your fitness goals are. for me, i want explosive endurance, so this is why i work on both fast twitch and slow twitch muscles. i also do rest of body weight training, i dont want a lot of bulk, but long lean muscle with lots of endurance.

        • Douglas:

          Why on earth would you lift weights on “all”days? Unless the 180 is way less than half your max, you are just continually in a state of partial recovery.

      • Louis Marcone:

        I started running six months ago…. I started by seeing if I could do a mile and have been running everyday since. My goal is to run 365 days, everyday before taking a break. I am currently up to 4.75-5 miles a day and my time is generally around forty minutes. I was overweight hypertensive and my blood sugar was through the ceiling when I started. I am 49 going on 50. I have lost 80 pounds, blood sugar is normal and blood pressure normal now. My pulse rate at rest is usually 58-60 now. No joint pain and generally just feel good. I am not super fast but don’t care, I am doing what my body tells me it can do. I run first thing in the morning as my body is most rested and most capable for aerobic stress. There is no magic number, distance or time. Just keep moving and your body will let you know what works. Follow a reasonable diet and be active. I went from a whopping 264 pounds to 184 pounds. In the future as my body allows I will increase my distance, but only as my body allows. I also include an evening 40 minute walk at the end of the day and folks it works. Let your body tell you what you are capable of, not charts and other stuff. In my twenties I could do six miles a day easy but I am not twenty anymore, so I am content with where I am at. Do what works for you…..

    • mary:

      James, in fairness if you can run a 40 minute 10km off less than 30 miles a week you must have some talent or other sporting background perhaps? I read a lot about athletics and I know of very few who can do that on so little mileage.

      • Jeff:

        Thread resurrection warning! (Just genning up on a few things as I get back into running after a 2 year break)

        Not so kimo-sabe! I ran my 10k PB in 39:20 off 23 miles per week over the previous 6 weeks. (And probably about the same over the previous 6 months – I’ve never averaged over 22 miles per week over the course of a year). I was 48 at the time. I know lots of people who run about the same mileage and pace.

      • Jonathan:

        I run five miles three times a week and that is more than sufficient for me to maintain a 40 min 10k pace.
        30 miles plus just seems like a lot of extra effort for diminishing returns

      • Mikuhn:

        30 miles a week seems high – i i think if you run and enjoy what you do there is not too much or too little! People think im crazy doing 30km a week!

        Good informative post!

  • Marien:

    Hi, I was wondering if it would be overall better to do for example a 10km all at once or to split it in a 5km in the mornings and 5km in the evenings? Would the fitness level I would reach from one be better than the other? And witch one would keep your body in shape best, or won’t it matter?

  • Running 30 miles a week does keep you generally fit because most people could do because it depends on how you do it throughout the week so all you have to do really is basically run 3 miles in the morning and the 3 miles in the evening mon-fri which is not really that difficult if your reasonably fit. I run about 10-12 miles a week, play football twice a week, and go for a swim fornighty aswell as this. Now i have asthma and i am match fit to play football and i would run a half marathon in about 1 hour and half as long as i have my asthma pump and my music with me and i am wearing the right clothing for the weather and i keep myself hydrated and have enough energy for my run.

  • Sheri:

    I am 52 and run 50 miles a week, year round, temps in winter sometimes 30 below. I think increased mileage does result in increased fitness, keeping in mind the level at which you work during those miles. There is nothing wrong with being a recreational runner a couple times a week, it’s great to have any kind of commitment to running. Just speaking from experience, the heart rate has to get in that “target zone” for a good part of your miles to gain better fitness. Quality miles are necessary for a faster runner. I personally don’t like to race, just enjoy running so much and reap all the rewards from it. That said, I’ve run one full marathon, and managed a Boston marathon qualifying time. I credit 800 metre repeats, hill work and long runs to that success. I love to cook, enjoy a glass of wine , am addicted to running…..what a beautiful combination:)

    • Seshachalam:

      Great. I am 45 and running 30 miles per week. I an running 10 km per day for 5 days and plays shuttle for 2 days. I have started running 6 months back and I am addicted to it. Just checking if running 10 km per day for 5days continuously will be too much on my knees. Personally I feel fit and don’t even feel the presence of knees or another body part as such( I mean no pain for having run so long in a day) . Want an advice if I can continue my passion of 10 k daily run. Some advice pl.

    • Anthony:

      Wow Sheri, you sound exactly like me. I’m 46 years old and I love running. I have also ran in many races but prefer to run for pure enjoyment. I normally run about 60-70 miles a week and my spouse and friends say I’m crazy for doing so. I think they are just lazy. However, I guess it is hard to understand running unless you’re a runner. Happy running to you…

  • Sheri:

    Wow, you’ve been running only six months, and managing 10 k a day, good for you. It took me quite a bit longer to bring my mileage up!
    My personal advice to you is, just listen to your body. If a subtle ache or tightness is there, just ease up a little. If that doesn’t work, take few days off.
    I’m probably jinxing myself, but for the last several years, have managed 2500 miles each year (give or take a few) and without any major injury

  • Jeffery:

    You can build up your weekly mileage to +50 in about 6-months starting cold-turkey. This is what I did in exactly 6 months. It takes a lot of focus, a willingness to deal with pain in the beginning, and a bit of creativity. Once you build up to a certain level (several months of 20+ miles per week) then you should integrate some strength training. Doing a significant amount of running on a treadmill in the beginning will help as well since you know exactly what your speed is and how you are progressing.

    One tip one may use in the very early stages is to choose a couple of songs to run too… typically this will be about 8 mins. Whenever you run, listen to the same two songs and run the same route (without stopping). You may feel like you can do more but I wouldn’t advise it. Make sure that you keep track of how far you’ve gone… perhaps the next week you can comfortably run a half a block further!! At this stage you are actually working to improve your running efficiency… the more efficient you run the less hard you will work… the further you can go… the faster you can go. After a couple of weeks of this perhaps throw in another song, so on and so on. There will be times that you will probably be in pain… choose the next day or take a few days off. But certainly keep track of your progression so you don’t get discouraged

    I prefer to keep track of my runs with time rather than distance… your legs, heart, lungs, etc. respond to time over distance as well. A person that has been running 30 mins during a short easy run for a couple months will certainly be able to cover more distance in the same amount of time than when they first started running for 30 mins. You could also kind of compare on a treadmill your pace you think you are running on the road… quite useful. When I started running, it was at slightly less than 8 min pace on the treadmill (7:53) and struggled to get in 10 mins. I preferred to use the treadmill in the beginning because I was catching myself going too fast on the road which led to injuries. I kept this same treadmill pace the whole time up till about 1 month ago, building from 10 mins to 1 hour 20 mins nonstop/steady-state.

    The past couple of months I have sparsely used the treadmill, except for when it is cold. Once I hit about 30 miles I decided that my runs should be focused on the road when weather permitted. My “easy” pace hovers around 6:50-7:30 min/mile now, depending on distance. I just completed my second 50+ mile week and integrated track sessions 3 weeks ago. As far as weight loss is concerned… the first couple months I lost no weight, then the 3rd and 4th month my weight dropped 7 lbs… the past two months my weight has remained the same, at 160. Once you jack up your mileage it is very important to also increase your consumption…

  • Karl:

    I run an average of 8.46 km / day including an average of three off days every 2 weeks. I check distance on google to see distance – ad to month – ad to total since buying new running shoes ext ext. Hope the stats don’t get the better of me. I never punched in any stats with my previous shoes or the shoes before them. Weight gets taken in morning and interesting it has remained practically the same all the way since buying new shoes 51 days ago. However good news is that several shirts and shorts that were far too large in the past fit comfortably now so either ive lost weight or the body structure has changed.. My current average time is about 54 min’s for 10 km – A little slow but i never ever intend to take part in and race. I had 7 double runs in April to make up for short runs or to keep up average and they range from 9km + 6 or 8 + 9.

    I’m not sure if stats can get the better of me in the end – hope not unless this running distance is on, or close to par just for fitness. More often than not my “cooling down period” after the run is to take the dog and semi jog semi walk fast so he can also get some exercise and my clothing doesn’t get sopping whet from some open sweating glands after showering.

  • Sheri:

    Hey Karl, I love that you walk your dog after a run, that is one of my favorite parts of an early morning run. Although I did qualify for Boston in the only marathon I’ve run in, truly my passion is just to go out every morning for an hour or so ( 7 miles) I like to do a long run on Saturday , and then life is good

    • Jen:

      Hey Sheri and Karl — me too and actually I enjoy running more with my two dogs than without them! This is in a city, so they are on leashes. But we always find a good pace together and they seem to take cues from my breathing. When I feel like speeding up for a short while, they go with me, and when I slow down they adjust to that too. But it took some time for us to learn how to run together and what is the best formation. What works best is one runs ahead of me, the other runs by my side. We do 5km 40 minutes 4-5 times a week when I am not traveling. Its pure joy 🙂

  • Will Britton:

    The “30 mile to simply keep fit” comment has caused some controversy. I suppose the issue revolves around your definition of “fitness”.
    If you are enjoying your running and not doing too much else with your time then 30 miles is certainly quite achievable with a few months of build-up.
    However, if you have trouble finding time in the week or if you do other sporting activities then I think regularly running some sensible distance less than that would still provide significant health benefits over not running at all. No medical references to back that up, but I’m sure it’s true.

    The second contentious issue I see here is the distance of the long run. Actually I don’t think the maths work out here, in particular:
    “If running is your main exercise, you should aim to run 3-4 times a week” and
    “The long run should be between one quarter and one third […] of your weekly mileage.”

    Assuming your long run is actually longer than your other runs, then you *have* to run at least four times a week to keep it less than 1/3 of your weekly total; and to keep it less than 1/4 you would have to run at least five times a week.

    I find time to run three times a week, and I aim for my long run to be somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of my weekly total. Going below 1/3 would require me to find time for a fourth run in the week which I can’t do until I win the lottery and become a true gentleman of leisure.

  • I run 4 km every morning and in the evenigs i do aerobics and steps for 1 1/2 hrs i felln great i used to be 84kg but now i have dropped to 68kg.I look and feel great.On weekends i do 8 km but no aerobics.Is my exercise too much.

  • Wake_Up_Neo:

    Let me share my experience. I was a couch potato earlier, very less outdoor activity except walking. when I touched 105 KG, then I realized that now stop this else will never be able to. and the fear of hypertension and diabetic forced me to change my life style, which I think the best thing happened after my marriage. I joined a neighbor gym in October 2012 and started with some light exercise. one thing which I also did was to take a decision to quit cigarettes – plz. don’t disclose to my wife 🙂 I promised her that after marriage I will quite this bad habit, but unfortunately continued this without telling this truth to her. anyway, the exercise lasted everyday religiously for 1 hrs and after 3 months of Gym, I was getting bored with this Gym routine and one fine morning, I decided that why not to run outside. so I started and I ran for 5 kms, motivating myself by bringing all the good thoughts of life. oh, that’s my greatest achievement of my life. but that 5 kms changed be completely. now I am running 10 Kms every day at a very good pace (5.45 Mins/KM) and running for 1 Hrs. Now I always listen to my body not to mind. if my body says that take rest and enjoy, i do the same. I don’t punish myself rather I enjoy my exercise session and believe me, I lost 15 KG of my F**K FAT. at present, I am 90 KG, but feeling much stronger/fit than any other person of my age. My target is to achieve a healthy weight of 80 Kg by October, 2013. I will share my diet plan in next post.

  • Roman:

    So if I work out mon/wed/fri should i run everyday if my main goal is too lose fat? What i’ve been doing is i will work out mon/wed/fri. I would run 3 miles on mon wed fri and do 5 miles tues and 5 miles thurs. I don’t want to lose muscle i have, but if it were possible, I’d love to lose my fat before i work out anymore. My diet is about 1800 calories a week i weight 190lbs.

    • Mike:

      I am 182 lbs and eat about the same amount of calories. If you want to lose weight, working out will not do anything. Running will, if you run enough, and correctly, and eat the right amount. To give you an example. When I started running in March 2013 I weighed 200 lbs. I have done nothing except slowly increase my mileage so that I am now running about 25-20 miles a week. It is now July 2013 and I have lost 15 pounds. I look better, with more visible muscle and I can actually see ab muscles for the first time since I was a kid. I do not do anything except run…not even pushups or situps. I also do not eat beef anymore, and do not eat ANY junk food at all. I still use sugar in my coffee, etc. because I don’t believe that sugar is as evil as everyone says and I like to make sure I get enough carbs for running.

    • Triptych:

      Your calorie intake is 1800 per week?? Recommended daily calorie intake for a man is 2,500 and for a woman it’s 2,000! How do you have the energy to run on less than 260 calories a day?!

  • Arvind:

    I am 56 year . I started running one year. I run 6 km in 60 minutes. I know I take too much of time. But now I am keeping consistency. I am running 5 days/ week. It has improved my health.

  • Cara:

    30 miles a week for general fitness?? Where are you getting that number? I only run about 3 days a week for a total of about 15 miles a week. At least one of those is a HIIT run. I also lift pretty heavy weights 3 times a week. Honestly, because of my muscle mass and level of strength I think I’m more fit than anyone who just runs 50+ miles a week. I also look better than most distance runners. BTW…I’m a 5’6″ female, weighing 125 lbs. I eat appx. 2400 calories a day to maintain. I have noticeable muscle definition but I’m not at all “bulky” looking.
    I’m not one of those people who think cardio is bad (it’s important for your health IMO), but I do think there’s more to fitness than endless cardio.

    • Douglas:

      Cara, you say you are more fit than anyone who runs 50 miles a week, but you forgot to disclose any times in your post. In your dreams you can run a 10K faster than a 50 mile a week runner.

      • GSW GSW:

        Douglas….running around like a skinny deer 50 miles versus getting your butt kicked by a girl lifting heavy and running enough to be “cardio fit”. I did triathlons for 10 years and then stopped and now play tennis on teams at 4.5. I have always lifted and there is no guy out there more fit than me that burns up his muscle running 50 miles a week…..aka I could kick your arse. You need to build muscle not break it down. I stopped doing tris because it is not an athletic sport….google it. Running is even worse……at least tris I was mountain biking through the woods for 2 hours in my races.
        I thought I was so cool but went with a friend to play tennis and realized I couldn’t move laterally, jump and run backwards nearly as well as I needed to. I went from a 2.5 player to 4.5 in just 4 years…..4.5 is college level. I’m starting to run again though but I won’t be running more than 15 miles but I’ll be on the tennis court, lifting weights, in the pool, surfing and water skiing.

        • Durga:

          Appearing fit and being fit aren’t one in the same. Having been in the bodybuilding industry then switching over to a Crossfit type of training I could kick the shit out of anyone of those meatheads. I am the same height as the aforementioned female and my LBM is what she weighs in total and I would put money on my fitness level being higher than hers and yours. But…since the original article is about running and the person above correctly asked about running times…yours must suck since you deflected and didn’t post them. I will say weight training is an important component of any fitness regime. Whatever anyone decides to do…and I love both running and weight lifting…there should be a functional component that assists in the primary movements of the main sport of choice.

    • mary:

      @ Cara, your weight is at the very low end of healthy for your height in BMI terms.

      • mary:

        Also what has what you look like got to do with anything. You went off the point completely when you started insulting what distance runners look like and being condescending about ‘only’ running 50 miles a week.
        I doubt if you’re 125 lbs at your height and lifting weights that you look better than the average distance runner, you sound just as skinny.

  • tisha:

    i have been running off and on for years but decided to get serious with it and start running about four to five days a week i used to do three miles but now i am up to 4.65 miles a day average….don’t get me wrong i stop for a minute or two too catch my breath then start running again…

    i am building up strength and endurance and i feel wonderful…my stomach is becoming so flat that i am in awe….

  • Ben:

    Time not distance….

    What a beginner should do is aim to run for a certain amount of time per run. Not distance or speed. For example, aim to run with an increase in your heart rate (fat burn or aerobic) for 30 minutes per run.

    If a beginner struggles with running, then do intervals of running for a minute or two then walk for a minute or two. Repeated. Adjust these times as you will get better at running and need less rest.

    3 or 4 runs per week without over training. Most injuries are caused by over doing it, too soon.

  • Guy:

    Interesting article, however:

    “The long run should be between one quarter and one third (certainly less than half) of your weekly mileage.”

    I run every other day, so using this formula each run is a long run – I don’t get it…

  • Marcel:

    30 miles a week is good if running is your only exercise. I run 10 miles a day 5 days a week for light training. Some people just love to run.

  • Ruth Porter:

    I have been swimming for 2 years now unto 2 miles without stopping and have always wished I could run. This I started 3 weeks ago and am enjoying every minute of the rum, now up to 9k and below.. Your info in excellent as I have done so much research prior to the run. Thank you.

  • Raymond:

    Hi. In 2006 I was at my peak. I got up at 3:30am EVERY MORNING and ran 6.0 miles. Go to work on a week day full time job office support. Go to my 2 1.5 hour classes on Tuesday/Thursday and then go to the gym and run 3.5 miles. This was every single day, (T Th I had 2 classes) THat’s 64+ miles a week!!!

    I got sick the next year I wen to hell and back. I got fired from my job and I stopped running and I barely made it through the one class i was taking. I remember getting a black eye with an altercation from a low life but shortly after in fall 2008 i had a nervous breakdown and I spent an entire year and a half in bed. I don’t remember much from that time of my life I remember it was snowing in 2010 which is rare here in the Houston area I’d wake up, look at the snow and go back to sleep and wake up again it was still snowing. my parents were taking care of me at the time I was really bad off. My weight went up to 240 and at one point my blood pressure was 181 over 116!!!

    I’m starting jogging ALL OVER AGAIN now that i’m better I can only jog a littler over 2 miles without stopping I can’t increase too much I have to pace myself. It’s frustrating because of what I used to do but I guess I have to learn life’s lesson God teaches us lessons and we become the better person spiritually because of it.
    Keep me in your prayers guys. I’m not where I should be emotionally but I’m getting it back. I love you all
    Each and every word here is 100% true if a nobody like me can run 64+ miles a week with NO support and working full time AND taking 6 hours of classes a week than there’s no excuse not to be in shape!!!


    • Anthony:

      Hello Raymond,

      Your post was very inspiring and I pray that everything goes well for you. Keep the faith and keep running.

  • ted:

    this is the first time i have come accross this site and i have realy enjoyed reading the postings very interesting

  • Dunelm:

    50 miles a week is OK for me: I’m 52 yrs, work full time and have a family. If you do less, you’re not trying.

    • Paul:

      Thats a ridiculous comment.. I run between 15-20 miles a week 3-4 times. I’m just fine and continue to push myself. If you do 50 m,lies a week with a family i question your commitment to your home.. you’re coming across as if Life is all about you… its not!

      • Douglas:

        50 miles per week is a little over 7 miles a day. If you run 8 minute miles, that is only an hour a day. All you got to do is wake up a little earlier and run before work or run after work or on breaks.

  • Alan/UK:

    I’m 72 years old and, lucky me, now able to run nearly every day. Looked for advice re distance and/or time… Difficult to measure former but guessing 9 minute miles, then over an hour indicates around 7+ miles, so weekly about 40’ish?
    I love beer, wine and food but weight ok, so that’ll do me! Yes, a longer run if I was ever motivated to do a Half (last one nearly 2 hours), which is doubtful, but running around even the too often very muddy (see my socks!) woods in NW. Bristol is just enjoyable. And without earphones – you can hear birds etc. and say hello to walkers!
    Aerobic, anaerobic, names of muscles, fartlek, all happily remain a mystery!!!

  • Alan/UK:

    Having boasted about my OAP luck I missed saying that, having learnt from other contributors etc. there isn’t a definitive minimum distance or time recomendation, I agree ‘listen to the body’. Eg. I take Fleicanite because exercise sometimes provokes an arrythymia which, while technically minor, is a nuisance if I have to stop and encourage it to cease! The point being that I’m apparently more susceptible after having a minor virus cold, so I have to take the hint and ease up.
    Good luck everybody, enjoy, Cheers.

  • Tim:

    I’ve been running 6 to 8 miles, 5 times a week at a pretty slow pace 6mph. It makes my appetite go crazy, I’m eating 3000 calories a day and holding a medium frame 160 lbs at 5’7″ and 43 years old. I’ve been doing this steady for 4 months now. Question – is this to slow, I feel like I’m at my max comfortable level, I can hold a conversation at that speed, but it’s definently not easy.

    • Mark:

      Based on your last sentence, sounds like you have it just right. And 6mph = 10 minutes per mile. Not bad at all for a casual jog.

  • Jesse/NYC:

    I am 5’7″…since I was 15/16 years old to 31 or so, I was always 183-195 lbs, more often than not 185-188 lbs. Especially when I was 18-22 yeas old, I started noticing troubling signs such as frequent urination, dehydration, and other bad signs.

    After I was 25, My workout routine would be transitory, a solid month, get to 175-176 to 180, and then go back up to 185. December 2012, I decided to plow through the winter with outdoor runs below freezing. This carried to summer. I was in much better shape although I was 180…then a discouraging thing happened..I had to have a bilateral inguinal hernia procedure.

    This put me out of action in September 2013..but I watched my diet, walked, and got down to 175 or so. Then after the operation, my mile (always 10 minutes), without effort became an 8:30 mile. My weight went down to 170-174.
    By november and december, I would be doing 20-25 miles a week, usually a 7 mile run in an hour (tredmill during winter), with weights….and in February, began to start logging consistent 10-13 mile runs.

    For a year, I have been between 167-173 lbs….and with my body type it seems to be a decent weight for me. For the first time in my life, I feel refreshed by getting 5-6 hours of sleep, instead of 10 hrs and being lethargic.

    Before running would be a burdon…but since it is my life and new lifestyle, I cannot imagine life without it.

  • Brooke:

    I’m on a high school team and we run as much as you said the marathon runners run… Then again five freshman won state last year so.. Yeah they’re pretty awesome.

  • AndyG:

    I lost about 2stone over a few months running max 20miles but usually less per week, and swimming approx 5km per week,.. so I take it a lot less would be required just to maintain general fitness once you’re at your ideal weight. 30miles running per week is way more than is necessary for this purpose,.. obviously still good if you can do it though without eating up too much of your time.

  • Tony:

    Can’t agree more, Jesse.

    Just over two weeks ago I was finishing off my third beer for the night when I decided that enough was enough. I’d entered a half marathon months before and hadn’t done any training. No running at all. I finished the beer and jumped on the scales and weighed 107 kg. I put on my running gear, grabbed the dogs and went for a half hour run. I felt rotten. The next day I did the same without any alcohol in the system and ran for an hour and felt much better. I kept doing that for about ten days straight, swearing off the grog and trying to eat healthy. I ran that half marathon weighing just over 100 kg in under 2 hours. I thought that was ok given I’m in my mid-40s and overweight.

    I’m going to keep running 5-6 days a week, around 10 km each day. I’m also going to keep clear of alcohol. I’d like to get down to about 90 kg when I run my next half marathon in October and hopefully finish around 1.45. That’s the plan, anyway.

  • Curtis:

    I was 248 lbs in mid may. I started walking twice a week for 5 miles per trip. I worked my way up to running certain stretches of the trail 3 days per week. I now run a minimum of 7.75 miles three times per week. I used to play a lot of basketball in my teens and twenties and was best between 165-170 lbs. I also cut sodas, caffeine, and calories were drastically reduced. I now weigh 192 lbs after three months. My times are getting better, but I’m cautious about pushing too hard as it is the summertime and temps with heat index push 105 at times. I never liked running really. It was always boring to me, but I am getting so much benefit from running that I’m shocked by it really. These are all great reponses to a good article.

  • Phil:

    I am an MD and a runner so I would like to contribute my medical opinion and personal experience. One definitely does not need to run 30 miles a week to achieve “fitness”. I managed to lose 40 pounds with running 15 miles a week and changing my eating habbits. I’m now 5’8″ 153 Lbs and have maintained that for the past 3 years. I run 3 times a week – Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, as that is what my schedule permits. I also try to bike once a week for about 25 miles and also do strength training. I do 2 six mile runs and a long run of 8 -10 miles which I extend to 11 the 12 miles in the weeks before I run a half. Using that method I ran my first half around 1:48:00. I tried increasing the speed during my long runs and did my fourth half under 1:42:00. I experimented with doing more than the three runs a week and found that whenever I pushed the mullahs up pat 25 a week I started to tKe off weight and lose muscle mass. I feel very fit and think doing 30+ miles a week would not benefit me in any way. Take away message is that every person is different and “fitness” can be achieved differently by different individuals.

  • Desire:

    I am required to run a 7.5km relay with a team in 20 days. How am I going to get fit before then to be able to save my ego and actually not die. I have absolutely no training at the moment. HELP!!!!!

  • i think you guys should check out this website

  • Jason:

    I love Dave!

  • Hi im a 42 year old novice male who is 2 months into a base training programme with the ultimate aim of completing a marathon in under 3 hrs. After 2 weeks of jogging I ran 18:36 for 5km on the treadmill , I guess the following question is aimed at the more experienced amongst you. What are my chances of completing a marathon sub 3hrs if I put in the necessary mileage and effort ?

  • Manpreet:

    Hi Everybody

    I feel that everybody here is an experienced runner and I am just trying to be a runner so seeking an advice from you guys. In the morning, I spend around 30-45 minutes in jogging and brisk walking. In the initial round to warm me up, I cover 650 meters by walking. The second and third round, I run covering 0.65 X 2 = 1.30 Kms distance. Then the following rounds, I do just a mix of running and walking because I could not do continuous jogging during these rounds. This way I complete 5 – 6 Kms in a day, 5 days a week.
    Please guide how can I build my stamina to do a continuous jog of 5 – 6 kms without mixing jog and walking?
    I am 38 years old, weighing 67 Kgs and 5’9″ in height. My final motive is to start taking part in marathons or running for 5K or 10K.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Joseph Cima:

      Galloway has run walk ratios. I like them because it seems to balance muscle strength and build up aerobic endurance for most of us. I walk 30 seconds every 1/4 to 1/2 mile even though I run up to 60 miles per week.

  • JG:

    25 to 30 miles per week is not absurd. It is possible for the above average fit level. My age is 53. I just did about 55 miles over a period of 14 days.
    I averaged about 4.5 miles per day in 40 minutes. No extra vigorous or strenuous effort needed. 12 days running, 2 days off. plus I did weight training on many of those days. Sometimes I run on a treadmill w/ incline, sometimes outdoors

  • Joseph Cima:

    I am running 40 to 60 miles per week while not teaching in the summer…57 years old..may see numbers drop when school starts…24:35 for 5k…found that doing 10 X 200 (49 secs) once per week and 800 to 1600 meter intervals (3 to 8 ) every two weeks with a race every 5 or 6 weeks suits me. I found taking a day off per week is necessary and often two days. And taking a day off before and after races is beneficial. I read this in articles and find this best suits me. My Long slow running at 12 min miles with 30 sec walk breaks every 1/4 to 1/2 mile works best (Galloway).

  • Hugh:

    So I thought I’d share my story. I know nothing about running and this is the first page I have read about distance etc I’m 54 this year, 6’3″ and weigh 17 stone. I used to drink alcohol every day and smoke.
    Since Christmas I have started running, quit smoking and only have a couple of drinks at the weekend.
    I started at just shy of 2 miles 5 times a week. That was hard. I have gradually built it up until I am now doing 4 miles a day 5 times a week.
    I have not lost a pound of weight but my clothes fit better, I have so much more energy too.
    Somewhere around week 4 or 5 I actually started to enjoy it!
    I run at the same time every day – 6.30 am.
    Just wanted to say hello I guess and share my progress – thanks for reading – Hugh

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