How Many Miles Should I Run a Day? Insights From a CPT

You’ve got a fresh pair of running shoes and you’re ready to hit the track. While it’s tempting to (literally) hit the ground running, you’re best off doing some planning first. “How many miles should I run a day?” is one of the first questions a lot of my clients ask me when they’re aiming to add on some mileage to their routine.

And while a catch-all answer can be nice, that’s not what we’ve got here. That said, while there’s not a magic number of miles you should run a day, I’ll give you a range of options for various fitness levels, types of athletes, goals, and events. I’ll also include tips to safely boost your weekly mileage and what the science says about daily running.

How Many Miles to Run Every Day

When deciding how many miles to run daily, ask yourself a few questions first.

What is your current fitness level? For example, you might be an all-around beginner, a new runner with a high fitness level as a strength athlete, or an intermediate, advanced, or experienced runner.

What are your running goals? Are you doing it for general fitness and health benefits? Or are you trying to run faster or longer or train for an event like a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or marathon? 

What are your other athletic activities? This will help determine how much time and energy you have to devote to your running routine.

Although some runners do run every day, you won’t be doing the same number of miles every day.

A good training plan has a variety of longer runs, speed workouts or interval training, easy runs, and (usually) rest days. 

Runs may also be measured in minutes and intensities rather than miles, especially for beginners. However, research on distance running shows that the fastest runners tend to run longer distances more frequently at a higher volume than those with slower times. So, if you want to run faster, one goal should be to increase your running mileage over time. (1)(2)

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It’s always great to get personalized advice from a running coach, wear proper running shoes, and work on your running form. As a certified personal trainer, based on the available research on running programs, here is how I advise my clients in the following six categories. 

For Beginners

You’ve heard it before from Lao Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The same is true for the journey of a one-mile run, the first goal of many a new runner. You’ll begin with a single step, followed by more steps, to walk or run your first mile.

[Read More: How Many Steps Are in a Mile?]

If you want to learn how to run a mile, some running coaches advise you to simply start running to see how long you can make it. That will give you a good idea of your starting point. There are also running programs for beginners where you can alternate walking, jogging, and running until you can build up to running a mile.

For Total Beginners: One-mile run or walk-and-run. Walk up to three miles.

Try walking one mile three times a week. Add a mile each week until you can walk three miles three times a week.

New Runners at a Higher Fitness Level: One to three miles, running or walk-and-run.

Try alternating one minute of walking with one minute of running until you reach one mile. See how long that takes you. You’ll want to cap it at 20 to 30 minutes. Keep playing with the ratio until you can run for 30 minutes, which could be two to three miles.

Rest days are key for runners of all levels — but beginners especially need to prioritize recovery so their bodies can adapt to the new stimulus.

For Strength Athletes

As a strength athlete, you’re used to heavy weightlifting and performing advanced strength exercises. You may have a decent amount of muscle and be highly skilled in your sport. However, your aerobic endurance may be low if you don’t typically do cardio

Strength athletes often turn to running (or sprinting) if they want to improve their cardio conditioning as a fun challenge that taxes their bodies in a different way. And yes, developing your aerobic endurance can help you increase volume and ultimately strength on the platform.

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Although you may be considered a new runner, you already have strong muscles that will help you increase your power and speed. Still, you’ll want to start with a low mileage and build up over time. Here are two options.

Interval Training: You’ll be running one mile or less per workout. 

Sprint workouts for strength athletes can help boost your VO2 max. Try a HIIT workout alternating sprinting for 100 meters (which could take up to 15 to 20 seconds if it’s your first time) with walking or resting for 30 seconds to a minute. Doing this for 10 to 15 rounds should take 15 to 20 minutes and get you close to one mile.

Longer Run: One to three miles.

It will be more likely that you can run a mile without stopping than a complete beginner. If you can’t, run half a mile and walk the other half. When you’re ready, try running one mile twice a week and add on until you can run two or three miles, two to three times per week.

For 5K Training

Once you can bang out a one-mile run, a 5K is typically the next major running goal. A 5K race is 3.1 miles. The popular couch-to-5K program is helpful for beginners, with the idea that many people can go from sedentary to running a 5K.

For Couch to 5K: One to 3.1 miles, depending on your progress.

Begin with walking one mile two to three times per week. Add half a mile each week until you can walk for three miles. Then, alternate jogging and walking for one mile. Add half a mile each week again until you can jog and walk for 3.1 miles. 

Next, start to cut down on the walking. Try to jog or run for one mile for one of your running days and walk the rest of the 5K. Add on so you can run for 1.5 miles and walk the rest, run for two miles and walk the rest, increase to 2.5, and finally three and 3.1.

For Intermediate or Advanced Runners: For more experienced runners looking to shave time off your 5K, you’ll likely be doing three miles per run at a minimum and more for longer runs. Include interval training and tempo runs, focusing less on mileage and more on building anaerobic capacity. 

For 10K Training

Running a 10K, or 6.2 miles, is the next stop before you tackle a half-marathon or marathon. It may not quite be long-distance running for very experienced runners, but it is long if you’re still working your way up.

Following a 10K training plan will help set you up for success. You’ll likely be doing a mix of longer runs at a moderate pace to build your aerobic endurance with shorter, faster runs to increase your speed. 

Longer Runs: Depending on how many weeks your training program is, your longer runs may be anywhere from four to 12 miles

Tempo Runs: A tempo run could be up to five miles, depending on how long you can run before hitting your anaerobic threshold.

For Half-Marathon Training

A half-marathon is 13.1 miles. As you focus on the longer distance, you’ll want to put more energy toward running for longer. 

A study on half-marathon runners compared their finish times, weekly mileage, and long endurance runs. Those with the fastest times averaged a weekly mileage of 32 kilometers (19.8 miles) plus a long endurance run of 21 kilometers (13 miles) or more. (2)

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Depending on where you are in your half-marathon training, you may want to work up to those numbers, or you may already be there.

Splitting Weekly Mileage: To reach 20 miles per week, you might do three five-mile runs, two two-mile runs, and a one-mile run. Or two five-mile runs and one 10-mile run. You can split it up any way you’d like, as long as you’re getting in different workout styles.

Longer Run: Many half-marathon runners will do a weekly 12 to 15-mile run. Start with 10, and work up to that 13-mile run sweet spot.

Many running coaches advise scaling down your mileage as you approach race day so you are well-rested and ready.

For Marathon Training

It’s time for your first marathon — 26.2 miles. Predictably, research shows that people who complete a marathon in 2.5 to three hours have a higher training frequency and run longer distances than those who finish in 3.5 to four hours, and runners who finish in more than 4.5 hours. (1)

One of the studies I was talking about above — the one talking about the average weekly mileage of fast half-marathoners — got specific on the weekly mileage and long runs for the fastest marathon runners, too. Those who did a lower training volume, fewer than 40 kilometers (24.9 miles) per week, finished slower than those who ran a higher training volume, more than 65 kilometers (40 miles) per week. (2)

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For the long endurance run, those who ran less than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) finished slower than those who did one longer than 20 kilometers. (2)

Splitting Weekly Mileage: Based on research, marathon runners may want to aim for 25 to 40 miles per week. You may want to split that into a couple 10-mile runs along with some shorter runs to vary your training.

Longer Run: If a 12.4-mile run is the middle — doing less means you finish slower, and more means you may finish faster, you can figure out what works best for you. Since a marathon is 26.2 miles, you’ll likely want to work up to doing close to a 20 to 23-mile run. Just remember to scale back as race day approaches.

Here is some extra information: one study compiled running stats and training information on world-class, elite-level long-distance runners. Here are some takeaways. (3)

Marathon runners have an average weekly distance of 160 to 220 kilometers (99 to 136 miles) spread over 11 to 14 sessions.

Improving performance in long-distance running focuses on four variables: increasing VO2 max, increasing how much of your oxygen uptake you can use, running economy, and the anaerobic threshold.

One of the best ways to increase these four variables is to focus on high-frequency, high-volume, low-intensity training (LIT). Longer, slower runs seem to lead to better neural adaptations.

Bill Bowerman, the US coach at the 1972 Olympics and co-founder of Nike, details his classic training plan for track and marathon runners. Here’s a sample of what he focuses on during one week. (3)

Two to three interval training sessions (more important for track runners)

One longer run (more important for marathon runners)

As much LIT as possible

Plus, strength training

Tips for How to Increase Your Weekly Running Mileage

Since your runs will vary daily, weekly mileage is a great way to measure your progress. Here are some tips to increase your distance.

Follow The 10-Percent Rule

In the running world, you can use the old “rule of thumb” based on percentages for progression. 

You can increase your weekly mileage up to 10 percent every week for three weeks.

In week four, decrease it by 10 percent and restart the process. When you cut the mileage, you can do shorter, faster runs. 

It’s similar to progressive overload in lifting. The idea isn’t to only increase your weight every week forever but to change different variables (like lifting a little lighter for more reps) to keep things challenging over time. 

Put Quality Over Quantity

Proper running form and following a balanced training program are equally as important as hitting your weekly mileage. 

Take a break during your longer run if you need to. 

You’ll be able to finish stronger than if you pushed through, which may potentially increase your risk of injury

Vary Your Running Workouts

To be able to do long-distance running, you’ll need to…well…do plenty of long-distance running. However, varying your workouts also helps you get stronger and faster. 

Include tempo runs, speed work, interval training, HIIT workouts, and Fartlek training in your weekly running routine. 

Although these are shorter workouts, they can increase your anaerobic capacity and help you run longer before fatiguing.

Build Aerobic Capacity in Cross-Training

Longer runs will increase your aerobic capacity, but you can also rest your joints and improve your cardio in cross-training. Cycling and swimming are two low-impact workouts you can do to train your cardiovascular system on an active rest day from your running program. 

Don’t Neglect Strength Training

Strength training is critical to running performance. Strengthening your muscles may lower your risk of injury and protect your joints, especially for beginners. For more advanced runners, strength training can keep you safe but also help you run faster.

Research shows that combining endurance and strength training (often called concurrent training) can improve athletic performance and help prevent injury. 

How much muscular force you can exert can help predict your running performance. Getting stronger and building some muscle helps. (4)

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If you’re serious about running, you don’t have much time for intense strength training. Even shorter bodyweight resistance training sessions or weekly Pilates classes could help. 

Utilize the Best Recovery Strategies

Your miles matter, but recovery is when the adaptations happen. Focus on eating and sleeping enough, foam rolling, and mobility work. Always do a dynamic warm-up and cool-down. Take rest days to give your body enough time and return ready to crush your next run.

Benefits of Running Every Day

You don’t have to run every day to reap the health benefits of running, but here are some potential outcomes.

It Improves Cardiovascular Health

Getting regular cardio exercise — any physical activity that raises your heart rate and breathing that you can sustain for some time — is well-known to improve heart health and help prevent cardiovascular diseases. Running is one example of a vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise you can do to get these health benefits. (5)

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Some research on people who run or jog daily found they had a lower risk of all-cause mortality.

One study found that runners have a 30 to 45 percent lower risk of death than non-runners. They ran an average of five to ten minutes at less than six miles per hour daily. (6)

Another study compared joggers to non-joggers aged 20 to 98. Joggers had overall better cardiovascular health markers and lived six years longer than non-joggers. Jogging 2.5 hours per week at a slow pace three or more times per week yielded the lowest mortality rates. (7

It Skyrockets Cardiovascular Fitness

The treadmill and the track are the first things people tend to think of when they think “cardio” for a good reason. Running — whether you’re doing low-intensity steady-state sessions or you’re barreling through a sprinting workout — is a classic for your cardio fitness. 

Running regularly improves VO2 max and muscular endurance. Theoretically, daily running will yield faster adaptations — though rest days are quite important. (8)

Give Your Mental Health a Boost

Many people run every day for mental health benefits. A review of studies on runners investigated the link between various distances, intensities, and mental health outcomes. The review found that all distances and intensities of running are associated with better moods, well-being, self-esteem, and mental health. (9)

Is it Safe to Run Every Day?

Many runners keep up with a “run streak,” or the number of days they run without taking a break. Some go on for years or decades. It’s not always an intense run — if you run daily, some should be slower, shorter recovery runs or jogs. While it may be safe, there are risks of running every day.

Overtraining and Risk of Injury: Running every day without giving your body enough time to rest and recover can increase your risk of overtraining, leading to persistent soreness and potential injury. 

One study found that if you run more than 4.5 hours every week, health benefits may stop increasing, and your risk of overtraining and injury goes up. (6)

Another study found that endurance athletes who took fewer than two rest days each week had a 5.2 times higher risk of injury than those who took more rest days. (10)

Running Injuries: Running every day doesn’t automatically cause injuries, but the risk increases if your form suffers or you’re not strength training and engaging your muscles (weak or inactive glutes are a common culprit). Some frequent running injuries include shin splints, runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome), runner’s toe, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, Achilles tendinopathy, and stress fractures. (11)

Mental Health: Although running every day can boost mental health, it can also go the other way. Daily running has been associated with burnout, eating disorders, and exercise addiction. (9)

Frequently Asked Questions

Running is a serious endeavor. Here are your serious questions.

Is the extra cardio causing me to burn muscle instead of putting it on?

As long as you continue doing both running and strength training, eat enough calories and protein, and recover well, you should be able to preserve your muscle mass. Some research suggests that running can potentially interfere with strength gains, but other studies suggest that shorter HIIT running workouts may interfere less than longer runs. (12)(13)
If your priority is building muscle, do your lifting before running.

How many miles should I run a week to stay healthy?

One study found that running six miles per week is more than sufficient for cardiovascular health benefits. (14)

How many miles should a beginner run each day?

Start with trying to run your first mile. You can do walk-run intervals where you’re walking a lot more than you’re running, and gradually increase the length of the runs until you can run a full mile. Then, try running one mile a day, two or three times per week

Editor’s Note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. When starting a new training regimen and/or diet, it is always a good idea to consult with a trusted medical professional. We are not a medical resource. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. They are not substitutes for consulting a qualified medical professional.


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Oswald, Freya, Jennifer Campbell, Chloë Williamson, Justin Richards, and Paul Kelly. 2020. “A Scoping Review of the Relationship between Running and Mental Health” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 21: 8059.

Ristolainen L, Kettunen JA, Waller B, Heinonen A, Kujala UM. Training-related risk factors in the etiology of overuse injuries in endurance sports. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2014 Feb;54(1):78-87. 

Semciw A, Neate R, Pizzari T. Running related gluteus medius function in health and injury: A systematic review with meta-analysis. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2016 Oct;30:98-110. 

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