You Asked: Is It OK to Run Every Day?

38SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/12/2008 3:06 PM   :  52 comments

See More: you asked, cardio, running,
One of our readers recently asked this question: "I just finished the Couch to 5K program. I want to know if/when it is a good idea to run daily. I'm trying really hard to avoid injuries and burnout."

I've been a runner for a long time and love the feeling it gives me--the sense of accomplishment, the energy boost when I'm finished, and more. So if you're like me, I can see why you might want to run daily, both for the feelings it provides and the fact that it keeps you in a regular routine. But I wouldn't recommend it.

There are a number of reasons why running every day might not be the best idea. The first is that rest days are very important. You might feel like you're being lazy by taking a day off, but your body needs that time to recover. The best way to make progress with your running--whether you're trying to get faster, increase your distance or have another goal in mind--is to do workouts that are challenging. When you're constantly pushing your body to do more, it needs time off. That doesn't mean you're a slacker. It means you're playing it smart, doing your best to avoid injury and treating your body well.

There are some runners who are content to do the same 3-mile loop around the neighborhood on a daily basis, with no variation in their routine. For those people, it might be OK to run daily because they have gotten used to this routine and it's probably not much of a strain on their bodies. But for those people who are trying to improve their fitness level, perhaps to train for a longer race or beat their best time at a mile, it is taxing on the body. Although it's important to do a mix of challenging and easier runs throughout the week, it's still good to take a day or two off.

I'd also recommend doing a variety of activities. Even if you want running to be your primary form of exercise, it's still good to cross-train with other activities a few times a week. That gives your "running muscles" a break, but also helps improve your fitness level at the same time.

Do you agree? Do you find that rest days and cross-training help improve your performance? In what ways?


Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
 

NEXT ENTRY >   11 Quick Tips: Slim Down Your Fast Food Orders

Great Stories from around the Web

Comments

  • 52
    I often feel that if I would get out of bed and run every day it would stick better, but find that three times a week is my optimum for strong improvement. I am currently planning this season's regime and fighting the internal lazy girl who just wants to watch telly...
    - 8/12/2014   3:00:26 AM
  • 51
    I'm with TISH0125; if I take a rest day, it turns into a week, and my program derails. I can only keep with fitness if it's part of my routine. These days, my routine involves putting on my running shoes as soon as I get out of bed. I'm feeling great, and making progress. If I took a day off, it would fall apart. - 7/16/2014   11:30:08 AM
  • TISH0125
    50
    Trying to figure this out since I've been running around 2 to almost 5 miles everyday...I'm in the boat where if I don't run one day I know I'll slack off and it may take me a week or longer to get back in the routine. I do realize I need to mix it up in order to work other muscles and to loose the weight, right? Thanks SP for sharing this and other informative articles :) - 7/4/2014   3:13:29 PM
  • DOLLY007
    49
    Yes - 6/4/2014   10:38:16 AM
  • 48
    I have learnt the hard way not to run every day. I will often 2 or 3 days in a row, but by then I know it's time to take a break and cross-train, because I feel it in my feet. Luckily I don't have knee or hip trouble, but I tend to get pain in my feet if I run too much.
    At the moment, I've got a niggle in my right foot so for the next couple of days I shall cross train, and then run again.
    I have had too many lay-offs in the past through over-training to make the same mistake again.
    I've also found that as I have got older, my body has taken longer to recover from a long run or if I've done something like sprint / hill intervals. - 1/28/2014   11:30:34 PM
  • SHMOOO
    47
    So glad this question was answered, and I hope lots of people read it . I think it's really easy to get into a false sense of security with running because one's muscles adapt quicker to the increased work out than one bones. You can feel your muscles stronger and more resilient but you cant feel that your bones aren't there yet. Until you get a stress fracture. I got a secondary stress fracture in my sacrum from overdoing running. I've had so many injuries since this time due to deconditioning and hypermobility ,that I've had to let go of running altogether. So in short as many other people have said cross training definitely key. Running is so simple you can do it pretty much any time you have a chance, straight out your door and go.If you have certain limitations the be they; time, physical health or financial. It is really important to get creative, in terms of other training options I wish I had. Lastly I would say please get out there and enjoy your running in moderation because there is nothing that puts a smile on my face than seeing someone run - 11/19/2013   5:46:12 AM
  • 46
    I take three days off running, two 1.5 hour zumba days and one day completely off or yoga. - 6/29/2013   9:13:41 AM
  • 45
    Today was the perfect day for me to read this, it is my rest day. I'm jumping up and down inside just wanting to get out and run. I know the importance of rest and listening to my body. I know after yesterday's run that rest today was needed. I now run 4 - 5 days a week, but I strength train twice a week, and on those two days I limit myself to a very short easy run on the treadmill, or I take a cardio class instead. The rest of the week I focus on my running outdoors. - 5/14/2013   12:17:19 PM
  • 44
    Rest days are an absolute MUST! I used to think (and still do some days) that I was being a slacker, but when I would force myself to go--I'd just have a bad run. Might as well do something different and then come back to it for an awesome run! After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder (and the muscles stronger)! :) - 4/4/2013   9:57:01 PM
  • 43
    Definitely agree: rest is super important! As a freshman in college I gained the classic Freshy 15. I've always been a runner but since I was freaked out by the recent increase in the number on the scale I started running about 7 miles every single day! Not good! I ended up getting awful stress fractures in my feet and even my hips- really bad and really painful!

    Moral of the story: you don't have to necessarily take the day off, but crosstrain doing something very different. I recommend Spinning, the elliptical, even a long fairly mellow walk. - 4/4/2013   6:41:58 PM
  • 42
    I was told years ago that running is not the best way to go...I am torn on this. Therefore, I walk and I'm satisfied with it for now, again. I applaud all of you that can run. - 2/19/2013   10:50:03 AM
  • BIJOUX7
    41
    I am a firm believer in cross training- this is after being a runner for almost 20 years. HIIT and metabolic resistance training have made me a faster and stronger runner. I do take one rest day a week to prepare my body for the 6 days of training. - 7/15/2010   7:58:00 AM
  • 40
    I DO feel lazy on a rest day, even if I sneak in time on a bike or rowing machine, but after that rest day, I can almost guarantee a good run. It does make a difference, even if it is painful to skip that running high for a day. - 7/14/2010   2:09:31 PM
  • 39
    as a new runner, i am finding that i have more stamina if i take a day off in between runs, not to mention taking care of my knees. Doing TaeBo and low impact aerobics is what got me the stamina to start running. I find that if I mix in some TaeBo and kickboxing, you really feel improvement in your hip flexors and core muscles which are important for lateral movement - which i need now because i have just started tennis lessons. The one thing that I have read here which I need to incorporate into my workouts is strength training. Any suggestions as to what strength training enhances your running endurance? - 7/7/2010   6:05:51 PM
  • 38
    I am a runner and broke my ankle 7 weeks ago today. Though it has been hard not running I have had to crosstrain while healing (yoga, stationary bike, pool running and some elliptical) and think it is making me stronger. A couple of minor but nagging injuries have completely healed, and I can tell I am going to be a stronger road runner when I am allowed to start again since I am developing different muscles. Running is wonderful but if you have to take a break there is other exercise out there.... it may not be as much fun but at least it is a new challenge. - 7/7/2010   5:31:47 PM
  • LILMAC2442
    37
    I have been an avid runner for 12 years now. I had times that I didn't run as much as I liked. I started a new job and got out of my routine. As I started up again I had to start with lots of easy runs. I am now training for a marathon and I take every Friday off (as a teacher I feel it is the best day to relax!) I make everyday look different too so somedays feels like a break. I do zumba twice a week with a short run and an aerobics class once a week with a long run. Then a nice long run mixed with hills on Sundays. It makes me feel great knowing that each day I work different parts of my body! Though a day off never hurts me or a weekend to completely relax! - 4/14/2010   12:59:55 PM
  • 36
    Rest days are so important to help the body recover. So I take one to two days off. I also cross train. I walk, I run, I power walk, I do water aerobics and I strenght train. - 4/14/2010   11:23:17 AM
  • GRANDMO1
    35
    Good info. Thanks - 11/19/2009   10:07:07 PM
  • NGAIBRUCE
    34
    I've been running almost every day for six months but have taken an occasional day off if busy or not feeling so good. So far, no problems. I have noticed that varying strength workouts or added work with weights has dramatically increased my stamina and endurance almost immediately on my runs. Initially, I struggled to do one mile, though recently I've worked up to 5 miles per day and can now reach 5 in less than 50 minutes. In my youth, I was very active and a b-ball player in school and on military teams. Also, I've played in local (up to over-65 yoa) leagues in an attempt to balance a sedentary desk job routine. Now, retired, I'm able to devote more time to improving my health. I also golf several times per week. So far, the legs have experienced no fatigue but at my current age (68), I'm not certain I'll be able to push myself much further but will try to do so within limits. I do know that I'll never duplicate a five minuate mile I ran in combat boots during military physical training when a somewhat younger man! Nevertheless, I find the effects of weight training leading to improved stamina and endurance during running to be of great interest! Perhaps I'll take a day off once in a while and try to determine if that somehow improves my capacity to run faster and further (sp?). - 11/18/2009   11:56:37 PM
  • LOOKFORWARD2IT
    33
    If your aerobic base is large enough, a rest day can be a shorter, slower run, but I think few people are really at that level of fitness. I take one day off per week, plus one short/slow run. Priority number ONE (in my opinion) is to love your runs! If you don't love it because you're training too hard, you'll stop altogether. - 11/18/2009   11:52:53 AM
  • 32
    I exercise everyday but Sundays; most of my mon-fri cardio comes from running both on cardio and strength days. I have noticed that come monday after not running since friday I am able to run fast and longer, so I think it is true that your body needs the rest....if only I could make myself rest more often! - 11/18/2009   8:56:15 AM
  • 31
    great info. thanks - 11/11/2009   7:22:32 PM
  • 30
    I used to run 6 days and totaled 75 - 80 miles a week. Those were the days I competed cross country running and I was much younger. Now that I am a lot older and no longer compete, there's no reason for me to run every day. I do resistant training 3 days a week then 2 - 3 days of cardio (1 - 2 days of jogging) and this less pounding approach works better for me.

    For some people, their body can take more pounding than others so running every day for them is all right. But this is not something we all should do. For people who are overweight, beginners, older, have had joint/muscular injuries, should take it easy and work their way up. Doing too much too soon will only result in injuries and put you back to square one. Not worth it. - 8/1/2009   8:21:40 PM
  • 29
    I have been mixing kickboxing, elliptical and bike riding with my running...very helpful. I have a strange ache above my hips when I run 4 miles or more... - 5/27/2009   10:56:38 PM
  • 28
    days off kill my motivation. I just try to be consistent and "listen" to my body. If I feel fatigued, I take it easy. I haven't gotten in shape enough to RUN everyday, but I do walk nearly every day and try to toss in some bits of jogging here and there. If I was training like I did a few years ago, yes, a day off per week would be mandatory. I think it depends on the intensity at which you exercise. - 5/27/2009   8:04:00 PM
  • 4701LORI
    27
    Runing is a good way to burn of fat. Also passing, lite jogging, and keeping your heart rate between 50% and 65% to burn the most fat. Just an FYI, when you walk, jog run, breath through your nose for 4 steps, and exhale out through your mouth for 2 steps. Your giving your muscle fiber oxygen. Your can run, jog, alot longer. And also you'll burn fat faster. Make sure heart rate is between 50% and 65%. Thats fat burning zone. Glad to help or explain this better. Sends some line if want more info. - 12/8/2008   12:12:08 AM
  • 26
    I've burned myself out on running one too many times. I get overzealous and injure myself. That said, I just started doing weights 3x a week and cardio 3x a week. I feel the opposite of lazy on my one day off -- I like to visualize all my muscles sending out a repair team with hardhats to make my muscles harder, better, faster, stronger. ;) Doing cardio every other day instead of every day helps keep me looking forward to doing it, too. - 11/16/2008   8:40:49 PM
  • 25
    I personally don't run or jog, because running/jogging, although great for your heart and respiratory system, is really hard on your joints. I did, however, hear that they've recently discovered that those who walk regularly add about one year onto their life than those who have a sedentary lifestyle, but runners add five years. Hahaha, I still don't run but I'm inspired to walk further and more often. - 11/14/2008   4:35:53 PM
  • 24
    I definitely need rest days and cross training, otherwise it is entirely too easy to overtrain! - 11/14/2008   1:40:57 PM
  • GIANT-STEPS
    23
    If you are working out to overload than you certainly need to rest.

    For someone on a walking program that doesn't exercise to exhaustion rest days may not be necessary.

    I'm also a big believer in "active rest." My sport used to be bike racing and I discovered that I recovered much faster from a hard training day if I did a short easy ride the next day instead of not riding at all. - 11/14/2008   12:51:06 PM
  • 22
    I hate to run and my primary sport is swimming. I find the using jogging/running intervals a couple of times a week when I do my regular walking is helping my swimming endurance. I am a sprinter, but love the challenge of long distances, so endurance is a concern. I don't believe in doing any heavy cardio or heavy strength training daily. I prefer active recovery even when I am interval training. For instance, if we are given a 10 sec rest interval when swimming, I like to bob! On days that I am not doing running or jogging intervals in my walk, I take leaisurely walks instead of power walks. - 11/14/2008   10:37:12 AM
  • 21
    Rest days are a good thing...also, I feel it is very important to supplement through weights and/or other sports. - 11/14/2008   7:31:58 AM
  • 20
    I am a believer in rest. I think it's important to let your body recover. I never feel like a slacker on my rest days. I try for strength training or something else on those days. - 11/14/2008   12:19:59 AM
  • 19
    Please be careful running without a day of rest in between - I had built up to at least 4 miles per outing, but overdid it and hurt my knee. So take a day off and you'll have the next day to look forward to! :) - 11/13/2008   5:05:38 PM
  • 18
    i'm also a believer in cross training. while i enjoy running, i also know that if i don't keep mixing up my workout routine i'll not only get bored, but my body will get used to the routine. so i do different strength training routines three times a week, run three times a week and then work in some other activities like kickboxing, step-aerobics, low-impact aerobics, yoga, pilates - stuff like that - basically whatever i feel like doing that day. i find that keeping my muscles guessing really helps. in the past i'd tried sticking to a more fixed routine of just lifting and hopping on the eliptical at the gym, but i never had the success that i'm having now. rest days are also crucial - i typically have one day that i take totally off and one day of more active recovery (when i usually walk and do my yoga or pilates). - 11/13/2008   11:34:03 AM
  • 17
    I'm a big believer in cross-training. Running is my main source of exercise but since I took 2 days of running out of schedule each week and replaced them with a bootcamp class and a strength training class, I have been running better than ever! I just recented PR'd in a 10k and am looking forward to another PR in a half marathon in February! - 11/13/2008   10:42:35 AM
  • RGOULD32
    16
    While I would love to run every day, the rest days are so important. I always take Friday off so that my long run on Saturday will be the best it can be. And knowing that rest days are good, it makes it easier to skip a day when your tired or hurting or just don't want to do it. - 11/13/2008   9:12:02 AM
  • 15
    You have to have rest days. And as some mentioned you will usually come back better and stronger feeling. I am a 3-4 day a week runner with ST 2x and 3 if I can get up. I like to have a day off in between to work on other things. - 11/13/2008   8:33:57 AM
  • BLUESKIESAHEAD
    14
    I love running, and much as I hate taking rest days, they really are necessary. - 11/13/2008   8:32:39 AM
  • 13
    I also run 4-5 days a week. I run 5-7 miles on the days I run,. In between I speed walk & strenght train 3-4 days a week. I always use my incline running/jogging/walking, always on my treadmill.Keeps me feeling great!!.. - 11/13/2008   8:26:32 AM
  • LOLYER
    12
    I can't agree more with this blog. I've become addicted to running and have been running at least 5 days a week for the last several months. Sunday I was feeling great after a rest day and massage and decided to go for a longer run and sprinted the last five minutes. Monday I found myself at the doctor with a stress fracture in my foot. I can't run for awhile now and I'm stuck on the bike. When I get back to running I plan to alternate running days with lower-impact cardio days like the elliptical and bike. - 11/12/2008   11:53:55 PM
  • 11
    I strength train 2 days a week (occassionally 3) and run 3-4 days (3-4 miles with a Saturday long run of 5 miles when not training for anything), rest one, and cross train on the elliptical if I don't run the 4th day. I wouldn't recommend running more than 4 days for most people, but I know a few that do..and they tend to be the ones with injuries. - 11/12/2008   11:04:34 PM
  • 10
    I found that when I eliminated my rest days, be it because of guilt for being "lazy" or just being restless, I felt more fatigued and sore. My trainer pointed out that "Even Olympic Athletes take a day off".

    Beth G - 11/12/2008   8:02:45 PM
  • 9
    I agree. Rest is important, and so is cross training.

    When we repeatedly do the same exercise, our bodies become efficient. But that means that we're performing the same task with less work. We can continue to challenge ourselves in running by looking for improved times and distances, but those in themselves are measuring improved efficiency.

    To continue improving fitness it's important to challenge our bodies in different ways as well. A good running program involves variety -- with different types of training runs, including speed work, an occasional rest days. And cross training! :D

    That's my two cents. - 11/12/2008   5:43:57 PM
  • 8
    I have a tendency to overdo it when left to my own. But my coach had a great way to bring the message home. He said: "It is not during the workout that you get stronger, it is during the rest!"
    It' s so true. When I was pushing myself hard every day, all I got was injured. Now I look at my rest days as part of training, the day that allows the previous day's workout to have it's effect. Thinking of it this way puts a whole different light of rest days... - 11/12/2008   5:34:43 PM
  • 7
    If you're wanting to work out every day, you should vary your activities. Try to incorporate some cycling, weight training or swimming into your routine. Your running will benefit. And, yes, it is okay to take a couple of days off each week. As the article mentioned, it really just depends where you want to take your fitness level. - 11/12/2008   5:23:44 PM
  • 6
    I try to simulate or run a 5K every week - at least 1X/week. I alternate it with HIIT one day and a walk with interval inclines another day and another day I'll either just walk or just jog for my 20-30 minutes. - 11/12/2008   5:01:52 PM
  • 5
    I use to just walk on the treadmill. One day I accidentally pressed the speed on the treadmill and it went up. I started to run, but since I had not ran in years I got scared and turned the speed down. The next time I went into the gym. I started to walk but then I tried it. I put the speed up and I started to run. I really enjoyed it. Ever since than I run on the treadmill. I run 3 time a week and do strength training 2 a week. I feel good. - 11/12/2008   4:36:30 PM
  • LISALU910
    4
    I was one of those "run the same 3-5 miles everyday" types for a while, but since I started training for a Half Marathon, I discovered the necessity of rest/recovery days. I run 5 days a week, and every once in a while take off an extra day. I always find that after a "cut back" week (an extra day off or a little less speed/distance) I come back the next week better than ever. I used to think I had to be in pain or fatigued to take a "rest" day, but now I schedule them and take them even if I feel raring to go. This has SLOWLY improved my performance and most importantly I have trained injury free for the last 18 weeks - only two more weeks til race day! - 11/12/2008   4:05:21 PM
  • WENDYMIERZO
    3
    I like to strength train at least twice a week and run 3-4 days. When I follow that routing, my legs are most stronger on my running days. - 11/12/2008   3:53:57 PM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Join SparkPeople.com

x Lose 10 Pounds by December 5! Get a FREE Personalized Plan