How Long Should I Run: What is the Optimal Miles For Fitness - Eat.Lift.Sleep. (2023)

Running is perhaps the oldest sport known to people. Whether athletes or just people trying to live a healthy lifestyle, running has itself become a lifestyle with clubs, gear, apps, and training options galore.

From sprints to jogs to trail runs to laps to marathons to ultra-marathons, there are countless types of running, and every runner has a different goal. How long should I run and how many miles for fitness?

Someone new to running should try to run one to three miles (if not very active recently) or three to four miles (if generally an active person). Or, consider it in terms of minutes, and try to run for 30 minutes by rotating between running and walking.

How far you should run, or for how long, and how often all depends on the type of runner you are and what you’re trying to achieve.

The same goes for how quickly your health will improve and how fast it’ll get easier. Let’s wade through some of the details in the world of running.

How Far Should a Beginner Runner Run at Once?

Someone who is taking up running for the first time, and who has not been active in running-based sports like soccer or basketball, should start with one to three miles.

That’s a reasonable distance to be able to assess how your body will respond.

On the other hand, if you’re a generally athletic person who has been active in sports recently, three to four miles for a first run is reasonable.

Some new runners won’t think of their first run in terms of distance but in terms of time. Without worrying about how far you run in the beginning, how long should you run?

(Video) What Happens To Your Body When You Run 30 Minutes Every Day

How Long Should I Run: What is the Optimal Miles For Fitness - Eat.Lift.Sleep. (1)

In terms of time, beginning runners should aim to run for 30 minutes(source). To balance out the idea of distance versus time, consider alternating between running and walking.

One way to do that is to run for three minutes, then walk for one minute.

Repeat the cycle for a total of 25 minutes to half an hour. This is an especially good option for people who’ve been particularly active, or not for a long time.

As you get more used to being active, gradually increase the amount of time running while decreasing the time walking within your 30-minute block of time.

Your goal is to get to the point where you can run continuously for half hour. Thirty minutes of running will equate to between two to four miles(source) for most beginners.

How Often Should a Beginner Run in a Week?

A beginner runner should run two to three times per week, to a maximum of four times per week(source) for 30 minutes each time. Once you’re able to run 30 minutes non-stop, gradually increase the distance you’re covering. Let’s take a look at a few different methods to do that to find out how much running is healthy.

Adding Distance With the Every-Other-Week Rule

The first way to stretch out the total distance of your running is to run more often every other week then, after several weeks, add five or 10 minutes to one of your runs each week.

The thinking behind this approach where increased distance only happens every other week is that it will be easier for your body to tolerate the increasingly demanding hobby.

Adding Distance With the Ten Percent Rule

A second strategy for increasing the distance you run overtime is to increase the length of your runs every week by a maximum of 10 percent.

(Video) 4 Powerful Ways PRO Athletes Recover Faster (YOU CAN TOO)

Having said that, don’t increase your run length until you’ve consistently been able to run two to four times weekly for 30 minutes without stopping.

Once you hit that point, consider increasing the length of your runs 10 percent.

You can do that by adding 10 percent to each run, or by adding 10 percent to just one run (making it a “long-run” like in the first approach) while keeping the other runs shorter.

How Much Running Will it Take to Get Healthier?

Studies have shown that you can reap the benefits of running with a surprisingly low number of miles(source).

People who run just a few miles each week even less than one mile a day for six days a week have been shown to be lighter, have lower blood pressure, and have fewer cholesterol problems.

They were also less likely to develop diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.

Five or six miles a week(source) has been shown to be enough to show significant health benefits, but not necessarily weight loss. More on that in a bit.

There’s nothing wrong with adding more miles to your new running routine depending on your goals, but realize that gains can be won at these low levels of consistent activity.

(Video) Here Are The 'BEST' 3 Times to Walk for Fat Burn. Fire Up Your Fat Loss NOW

Other than health effects, how quickly will you notice that running gets easier(source) and that your body feels in better shape?

That depends on the type of running that you’re doing, and how hard you’re going at it.

If you’re working on building speed, you may notice a difference within three days of a dedicated running program.

If you’re working hard at running hills, you’ll feel a difference after two weeks. If you’re trying to build up your capacity for long runs, you’ll see improved results after a month or so of dedicated effort.

What is an Ideal Running Schedule or Routine?

The best running routines(source) in terms of days per week, time per day, and time spent warming up, walking, and running will all depend on how experienced a runner you are and especially on your goals.

It also depends greatly on how well your body tolerates the routine you’re trying to build and the increased demands you’re placing on it.

There are several possible running routine options for different types of runners and goals.

Here are some of those categories that justify different approaches, with details of a couple of the most common of them (jogging and weight loss):

  • Jogging: Are you a jogger versus a runner? If you can carry on a conversation while you do it and generally move at 6 MPH or less, many would call you a jogger rather than a runner. One recommended routine for a jogger would be (over time, stretch those 20-minute jogging blocks to 30 minutes):
    • SUNDAY – Off
    • MONDAY – 5 min warmup, 15-20 minute jog with occasional intervals of walking
    • TUESDAY – 5 min warmup, 15-20 minute jog with occasional intervals of walking
    • WEDNESDAY – 5 min warmup, 15-20 minute jog with occasional intervals of walking
    • THURSDAY – 5 min warmup, 15-20 minute jog with occasional intervals of walking
    • FRIDAY – 5 min warmup, 15-20 minute jog with occasional intervals of walking
  • Running for speed
  • Running for distance
  • Running for endurance
  • Running for weight loss: Determining how often and how far you need to run to lose weight is a mathematical exercise (pun intended) based on the formula for burning calories. As a general rule, burning one pound of fat in one week requires that you burn 3,500 calories.
    • If you’re a 145-pound beginner runner who runs five miles in an hour, you’ll burn 250 calories after 30 minutes, and 500 calories after an hour.
    • If you’re a 145-pound intermediate runner who runs six miles in an hour, you’ll burn 315 calories in 30 minutes and 630 calories in an hour
    • If you’re a 145-pound advanced runner who runs seven miles in an hour, you’ll burn 370 calories in 30 minutes and 740 calories in an hour.

(Video) How I Balance Weight Lifting and Running

Should You Run Every Day?

There are many different opinions on whether you should run every day.

This depends largely on your goals and ability to tolerate that amount of sustained exercise, and the need to balance progress and results versus the risk of injury.

Some people say there is practically a commandment that thou shalt not run seven days a week.

Some people point to studies that indicate decreased risk of adverse health consequences(source) from daily running and suggest daily running as a healthy option.

While there is some diversity of opinion, the consensus seems to be that daily activity is a good idea, but daily running is not, especially for a new or novice runner.

Take at least one day each week off from pounding the pavement. The risk of an overuse injury is too high to warrant running daily.

When not running, consider cross-training-type activities such as swimming or cycling.

Ultra-Marathons Why 100 Miles

I love this video, I can’t run 100 miles even being chased by a bear but the video is awesome and it delves into the mind and will to complete that is just amazing to me and I wanted to share it with others.

(Video) Peter Attia on The Best Exercises for Longevity

Final Thoughts on How Long Should I Run

Hopefully, this has helped you choose to look at adding or supplementing a run into your current workout plans, I used to hate running but over time I have grown to love the outdoor time.

While many people see it as a slog and totally not interesting I find it a good time to listen to an audiobook and to broaden my mind to more thoughts and information.

Do take it slowly at first if you aren’t already an owner as you can cause some good injuries if you should push it too hard and too fast which can set you back a long time!


How many miles a day should I run for optimal health? ›

The typical weekly mileage for average runners training for the 10k is 20-30 miles per week, so a daily mileage of 4-8 is reasonable with a weekly long run closer to 10-12 miles.

How many miles should I run to maintain fitness? ›

Training two days per week would be the bare minimum. Another option is to reduce your weekly mileage by about 40 percent from your highest mileage weeks. Your long run of the week should be 12 miles; this is just long enough to retain your endurance, but short enough to avoid wearing you out. Enjoy!

How many miles a week should I run for optimal health? ›

However, the health benefits of exercise seemed to diminish among people who ran more than 20 miles a week, more than six days a week, or faster than eight miles an hour. The sweet spot appears to be five to 19 miles per week at a pace of six to seven miles per hour, spread throughout three or four sessions per week.

Will running 2 miles a day lose belly fat? ›

With so many benefits of running 2 miles a day, like losing weight and belly fat and helping to tone your body, it's a great fitness routine to start today.

What is the best distance to run for weight loss? ›

There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. Running one mile burns (on average) 100 calories. If you want to lose one pound of fat – then, you should run 35 miles. If you were to run 7 days a week, you would need to run 5 miles each day in order to lose one pound of fat in a week.

What is the most optimal running distance? ›

Build speed and strength – The 5K is the perfect race distance for building speed and strength. Most healthy people can complete 3.1 miles, or 5 kilometres, after minimal training.

Am I fit if I can run 8 miles? ›

The simple answer is yes. Running an 8-mile long run is considered adequate when preparing for a 5K or a 10K. But keep in mind that if you are preparing for a half marathon or marathon, then that will not be enough.

How many miles is considered a long run? ›

The long run is generally anything from 5 to 25 miles and sometimes beyond. Typically if you are training for a marathon your long run may be up to 20 miles. If you're training for a half it may be 10 miles, and 5 miles for a 10k. In most cases, you build your distance week by week.

What is a healthy mile run? ›

A noncompetitive, relatively in-shape runner usually completes one mile in about 9 to 10 minutes, on average. If you're new to running, you might run one mile in closer to 12 to 15 minutes as you build up endurance. Elite marathon runners average a mile in around 4 to 5 minutes.

What is runners face? ›

Runner's face occurs when your cheeks sag or appear skeletal as a result of the intense movement, fat-burning and regular exposure to the sun experienced by runners. Women and men who run marathons often suffer from runner's face in their late thirties.

What is a runners body? ›

A distance runner's body is typically lean and thin, with toned lower legs and a slim upper body. It is built for endurance and is hallmarked by a low body mass and low body fat percentage.

Does running tone your butt? ›

Your butt is mainly formed of pelvic bones, gluteal muscles and fat. Running targets mainly your legs and butt. The muscles which are used to power you through your run are quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes. Regular running will definitely get you a toned, fit body including a firm butt.

Which exercise burns the most belly fat? ›


The most effective exercise to burn stomach fat is crunches. Crunches rank top when we talk of fat-burning exercises. You can start by lying down flat with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.

Does running tone your stomach? ›

Does running give you abs? While most runners don't run solely to get abs or tone their body, it can be a nice side benefit of the sport. While running is primarily a cardio exercise, it does strengthen and tone many muscles in your body, including your abs.

Is it better to run longer or faster to lose weight? ›

Running Faster Burns Calories More Efficiently

Since it's more efficient, you'll burn more calories per mile when you're going faster — even if it means you're running for a shorter amount of time.

Is it better to run faster or further for weight loss? ›

Running faster burns more calories and helps you lose weight in three ways. (1) You burn about 100 calories for every mile you run. But as intensity increases, so does calorie burning—up to 10 calories per minute per mile.

What type of run burns the most fat? ›

Go long and slow

To begin with, slow low-intensity runs, generally over 30 minutes in duration, are likely to send your body into burning fat stores as fuel rather than carbohydrates.

How many days per week should you run? ›

You should run at least three days a week if you want to get better at running. Running three days a week (every other day) for at least 30 minutes is enough to spur the physiological adaptations needed to become a more energy-efficient and stronger runner.

How many times should you run a week to lose weight? ›

Burning Calories

If your goal is to lose weight generally, you should run about 3 or 4 times a week on alternating days for about 45 minutes. On rest days it is still crucial to engage in some form of exercise. Moving and burning calories are key! Most people overestimate the calories they burn on a run.

What should I eat to run faster? ›

These seven picks will help you feel your best—and keep you up and running.
  1. Small Bagel with Peanut Butter. Morning running can be great—the sunrise! the empty paths! ...
  2. Bananas. If you need a carb-packed energy-booster before a run, it's hard to go wrong with a banana. ...
  3. Berries. ...
  4. Broccoli. ...
  5. Low-Fat Yogurt. ...
  6. Lean Beef. ...
  7. Wild Salmon.
Jan 16, 2020

Will running 2 miles a day keep me in shape? ›

The simple answer is yes. Running 2 miles a day can help you lose weight and keep it off over time. Running burns calories, and the more you weigh, the more calories you'll burn. Running 2 miles each day can help you create a calorie deficit that will result in weight loss.

Can I run 10 miles if I can run 5? ›

You don't need four months to "build up" to the distance. Many high school runners, accustomed to running 5-milers and 6-milers, are fit enough to tackle a 10-miler right away. Others may need just a couple of weeks to reach that level.

Does running miles get you in shape? ›

The bottom line: Running a mile a day can support your overall fitness and cardiovascular health, but don't expect it to build major muscle or eliminate the need for other types of exercise.

Should you drink water when running? ›

The Bottom Line. Hydration during running is important for performance and health. Drink water regularly during the day and practice hydrating while on long runs. And don't forget your need for carbohydrates and electrolytes to optimize your hydration and nutrition.

Should your long run be slow? ›

How much you should slow down on your long runs depends primarily upon your running distance background and the weather. Runners new to distance training should plan on slowing down approximately one minute per mile or more and, if the weather is warm, plan on slowing down even more than that.

How do you breathe when running? ›

The best way to breathe while running is to inhale and exhale using both your nose and mouth combined. Breathing through both the mouth and the nose will keep your breathing steady and engage your diaphragm for maximum oxygen intake. It also allows you to expel carbon dioxide quickly.

Is it good or bad to run a mile everyday? ›

While you'll see numerous benefits from running one mile a day, this type of short daily run typically isn't enough exercise to maintain optimal fitness. You'll need about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week in addition to strength training to stay at your healthiest.

How do I build my running endurance? ›

Typically you should be doing one long, slow run every week over the course of a 16-20-week training programme, increasing the distance by one mile per week until you reach around 18–22 miles. So, for example, on week 1 of your training, your long run might be two miles.

What is runner's tummy? ›

What is runner's stomach? Runner's stomach refers to the gastrointestinal (GI) distress that occurs during a run or bouts of exercise—resulting in cramping, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and pain. Runner's trots and runner's belly are other common names for these symptoms.

Do runners look older? ›

He said long-distance running and long-time runners could develop thin and older-looking faces because of the bouncing associated with running. "If you are an experienced runner, you have done it for 10 to 20 years, it is possible your face could look older than someone who does other types of exercises," Geier said.

Does running slim your waist? ›

However, the good news is that running is one of the best forms of exercise to lose belly fat, and there are even a few small tweaks you can make to your regular running schedule to deliver a sustained fat burning boost.

Why do runners have bellies? ›

Runner's belly or runner's gut occurs when the digestive system becomes irritated during long-distance running [1]. Running is one of the most strenuous forms of exercise on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, with some studies indicating that up to 80% of runners experience gastrointestinal symptoms during a run [2].

Can you tell if someone is a runner? ›

They have distinct tan lines

The runner tan is typically: very tan arms and legs, a watch tan around the wrist, and severe colour difference between the ankles and the foot.

Why am I gaining weight when I start running? ›

A new exercise regimen puts stress on your muscle fibers. This causes small micro tears, also known as micro trauma, and some inflammation. Those two conditions in your muscle fibers are the reason you may gain some weight.

What is the 5 1 running method? ›

So, for example, 3/1 means run for 3 minutes, then walk for 1 minute. If 3/1 intervals start to get too easy during the early phase of your training, you can shoot for 4/1 (4 minutes running, 1 minute of walking) or 5/1 intervals (5 minutes running, 1 minute of walking).

What is a reasonable running goal? ›

Cover at least 12 miles per week

Setting a mileage target is good for building endurance, promotes regular running and provides an easy to measure metric for evaluating progress as it's made. 12 miles per week is a decent introductory distance target for beginner runners to be aspiring to.

Does running slim your face? ›

Some common examples of cardio exercise include running, dancing, walking, biking, and swimming. Cardio, or aerobic exercise, can promote fat burning and fat loss to help slim down your face.

Does running make you look younger? ›

Running increases the production of human growth hormone—your body's natural youth serum. "This helps you produce new cells, which can make your skin look a lot more youthful," says Webb.

Can you lose arm fat from running? ›

Jogging, biking, rowing, swimming, jumping rope, and dancing are all activities that can help you meet your daily cardio goals. Summary Cardio can help increase weight loss and fat burning to help you lose arm fat over time.

What are the 5 foods that burn belly fat? ›

7 Foods that Burn Belly Fat
  • Beans. “Becoming a bean lover can help you lose weight and whittle your middle,” registered dietitian Cynthia Sass told Today. ...
  • Swap your beef for salmon. ...
  • Yogurt. ...
  • Red bell peppers. ...
  • Broccoli. ...
  • Edamame. ...
  • Diluted vinegar.

How do you keep skin tight while losing weight? ›

Best Natural Remedies to Minimize Excess Skin
  1. Strength and Resistance Training. ...
  2. Take Hydrolyzed Collagen. ...
  3. Stay Hydrated and Eat Certain Nutrients. ...
  4. Don't Smoke, Stay out of the Sun, and Use a Rich Moisturizer. ...
  5. The Bottom Line. ...
  6. Body Contouring.
Oct 11, 2019

What are the signs of losing belly fat? ›

Some other signs of fat loss are:
  • You'll see changes in your body composition. Losing pounds or losing inches is the primary sign you're burning fat. ...
  • Your exercise stamina increases, and you are getting fitter. ...
  • You don't feel any energy slump in the afternoon and experience a better mid-day energy level.
Mar 28, 2023

What's the fastest way to tone your body? ›

Cardiovascular exercise

Before you worry about toning up, you need to shed any excess fat. Running, biking, and swimming are the most efficient ways to accomplish this. While exercising for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week is the minimum amount recommended, you're probably going to want to do more to reach your goals.

What is the fastest way to get back into running shape? ›

Try to do two to three short, easy runs per week. You could also follow a couch to 5K training plan designed for beginner runners and those who are returning after a long break. Alternatively, you may use a strategy that incorporates walking breaks into your runs.

Should I run more than 3 miles a day? ›

Running 3 miles a day is certainly good. This is an excellent distance that isn't too far for the body to handle regularly but is also long enough to get a sufficient daily workout. The CDC recommends that every adult get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly.

How many miles is too many to run a day? ›

What's the Limit? Researchers at the University of South Carolina and the Ochsner Health System recommend that the average athlete run no more than 20 miles a week, spaced out appropriately with rest days in between, and limit your endurance days to less than an hour for maximum benefits.

How often should you run for heart health? ›

How much: Ideally, at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. Examples: Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope. Heart-pumping aerobic exercise is the kind that doctors have in mind when they recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.

Does running burn belly fat? ›

However, the good news is that running is one of the best forms of exercise to lose belly fat, and there are even a few small tweaks you can make to your regular running schedule to deliver a sustained fat burning boost.

Does running 3 miles burn belly fat? ›

Studies have found that moderate-to-high aerobic exercise like running can reduce belly fat, even without changing your diet ( 12 , 13 , 14 ). An analysis of 15 studies and 852 participants found that aerobic exercise reduced belly fat without any change in diet.

What does the 80 20 rule mean for running? ›

The well-known 80/20 rule of intensity balance stipulates that runners should aim to spend about 80% of their weekly training time at moderate intensity (i.e. at a pace at which you can comfortably carry on a conversation) and about 20% at moderate to high intensity.

Can running tone your body? ›

Running targets mainly your legs and butt. The muscles which are used to power you through your run are quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes. Regular running will definitely get you a toned, fit body including a firm butt.

What is a healthy amount to run? ›

While these benefits can be achieved by a minimal amount of daily running, a group of Dutch researchers recommends running 2.5 hours per week, or 30 minutes, five days a week to enjoy maximum longevity benefits. Other benefits of running may include improved sleep and mood.

What is excessive running? ›

How much running is too much? “If a mileage requires more than 90+ min run most days, it's too high of mileage,” she explains.

How much should I run for my weight? ›

A common way of assessing optimum running weight is by “doubling the inches” of your height to get a ballpark figure on your best weight.

Is it better to run faster or longer for heart health? ›

Running Longer Is Good for Your Heart

A study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that slow runs for even just five or 10 minutes a day greatly decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Does running help clear your arteries? ›

Running helps prevent blood clots in the arteries and blood vessels. It also supports healthy blood flow, blood pressure and cholesterol. As always, it's important to schedule a physical and consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Do cardiologists recommend running? ›

Regular moderate or vigorous aerobic activity gets your heart pumping, which in turn increases its longevity and capability over the long haul. It's a surefire way to keep your heart healthy well into your older years.


1. Top 6 Tips On How To Run Without Getting Tired!
(Global Triathlon Network)
(Will John)
3. 5 Ways To Reduce Muscle Soreness (INSTANTLY)
(Gravity Transformation - Fat Loss Experts)
4. How to Relieve Muscle Soreness and Recover FAST (4 Science-Based Tips)
(Jeremy Ethier)
5. The Smartest Way To Use Protein To Build Muscle (Science Explained)
(Jeff Nippard)
6. I Ran Every Day For 30 Days, These Are The Results


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

Last Updated: 06/23/2023

Views: 6223

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

Birthday: 1992-06-28

Address: Apt. 413 8275 Mueller Overpass, South Magnolia, IA 99527-6023

Phone: +6824704719725

Job: District Real-Estate Facilitator

Hobby: Letterboxing, Vacation, Poi, Homebrewing, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Cabaret

Introduction: My name is Mrs. Angelic Larkin, I am a cute, charming, funny, determined, inexpensive, joyous, cheerful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.