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A friend of mine wanted to run 5k multiple times a week to improve his cardio and control his weight. He wanted to know how often he should do it in a week.
As a general rule, you can run 5k run to 3 to 5 times a week when you’re first starting out. This will get you to a weekly mileage of 10-15 miles a week which is a good target mileage for beginners.
But running doesn’t have to be 5k every time. Varying your runs based on distance and intensities is a better way to improve your running performance. Ahead, we will look at why you shouldn’t be running 5k all the time even if it’s okay. I’ll also link you to different resources that will help you plan for your training as you read through this article.
It Doesn’t Have To Be 5k Every Run
You don’t have to run 5k every time. Your runs should vary in distance and intensity. However, running a 5k is a good number to aim for when you’re first starting out.
Why? Because it’s short enough that it’s unlikely to cause injuries even if you run that distance multiple times a week, but it’s long enough to get a good workout.
Most recreational runners that I know run 5k 3 to 5 times a week as a part of their routine. Not that 5k is a magical number for losing weight or improving performance, but they just felt comfortable running on the same route (which happens to be around 5k) every time.
A good target mileage as a beginner is 10-15 miles a week. So if your run 5k ( around 3 miles) 3 to 5 times a week, that puts you in 9.3 to 15.6 miles which is right around our target mileage.
Now you can increase your weekly mileage by increasing your frequency—the number of times you run in a week, or distance—the length of your runs per day.
Here’s a link to an article that I made about target weekly mileages depending on your goal race and your current level of fitness.
But there’s a catch. In increasing your weekly mileage, you shouldn’t increase your mileage by a lot, even if you can.
As a general rule. you should not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week. That means, if your weekly mileage today is 15 miles a week, you should increase it to only 16.5 miles next week and 18 miles the week after that.
To achieve that, you can either run 5k 6 times a week or increase the distance of your daily runs.
I prefer the latter. In fact, your runs don’t have to run the same distance every time. Let me show you what I mean in this example:
My target is to get 21 miles this week. I could break it down this way:
- Monday – 10 miles long run
- Tuesday – strengthening exercises
- Wednesday – 3 miles easy run
- Thursday – Strengthening exercises
- Friday – 4 miles tempo run
- Saturday – REST
- Sunday – 4 miles easy run
Notice that these runs vary in intensity and distance. I do that to train multiple energy systems.
Also, notice that my long run and tempo run is usually followed by a non-running activity and an easy run. Doing that allows my body to recover and adapt to the physiologic changes that are produced by my training.
That’s why varying your runs is important to improve as a runner. if you want to know more about it, here’s an article that will teach you how to vary your runs.
Is It Okay To Run 5k Every Day?
Maybe you just want to run on the same route every day as part of your routine so you want to know if it’s okay to run 5k every day.
In general, it’s okay to run 5k every day, as long as you’ve built up to that volume progressively. Running 5k every day could be too little or too much depending on your current fitness level.
If you run 5k every day, it only totals 35k or 22 miles a week. For inactive people who just started running, that’s a lot of mileage. But for someone who’s training for a marathon, 22 miles a week is even less than the recommended weekly mileage.
On a side note, I follow this guy, Cameron Haynes, who’s just a total beast. He reportedly runs marathons (26.2 miles) for multiple days a week occasionally despite the warnings of some “experts” that you shouldn’t put your body under such volume.
I’m not saying you should do that, that would be absurd for most people. All I’m saying is that your weekly mileage really depends on your current level of fitness. If you build your body to handle enormous amounts of volume progressively, it will adapt to it.
That said, if you choose to run 5k every day, then you better get to the level of fitness required to run 5k every day gradually.
What Is A Good 5k Time For A Beginner?
Another thing you can manipulate to add variation to your workout is speed.
Say, you really just want to run the same 5k route that you’ve gotten used to. One way to vary your runs is by changing the intensity.
One day, you can run 5k as fast as you can and try to run an above-average time. The following day, you can run really slowly and just cruise through the whole duration of your run.
You can even throw in some fartlek runs or hill runs into the mix.
If you’re wondering what the average time for a 5k run is, Healthline compiled the average time to complete a 5k run by age and gender on this link.
- 0-15 years old – 34:43 for men and 37:55 for women
- 16-19 years old – 29:39 for men and 37:39 for women
- 20-24 years old – 29:27 for men and 36:22 for women
- 25-29 years old – 31:09 for men and 36:16 for women
- 30-34 years old – 31:27 for men and 38:41 for women
- 35-39 years old – 33:44 for men and 37:21 for women
- 40-44 years old – 32:26 for men and 38:26 for women
- 45-49 years old – 33:13 for men and 39:19 for women
- 50-54 years old – 34:30 for men and 41:20 for women
- 55-59 years old – 37:33 for men and 45:18 for women
- 60-64 years old – 40:33 for men and 45:49 for women
- 65-99 years old – 42:59 for men and 50:13 for women
You can refer to these average times to find out if you are above or below average in your age category.
By the way, if you’re new to running, you must be confused about buying your running gear. That said, I created a recommended product page that will take away the guesswork. I only list 1 to 3 items that I know are great-value products and explained why in great detail.
To get the most out of this article, I listed the key takeaways of this article in bulleted form.
- If you’re a beginner, start running 3-4 times a week and gradually increase the frequency and distance of your runs
- It doesn’t have to be 5k every time. Mix up the distance of your runs and aim for a target weekly mileage
- Add variation to your runs
- It’s okay to run 5k every day if you’ve built your body to handle that volume. In fact, most runners still consider a 5k daily run short