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You just lost a couple of pounds from running regularly. You feel pumped and decided to increase your training schedule to daily. But, is it okay to run every day as a beginner?
Running every day can lead to overuse injury, burn out and fatigue which can cause more harm than good. Because of that, it is best to incorporate strength, flexibility, and rest into your program instead of running every day.
Ahead, we will take a look at the benefits of running regularly, go deeper as to why running every day is bad for you, look into the frequency and duration you should run as a beginner, as well as share my tips on how you can run as a beginner.
The Benefits of Running Regularly
Running has been linked to a number of benefits including:
- Reduce risk for cardiovascular diseases
- Reduce the risk of cancer
- Improve sleep and mood
- Improve cardiovascular endurance
- Strengthens the muscles and bones
- Burn fat
- Decrease risk for cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
However, running more doesn’t necessarily mean you get more of those health benefits.
In a 2020 study conducted by a group of researchers in Australia, they concluded that running will lead to positive health benefits regardless of its dose. However, mortality benefits are not necessarily connected to the amount of running.
Why Running Everyday Is Bad For You
It’s easy to say “No days off” on good days, especially if you’re a beginner. But even elite athletes often don’t follow that mantra.
Running every day can lead to overuse injuries — a type of injury caused by repetitive loading.
Running is a very repetitive sport that uses the same muscles and joints that help propel you forward and absorb the impact from ground contact.
A group of researchers from the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance concluded that training exposure (especially running) is highly related to the risk of overuse injury in the lower extremity. They went on to suggest that it is best to monitor training load to prevent injury.
In addition, running every day can cause fatigue and burn-out which could lead to loss of motivation which can do more harm than good.
That said, incorporating rest and recovery days into your training plan is the best way to go.
How Often Should You Run As a Beginner
Running 2 to 3 times per week is ideal for beginners. It allows your body to adapt to the physiologic changes that occur after a run. Plus, it allows your muscles to relax and recover allowing you to show up fresh for your next session.
Once you’ve adapted to this training schedule, you can increase your sessions up to 4 times a week or every other day.
Aim for 20 to 30 minutes sessions at low to moderate intensity or around 4 miles per hour. Of course, this varies depending on your fitness level.
How to Run as a Beginner
It’s easy to get caught up with the different training plans and methods of training. But as a beginner, your first task is to be consistent and adapt to the activity of running.
Here are a few tips to run as a beginner.
It’s normal to feel sluggish and tired before every run. Even professionals feel it. But it is your responsibility to motivate yourself.
You can start by buying a pair of running shoes, sleeping with your running clothes on (if you’re a morning person), or inviting a friend that has the same goals as you. But don’t be limited to these examples, do whatever motivates you.
Allot a Running Schedule and Stick With It
There’s probably no tip more effective than simply allotting a running schedule and sticking with it.
Having a messy schedule where you insert your run whenever it’s convenient will only give you temptations to skip running, or in most cases “do it tomorrow”. And the worst thing about that is that if you skip today, you’re probably going to skip tomorrow too.
The best way to avoid this is by implementing a running schedule and showing up no matter what.
There’s nothing wrong with running slow or even walking. If you need to run slow, then run slow. If you need to walk, then walk.
Trying to run fast when you’re having a hard time will only lead to you hating running. Soon, it will require more mental energy to drag yourself to the tracks than the energy it takes to run.
Start by running slow and then gradually increase your speed over time. Or, you can have a run/walk interval and increase the run interval over time.
4 mins walk: 1 min run
4 mins walk: 2 min run
3 mins walk: 3 min run
and so on….
Aim To Run Continuously
You can’t keep walking forever if you want to be a runner. Aim to run continuously for a certain distance. You can start by trying to run 3k continuously, even at a very slow pace. Then try to run 5k. Try to run faster and longer every session.
This will also keep you motivated than just running mindlessly without any goal.
Incorporate Strengthening and Flexibility
A lot of runners suffer injury in the long run because of muscle stiffness and imbalance. Both can be prevented with strengthening exercises and stretching.
Instead of taking a full day off, use that time to work on your strength and flexibility. Aside from preventing injuries, it will also give you a better physique than running alone.
If you don’t have access to the gym or have no gym equipment available, try this strength workout below.
5 Tips To Avoid Injuries and Fatigue
Since we’ve discussed that running can lead to overuse injuries and fatigue, I’ll leave you with some important tips to prevent them.
Get a proper running shoe
Some people think any type of rubber shoes is fine for running. But running shoes are built to reduce the impact that your joints receive upon ground contact. Plus, they are designed to roll efficiently and provide stability.
Some running shoes like the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 even go to the extent of correcting your biomechanics to prevent injury.
If you want to know more about the importance of running shoes, I’ve made an article detailing 7 important benefits of a running shoe.
Find the right running shoes
Running shoes go beyond the looks and the brand. They differ on the support level, cushion level, intended purpose, and more.
To avoid injury and fatigue, it is best to find the right shoe that is best for your preferred type of running.
Warm-up before you run
Warming up increases your heart rate, loosen up your muscles, and prepares your body for the activity ahead. Many athletes neglect this, but studies confirm that lack of warm-up before participating in physical activity plays a part in increasing the risk of injury.
So before you engage in any type of running, do dynamic exercises, slow jog, or walking.
If you need a warm-up idea, here’s a good warm-up example.
Stretch after you run
After running, your muscles tighten. The best way to prevent shortening and stiffness is to stretch the muscles involved.
Your lower extremity muscles are your top priority. Here are a few stretches you can do at home.
Get some rest
As we’ve mentioned, rest and recovery days are crucial to your longevity in the sport. But beyond that, sleep is a highly important part of your training plan too. Make sure you get 6-8 hours of sleep every day.
The Wrap Up
Running is a sport enjoyed by billions of people around the world, thanks to its positive health benefits. However, running every day can lead to injury and fatigue.
To enjoy the maximum benefits of running, it is best to run 2-3 times a week around 20-30 mins a day and incorporate rest and recovery as well as strength and flexibility days into your training plan.
I hope this article has shed a light on why running every day is not recommended.