Should You Run Every Day?

A question I often get asked is “Should I run every day?”

My answer, predictably, is “It depends.”

Every runner is an individual with different training backgrounds and experience. There is nothing wrong with running every day, or sometimes even twice a day, as long as:

  • You have a well established base of consistent training. This means months and years of running during which you have built up a solid aerobic foundation and developed strength and resistance to fatigue.
  • You build up gradually to running every day. Again this might mean several months where you run 5 or 6 times a week without undue fatigue.
  • You do the majority of your runs at an easy intensity. Too many recreational runners think that their runs need to feel hard in order for them to gain a training benefit. However, easy runs build fitness without being too demanding meaning that you can run for longer and more frequently. Lots of easy running with a small amount of intense work is an recognized as being an effective way to train.
  • You don’t repeat hard sessions day after day but follow them with easy days.
  • You are injury free. It is rarely a good idea to try to run when injured. A better approach would be to let it heal, establish the cause and add strength exercises to reduce the chance of recurrence of the injury.
  • You eat a healthy diet. Running consumes calories, muscles need to rebuild after exercise and bone strength is reliant on sufficient minerals in the diet. Not eating enough or eating the wrong type of food to sustain your running will lead to a drop in performance or even illness.

Image below shows my November training diary

image of training diary

running at least once a day (Garmin Connect)

Image below shows the intensity in HR zones (note 26th Nov heart rate battery died. It was a very easy day)

image showing heart rate graph

November – daily time in Heart Rate Zones (Sporttracks)

Some of the runs are just 30 minute easy efforts with a few strides. Some days I ran twice; a short easy session followed by a harder run. Generally, as well as mixing up the intensity I also vary the duration with the shortest run being 30 minutes, the longest up to several hours. Pace ranges from very fast strides to brisk walking up the steepest inclines. I also vary the terrain so I will run on fell, trail, grass and tarmac (yes it is ok for fell runners to run on tarmac!) That calls for different shoes too so put all that into the mix and you get lots of variety; duration, intensity, pace, surface, incline, foot-strike, cadence, shoes.  I’m certainly not repeating the same type of run day after day.

The current Covid-19 situation means there are no races. In training I’m not hammering the downhills and creating as much muscle damage as I would if I was racing. Also I’m not doing as much zone 5 work as I would in race season – then I would take days off after very hard efforts.

This works for me, it might not work for you but don’t automatically think that running every day is a bad idea!
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