Should You Run Every Day?

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If you are just starting a running program, or you simply love running, you may wonder whether running every day is good for you or not. Do you need rest days or days that you spend doing other fitness activities?

Why You Shouldn't Run Every Day of the Week

Most runners need at least one or even two days off from running a week. Research suggests that taking at least one day off a week reduces the frequency of overuse injuries.

Some studies show that running six or seven days per week increases your risks, but the evidence was limited.

If you take at least one day off, your body will have a chance to recover and repair itself. Overuse injuries such as shin splints, Achilles tendinopathy, iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures are very common in runners. Giving the body time to repair from the trauma of a run is thought to reduce the risks of these injuries that can sideline you for a week to a month or more.

You'll find that you'll actually feel better and stronger during your runs after a day off. It's also good to take one day off a week to give yourself a mental break. You'll reduce your chances of feeling burned out and bored of running.

Rest Days for Beginner Runners

Beginner runners may want to start out running every other day. This will give you sufficient recovery time while you are building a running habit.

 You can either take a complete rest day or do a cross-training activity on your days off from running.

But you also need to be careful that you don't let rest be an excuse for not running. You'll need to stick to a consistent schedule of running if you want to achieve your training goals and reach your desired fitness level.

Rest Days for Experienced Runners

If you're a more experienced runner, one or two rest days should be sufficient for injury prevention and recovery. Limiting your total mileage to 40 miles per week is thought to reduce your risks.

It's important to listen to your body and if you feel like you need a rest day, take it. Don't be fixated on reaching a goal number of miles in a week if you are feeling fatigued or sore. Pay attention to pain and soreness so you can head off a potential injury.

When to Take Your Rest Days

The best days for rest will depend on what type of runner you are and if you're training for a specific event. If you tend to run a lot of miles on the weekends, then Monday might be a good rest day for you. If you're training for a long distance event like a marathon and you do your long runs on Saturday, you may want to rest on Friday, so you have fresh legs for your long run.

Sources:

Callahan LR. Overview of Running Injuries of the Lower Extremity. UpToDate. June 13, 2017.

Worp MPVD, Haaf DSMT, Cingel RV, Wijer AD, Maria W. G. Nijhuis-Van Der Sanden, Staal JB. Injuries in Runners; A Systematic Review on Risk Factors and Sex Differences. Plos One. 2015;10(2). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114937.

Yeung SS, Yeung EW, Gillespie LD. Interventions for preventing lower limb soft-tissue running injuries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. June 2011. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd001256.pub2.

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