You Asked: Is It OK to Run Every Day?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
One of our readers recently asked this question: "I just finished the Couch to 5K program. I want to know if/when it is a good idea to run daily. I'm trying really hard to avoid injuries and burnout."

I've been a runner for a long time and love the feeling it gives me--the sense of accomplishment, the energy boost when I'm finished, and more. So if you're like me, I can see why you might want to run daily, both for the feelings it provides and the fact that it keeps you in a regular routine. But I wouldn't recommend it.

There are a number of reasons why running every day might not be the best idea. The first is that rest days are very important. You might feel like you're being lazy by taking a day off, but your body needs that time to recover. The best way to make progress with your running--whether you're trying to get faster, increase your distance or have another goal in mind--is to do workouts that are challenging. When you're constantly pushing your body to do more, it needs time off. That doesn't mean you're a slacker. It means you're playing it smart, doing your best to avoid injury and treating your body well.

There are some runners who are content to do the same 3-mile loop around the neighborhood on a daily basis, with no variation in their routine. For those people, it might be OK to run daily because they have gotten used to this routine and it's probably not much of a strain on their bodies. But for those people who are trying to improve their fitness level, perhaps to train for a longer race or beat their best time at a mile, it is taxing on the body. Although it's important to do a mix of challenging and easier runs throughout the week, it's still good to take a day or two off.

I'd also recommend doing a variety of activities. Even if you want running to be your primary form of exercise, it's still good to cross-train with other activities a few times a week. That gives your "running muscles" a break, but also helps improve your fitness level at the same time.

Do you agree? Do you find that rest days and cross-training help improve your performance? In what ways?

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I use to just walk on the treadmill. One day I accidentally pressed the speed on the treadmill and it went up. I started to run, but since I had not ran in years I got scared and turned the speed down. The next time I went into the gym. I started to walk but then I tried it. I put the speed up and I started to run. I really enjoyed it. Ever since than I run on the treadmill. I run 3 time a week and do strength training 2 a week. I feel good. Report
I was one of those "run the same 3-5 miles everyday" types for a while, but since I started training for a Half Marathon, I discovered the necessity of rest/recovery days. I run 5 days a week, and every once in a while take off an extra day. I always find that after a "cut back" week (an extra day off or a little less speed/distance) I come back the next week better than ever. I used to think I had to be in pain or fatigued to take a "rest" day, but now I schedule them and take them even if I feel raring to go. This has SLOWLY improved my performance and most importantly I have trained injury free for the last 18 weeks - only two more weeks til race day! Report
I like to strength train at least twice a week and run 3-4 days. When I follow that routing, my legs are most stronger on my running days. Report
I am not a runner and I would love to become one! I enjoyed this article and it makes perfect sense.. you will need the rest days. Report
I totally believe in the power of rest, or at least cross training! I started the couch to 5k program, then ended up with shin splints. I took a few weeks to focus on swimming and the elliptical, and when I went back out to run, found that I could actually go a lot further without walking than I ever could before! I always notice a pound or two loss when I go back after some time off as well. Report
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