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Is it OK to Go Running Every Day?

Last updated: May 31, 2022

Running is one of the most accessible activities on the planet. Every year, approximately 11 million people across the globe lace up their running shoes to run a marathon. However, you don’t need to run a marathon to be a runner–you can run a few miles every now and then and still call yourself a runner!

Whether you’re a beginner or long-time runner, you might wonder if it’s OK to run every day. While it’s technically OK to run every day as long as you’re fueling and recovering properly, most running coaches will recommend at least a day off per week, especially if you’re just getting started. It’s best to ease into running and slowly build your mileage to avoid injury and allow your body to adjust to muscle soreness and fatigue. Over time, you can start running more and more as you increase your mileage. 

The Benefits of Running

Running faster isn’t always about running more mileage. Strength training, cross-training, and dynamic movements in the gym can significantly help you increase power, speed, and reaction time. 

While running gets a bad rap for causing joint pain and bone injuries, it’s actually a highly beneficial activity for your immune system, bone strength, metabolism, and cardiovascular health. Many runners tend to get injured as a result of poor training habits, overuse, and improper footwear. With a healthy approach to training, you can reap the benefits of running and start to enjoy this energizing activity. 

These top benefits of running are backed by science:

  • Improves cardiovascular health: Running isn’t easy, as your heart rate climbs rapidly and you can easily get out of breath. Over time, however, running gets easier as your heart and lungs adapt. This phenomena is called increasing your VO2 Max, or the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during vigorous exercise.  
  • Increases bone density: Contrary to what many think, running actually increases your bone density as long as you are fueling and recovering properly. Because running is such a high-impact sport, it does place a significant amount of stress on the bones. This actually stimulates the bone growth as the body produces bone-building hormones to repair small damages made to the bones when running. 
  • Builds muscular strength: Running is a full-body workout that strengthens your core, glutes, legs, and upper body. While running doesn’t build muscle the way cycling or weight lifting do, it creates lean muscle mass in the glutes, lower legs, and core. Lean muscle is densely packed soft tissue that has less fat than connective tissue.
  • Burns calories quickly: Because running is a high-impact sport that uses the entire body, it tends to burn calories more quickly than biking or swimming. For those trying to lose weight, running is a great way to burn calories in a shorter amount of time.
  • Reduces stress and helps with mental acuity: Running isn’t just for physical health–it’s hugely beneficial for mental health. Simply getting outside, sweating, and moving can lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which helps you feel more relaxed.

The Risk of Overtraining as a Runner

When deciding if you want to run every day, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of overtraining. Overtraining happens when you don’t allow your body enough rest, which decreases performance and can cause serious health issues over time. 

Symptoms of overtraining as a runner include:

  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Constant fatigue, even on days off
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Runs and workouts feel harder than they should
  • Low iron or other nutrient deficiencies (can receive bloodwork to check)
  • Disrupted sleep, or inability to fall asleep
  • Irritability, anxiety, and/or depression
  • Loss of interest in running

To avoid overtraining, it’s best to listen to your body and take time off when you’re feeling run down. For example, if you haven’t been getting enough sleep, you’ve been traveling, or you’ve been stressed at work, trying to run on top of everything could actually detract from your training. You’ll have a much higher chance of staying healthy and injury-free if you fuel with nutrient-dense foods, get a full night’s sleep, and strategically plan your runs and workouts for the week.

Best Exercises for Running Faster

Running faster isn’t always about running more mileage. Strength training, cross-training, and dynamic movements in the gym can significantly help you increase power, speed, and reaction time. 

Weight Lifting and Strength Conditioning 

If you’re trying to improve speed, going to the gym to lift weights can significantly help. While it may seem counterintuitive since running and lifting are completely different exercises, the two can work together to provide speed, efficiency, and better running form. The more loads your body can handle when weightlifting, the more power you can create when accelerating. This is why sprinters spend more time in the gym than they do on the track–it’s about creating explosive energy.

When following a weight lifting routine to improve speed, it’s important to target the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and lower legs. Popular weight lifting exercises for runners include:

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Bench press
  • Lunges with dumbbells 
  • Step-ups with dumbbells 
  • Hip thrusts
  • Sled push

Dynamic Drills and Plyometrics

Running faster also requires proper form and technique. It’s easy to run slowly and get away with poor form, but running faster means you have to be as efficient as possible. Following a routine of dynamic drills and plyometrics a few times a week can greatly improve your running form, create faster reaction times, and more explosive power. 

You can do these drills as a warm up before your run to get the blood pumping and activate key muscle groups:

  • High knees
  • Butt kicks
  • A-skips and B-skips
  • Carioca 
  • Lunges
  • Strides

After your run, you can do some plyometrics to continue working on speed and power:

  • Jump squats 
  • Box jumps
  • Burpees
  • Tuck jumps 

FAQs

What does running for 30 minutes do?

Running for 30 minutes is a simple way to get your heart pumping, increase blood circulation, and burn calories. You burn approximately 10-150 calories for every 10 minutes of running (this can vary based on fitness level, weight, and pace), so it’s a quick way to use energy. After your run, your muscles experience tiny micro-tears due to the high-impact, which heal quickly with proper recovery and fueling, so you’ll be stronger on your next run. 

Can running burn fat?

Running is an excellent activity to burn fat. It’s one of the best activities to lose weight, since you use your whole body and can develop lean muscle as a result. If you incorporate weight lifting and speed intervals into your running schedule, you’ll burn fat quicker as you develop more lean muscle and push the boundaries of your VO2 max.  

What running shoes should I buy?

There’s a huge market for running shoes, so much so that it can be overwhelming. When choosing the right running shoe, you’ll want to find a balance of comfort and stability to handle mileage and high impact on the roads. Most running shoes are divided between neutral and stability trainers. Neutral trainers are best for individuals with medium to high arches, while stability trainers are best for runners who overpronate (collapsing arch). You can also find shoes designed for racing and speedwork on the track, which are more lightweight and minimal, and typically have a lower heel to toe drop.


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