How many times a week should a runner train?

ANSWER… It depends!

If running is your only sport then it’s understandable that you’ll want to go out more often. Seasoned runners can run everyday if they choose (or need) to, the body is a master of adaption so it will soon get used to the frequency. 

A key point I would like to stress here, is that the body will only adapt fully when it’s in a state of rest and recovery, so running everyday is not recommended. If you desperately need to run everyday for wellbeing purposes, then as long as you’re injury free and making sure you’re getting enough easy or short runs in the mix, then you might be able to get away with having a rest day every 10-14 days instead. Just be aware less rest can lead to injury, it can also cause slower improvements to your run and fitness levels.

New runners will find that most run plans have them running 3 days per week, some plans may increase that to 4. You ideally don’t want to run less than 3 times per week, because the good work your body does to adapt to the cardiovascular demands of running begin to breakdown after 48 hours. If you’re only running once per week, you’ll be forever rebuilding the same bit of fitness and you’ll struggle to make improvements.


Running more than 3 times per week as a beginner is not advised. The reason being is like I said before you improve and adapt with recovery. The rules of progressive overload state that to improve on a plan you must increase ONE factor each week – frequency, intensity, time or type of training. 

Lets pretend an athlete runs 5K, 3 times per week at a steady effort and it takes 30 mins. That’s 90 mins per week.
The following week, they add a 4th run in the same route and effort totalling 120 mins. That’s another 33% increase in load.
The next week they increase one of the runs to 10k at the same pace, that’s now 150 mins and another 25%.
In week four they decide to increase all shorter runs to 40 mins, which totals 180 mins. That’s a 100% increase of the original load in just 3 weeks, and unless the athlete has a previous history that suggests they could cope with the increase, it’s really not advisable.

Runners - Llangollen Canal

It is far better to increase by around 10% each week at most, this is pretty easy to do with distance or time or duration, however with intensity it’s more subjective. TrainingPeaks has a TSS system which allows their system to score your efforts based on heart rate response which helps monitor your efforts better. When I plan a clients training we can both see how their fitness is improving, the impact fatigue has on their training plan, and also how the intensity and duration of each session is going to affect their adaptation.

As a rule of thumb, I’d say if you were planning on adding an extra run in your week, lower the intensity down on your existing runs and ideally make them all a little shorter. Let your body adapt to the new schedule for a 2-3 weeks, then maybe extend one of the runs back to what you were doing previously, or increase the intensity on one of them. Change one thing at a time and give it a couple of weeks for your body to adapt.

It’s better to go slow than to rush and end up having 6-8 weeks off due to tendonitis or another injury! Don’t neglect strength and conditioning training, maybe before you add the extra run in you get used to having a yoga or stretching session in your plan for a few weeks beforehand.

If you show signs of soreness or feel tired, irritable or feel unmotivated it’s normally a sign that you’re over training (or under-resting!) and you might be best regressing and dropping a run each week until you’re feeling better. 

Run training Plans

Get faster with a bespoke training plan

I am a qualified Coach in Running Fitness and Triathlon Coach and I’d love to help you get faster and smash your next event. Whether you’re looking to complete or compete, I can help create the perfect plan to get you upto the pace or distance required.

I have quite a holistic approach and like to give you training that lights a fire in your belly, workouts that make your heart sing! It’s my job as a coach to work with you and find out what makes you tick to bring out your best results.

If you would like to know more and think I might be the right coach for you Contact Me or check out my page on Running Training Plans.

Jen Coppock
Jen Coppock
run & Triathlon Coach
llangollen, North Wales