Welcome back to another episode of Runner’s High. I’m Jesse Funk. And on today’s episode, let’s talk about can you run every day.
You may have this mentality and you see this mentality pretty much everywhere in the running community, more is better. More mileage, more speed work, more work; more is better. Now, that isn’t always the case, more is not always better. Because you have to remember, when we get our best gains, we are? Recovering. Right.
We’re recovering. It’s after the work, it’s after all those things we did, all those hard workouts, all those long miles when we’re recovering, that’s when we make those gains. And if we don’t give ourselves enough time to recover, then we don’t make those gains, we can potentially end up in a world of hurt becoming injured.
Now, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t run more. You actually can, but you have to be careful about increasing mileage. And there’s a point of diminishing returns. Studies have been done that shows kind of this nice curve. Hopefully, I’ve got a graphic here to the side of me now and it’ll show you up through about five days a week, you’re going to get the biggest gains, and you can get more gains by running a sixth and seventh day of the week.
However, at that point, you get diminishing returns. Which means the added mileage is not going to give you the same effect that each of those previous days does. You get less out of them than you do from the previous five days in each of their segments.
Now, I have to tell you that I’m still working out six days a week. And in college, when I was running seven days a week when I made the transition my junior year to adding another long day for my seventh day, that’s when I saw my biggest gains. But it’s important to frame this, right, it’s important to frame exactly when this was. This was the peak of my fitness, I’m in my early 20s, 20-21 at the time, and I’m a collegiate runner on scholarship.
So, I’ve been running for a number of years, I have a very high level of fitness, and I added that seventh day at that point in time. It’s not something I personally would recommend you start out of the gate with. It’s something you want to build into overtime. Because as mentioned at the beginning of this video, running all the time without recovery is a potential for injury.
So, how do you decide if you’re ready, if you’re the right kind of person to do this, to run every single day? Well, first, I mean, we have to make practical considerations. Are there anything else going on in your life that would prohibit you from doing so? Do you have like a 12 day work schedule? Say you’re a nurse and you’re working three or four days in a row, 10 to 12 hour shifts. Probably, you need to take some off time, if that’s the case. But if you have a more normal work schedule, or you work part-time or anything like that, okay, that’s not in the way. Do you have any family manners, any of that kind of stuff that’s going to prevent you?
Remember, running should enhance your life, hopefully not be the entirety of your life. This is a mistake I made early on. And hopefully, I’m correcting now, trying to enjoy a little bit more of my family, friends, the best we can, right now during COVID. But you have to remember that running is not everything as much as it is important to each one of us, myself included.
So, first, we have to take into consideration, is anything else going on that will prevent us from doing that seven-day schedule? Because it’s simply not worth it with those diminishing returns to put off doing things that would ruin the health, social health, family health of our lives by getting that time in.
Now, beyond that, let’s just talk about the physical side of it. On the physical side, we can use our kind of general 10% rule. Now, this isn’t perfect, but it’s a good recommendation of not increasing your mileage more than 10% per week. This is where you think, “Okay. I’m running 10 miles this week. I’m going to run 11 the next week.” Now, I personally do a two-up one-down system. I’ve done three-one, which is where you build for two weeks or three weeks and then you come back down from one for recovery. And you can use that pattern to build and build and build.
And there’s a point where adding an extra day, you can go up to five days through that system and build, you know, you can build pretty easily into 40-50 mile weeks. And then there’s a point around there, this is my personal recommendation, where you’re going to start needing to add a sixth, and then possibly seventh day if you want to get beyond that.
So, if you’re running less than 50 miles a week, possibly less than 40 miles a week, if you want to say six days, then most likely, there’s no reason for you to go beyond five days. Having those extra days for rest is going to be more important for you as you’re building than it is for gaining fitness. There is an effect, where if you take two days off in a row, and then you come back to running, sometimes that’ll affect your legs more than if you take one day off, run, and then take another day off in the middle of the week. But that’s something that you kind of have to figure out for yourself.
And again, going back to that schedule, how does your schedule work? Is it realistic for you to take one day off on the weekend, and then one day off in the middle of the week, or take both days off in the middle week, or however it works for you, you have to figure that out. So, that’s kind of my recommendation, 40 to 50 miles a week, you can get away just five days a week, then you can start adding that sixth and seventh day.
Beyond that, when you’re going 60-70 plus miles, I don’t have a ton of experience with that, in that 70 to 100 mile range. Those are going to be typically elite, elite runners that are in that range, or ultra runners. Again, I’m not an ultra runner, never have been. Spoken to plenty on my podcast, this Smart Athlete Podcast. I can link to that at the end of this episode. But know that it’s not really necessary to go beyond five days unless you’re really going into that higher mileage.
So, what questions do you have for me that you’d like to see answered on the next episode of Runner’s High? Leave them down in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions specifically. As always, I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.