Frequency—or how often you run—is one of three fundamental variables of training. The other two are duration (how far you run) and intensity (how fast you run). Research shows a person needs to run at least a couple of times a week to get any progressive benefit from it. Many elite runners run as often as 14 times per week. How often should you run?
There is no single right answer to this question. While considerations such as your goals, life schedule, and running experience can and should be used to establish boundaries of too much and too little running frequency for you, within these boundaries you can choose any of a number of different running frequencies based on personal preferences and needs and get the results you seek.
Frequency is an interesting subject, one that is currently being debated, updated and berated within the running community. Of course, in order for our bodies to grow, recover and rebuild we MUST have periods of lower-intensity exercise and deep sleep but, in my mind at least, your mentality should be that there are #NoDaysOff.
I run 4 or 5 times per week (see bottom of page for intensity ratings system).
My ‘average’ week looks like this…
Monday – 10km (3) with Nike Run Club.
Tuesday – Shake out run (1).
Wednesday – long slow grass run (2). and evening hills (3).
Thursday – Shake out run (1).
Friday – REST
Saturday – Parkrun 5km (4). and LSR (2).
Sunday – REST
Now, often my schedule gets messed up by a late night gig, or parental duties, or dinner with friends, or songwriting sessions, but if all went to plan this would be an average week. Now, #NoDaysOff clearly doesn’t mean I never have a day off – Friday and Sunday are my rest days – but what it does mean is a shift in mentality. Jared Campbell, 3x finisher of Tennessee’s 100mile (some would argue 130mile) Barkley Marathons spoke on a recent Ginger Runner (check this guy out if you’re interested in Ultras and Youtube) livestream about how his change in mentality allowed him to finish Barkley comfortably, and about how that change has to happen way before race day.
My (and Jared’s, it turns out) thinking is this… “everything is training.”
Say it with me… “everything is training.” … “everything is training.”
Let me explain. This morning I woke up, grabbed some Corn Flakes and some cold milk, sprinkled a bit of sugar on top and ran a shower. I inhaled my cereal, got undressed and jumped in – 1 minute passed, pleasant warm shower, 4 minutes passed, suddenly the hot/cold mix is all out of whack and I’m standing under a freezing torrent of high-pressure Thames Valley glass! Now, any normal person would scream (admittedly I did grunt a little) and jump out immediately, maybe taking the shower curtain down with them but we are runners, we persevere, we endure. With the #NoDaysOff mentality in mind, and to be honest, with this post in mind, I decided to stick at it and began counting to 30. I got to 35 and decided that was enough. Why would I do that? I hear you ask. Because out there in the big bad world of racing, of ultras and of life, overcoming adversity, handling change, and beating odds is what makes you better, stronger, faster, tougher, and fitter. – “everything is training.”
Everything we go through in life is an opportunity for a lesson in patience, in endurance and in change-management.
Someone rudely cuts in front of you and your screaming 2-year-old in a queue: instead of giving them an earful, treat it as a training exercise – can you deal with change and adversity under pressure?
You’re late for an important meeting and the trains aren’t running properly: don’t panic. Ring ahead, tell them you’re on your way and then seize the opportunity to test your navigational skills and fast walking pace to make it 10minutes late, instead of 25.
You get home late from an event and notice that the lunches haven’t been made for tomorrow’s school run: any normal person would go to bed and deal with it in the morning but your #NoDaysOff mentality means that you use it as a sleep-deprivation exercise – sure the sandwiches might be sloppy but at least you don’t have to make them from scratch in the morning.
Heading out on a walk with the family? Don’t take the buggy, if your kid gets tired, carry them! – it’s all going to pay dividends on your next workout, and on your kid’s sense of independence too.
This new way of life is more than just positive thinking, it’s more than just a ‘take the stairs’ approach to your day-t0-day routine, it’s using your time wisely and taking advantage of every opportunity you have to learn, grow and develop as an athlete, and as a person. So, you’re not running today? How are you training then?
Remember, “everything is training.” / #NoDaysOff
Run intensity system: 1 – Easy, conversational. 2 – Can hear yourself breathing. 3 – Can’t talk in full sentences. 4 – Flat out, 5km race pace.