If you're new to running, you probably have a lot of questions — and you're certainly not the only one. You might want to know what kind of shoes are best, how far you should be running, what good foot strike is, etc. But there's one basic question that you likely haven't asked yet, and it's a really important one: how often should you run each week if you're new to the game?
Whether you're trying to up your cardio in order to lose weight or you're working on improving your cardiovascular endurance, there is a certain number of times you should aim to run each week, according to Michael Olzinski, MSc, Purplepatch endurance coach and Equinox run coach.
"I think three is a magic number," Mike told POPSUGAR. "The important thing to understand is that it does not need to be a long, 60-minute run every three times. Just getting out for 15 to 20 minutes can count for a session, especially if you are just beginning."
Mike says the body is a pretty "predictable" mechanism, so if you stick to a routine plan and give yourself a "really healthy window between those hours" in order to fully recover, you'll see some serious improvements in a pretty short amount of time. But just because you're running three times a week doesn't mean all three of those sessions should be the same.
There are three different types of runs (three really is the magic number here) that Mike highly recommends:
This is "a varied workout with some hard running mixed in with some recovery, light running, or even walking." Think about short bursts of speed and power that leave you breathless, followed by a short rest period. These kinds of workouts are perfect for a treadmill, since you can quickly control the speed. If you need some ideas for a solid interval workout, try this 20-minute workout or this 45-minute session.
You can think of this as a LISS (low-intensity sustained state) session. Mike says an aerobic run is when you "go out and try to run comfortably and steady for an increasing amount of time relative to your goals." If you like to run outside, this would be a good day to take your cardio workout outdoors. Set goals for yourself, plug into some good music, and see how far you can go.
This kind of workout allows you to "spend a little time working on your form, doing some drills, and going for a light, short run that is mainly to help you recover from other runs, or from other sessions you might be doing," according to Mike. He says you can also look at this "as your technique training run." It's less about distance and speed and more about loosening up your muscles and perfecting your form. You won't be outputting your maximum effort with this kind of run.
"Each run is equally important in consistency but has a very different focus," Mike concluded. Now that you have the skeleton of your runs laid out, plan out when you can lace up your shoes, then get out there and enjoy the gains!
Product Credit: Outdoor Voices top and pants, APL sneakers