Pages

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why I Only Run 3 Days Per Week : 6 Reasons Why You Should Too



I'm a big believer in doing what works for me. I've also come to realize that what worked for me 5 years ago, may not work for me now. That was a difficult conclusion for me to come to, but an important one. The same way things that interested you 5 years ago may not interest you now, the same holds true with your body & how you workout.

When I first started running back in 2010 I ran 5 days a week. I assumed that was what you did, if you were a runner, you ran. I usually did 1 spin class each week with a few buddies, but devoted ALL the rest of my workout time to running. No strength, no cross training (unless all the treadmills were full), hardly any stretching, GASP. I know.

But, in the past 6 years, I've learned a lot about myself, as a runner, as an exercise enthusiast & as a person.

I run 3 days a week. Sometimes 2 if life gets in the way. Sometimes 4 if the weather is absolutely perfect. But I aim for 3. I create training plans with 3 days of running each week. It got me to the finish line of a marathon this past spring & several half marathons.

But why 3? And why am I running 3 days a week when other bloggers are running 4 days a week, or 5 or 7? Read on. Maybe 3 days a week is right for you too.

{no mental burnout}
There was a time when I was SICK of running. I didn't want to lace up & head out the door, so I didn't. Eventually the urge to run came back & I honored that. But I always want running to be enjoyable for me. Too much of any one activity can lead me to boredom. Some mornings I wake up & I DO NOT want to run. So, I don't. I switch around a lifting day, or a cross training day. I give myself a break. I get more out of a workout when my mind is present & focusing on the important aspects of the workout.

{time for cross training}
I love to bike, I love to swim, I love to hike. All of these are great cross training activities & can help runners develop muscles they may not ordinarily use while running. Strengthening supplemental muscle groups can help prevent overuse injuries as well. 

{time for strength training}
While some may argue strength training is cross training, I would argue they are different. I spent October - December running less than twice each week, sometimes only once, in order to focus on strength training. I trained my major & minor muscle groups 4 days a week, lifting heavy weights for a low - medium number of repetitions. While I am more focused on training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon right now, I am keeping 2 strength training sessions each week, where I still focus on lifting heavy. I believe this will make me a stronger runner in the long run, getting my muscles used to the fatigue I may feel at the end of a race. I believe I can cultivate a similar fatigue that running 5+ days a week would cause, but that I can do so with less running.

{no junk miles}
While I don't necessarily believe that running more than 3 days a week means some runs are junk, I think often runners fall into the trap that they are. By your 4th or 5th run of the week you're tired, your training schedule calls for an easy run, so you do just that. Except easy doesn't just mean the pace in this instance, it mean your form as well. And if you ask me, you've just turned those easy run miles into junk. 3 runs each week keeps me of the mindset that each run is important & run for a different purpose.

My run formula is as follows : 1 speed workout, 1 "easy" run, 1 long run

{fewer injuries}
No science here to back this shit up. Just sayin, maybe I'm lucky, maybe I'm just biding my time. Who knows. Save a pulled calf muscle that kept me out of the running game for about a month, I'm 6 years, 3 marathons, 7+ half marathons deep into my running career & injury free.

{it keeps running accessible}
I have to give a BIG round of applause to all the parents out there who are runners. I'm single, I run when I want, for however long I want, as (in)frequently as I want. But, when the day comes that I am a parent I think 3 days a week will be a perfect running goal. Strength training could be done in the home, with a kidlet nearby, or using only your body weight. It's easy to take a kid along for a hike or a walk for some cross training. & not that treadmills aren't a fantastic invention, they are, but they're pricey. One of the best parts about running is you can do it with very little equipment. Running is a sport that can be for anyone. And running 3 days a week is an attainable goal.

So, no, if you wanted a quick fix, a way to run 3 days a week, do nothing else & come out with a PR at your next half marathon, I'm sorry, but this isn't it. I workout if anything, more, not less while running 3 days a week than in the days of 5+ runs. 

If you're curious what my workout schedule looks like while I train for a half marathon with only 3 days of running each week, check it out here. I've got my current training plan posted.

How often do you run?
Has this evolved over your running career?
If you're not a runner, what's one thing you loved 5 years ago that you don't today?
And no, your ex-boyfriend doesn't count.

I'm linking up with MarciaPatty & Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.

22 comments:

  1. I'm kind of like you. I'm not single, but I don't have kids, just the furkids, so I still can't necessarily go when and for how long I want, but I do have a LOT more flexibility.

    I also agree on ST not being cross training, although I do think it's really important!

    I basically try to run every other day right now, and sometimes that's 3 x week (mostly, lately, just due to life) and sometimes that's 4 x week and yes, sometimes when the weather is nice I just can't resist (not that the weather's been nice lately!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, yes! This weather is not making this 3x per week thing hard at all. I like your simple formula for an every other day run, sounds like a good one, Judy.

      Delete
  2. A lot of this really resonates with me :) I think everyone has to do what works for them and some people do well with running a lot of miles. 3 times a week (occasionally 4 times) seems to work well for me. And that allows me to fit in 2 days of strength training and some yoga as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed! I love having time to fit in other activities, I love strength & really should make more time for yoga. My body appreciates it.

      Delete
  3. It's awesome when you find something that works and fits your schedule. I've been running marathons for almost 10 years now and I ran 3x/week for all except one training cycle when I ran 4. Initially I chose that plan because my kids were little and the schedule fit. But those 3 days of running got be to the starting line in Boston 3 times, so yes, it definitely works. Thanks for linking up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. That's incredible. I love hearing that this worked for you too!

      Delete
  4. I've been running about 4-5 days a week over the past few weeks. I really like running 4 days, 5 seems a bit much but I'm still testing it out. Cross training and strength training are so important! Great job finding a routine that works for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Janelle. I'm sure I COULD make 4 work, but I'm pretty hardcore about taking 2 full rest days each week, so, I limit myself in that regard.

      Delete
  5. GIRL - you get me. I do the exact same thing for the same reasons. I dont get people that run 6 or 7 days a week. That's so hard for your body & leaves no time to take care of important things like stretching & muscles.... & RECOVERY!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YESSS! I see some people have lots of success with multiple runs a week, but I tried it once, and let's just say, NOPE. Never again!

      Delete
  6. During the winter I do not run everyday. But in the warmer mths I run at least six days a wk. I don't feel like I get burnt out. But if I ever do I will take a day off. I teach spin and body pump so I feel like I do get enough cross training into my workout. You just have to find what works for you. Like you said everyone is different. I wish I felt like three days was enough for me. Maybe I just need to eat less....haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's all about what works for the individual. I think too, usually when I am running I am training for something, not a lot of just go with the flow type of deal. Too much training can definitely lead to mental burnout.

      IDK, if you ask me, eating less is never the answer. ;)

      Delete
  7. I am training for my first full marathon... with only 3 runs a week. That's what my Jeff Galloway training plan is calling for and it is working for me. 20 weeks in and 100% injury free. I can relate to 100% of this post. Thats for sharing !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard great things about Galloway plans. Good luck on your first marathon, sounds like you're putting in a lot of hard work.

      Delete
  8. I used to be a 3 day a week runner but I've increased to 5-6 days per week recently since I'm working with a running coach to improve my run speed. It's my week sport in triathlon. He has me doing short run/walk intervals for several of my runs. So instead of "junk" miles with poor form I actually respond well to the run/walk intervals. But that's what's working for me right now. Wasn't always the case and may not be in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, if it's working for you, keep it up! Major props to you for running 5-6 days a week & still finding time to swim & bike.

      Delete
  9. hahaha to the ex boyfriend. man, i don't even remember 5 years ago. i was in a different country! i don't have a set amount of times i run each week. right now i'm feeling a bit blah with running, have been on and off for a couple of years. i am getting slower and just plain worse, and it makes me not want to run, but i know if i run i will get better and faster. maybe i will try 3 times a week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 5 years ago pretty much all of my choices were dubious at best. Especially the ex-boyfriend. Haha.

      That's got to be frustrating. If you're not feeling it, I'm a big believer it's not worth forcing, especially if you don't have any races you're training for.

      Delete
  10. i just started a new training plan, only running 3 days a week instead of the 4 i use to run, im hoping the extra time for cross and strength pays off ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so too Josephine! I can only speak for myself, but running less & strength training more has definitely paid off!

      Delete
  11. I'm currently running four times per week in large part because it's such a big part of my social life. I almost always meet up with friends and it's sometimes the only time I get to see them.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your formula is perfect! Really, for most people that run more days / week, the formula is the SAME just with more easy runs! That's it. Since you run 3x weekly and crosstrain more often, I basically replace your crosstraining with more running miles :)

    ReplyDelete

Because I value each & every comment I aim to respond to each one via email. Please make sure you are not a no-reply Blogger!