Should I Run Every Day?
I am 47. After years of weight training, which knackered my joints, I stopped exercising altogether for nearly two years. I am now running regularly, and my knees seem to be coping, but I am kinda nervous about the next big step: running 5/6 days a week. Will I cope? Will I get injured? What can I do to prevent/ameliorate any problems?
Answer by Dominique:
Thank you for your question about running five or six days a week.
My main question is: do you have to run five or six days a week?
More mileage and running more is inevitably linked to a higher risk of running injuries.
I am a big fan of cross-training, e.g. swimming, bike riding, weights, pilates, etc. Whatever you like doing best.
The benefit of doing cross-training is that you'll give your legs a rest from pounding the pavement, but still work on your fitness levels and health. In addition, better overall body strength (not just the "running muscles") will injury-proof you better.
Bike riding for example builds up stronger upper leg muscles which helps provide a lot more support to your knees.
Swimming and pilates help strengthen your core and upper body, again, helping you to prevent injury.
It's a big misconception that in order to run faster you need to run more. Of course, you do need some mileage into your legs. But a lot can be accomplished by doing quality workouts at the right time and at the right intensity, and then combining this with cross-training.
With quality workouts I mean your long runs, tempo runs and intervals, i.e. the "hard" workouts. There is a place for just easy running, but I'd much prefer a week of doing a long run, tempo run and interval workout combined with some bike riding, swimming or pilates over a week consisting of five/six days of running.
I have had to learn this the hard way, i.e. get some injuries, having to take time off etc because I was just pushing it way too hard. Now that I have backed down on higher mileage, but put in more quality workouts and cross-training my results are actually better.
Some related information you may wish to look at:
Cross Training for Runners
Hope this helps.