What is Better? Running Longer Distance or Running More Often?

what is better, distance or frequency?

I run for 30 minutes every other day with a 15 minute warm-up and a 15 minute cool-down. On the days in between I walk for 60 minutes.

I eventually want to be able to run 6-7 days per week.

What would my next step be, run longer on the days I run or start running on more days?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thanks for your running training question. It's an interesting one. And I am not sure there is one correct answer.

You can do both, depending on what you want to achieve. Just see if the below helps a little in making up your mind:

1. Follow the hard/easy principle
2. What are your goals and how would they influence what you do?
3. The more you run, the more strength training becomes important

Follow the Hard/easy Principle

Running training is generally best done in a hard/easy-pattern, i.e. one day hard, next day easy to recover.

what is better, distance or frequency?
What I like about your current exercise program is that you exactly follow that hard/easy approach. You run one day, walk the next.

Whether you start building up your current runs or start running more days, it is good to keep on working within that hard/easy pattern.

So, you could start running 6-7 days per week now. But rather than doing a 30 minute run with 15 minute warmp-up and 15 minute cool-down, you might just walk 50 minutes and run 10 minutes.

Once you are comfortable with these run/walks then you can add a bit of extra running to the run/walk-days or add a bit of extra running time to your run-days.

The page about increasing mileage safely can help you out further.

What Are Your Goals and How Would They Influence What You Do?

It depends a lot on your goals as well.

what is better, distance or frequency?
Is your goal to be fit and healthy and you do not have any particular racing plans? Then I would not recommend adding a lot of time to your current runs. I would recommend replacing some of the walking with running as we discussed in the previous section.

However, suppose you wish to run a race in the near future, maybe a 10k or a half marathon. Then it would be beneficial to start working on doing some longer runs.

In the end, more mileage is more mileage and will help make you a stronger, faster runner. But suppose you want to complete a half marathon, then it would be beneficial to build up your long run to about 10-11 miles for a first timer. If that is the case, I'd recommend running more on the run-days and keep walks as walks for the time being.

The More You Run, The More Strength Training Becomes Important

A couple of warnings.

what is better, distance or frequency?
When you run longer, the injury risk increases.

When you run more days, the injury risk increases.

You can manage the injury risk in a number of key ways:

1. Apply the hard/easy principle (as discussed).
2. Build up the running in a sensible way (see the link regarding increasing mileage).
3. Do strength training

Strength training is very important to build a more resilient, stronger body. You will likely find that you can push up the mileage to a certain level without strength training.

Strength training will help you go further. Also check out the strength training for runners page and the running injury prevention page for more information.

I hope this last part did not scare you off too much. Increasing the amount of running you do will make you fitter and faster. Just make sure you go about it the right way so you prevent running injuries.

Best of luck with your running.
Kind regards,

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