How far should I run?
How fast should I run?
Let's start with how often you should be running. Three times a week will provide a good foundation for a running program. Running at least three times weekly, barring any pains or injury, will help you build good cardio strength and acclimate your body to the rigors of running. You can run more often, however it is never a good idea to run everyday as your body needs time to recover and rebuild.
How far you run depends on your current fitness level and your training goals. If you are a new runner with very little running experience, it is best to start with a walking program or a walk/run program. If you have been running for some time and can cover a good distance (2-3 miles or more), then your distance should be based on your goals.
The distance you cover should also vary during the week. If you are running 3 times a week, two of your runs could be shorter distances, either by a specific time (run for 20 minutes) or a specific distance (2 miles). These shorter runs can incorporate a quicker pace to help build speed and strength. The third run of your week should be a long run. Long runs are runs in which you increase your distance, but cover the distance about 1-2 minutes slower than your shorter pace.
For example, if you are looking to increase your distance from a 5K (3.1 miles) to a 10K (6.2 miles), then you will need to train to increase your endurance and running distance. In doing so, your first weekly long run to increase distance may be 4 miles, running about 1 minute slower than your 5K run pace. The goal is to cover the distance and enjoy the run, not worrying about pace. Running farther at a slower distance will help you run faster at shorter distances. The following week try to increase your long run to 4.5 or 5 miles, increasing about 1/2 mile to a mile each week. Don't forget if you need to take walk breaks then do it!
Now we come to the most difficult question, how fast should you run? This question is difficult because if you are just starting to run, you may not know how fast you can run or you know you can't run that fast.
Speed, like distance, is dependent upon your overall running goals. As a beginner, you can't expect to just go out and run fast. In fact, I would say that it would be best to start out going slow. Reliving old high school track days will often lead to early injuries. Try to determine a comfortable running pace to get a foundation for where you are, to then begin to develop speed.
To determine your comfortable running pace, mark off a distance that you know you can cover easily (no more than a mile). Time your run and then determine what that time would be for a mile (if your marked distance was less than a mile). Repeat this for a couple of times and take the average for your average running pace
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