So here goes. I want to weigh in on a controversial topic and blow away a few myths. Run 5 miles a day. Is it good running every day? Is it advisable? Or will it leave you chronically injured doing nothing for your weight loss or fitness?
Like all good controversial running topics, the answer to this one is it depends. These are some of the things that will happen if you start running 5 miles a day:
- It will help with weight loss.
- Expect to take 30 to 60+ minutes to run 5 miles depending on how fast you run.
- It’s a good idea if a regular run helps your running motivation.
- It’s a bad idea if you’re injury-prone or brand new to running.
- Running the same 5-mile session every day will limit your ability to improve as a runner.
Read on to find out more. Is it okay to run 5 miles every day and what will it do to your body?
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✅ Want to find out what happened when I ran 5 miles a day for a month? You can read all about it at the foot of this post. I found that logging my runs every day helped to keep me going. This spiral-bound diary helped me set goals and I love the little motivational tips!
Will I Lose Weight Running 5 Miles A Day?
Now I’m the first to put my hand up and say there’s so much more to running than just losing weight. Yet let’s face the facts. A lot of people start running to lose weight. Especially at the start of a New Year!
So will running 5 miles a day help?
You bet it will! At least to begin with…
How does running help you lose weight?
Running is a terrific way to burn calories. In basic terms, weight loss is just about doing the math. 3,500 calories are equivalent to 1 pound of fat, so you need a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound in weight.
There are only two ways to build up a deficit, diet, and exercise. Running has one of the highest burn rates of any type of exercise. So running 5 miles a day will have a real impact.
How many calories will you burn running 5 miles?
A rule of thumb is most people burn 100 calories a mile. There are a few variables such as your weight, running efficiency, and speed.
For example, a trained athlete will burn less calories on an easy 5 mile run than someone who’s overweight, new to running, and trying to run as fast as possible.
😍 You burn a huge amount of calories on a 5-mile run. In general, most people running 5 miles will burn 500 calories. Run 5 miles a day and you can lose 1 pound a week.
This is based on one HUGE assumption!
Everything else must stay constant!
The big trap most runners fall into is eating more. Running makes you hungry!
Plus it’s easy to think; “I’ve just been for a run. I deserve a little reward”. If that reward is more than you would normally eat, it will take a big chunk out of your calorie deficit.
To lose weight running 5 miles a day you still need to watch what you eat. Running isn’t a green light for bingeing on chocolate cake! (I’ve tested this one).
Your calorie intake needs to be restricted to the recommended daily calorie intake – that’s generally 2000 calories a day for women and 2500 calories a day for men. (Reference NHS guidelines).
It’s not just consuming extra calories you need to watch out for:
- As you lose weight, your body needs less calories for its day-to-day functions. This means sigh you need to eat less to maintain the status quo.
- Running builds muscle and muscles are heavier than fat. You could end up swapping fat for muscles and not losing weight. It’s a good thing but if you want to check you’re losing weight in those troublesome body parts – so whip out a tape measure!
- Your body will adapt to running 5 miles a day. As it becomes an efficient running machine, it starts to burn less calories.
Finding this disheartening? Let’s get some perspective. The average runner weighs a lot less than non-runners who spend their spare time on the couch. So don’t be put off lacing up those running shoes.
Is It Good To Run 5 Miles A Day?
Read some comments about running 5 miles a day and you’re left with the impression you’ll self-destruct, elevate your hormone cortisol levels to a crisis state or be a sufferer of anorexia-related mental illness!
Let’s keep a sense of perspective.
If you’re a seasoned runner, 5 miles a day isn’t excessive. Especially if you’re relatively young. For most distance runners it’s a low weekly mileage. Think about those elite marathon runners clocking up over 100 miles every week!
Mo Farah reportedly runs twice a day, seven days a week. Compared with his typical 135-mile weeks, running 5 miles a day is a walk in the park.
How Long Does It Take To Run 5 Miles A Day?
That’s a bit like asking how long is a piece of string! It all depends on how fast you run. For a beginner runner, a pace of 10 to 12 minutes per mile is typical so a 5-mile run will take 50 to 60 minutes.
If you’re fit and young, you could be running at a much faster pace such as 7 to 8 minutes per mile. At a 7-minute mile pace, your 5-mile run will take only 35 minutes.
If you’re a slow runner, don’t worry about it. You’re still faster than anyone sitting on the couch! A 15 minutes per mile pace is still moving. Just allow 1 hr 15 minutes to complete the distance.
When It’s OK To Run 5 Miles A Day…
It depends on what your body can cope with. If you wake up one morning and think; “I haven’t run or exercised for years but I’m going to start running 5 miles a day”, you’re in for a shock.
Suddenly launching into any exercise or running program without a build-up period is asking for trouble. You won’t have the leg strength and fitness level to withstand the daily impact on your body of running 5 miles a day.
Just remember, getting injured sucks, so when you first start running take it SLOW. Yet this doesn’t mean you can’t build up to 5 miles a day…or mix up running and walking.
Our bodies are designed to move. Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers running down prey, gathering berries, and constantly moving camps. Some people, in what’s left of the Amazon Rain Forest, still live this way!
Most people should be able to walk 5 miles a day. It’s not a big deal. Just about all of us benefit from a dose of daily exercise.
When It’s Not Okay To Run 5 Miles A Day…
If you’re injury-prone, new to running, a heavier or older runner, running every day may be excessive. That doesn’t mean it’s bad to run every day, you just need to be more cautious.
Some people take longer to recover from a run and need rest days. It doesn’t mean you can’t still be active on those days, (walking, swimming, cycling), it can just be a good idea to give your body a rest from running.
It’s normal to find more serious runners who run 5 or 6 days a week without getting injured. While most runners will take one or two rest days, that doesn’t make it essential.
Running one of your 5 mile runs each week at a very easy pace won’t make much difference if you’re used to running a high mileage.
You do need to make sure you invest in a good pair of running shoes and change your running shoes regularly. (500 miles is the recommended life span – when you run every day it doesn’t seem a lot). Training on soft trails and avoiding the hard impact of tarmac also helps.
Read some extra tips to start running at 50 plus.
Is It Good To Run Every Day?
This is where my “it depends” comes into play.
The main question is what are your running goals?
If you’re running purely for the enjoyment of running, the chance to take a break from work and benefit from exercise, running the same 5-mile distance every day could be just what you need.
Your body knows what to expect. You don’t need to think about how far you’re running, what type of session you’re going to run – just head out the door.
Sometimes simplicity is best. If the familiarity of running 5 miles a day helps you exercise regularly, it has to be good. Provided your body copes well without rest days, ignore the naysayers.
If you’re training to run faster and compete in races, running the same 5 miles a day isn’t the best approach.
To run faster you need to keep challenging your body – add some strength training sessions plus intervals to boost your heart rate. Vary the distance with a long run every week plus some shorter distances, add intervals, hill runs, fartlek, and mix up your training. It’s difficult to improve as a runner if you keep running the same distance every day.
If you’re running to lose weight, you may hit a plateau running the same distance every day. Your body gets used to the distance, your running style becomes more efficient and your lighter frame doesn’t burn as many calories.
Just like the runner who wants to get faster, setting new challenges for your body will help with weight loss. Try running further a few times a week, add in intervals or attack some hills. Find a running group to help with motivation.
The Benefits Of Running
Whether you decide to run 5 miles a day, one mile a day, or adopt a varied training program, running is hugely beneficial. You can read about the effects on your body in my post:
My life has been defined by running. It’s been my passion, got me out of bed in the morning on a cold winter’s day, led me to explore remote places, and have unique adventures – things you’d never do on a tourist package holiday.
For me, the fact that it keeps me fit and reduces my risk of chronic disease – heart disease, stroke, cancer, and neurological diseases, is just a huge plus. I would happily run anyway.
I didn’t feel that way when I first started running. In the first few weeks running was tough but when you stick at it you soon start to enjoy the health benefits of running – feeling fitter, stronger, and sleeping better.
If you really struggle to start running, you have a lot of excess weight or you haven’t exercised in years, it’s best to start with a walking for weight loss plan. You can always return to running when you’re feeling stronger.
Here’s What Happened When I Started Running 5 Miles Every Day
After writing this post, I decided to give running every day a try. Previously I’d never been a fan of daily running but it’s not because I have any strong views against it – I just find I run better when I add rest days to my training schedule. Yet even on rest days I normally go for a walk or do some yoga.
I’d lost a bit of my mojo for running. It can happen when the weather’s bad or I’m distracted by other things in my life. Sometimes I just need a wake-up call to remember how much I LOVE to run. I reckoned knowing I had to go out for a run every day – NO MATTER WHAT – would help.
So here’s what happened when I started running 5 miles every day for a month:
I improved my motivation for running:
My legs felt dead for the first week so I alternated easy runs on the flat with my normal hilly run. It really helped to know I had to go out for a run whatever the weather. I couldn’t talk myself out of running!
My running pace was very slow to begin with but by the second and third week my body adjusted to the extra miles.
I was ravenous at first and found it very hard not to eat everything in sight! Eventually, my appetite went back to normal but I didn’t lose any weight in the first two weeks.
In week three I lost 1 pound and in week four I lost 2 pounds. It could have been more but I was still eating a few extra treats.
Running Niggles Seemed To Clear Up Running Every Day
At the start of running every day my knees were a bit sore from a steep indoor climbing session. I could feel a few niggles running but they eased off once I warmed up. Normally I’d take a day or two off training.
I realized after a few days my left knee had recovered without taking a rest and by the second week, both knees were sound. Maybe sometimes I’m too quick to take time off when my body doesn’t really need it.
By week four I got bored of running 5 miles every day and started mixing things up. I had a couple of longer 8-mile runs interspaced with short easy 1-2 mile days.
I Only Took One Day Off Running In A Month
In one month of running, I only took one day off. I felt terrific, lost a little weight, and felt I was running faster. It’s certainly worth trying if you’re a reasonably experienced runner. If you’re new to running, start by running a mile a day and build up the distance gradually.
6 months later and I’m feeling good about my running. I’m running a lot more frequently than usual – not always every day but if I don’t manage a run I normally fit in a 5-mile walk. Apart from a few small niggles – less than usual, I’ve stayed injury-free.
I Lost Some Weight
Did I lose weight running every day? Yes but not a huge amount. I’ve been running for so many years my body adapted quickly to running more frequently. Unless I’m training hard for an event and really increasing my mileage, I don’t lose a lot of weight just from running. Watching my diet, and avoiding too many treats, has the biggest impact on my weight.
That doesn’t mean running frequently won’t help with weight loss. It’s just you can’t expect to eat carrot cake after a run and lose the pounds! I’m still a healthy BMI and that’s all that matters to me.
I’d love to hear your views. Have you tried to run 5 miles a day and do you recommend it?
If you’re a new runner it’s best to build your mileage gradually and take one or two rest days of light exercise such as walking. For a seasoned runner it’s OK to run 5 miles a day, but if you’re injury prone, new to running, a heavier or older runner, running every day may be excessive.
Weight loss depends on calorie deficit. Running 5 miles a day will burn 3500 calories a week which is equivalent to 1 pound of fat. Provided you keep to the recommended daily calorie intake – that’s generally 2000 calories a day for women and 2500 calories a day for men, you should lose weight. If you’re running 5 miles a day and not losing weight the culprit is probably your diet. Try and eat fewer calories by filling up on fruit and vegetables.
This really depends on your age, gender and ability. Running times are personal and it’s better to aim for continuous improvement. For some people running 5 miles in 60 minutes is a massive achievement. For other runners anything more than 30 minutes is slow. As a rough guide, most regular runners will manage 5 miles in less than 45 minutes.
If you’re injury prone, new to running, a heavier or older runner, running everyday may be excessive. It’s always important to build your mileage slowly. When you first start running take walking breaks when your running form starts to suffer. It’s always okay to take rest days. Use your rests days for light low impact exercise such as walking, swimming or yoga.