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 how many days a week
Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

how many days a week Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 4:10 pm 

All else being equal, do you think it's best to run more days a week, or less? Let's say you're doing 56 mpw. You might run every day, averaging 8 miles/day, or you might run six or five days and rest on the other days.

Packing the miles into six or five days a week would seem best to me: it gives you a few rest days to recover, and means more mileage and therefore more work on the days when you do run, which should provide a bigger benefit. Obviously that can't be taken to the extreme, though-- 56 miles on 4 days a week would be pushing it I'd say.

Anyone else see it differently? The only advantage I can see to running every day is that it lowers your daily mileage, and therefore might be easier on the body...


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: how many days a week Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 6:10 pm 

It's been a while since I've managed to run every day a week. I now run about 6 days a week and every so often I take an extra day off somewhere in the week for a total of 5 days of running that week.

I usually take the day after a long run off. If I adjust my schedule in a certain way I find that taking one day off can feel more like taking too days off. What I do is I run the same time every day, mornings for example. I take my scheduled day off, and then don't run again until until later in the day on the following day. I then stick to running in the evenings until my next scheduled day off and then resume running again in the mornings. Mentally, it seems like I'm taking two days off (48 hours) when in fact I'm only taking 36 hours off between sessions. The extra rest really seems to make a big difference. I come back after that 36 hours ready for a good quality workout.


OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: how many days a week Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 1:02 pm 

I went all through my last marathon training cycle running 5 days a week, but that peaked at 55 mpw. I really thought that I needed the rest to keep from beating up my body too much. This time around I'll be peaking at 70, and plan to go to 6 days a week. I'm hoping that with the pretty decent base I've maintained, I'll be able to do the 6 days a week without too much exhaustion/damage.

Bricks
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Chicago
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: how many days a week Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 1:09 pm 

I used to do 5, then started having knee and IT issues and cut it back to 4. This year, I've been doing 9, every two weeks, just to get me through the winter healthy with a decent base, but I hope to do 6 when my actual training plan starts up in several months. I think at least one recovery day of nothing is essential though. On different plans though, it's at a different place in the week...When do you prefer it? Before a long run, after a long run or before/after a differnet 'hard' day like speed work....?

OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: how many days a week Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 4:11 pm 

I always used to take Mondays and usually Fridays off, because that's where Pfitzinger put the rest days in the schedule I was following, so that always gave me a day off after my long run on Sunday, and then another one half a week later. Thursdays weren't always hard days, though. With the 6 day a week schedule, I think it's reduced to just Mondays off. I forgot to mention before, my cardinal rule is to try very hard never to take off two or more consecutive days. I find that if I do, I feel really lousy that first day back running.

mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: how many days a week Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 4:32 pm 

Really. Though I avoid taking two consecutive days off, when I do my legs always feel so fresh and strong and I know I can count on a good strong tempo run.

Pretender
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Kansas, OK
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 100

Re: how many days a week Posted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:59 pm 

Well I would hate to have to confess how many days a week I have been running for the last few weeks. I guess under threat of having a cattle prod zap my genitals, I would say that it has been only three days. But obviously I'm unhappy about this and vow to do better.

I understand the extra rest theory, but personally I believe I see more improvements in my performance when I increase the number of days a week I run. I aim for 6 days a week.


Bricks
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Chicago
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: how many days a week Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 2:31 pm 

Here's a hypothetical question: What's the best week? Point being, if you just go by weekly mileage is it better to spred out the mileage or get more quality workouts and recovery days or somewhere in the middle?

Week A - 4 Runs - 40 Miles
MO 5
TU 10
WE Rest
TH 5
FR Rest
SA 20
SU Rest

Week B - 5 Runs - 40 Miles
MO Rest
TU 4
WE 9
TH 4
FRI Rest
SA 20
SU 3

Week C - 6 Runs - 40 Miles
MO 3
TU 3
WE 8
TH Rest
FR 3
SA 20
SU 3


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: how many days a week Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 4:08 pm 

My first impulse is that I like week C. But on second thought I don't know if either of those examples are realistic. You are averaging around 3 miles/day and then doing 20 miles all on one day. If you're fit enough to do the 20 miles at a decent pace then you're going to lose that fitness eventually because you aren't doing enough milage throughout the rest of the week to sustain it. On the other hand, If the milage during the rest of the week is on par with your fitness then I question if you're fit enough to do 20 miles at a suitable pace. If you're really ready to do 20 mile runs on the weekend then you should be doing more milage during the week; like a medium long run of 12-15 miles somewhere in the middle of the week.

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: how many days a week Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 4:48 pm 

That's exactly the question I meant to ask, but I didn't explain it well.

I like week A. The others have too many short runs in my opinion, and a poor balance between the average run length on weekdays vs. Saturday. Unless you're a total beginner, I would never recommend doing a run shorter than 5 miles, because it's just too short to be worthwhile. You'll spend more time changing and showering than you will running. If you find yourself doing several 3 or 4 mile runs during the week, I think it's better to combine them into a single 6-8 mile run and take an extra rest day. I think this is sort of what mfox was saying as well.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: how many days a week Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 5:40 pm 

I think a 3 mile day is fine if it's on a day after a long run that you would otherwise take off. Instead of taking it off to rest, an EASY 3 mile run can be used for recovery by helping you stay loose and pumping blood through your muscles to remove any residual lactic acid. The run is just long and easy enough to get your muscles good and warm so you can focus your effort more on a good stretching session. Hopefull, you'll be good and ready to start the next weeks training schedule without feeling sore from the long run (the ol' "Delayed Onset Soarness" that can take 48 hours to kick in).

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: how many days a week Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 5:52 pm 

Agreed that the run will help with recovery. I still feel 3 miles is too short to be worthwhile, though. Would you do a 2 mile run workout? Half a mile? For me, about five miles is where I draw the line for getting a good fitness return on the time invested, but that may not be for everyone. I don't think there's anything bad about shorter runs, it's just that their small payoff is not worth the time it takes once you factor in changing in/out of clothes, showering, etc.

mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: how many days a week Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 6:09 pm 

Keep in mind the short run AFTER a long run is not meant to increase your fitness...but rather your recovery. Though I tend to take a day off before a long run...some people rather take it off after the long run. I suggest you might want to consider using that day for a very short easy run to help speed recover by flooding your leg muscles with blood and then doing a good stretch afterwards. In fact, this may be the only run you have during the week where you have a chance to really enjoy a nice leisurely stroll along your favorite route...especially if it's a route through the woods.

Bricks
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Chicago
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: how many days a week Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 7:55 am 

I may have left too much room for interpretation by having specific workouts for each day. My basic question I guess is more simple.

Runner A runs 40 MPW with 4 Runs/Week

Runner B runs 40 MPW with 5 Runs/Week

Runner C runs 40 MPW with 6 Runs/Week

The three runners happen to be triplets with identical bodies and abilities. All the runs, regardless of distance are run at the same pace, in the same weather, with the same clothes on at the same time of day, in the same city, on the same surface.......

Which of the triplets would you want to be?


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: how many days a week Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 10:01 am 

Maybe the three schedules might, realistically, look like this:

M T W R F Sa Su
A: 8 OFF 10 OFF 7 15 OFF

B: 6 8 OFF 6 8 12 OFF

C: 5 7 5 7 5 11 OFF

And in this case, I'd pick schedule C because I prefer to run more days during the week and mix up my runs with different types of workouts.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: how many days a week Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 10:06 am 

Hmm, I think it's harder to say without specifying the per-day workouts. My personal rule of thumb is to make most workouts about 5-7 miles, maybe one longer mid-week workout of about 10-13 miles, and a long Sunday run of 12-20 miles. If I'm targeting 40 mpw, and say I do 16 on Sunday and 10 on Wednesday, there's 14 miles left for the other days. You could do that as 5/5/4 and end up with five total running days, or 7/7 and get four total days.

That's just my approach though. As I think about this more, it's a pretty interesting question in general, and I'd be very curious to know what some of the experts think. Spreading out your mileage over more days means fewer rest days, but also means your runs are shorter and therefore less demanding. Hmm.


Runner58


Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 30

Re: how many days a week Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 9:03 am 

Last few months, I ran hard 3 days a week; like 10k, 15k and 20-25k, but the next week I'd take it really easy, like 3 days of 3-5 k runs.
- On this schedule, my achilles tendon healed and I felt my conditioning rising.


allen

Utah
Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Posts: 27

Re: how many days a week Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 11:04 am 

Dr. George Sheehan, who many years ago was medical columnist for Runners World said it takes 48 hours to recover from a hard run. I think the more important question is how much rest are you getting between hard runs.

Back in the 80s when I ran marathons, I ran 5 days a week. During the winter I ran 6 3 6 3 15 Then during the spring and summer I stretched it out to 10 5 10 5 15-20 I took Friday off to rest for my long Saturday run, and I took Sunday off to rest after the long run.

I'm older now (69) and am running 3 days per week, currently doing 3 1/3 each running day. After I work up to three 7 mile days, I'll keep the 7 miles and add a fourth day, starting at 1/2 mile and working that up to 3 1/2 miles. Then I'll add a fifth day and work it up to 3 1/2 miles. Then I'll start my long runs and will aim for the 45-50 mpw given above. I'm following the 10% rule as I increase my distance and m making sure I get sufficient rest between hard runs. I run at a long slow distance pace that is comfortable to me since I don't mix distance increases and speed increases. I figure it will be 2-3 years before I run another marathon.

I have a friend, who is in is late 40s, who runs 7 days per week for 70 mile weeks. He's been doing this for two years and is close to qualifying for Boston. I hope he can keep it up without getting injured...

/Allen


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: how many days a week Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:01 pm 

allen wrote:
I'm older now (69) and am running 3 days per week, currently doing 3 1/3 each running day. After I work up to three 7 mile days, I'll keep the 7 miles and add a fourth day, starting at 1/2 mile and working that up to 3 1/2 miles. Then I'll add a fifth day and work it up to 3 1/2 miles

That's interesting. Most sources I've seen advise against running the same distance every day, in favor of an easy day/hard day approach. I seem to recall a graph in Daniels Running Forumula that shows how training monotony increases injury risk, but I don't have it here at the moment.


allen

Utah
Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Posts: 27

Re: how many days a week Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:16 pm 

That's interesting. Most sources I've seen advise against running the same distance every day, in favor of an easy day/hard day approach. I seem to recall a graph in Daniels Running Forumula that shows how training monotony increases injury risk, but I don't have it here at the moment.

You're right about not running the same distance every day. My three days per week are generally M W F, although I sometimes slip a day by taking an extra rest day. For example, I might run M W Sa. Thus I am running heavy/light days, where my light days have no running. As I mentioned in my earlier post, when I reach three 7 mile days per week, I'll add a fourth day that will level off at 3.5 miles. Then I'll add a fifth day that will also level off at 3.5 miles. Thus, right now my light days have no running. Eventually my light days will be approx 1/2 my heavy days. In addition to all of this, on running days that I feel extra tired, I'll abort the run and take an extra rest day. The most I will run are five days per week.

/Allen


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