If you’re looking to take on a new running challenge this year, then why not consider running 5 miles a day?
Running every day has its pros and cons. Some runners can see the benefits, others feel running every day is a bit excessive.
Whatever camp you’re in, this guide will explain the pros, cons and benefits of running 5 miles a day so you can decide for yourself if this running challenge is for you.
In this guide we’ll explore:
- Is it good to run every day?
- Who should run 5 miles a day?
- How long does it take to run 5 miles?
- Benefits of running 5 miles a day
- Pros and cons of running 5 miles a day
- How will running 5 miles a day change my body?
- How to start running 5 miles a day: 6 actionable tips
Let’s get going!
Is it good to run every day?
Running every day is a controversial topic in the running community.
Whatever your preference, your running habits, including how often you run, will come down to two things:
- Your running goals
- Your fitness levels
If your goal is to simply get outdoors more and enjoy running, then the 5 miles a day running challenge may just be for you.
On the other hand, if your goal is to train for your first half marathon, then running 5 miles a day won’t be the best approach.
Related: Running a mile a day: Benefits + 9 reasons to do it
Who should run 5 miles a day?
The 5 mile a day running challenge isn’t for everyone. It can be quite gruelling running 5 miles each day, so you’ll need the mindset and motivation to keep you going.
Running 5 miles a day is for you if:
- You’ve got a good base level of fitness and can comfortably run for 30-45 minutes without stopping. If you cannot run without stopping, then you may need to build up your endurance and stamina before starting the challenge.
- You’ve run 5k and 10k runs in the past. If you’re new to running, then the 5 mile a day challenge may be too excessive.
- You’re not injury-prone. Running 5 miles a day is quite taxing on the body, so if you regularly experience niggles and injuries, then the challenge is not for you.
Running 5 miles a day is not for you if you’re a beginner runner, overweight or injury-prone.
Related: How long does it take to run a mile? Fastest mile time + averages by age and gender
How long does it take to run 5 miles?
How fast you run 5 miles will depend on various factors, including your age, gender, fitness levels and running experience.
- A novice runner can expect to finish a 5 mile run in over an hour at around 1 hour 15 minutes. This equates to a pace of around 15 minutes per mile.
- A beginner runner can expect to finish in 50 to 60 minutes. This equates to a pace of between 10 and 12 minutes per mile.
- An intermediate to advanced runner can expect to finish in 35 to 40 minutes. This equates to a pace of between 7 to 8 minutes per mile.
You can use a running pace calculator to work out how fast you expect to complete your 5 mile run.
Related: How to run an 8 minute mile
Benefits of running 5 miles a day
There are many benefits of running 5 miles a day, but it really comes down to personal preference as to whether you take on this challenge.
Whether you’re looking to shake up your running routine, or simply want a running challenge to work towards, here are the pros and cons of running 5 miles a day.
Related: How to use Jeff Galloway’s magic mile running test
Pros of running 5 miles a day:
#1 Improves your aerobic fitness
By running 5 miles a day, you will be taking some pretty big leaps to improve your aerobic fitness.
The UK Chief Medical Officer recommends you get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes or vigorous aerobic exercise each week.
Greater amounts of exercise will provide an even greater health benefit.
#2 Improves your health
As the old saying goes, “movement is medicine” and by running daily you become not only physically fit but mentally fit.
Studies show that running can help to lower your blood pressure, improve blood sugar control, improve symptoms of stress and anxiety and reduce body fat percentage.
#3 Helps you burn calories
Running is one of the best forms of exercise to help you lose weight because it requires many different muscles to work hard together.
Unlike swimming and cycling, running does not have a high barrier to entry, so many people turn to running to achieve their weight loss goals.
High intensity running like interval training and hill running, in particular, help to burn more fat as they continue to burn calories up to 48 hours after you work out.
Related: How many miles should I run a day? Benefits + risks of running every day
#4 Boosts your mood
You may have heard of the term ‘runner’s high’ – that relaxing feeling after you’ve had a good run.
According to Hopkins Medicine, when you hit your stride during a run, your body releases ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins.
These hormones are the chemicals behind ‘runner’s high’ – the euphoric feeling that you get after exercise.
#5 Establishes a regular running routine
By running 5 miles a day, you will establish a regular and, more importantly, consistent running routine.
Consistency is key when it comes to becoming a better runner.
Related: How to fit a run into a busy schedule
Cons of running 5 miles a day:
#1 Increases the risk of injury
The 5 mile a day running challenge can be taxing on the body, especially if you’re new to running or have a history of injuries like runner’s knee or shin splints.
Practice good running form to minimise the risk of injury and get into the habit of listening to your body.
If your body is telling you to rest or take a recovery day, then listen and take heed.
#2 Increases the risk of overtraining and burnout
Overtraining and burnout are common problems for runners, especially when training for a long distance event like a half marathon, marathon or ultra marathon.
Running 5 miles a day isn’t for the faint-hearted, and if you fail to take the proper precautions, you may risk doing more harm than good.
Make sure you take rest and recovery days when needed, and fuel your body in the proper way before and after each run and stay hydrated.
Stretching and foam rolling are also great additions to any training routine.
#3 There’s no progression
An integral part of any training plan is progression.
A well-rounded training plan will account for a 10% increase in mileage each week.
By running 5 miles a day, you’re effectively running the same distance every day which means you won’t see a vast improvement in your running.
The bottom line? Running 5 miles a day will limit your ability to improve as a runner.
#4 There’s no variety
If you’re looking to up your running game, then running 5 miles a day may not be the best challenge to do.
In order to become a stronger and faster runner, you need to challenge your body by adding variety into your training plan.
Variety = running + the right amounts of speed training, strength training and cross training.
Pounding the pavement each day will only get you so far in terms of endurance, strength and stamina.
Sooner rather than later you will need to add activities like speed training (such as interval training and tempo running) and strength training (in the form of bodyweight or weighted exercises) to help you achieve your running goals.
#5 Your race training will be on hold
If you’re training for a long distance event like a half marathon or marathon, then your race training will have to be on hold whilst you complete the 5 mile a day running challenge.
Training for a half marathon or marathon necessitates a certain type of training plan with set goals each week, so replacing this by running 5 miles a day may not be the best approach.
How will running 5 miles a day change my body?
Running is a great way to burn calories. Along with cycling, it has one of the highest burn rates of any type of exercise.
By running 5 miles a day you can expect to lose weight if that is one of your goals by doing the challenge.
Most people burn 100 calories per mile when running. This means if you run 5 miles per day, you can expect to burn up to 500 calories each day.
It’s important to note that there are factors and variables that affect your ability to burn calories, such as your weight, running speed, running efficiency and nutrition habits.
You will still need to watch what you eat when you do the challenge.
As with any exercise, nutrition is just as important, if not more important, then the exercise itself when you’re looking to lose weight.
Your calorie intake will need to be restricted to the recommended daily intake which is 2000 calories for women and 2500 calories for men.
The key takeaway? You need to combine a calorie-controlled diet with exercise in order to lose weight.
Related: Running for weight loss: The most effective running workouts to help you lose weight
How to start running 5 miles a day: 6 actionable tips
Now you know all about the pros and cons of running 5 miles a day, here are 6 actionable tips to help you get started.
#1 Start slow
Running 5 miles a day can be taxing on the body, so you’ll want to start slow and maintain a steady pace in the first few weeks of the challenge.
Aim to maintain a conversational pace on your runs in the first few weeks until your body gets used to the increased mileage.
If you run at a fast pace from the get go, you risk burnout and injury.
#2 Take walking breaks when needed
Although it’s a running challenge, by all means schedule walking breaks when you need to.
Walking has many benefits and is seen as a form of cross training, so can be done on ‘active recovery’ days if you need a break from running.
#3 Wear the right running shoes
A decent pair of running shoes are a must when running, no matter the running distance.
A good pair of running shoes will help to absorb the shock when your foot lands on the ground and encourage your feet to move in a safe and efficient manner.
Check out my running shoes guide for more information and tips on finding the right pair of running shoes.
#4 Refuel and hydrate
As you will be running every day, it’s important you fuel your body in the right way to ensure it gets the energy it needs to maintain the running habit.
You will likely have increased hunger pangs in the first few weeks of the challenge whilst your body gets used to daily exercise.
Aim to have carbohydrates and protein as your two main energy sources during the challenge.
You can read more about the role of carbs in my carb loading for runners guide.
#5 Listen to your body
Whilst running 5 miles a day is a worthwhile challenge, if at any point you feel pain or a niggling injury, listen to your body and stop running.
Don’t be tempted to run through the pain as you risk making the injury worse.
Many runners opt to run without a running watch or running app so they can simply enjoy running without worrying about pace or heart rate and more importantly listen to their body.
Technology, whilst helpful on your run, can be a distraction. Simply listen to what your body is telling you on your run.
#6 Rest when you need to
Knowing when to rest and when to run is an integral part of being a runner. It takes practice but you will soon learn when your body needs a rest day.
The 5 miles a day challenge can be daunting, so if you ever feel you need to take a day off, then go ahead and do so.