This Is How Far You Should Run Each Day

The answer seems like an arbitrary number, but it’s not.

Alyssa Atkinson
Jul 21 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Flo Karr on Unsplash

One of the top questions all runners have is how often, and for how long, they should run. This question seems impossible to answer. After all, everyone’s body is unique. We all have different levels of fitness, and varying degrees of running experience.

However, there is a magic number that all new runners, and new exercisers in general, should strive to hit. And it’s not to train for a specific race, or to lose weight, or to run a specific time. It’s simply to reap the benefits that running can offer every single human, in the easiest and most efficient way possible.

The number is surprisingly low — one mile.

Running a single mile can do a whole lot more for you than you think. Go out and log a mile every single day, and the following transformative things will happen.

1. You will actually stick to it.

If you’ve never run before, and you tell yourself that you’re going to go out and run 8 miles a day for the next 4 months, how long do you really think you’re going to last? If you set an unrealistic goal for yourself, you’ll get discouraged early on, and you’ll be more likely to quit.

But, telling yourself to run one mile a day is something that most people would agree is easily doable. It will probably take 15 minutes or less, and you’ll feel incredible once you finish. So, you’ll not only be more motivated to start, but you will also have an easier time sticking with it.

Before you know it, you will have created a sustainable habit without even realizing it. I’ve had friends who started out running a mile a day, and before they knew it, they already had a 60 day run streak going.

They were well on their way to achieving the ultimate goal of health and fitness — creating sustainable habits. If they can do it, so can you.

2. You’ll improve your heart health.

When you run, your lungs expand and contract at a faster rate. What this does is help you develop a more powerful respiratory system.

As a result, you are able to actively decrease your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other life threatening issues.

Furthermore, a stronger heart boosts your immune system, which prevents you from getting sick as often, and provides you with more energy throughout the day. So, not only will you potentially increase your overall lifespan, but you will also improve the quality of your day to day life.

3. You’ll build bone strength.

It may seem counterintuitive that loading your bones with extra stress will actually make them stronger.

But, think of it like lifting weights. If you want to build muscle, you have to break down those muscles, feed your body, give it rest, and allow the muscles to repair themselves and come back stronger.

It turns out, bone density can be treated in the same way.

As you run, that stress you put on your bones boosts your bone density gradually over time.

Now, you might be wondering why you hear stress fractures so often associated with endurance running. Well, that’s typically a result of either too heavy of a load placed on the body too quickly, under fueling, or a combination of both.

So, as long as you take a slow, healthy approach to running, you don’t need to panic about breaking bones. Starting off with one mile a day gives you that slow and steady build up that your body may need to adjust to running every day.

4. You’ll get smarter.

This one might be mind blowing to some. Running actually helps new grey matter grow in your brain.

What this essentially means is that you’ll be able to retain new information more quickly and easily than ever before.

Thus, not only will running a mile a day improve your physical health, but it will boost your mental performance as well.

There is a lot of untapped potential hidden inside your brain, and using running as a mechanism to bring it out is a phenomenal tool that you can and should utilize.

While running may not appeal to you, it’s still a hobby that you should consider picking up. It takes very little time out of your day, it’s easy to form into a habit, and the benefits of it far outweigh any negative feelings you might have towards it. You could even come to love it eventually.

So, don’t delay it any longer. Give running a fair shot, and you’ll soon see all the ways it will positively impact your life.

Runner's Life

Runner's Life is a publication for advice and stories from…

Sign up for The Runner's Life Newsletter

By Runner's Life

From the intersection of running and life, we share some of the best stories and highlights from the past week. By runners, for runners.  Take a look

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Alyssa Atkinson

Written by

Ohio U XC/Track Alum. Engineer grad. Runner. I blog about food, health, lifestyle, tech, etc. Tasty vegan recipes: nomeatfastfeet.com | YouTube: Alyssa Atkinson

Runner's Life

Runner's Life is a publication for advice and stories from the intersection of running and life.

Alyssa Atkinson

Written by

Ohio U XC/Track Alum. Engineer grad. Runner. I blog about food, health, lifestyle, tech, etc. Tasty vegan recipes: nomeatfastfeet.com | YouTube: Alyssa Atkinson

Runner's Life

Runner's Life is a publication for advice and stories from the intersection of running and life.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store