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How long can you run without stopping?

Everyone has a different baseline for how long they can run without stopping, depending on their fitness level.

Image credit:
Hayden Scott/500px/500px/GettyImages

Running, even in small amounts, offers a wealth of health benefits, from improved heart health to increased bone density. But whether you’ve been running for years, recently took a break, or are completely new to the sport, everyone has a different threshold for how long they can run without stopping.

With the help of an exercise physiologist, we analyze several different scenarios for where you are on your running journey and suggest ways to increase your endurance. And for more advanced runners, we flip the script to explain why running too much isn’t beneficial for athletic performance or overall health.

I am new to running

If you’ve never run before, start running at intervals of 30-60 seconds followed by walking for 30-60 seconds for a total of 10 minutes. In the Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Center of a Special Surgery Hospital.

Then, as your endurance builds up, you can start stacking up to 20-25 minutes of walking and running. The goal is to spend more time running (rather than focusing on running speed).

“I’m a huge fan of lengthening the time instead of actually trying to kill the intensity,” he tells

Beyond that 20-minute marker, Machowsky suggests lengthening the running portion of the interval. For example, if he was doing 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, he can start increasing it to 60 seconds on, 30 seconds off. Then he can transition off for 1 minute after turning it on for 90 seconds or 2 minutes. Try to run every other day to give your body enough time to recover.

As you increase your running intervals and decrease your walking intervals, you’ll find yourself reaching a point where you run (or jog) almost the entire workout.

running workout for beginners

Used to run competitively, but hasn’t run consistently in years

Let’s say you ran cross-country in high school, are now in your mid-twenties, and are about to sign up for a 5K in the next few months. If you haven’t maintained that running foundation in the last few years, you likely won’t be able to maintain the same robust endurance foundation as you did before, and this is to be expected from a physiological standpoint.

“The body usually remembers best what it has done in the past month, so if you haven’t done something in the past month, it may not pick up exactly where you left off.” says Machowsky.

However, if you’re someone with that background and typically jogging a few miles a week, you’re likely to be able to get back into the swing of things (a.k.a. a gradual increase mileage). Still, it’s a good idea to build slowly, especially at first, to avoid injury.

“I’m a huge proponent of walking and jogging, or walking and running, when you don’t have to run a mile away from the bat. [what] Your body can do it because you may not have been doing it for a long time,” says Machowsky.

There are many ways to follow a walking run regimen. One of his recommended combinations is 3 minutes on and he off for 1 minute.

If you haven’t run in a few years, you’ll likely run for a total of 10-15 minutes first. If you’re an occasional runner, doing these walking run workouts for a total of 20-30 minutes can help you increase your weekly mileage. is to listen to

“I always tell people that it’s easier to increase over time than to overdo it. [right] You go out the gate and are put to bed for weeks,” he says.

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you are an intermediate runner

For this type of runner, how long you can run without stopping depends on your specific goals, says Machowsky.

Machowsky says that if you’re just running to stay fit, using the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations as a guide might be a good option.

According to guidelines, adults between the ages of 18 and 65 should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days a week, or at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise three days a week.

For context, moderate-intensity cardio (including using an elliptical machine, biking, and swimming) should feel like you’re working, but not so much that you feel like you can’t talk to the person next to you. . On the other hand, intense cardio should feel like a lot of effort, and it should feel difficult to hold a conversation, says Machowsky.

If you’re looking to run a 5K or a half marathon, your training plan can make a big difference in how long you can run without stopping (think 30 minutes vs. 2 hours). Work with a running coach (or related professional) to help create a training plan that helps you reach your goals safely.

you are a seasoned runner

If you regularly run 40+ miles a week, identify if overtraining is a factor in your mileage rather than focusing on how long you can run without stopping. is more important, says Machowsky. running, running intensity, or both.

A seasoned runner may run five to six days a week, but 70 to 80 percent of that should be at low or moderate intensity, he says. If most of your weekly running falls into this intense intensity category, you may be at risk for burnout and overuse injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis.

“You need to be careful about how much you exercise each week and what percentage of that effort is used for higher intensity exercise or complementary cross-training to keep your body strong in other ways that support it.” says Machowsky. Say.

Incorporating cross-training into your training, such as swimming, cycling, and using an elliptical, is essential to avoid injury while maintaining endurance and supporting cardiovascular health. He says he has had success with clients who have reduced from 1 day to 4 days, supplementing the remaining 2 days with cross-training and strength training.

That’s not to say advanced runners can’t run five or six days a week. Like any sport or exercise, it’s all about the individual. Again, monitoring your body’s response to your current workload can help you determine which exercise combinations (and amounts) are right for you.

“I think you have to be contextual about everything in terms of your body and how it’s reacting and what’s the right blend. Not necessarily ‘to be a good runner, You don’t have to say, ‘I have to run six days a week,'” says Makowski.

However, the day after a hard effort on the track or doing hill repeats, you may not want to engage in an intense weight training session. , calves) typically take 48 to 72 hours to recover after a hard effort, says Machowsky.

Instead, it’s better to do a low-intensity shakeout run or cross training the day after a speed session or other intense workout.

“In fact, a little blood flow from lighter activity may help speed up recovery because the body is really hitting against its capabilities and not pushing it back to its limits, which increases the risk of injury.” from,” says Machowsky. .

Of course, you also need rest days. But taking a day off from cardio or resistance training doesn’t mean you have to sit all day. You can do light mobility work such as foam rolling or yoga.

“You need to give your body a day that doesn’t add flow or demand,” he says.