Every running routine starts with an essential question: how much should I run? How many miles, minutes or days per week is right? The short answer is: it depends. Here, we’ll walk you through a few factors to consider as you set up a weekly plan for your workouts. 

First, define your goal

Decide what it is you’d like to accomplish. Are you trying to get faster and beat a personal record? Run a marathon? Get more fit? Your end goal will help you determine how much you should run—and will help hold you accountable. Want some help finalizing your goal? How to set realistic running goals (and achieve them).

Assess your starting point

Take an honest look at how much you already run. If you’re running regularly (30 minutes 4-5 days per week), you can ramp up faster. If you’re starting from zero, don’t stress! You’ll just want to work up how much you run more gradually. Aim to move for 30-45 minutes a few times per week. Start with a walk and run for 30 seconds, gradually building up to 3 minutes at a time.

Branch out

Don’t be afraid to include other types of cardio workouts in your routine. Cycling or elliptical workouts will help build your endurance without the impact of running, decreasing the chance of an overuse injury. Gradually, you can increase the amount of running you do per workout session. When training for a marathon, work up to hour-long runs with weekly long runs between 2-3 hours in duration. 

Remember that fitness takes time

Be patient with yourself. Adding one or two runs per week from your baseline and increasing weekly mileage by 10-15% is generally safe. With experience, you can build on both frequency and duration of training to increase performance outcomes. Take your time!

Read more: Six tips to make time for running

Make it personal

There’s a lot of advice and guidance available in the running world. For more tailored tips, follow a custom training plan based on your needs. Ask experienced friends and runners for advice, hire a coach or join a running club. You’ll soon find yourself part of a running community that can help you reach your goals.