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The Benefits of Running 5 Miles a Day

Running is a pleasurable, addictive habit that can change your life for the better. Ask any dedicated runner and they’ll tell you as much. Some runners go out for just a handful of miles per week, while others dedicate themselves to running every day. One way or the other, running regularly is great for your body, and great for your mind. A five-mile run can do wonders for you. A five-mile run every day? That’s a seriously good habit.

In this article, we’ll discuss all the reasons why you might want to start this habit, as well as how to do it.

If you’re looking to lose weight and burn calories, we’ll also give you some insight there as to what to expect.

By the end, you’ll want to dash out the door for a 5-mile run!

Why Should I Start Running?

Let’s start with the basics first. Before we start talking about why you would consider running five miles, let’s think about why you should consider running at all.

Improve Your Cardio Fitness

The American Heart Association recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or some combination of the two, every week.

Running is a great way to check off that box and improve your cardio fitness. Given those numbers, you only have to run 15 minutes, five days a week, to meet the 75-minute requirement. 25 minutes three times a week, which is totally doable, also fits the bill.

Improve Your Health

The best way to improve your health is to move more. Whether you want to improve your heart health, your oxygen intake, or just be more physically fit, pounding the pavement on runs will put you in the best shape of your life.

Burn Calories

Running is one of the best calorie-burning activities out there. People who want to burn a lot of calories run because you’ll burn calories more quickly as compared to other activities like biking or walking.

Improve Your Daily Mood

Finally, the runner’s high is a real thing. There is nothing like starting your day with an early morning run, knowing that you got your exercise in. It’s hard for your day to completely tank after that mood-boosting, endorphin-filled run!

Why Should I Run Five Miles a Day?

Okay. Let’s say you’re convinced about the whole running thing. Maybe you have been running, but this article title intrigued you because you wanted to know what was so magical about five miles a day. It turns out: a lot! Let’s look at all the reasons why five is great!

Challenging But Achievable Goal

If you’re just starting to get into running, or if you’ve been mostly running 5ks (3.1 miles), 5 miles is going to be more challenging. But it’s not as overwhelming as say a half marathon (13.1 miles).

You’ll have to push a little harder to get those extra 2-3 miles in, but it shouldn’t take you more than 15-30 minutes more. You’ll be working hard enough to make some progress, but it won’t be so challenging that you want to quit.

Benchmark Distance for Runners

Many runners see five miles as a benchmark distance. Once you can do that, you can tackle any distance. For example, once you can do five miles, a 10k is easy. It’s just an additional 1.2 miles.

Likewise, once you’re spending 40 or so minutes on a run, it’s not a huge difference to make it an hour. For me personally, once I hit the five-mile mark—a mid-distance length, if you will—I knew I could do longer runs.

A Great Workout Without Being Too Long

Finally, depending on how fast you run five miles, you’re probably looking at a 30-50 minute workout. In most cases, it’s under an hour. This is ideal for most people. It’s good to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in, but once it gets past an hour, it can be overwhelming.

In that way, five miles is perfect because it’s long enough for a good workout but short enough that it won’t take too long to run. You’ll be able to get it in before work relatively easily, or after you’ve put the kids to bed before it gets super late. And you won’t spend your entire Saturday morning doing it.

Will I Lose Weight Running Five Miles a Day?

If you run five miles a day and are eating a healthy, balanced diet, you probably will lose weight. A good estimate is to say that you’ll burn 100-150 calories per mile. That means that if you run five miles seven days a week, you’ll burn at least 3,500 calories in a week. This is the number you need to lose a pound a week from exercise alone.

To reiterate: you can put yourself in an even better position by eating right. And unless you’re serious about doing five miles every day, you’ll need some help from cutting calories from food. Plus, it’s just good to be on a healthy diet.

How Many Calories Will I Burn If I Run Five Miles?

100-150 calories per mile is a very rough estimate. If you want a better plan for dropping pounds, you need numbers specific to your weight. Fortunately, the American Council of Exercise has a chart that will tell you roughly how many calories you’ll burn based on your weight.

As an example, if you’re 120 pounds, you’ll burn around 11.4 calories per minute of running. That means that if it takes you 45 minutes to run five miles, you’ll burn about 513 calories. However, if you’re 140 pounds, you’ll burn 594 calories.

Let’s say that you’re 180 pounds. You’ll burn 17 calories per minute. If it takes you an hour to cover five miles, you’ll burn over 1,000 calories. Someone who is 120 pounds and takes an hour would burn 684 calories.

Remember that there are other factors to keep in mind, like where you typically run. You’ll burn more calories running up hills or doing speedwork as compared to steady-state cardio or flat terrain. If you have to push yourself harder, you’ll burn more calories.

How Do I Start Running Five Miles a Day?

If you want to get into the habit of running five miles a day, you just have to start doing it. While it likely won’t be super pleasant those first couple days, if you can push through, then it will become more natural. You might also want to try these tips too!

Build Up Mileage Slowly

The most important thing is that you don’t jump into running five miles a day too quickly. First, start by trying to run 1-2 miles a day and then gradually add more miles each week. Be sure to follow the 10% rule and don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% each week.

Run/Walk as Needed

If you haven’t been running five miles before, you may need to ease into it and run/walk some. Don’t be afraid to split things up like this until you’re able to run five miles straight. It just is best to decide ahead of time how you’re going to do it.

You might plan to run 2 miles, walk 0.5 miles, run one mile, walk 0.5 miles, and then run the last mile. Planning your intervals ahead will help you be strategic about it.

Run at a Comfortable Pace

Remember: you just need to run five miles a day. It doesn’t matter how fast you do it. Run at a pace that is comfortable for you. If you’re not sure if you’re running too hard, try the talk test. Can you say the Pledge of Allegiance without gasping for breath?

If your answer is no, then you’re running too fast and should slow down. If you have a GPS watch, it’s probably better just to check it when it buzzes after you’ve run a mile. Don’t be worried about time. Just do what’s comfortable to you.

Do a Good Warm-Up

Finally, to avoid injuries, make sure that you make time for a good warm-up. This includes dynamic stretching and maybe a brief walk or jog before you get started. Even five minutes is sufficient, so don’t worry: your workout won’t end up being two hours long!

How Do I Make Running a Habit?

Honestly, the answer to this question is to figure out how you’ve successfully added habits (good or bad) into your life. Maybe you don’t check your phone during particular periods of time. How did you start that habit? Just replicate for running. You can do this in a couple ways.

Schedule It Into Your Day

Schedule your runs just like you would schedule work assignments or a hot date on the weekend. You wouldn’t skip either of those, so you shouldn’t skip your runs either. Make sure that if you schedule a run, you do it!

Don’t Worry About Missing a Day

Have you had an especially rough day? Is it pouring outside? Can’t get to the gym to use a treadmill? Don’t sweat it. Don’t worry about missing a day. Just pick up the next day from where you left off.

Keep a Running Log

If you want to see progress, you have to start keeping a log. That can be as simple as a checkmark on the calendar every day that you run five miles. Or it could be writing down information about your run in a notebook (digital or physical).

If you have a GPS watch, you might not even have to do anything to get a bunch of running data except sync your watch to your phone app. Then you’ll have weeks, months, and even years of data available at your fingertips.

Sign Up For a Goal Race

Finally, having an end goal in sight is always a good idea. You might consider signing up for a race of your choice. You could either go with a 10k, which is a little bit longer than five miles, or you could register for a 5k. If you can run five miles, you can run a strong 5k.

You might even be able to find a five-mile race depending on where you live. If that’s the case, you might as well do the distance that you know well. Turkey Trots on Thanksgiving tend to range from a 5k to 5-mile distance.

Final Thoughts

If you run five miles a day, every day will be Cinco de Mayo (well, without the tacos and queso)! Seriously, though running cinco (five) miles every day is a great way to stay healthy, get a great mood boost, and feel like you got an amazing workout in less than an hour. Who can complain about that?

Rachel Basinger
The Wired Runner