The global pandemic has upended daily life across the world, but plenty of exercise enthusiasts have seized this moment to work on their fitness. While gyms are closed, tracks, trails, and paths are rampant with runners.
“Right now, when the sun comes out, every path, park and neighborhood is crowded with runners,” Brooklyn Track Club Women’s Performance Team running coach Kate Gustafson told CNN. “I live in Brooklyn Heights and I’ve never seen so many people out running through Brooklyn Bridge Park at all hours of the day.”
Running’s rising popularity has brought back the age-old question: is it safe to run every day? For the new runner, it may be tempting to jump into a strict training schedule and go for a daily run, but experts wonder whether running everyday brings more benefits or risks.
Going for a run can result in positive mental health benefits linked to the release of endorphins resulting from exercise. Janet Hamilton, owner of Running Strong, explained to Runner’s World that running can help deal with anxiety and depression, or simply allow one to clear their mind. The fabled “runner’s high” is a goal many new runners yearn for, hoping to get there by running everyday.
According to Livestrong, running a 5K every day can bring immense physical health benefits, from stronger muscles to better cardio and weight loss. However, as many other sources suggest, Livestrong recommends starting slow, which could mean building up to a daily 5K with shorter runs or days off in between.
An unfortunate reality is that injuries can be common for new runners. Emma Obayuvana, fitness trainer and ambassador for Strong Women, recommends taking recovery days and changing the length and pace of each run to combat and prevent strains and pulls. Additionally, several training plans, including those from New York Road Runners and the New York Times, offer schedules with days off to allow the body to recover. Notably, taking the day off from running does not necessarily mean taking the day off from exercising; accessory work such as weight lifting or yoga is extremely beneficial towards increasing one’s running potential.
While it is important to establish a routine, charging into a daily running regime could cause mental exhaustion.
“We need time to recover mentally, and even taking one day off can give our bodies and minds the chance to do so,” Angela Fifer, PhD and member of Breakthrough Performance Consulting, told Runner’s World. “If we don’t let our bodies recover, there’s the chance of getting burnt out.”
Whether a regimen includes a run everyday or days off, it is important to listen to one’s body. Changes in sleep patterns, decreasing motivation, or injuries might be signs that a day off is needed. Every runner is different, and some may thrive with a consistent, strenuous schedule, while others may benefit from physical and mental recovery days. Despite the variety of opinions, the choice remains an individual one.
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