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Running 3 Miles A Day: All You Need To Know

Most people know that more exercise, like running, in their routine can be beneficial. How about running 3 miles a day, is it a good idea?

Running 3 miles, 4.83 km, may be popular due to the intuitive attractiveness of the number 3 but that doesn’t mean this is the best distance for your goals with running.

Even if your body is physically capable of it, running 3 miles every day is likely not the best idea for preparing yourself to run a fast race. If your goal with exercising is optimal health you generally want to lift heavy weights at least twice a week. Running on these days may not be a great idea.

That being said, even if it isn’t the number 1 routine for athletic performance or physical health, getting to running 3 miles a day and sticking to it can be a fun goal in itself. It is certainly often better than doing no exercise. Do keep the physical limits of your body in mind.

Is it safe to run 3 miles a day?

The first thing you want to consider before implementing a workout routine is how much physical activity your body can currently handle. Depending on your personal situation running 3 miles a day may or may not be a good idea.

Consistency is a big part of working out. The effectiveness of your workout plan will go down drastically if you can’t run for 2 weeks every month because of injuries.

Here are a few important factors to consider to find out if 3 miles a day would be within your physical capabilities.

How active are you currently?

Running 3 miles a day is not a workout routine many people are able to start right away. It’s possible that your last serious workout session was a few months or years ago. This can cause a few problems.

Your muscles adapt to the things you put them through. If you work them out a lot they will generally become stronger. If you don’t use them they will generally become weaker.

If you start (to try) running 3 miles a day with muscles that are not used to it the risk of an injury will be relatively high. On top of that, your muscles will initially need more recovery time. You may need some rest days instead of being able to run 3 miles every single day.

Your heart is a muscle too. In the best worst case you will run out of breath before you can finish the 3 miles. In the worst case, you overwork your heart.

If you are currently relatively active running 3 miles a day is definitely possible in terms of your heart and other muscle capacities.

How much do you weigh?

Running is a high-impact workout. That means that this exercise can be rough on body parts like ankles, knees, and back.

If you carry around a lot of extra weight, both from muscle and (more often) fat, these shocks will be even harder. If you are in a situation like that, walking, the elliptical trainer, swimming, or other running alternatives may be better workout choices to start with to avoid injuries.

Are you injury sensitive?

Even if you are physically fit, running 3 miles every day may not be a good idea simply because you are injury-sensitive in the wrong places. Some people are injury sensitive in general, others just in a specific area that running engages a lot.

Some people who are at a healthy weight, in great shape, use a good pair of running shoes, eat very healthy can’t run every day because of sensitive shins. Doing so would cause injuries like shin splints.

It is possible that your body is able to deal with running twice a week but that you need to do lower-impact exercises on the other days.

Conclusion

Whether or not running 3 miles a day is safe is very hard to predict since it is so different from person to person.

For more experienced athletes who are lean and not injury sensitive, running 3 miles a day is likely safe. For many other types of individuals running 3 miles a day may require some extra training at shorter distances.

The message here is rather safe than sorry. If you’re not sure it may be smart to start out at lower distances and see how that goes. If any body parts start to hurt that may be a sign that you need more rest in between your runs.

What is your goal with running?

The next question you need to ask yourself is what goal you are aiming for with running 3 miles a day. More running, and more working out in general, is not always better.

Let’s say you want to be able to run as fast as possible in your next 5k race. The best training schedule for that is unlikely to be running the same distance every day.

Another popular reason many people start to and stick to running is to lose weight. Even if your body can run with the extra pounds without getting injured you likely want to have some weight lifting days too.

If your goal with exercising is optimal health and longevity running 3 miles a day is likely not the best choice either. Again, you preferably want to implement some weight lifting days too (1).

Despite these things, being able to run 3 miles a day and sticking to it every day can be a fun goal in itself even if it’s not the best for other purposes. For most people running 3 miles every day is also a lot better than doing nothing.

How long should it take to run 3 miles?

Your average running speed will vary because of details like age, running surface, where you run, physical fitness, weather, and much more.

If you are more of a running beginner, running 3 mile will take somewhere around 36 to 45 minutes and potentially longer.

A non-professional athlete who is relatively in shape can generally run 3 miles in about 24 to 30 minutes.

At the time of writing the world record time for running 5000 meters, 3.1 miles, is 12:35.36 by Joshua Cheptegei set in 2020 (2).

These times can be useful to get an idea of how much time of your schedule your run takes. If you are trying to put on a performance it is generally better to compare your current running time to your previous running times instead of the running speed of other people.

Will running 3 miles a day help you lose weight?

Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.

One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual. Running 3 miles a day can help with weight loss since doing a workout like it generally requires more energy than most of your usual daily activities.

Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.

Running 3 miles a day calories burned

The average person will burn 284-488 calories when running 3 miles.

Below you can find a table with more precise estimations for individuals of different weights running at different speeds based on MET values. The numbers may seem counterintuitive but remember that the faster you run the less time you spend running.

Keep in mind that these are estimations. The calculation method doesn’t take into account certain factors that do influence calories burned with running. Also keep in mind that these are rounded numbers.

To put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (4). Running 3 miles a day will likely get you more in shape but to really get in shape most people will have to implement other lifestyle changes besides running.

Speed
Weight Person
Running (5 mph/8.1 kmh)Running (6 mph/9.7 kmh)Running (7 mph/11.3 kmh)
125 Pounds (56 kg)284 calories295 calories291 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)352 calories366 calories361 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)420 calories437 calories431 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)488 calories508 calories501 calories
Chart of calories burned running 3 miles for different weights and speeds

Doing a workout at high intensity can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise. This extra energy burning is hard to put into exact numbers.

The number of calories you can burn with running is relatively high compared to most other workouts. Running is generally one of the best exercises for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

What if you are running 3 miles a day and not losing weight?

Following a workout plan like running 3 miles a day is no guarantee for losing weight. Other lifestyle habits like what you eat have a big influence on whether you will lose weight and how much. Not losing weight by running 3 miles a day can have different causes.

If you have just started running, 3 miles a day may not be enough to compensate for your other lifestyle habits. As a complete exercise beginner, it is also possible you are gaining some muscle weight but losing inches of body fat. On the scale, this may not show as a difference but in reality, you could be getting a lot healthier.

This last one is more common with starting to implement resistance training but it is possible to some extent with running.

As you can see how much weight you have to carry around is a big factor in how many calories you burn. If you keep running 3 miles a day at the same speed you may initially lose some weight. However, once you lose a few pounds you also start burning fewer calories with the same run.

In both cases, if you want running to be your main weight loss method you will have to increase the intensity or duration of your runs. Keep in mind that you can also overtrain which can cause negative side effects.

Other benefits of running 3 miles a day

If your body can deal with it, running 3 miles a day can transform your body for the better. Some benefits of running you can expect include:

  • Improved mood
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Improved bone density
  • Lower LDL
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved coordination

You can also expect similar benefits from other types of exercise to varying degrees. So if for example your knees can’t handle running 3 miles every day you can switch it up with other workouts.

Should you run 3 miles a day?

For most goals implementing some days without running and strength training days can be helpful. So in general running 3 miles a day is likely not the fastest way towards your goals.

At the time of writing the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends the following exercise guidelines to adults (1):

  • Moving more and sitting less throughout the day
  • At least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week. Preferably spread throughout the week.
  • You can gain additional health benefits by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

That being said working towards running 3 miles a day and sticking to it can be a fun goal in itself. If this is your objective you can start off with smaller distances with rest days and build up from there.

If you feel pain it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, or a less intense workout schedule.

Final things to keep in mind

You do not have to run every single day, in some circumstances like rain you may want to skip a run, or at least dress appropriately. When running 3 miles a day you also likely want to invest in a good pair of running shoes.

Even for a relatively short distance like 3 miles it may be helpful to carry water while running, especially in very warm temperatures.

Running 3 miles a day can definitely be safe if you prepare the right way. However, it is important to listen to your body and adapt your workout program to the circumstances.

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Matt Claes

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.