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I am trying to figure out which of the two running schedules would be more beneficial for my late-30s body aiming just to keep in good shape:

  • 5.0 km every second day; or
  • 7.5 km every third day

Both options mean the same average distance of 912km per year. I feel more tired running 5km every second day than 7.5km every third day. That is, on the third day I feel fully recovered and running 7.5km seems easier.

Assuming that the speed is constant, is the effect (keeping body in shape) going to be the same, or is running every second day, even for 33% lesser distance, more effective?

(I saw this question but my one is different).

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    I would go for the activity that makes you have more fun. Some may find it nice to run as often as possible, while others prefer to do long runs whenever they go, maybe just twice a week. The key point is to find what ballances best with your daily live, so you can keep it regular.
    – fedorqui
    Jan 18, 2019 at 14:59
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    Physiologically, it would be better to run 5k every other day. You will adapt to where you aren't tired still for the next runs.
    – JohnP
    Jan 18, 2019 at 15:39
  • @JohnP Physiological answer is what I am after. Any proof that 5k every other day is better?
    – Greendrake
    Jan 18, 2019 at 19:11
  • I will look. I think I have a link for that somewhere.
    – JohnP
    Jan 18, 2019 at 19:58

2 Answers 2

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Do you train strength? When you are in your late 30s you should really dial back on the running and train more strength. I am 45 and wished somebody told me this when I was at your age. Having a job where one sit all day plus only running which involves movement in the sagital plane only is a bad combination. It may cause weak abs, glutes, hip abductors and upper back muscles which can result in reduced mobility and pain in hip and shoulder.
If I were you I would run only twice a week and then do strength training twice a week.

Regarding which strength training exercises to do: the minimum is:

  1. Romanian deadlift (RDL): trains entire back of the body but hamstrings and glutes in particular.

  2. Plank: trains abs and most importantly the deep abs.

  3. Sideplank: should ensure flexible hips and keep you from getting pain in knee or hip.

  4. Bent over rows or seated row for upper back.

  5. Push-ups: less important than the others. Your horizontal pull should be stronger than your horizontal push. When your back starts getting strong from RDL and rows you can make sure your push is also getting stronger by doing push-ups.

As you see the most important muscles to strengthen are: the muscles around your hip (core) and the entire backside of the body (posterior chain).

Another alternative is to follow the starting strength program and add in plank and sideplank. I have followed this for a 1/2 year and am stronger and have lost centimeters around my waist.

The hamstrings tend to be especially weak in runners: http://www.fleetfeethartford.com/sports-medicine/sports-medicine-corner/hamstrings-strength-flexibility

Also runners tend to have strong hip adductors but weak hip abductors and poor external rotation in hip: https://runnersconnect.net/hip-strength-and-running-form-the-role-of-hip-drop-in-running-injuries/

The sideplank is supposed to be the solution for this: https://deansomerset.com/planks-are-the-magic-bullet-for-hip-mobility/ I have personally experienced poor external rotation in hip when doing kickboxing and back squat. Currently I am doing sideplanks and seem to be doing good progress but have only been doing this for a few weeks.

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  • Thanks Andy. For strength training, what exercises you wished you were doing 5-10 years back?
    – Greendrake
    Jan 19, 2019 at 20:19
  • I added some more info on this.
    – Andy
    Jan 20, 2019 at 15:29
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Comparing both options the 5 km one will probably benefit you more if you are trying to get in shape. The reason for this is that the distances are, as you said, the same on a yearly basis. However because the 5 km is shorter you will be able to run at a higer speed than when you would be running 7.5 km. This way you will not only burn more calories a year, but you will also be able to increase the intensity for your muscles resulting in more muscle growth. Also beacause the 5 km run will become easier over time when pushing yourself hard enough, you might find yourself able to increase the distance you run whilst still running for as long as the 5 km used to take you to finish.

Also recovering after a cardio workout should not take more than at most a day or so. It is true that the second day you could experience some muscle pain, but when you stay consistent with doing the same cardio exercise regularly eventually the muscle pain after a workout decreases even for the first day after.

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  • Thanks but I never try to run faster than I feel comfortable. The question assumed that the speed is constant.
    – Greendrake
    Jan 18, 2019 at 22:13
  • I see it now does, I really couldn't say which is better when the speed is exactly the same for both distances. If there is a difference in long term impact on the body it is probably minimal. I'd say take the option you are most comfortable with, for it will be easier to be consistant with that one. You could always switch between both if you feel one option becomes stale.
    – user30433
    Jan 19, 2019 at 14:31

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