Running is one of the most accessible ways to exercise. Ultimately you don’t need all that much in the way of gear to get started and it boasts a ton of benefits to both our mental and physical health.
I’m not one to encourage run streaking, but running short distances daily can be a great way to develop the habit of consistent exercise. Running 3 miles doesn’t require a massive time investment, equipment, or a gym membership.
Running daily isn’t for everyone and running frequency can and should vary for most people. But, like I said, running every day has its benefits, which I’ll get into shortly.
If you’re a beginner runner, maybe start with 1 mile a day, and work up to 2 miles and then 3 miles if it’s something you find you enjoy. The shorter mileage offers a lot of the same benefits I’m going to detail here but obviously 3 miles a day means more time on your feet and will be something your body will need to adjust to over time.
So without further delay, let’s dig into the many benefits of running 3 miles per day, how to take care of yourself, and how to start your new daily habit.
6 Benefits to Running 3 miles A Day
There are both physical and mental benefits for a runner who decides to make a 3-mile run a daily habit. Let’s start with the physical.
#1 Reduced Risk of Many Health Issues
Running is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular health issues, including cardiovascular disease. One study even showed that running, just 5-10 minutes per day at slow speeds, reduces your risk of death from cardiovascular events.
In addition, another study found that running is also linked to a lower likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes, while additional studies have found that vigorous physical activity, like running, is also linked to a lower risk of stroke.
#2 Improved Cardiovascular Health
While helping to prevent health issues, running also does a great job of improving your existing health, particularly in regards to your heart, lungs, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Running challenges our heart and lungs to work harder. This in turn makes them stronger and able to get oxygen where it needs to go faster. Think of it like when you weight train. Lifting weights makes your muscles stronger, which makes you able to lift even heavier weights.
It also improves your cardiovascular endurance. The more you run, the more you’ll ultimately be able to run.
#3 Increased Bone Strength and Joint Health
Osteoporosis, a loss of bone density, is a risk for aging adults but especially women.
Strength training and running can improve your bone density, making you less prone to osteoporosis and just general fractures and breaks. In addition, in order to have strong muscles you have to have strong bones supporting them, which can lower injury risk.
Studies have also found that running is not linked to a higher risk for arthritis, particularly in the knees. So the next time someone tells you you’re ruining your knees and joints by running, you can feel free to ignore them.
#4 Can Lead to Weight Loss
Running is one of the most effective ways to burn calories. While the number of calories you burn during a workout or run depends on a number of factors, it’s usually somewhere between 90-100 calories per mile.
We lose weight when we create a caloric deficit so by adding a 3 mile run to your day and not changing your diet, you may see some slow weight loss over several weeks and months. If you improve your eating habits and are more cognizant of calorie intake, you could speed that up and even see body composition changes.
It’s important in running 3 miles (or more) daily to properly fuel. This will ensure you have enough energy for your run and aren’t fatigued for the rest of your day, and prevent injuries or other health issues.
Your metabolism may spike as it adapts to this increase in activity too, making you hungrier than usual so you may find you need to increase the amount of calories you’re taking in at least temporarily.
Tracking your food intake, your workouts, and how you’re feeling overall will help you adapt your nutritional needs for your new 3-mile daily running habit.
Now onto the mental benefits of running!
#5 Reduced Stress Levels and Improved Sleep
If you’re looking to reduce your stress levels, running daily is a great way to do that. It can help clear your mind. Many runners often say their mind goes blank once they settle into their pace and run for a while.
Many runners also find that they’re better able to process their thoughts, reflect on their day, or come up with new ideas or solutions to problems.
Running can also improve your sleep. Some of this is because of reduced stress and the fact we’ve been able to sort through things that might otherwise keep our minds running when we’d hope to be asleep.
Running also just makes you physically tired, which can make it easier to fall asleep at night and stay asleep.
#6 Lessens the Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Running and most exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that make us feel good!
Beyond that, as we’ve already discussed, running can help us clear our minds or see things in a different light. This ultimately can lessen the effects of depression or anxiety related to worries or issues we may have in our lives.
Some other added bonuses of running are the potential to meet new friends, it can help us gain confidence as we achieve goals or tackle new challenges, and it can be a healthier coping mechanism when we do face the unexpected.
How to Start Running 3 Miles a Day and Maintain Your Habit
Once you’ve decided to commit to this new 3-mile a day running routine, it’s going to be important that you make sure you take care of your body! While arguably you’re doing that by making the time to run your 3 miles, I’m talking about the other self-care measures that ensure we stay health, injury free and on track.
#1 Determine your “why”
Why do you want to do this?
If you don’t have a “why” that’s motivating to you, that excites you, and makes you want to get out the door no matter what, it’s going to be super hard to get up early, head out on rainy (insert unpleasant weather here) days, and easy to blow it off when something else comes up.
Whether it’s because you like a new challenge, you want to lose weight, you have a race that this will help with, or whatever the impetus behind this is, the reasons you decided to do this need to be strong enough to carry you through the tough days when you’re less than motivated to lace up and go.
#2 Fuel Your Body
As I already talked about, running 3 miles per day will require you to be fueling properly.
Make sure you’re eating enough calories, particularly protein but also carbohydrates. Make sure you have a snack before your run and refuel post-run and stay hydrated, especially during those warm and humid summer months.
#3 Pick a Time of Day and Stick to It
Find a time that works best for your schedule to get in your 3 miles and stick to it. Maybe that’s first thing in the morning before your brain is awake enough to talk you out of it. Maybe it’s over lunch to get you out of the office and away from the computer for a little bit.
Whatever time works, try to always go at that time and plan your schedule around that. However, sometimes things come up or life happens. Don’t be afraid to be flexible when needed. It’ll be that much easier to fall off the wagon if you’re not.
#4 Find a Run/Walk Plan to Follow
While in all likelihood you’re probably a more experienced runner since you’ve decided to tackle 3 miles a day versus 1 or 2, a great way to start out or maintain your mileage goals is through a run/walk program.
Run/walking is a great way to ease your body into this commitment or it can be a way to mix up your pace, or give your body a bit of a break some days.
Remember, 3 miles is 3 miles so if you walk a little of it, no harm no foul!
#5 Invest in the Right Gear
Since you’re looking to do more mileage more consistently, you’re going to need to make sure you have proper gear.
Get fitted for a good pair of shoes, or two or three, so you can alternate pairs over the course of each week. It also helps to keep track of the mileage on each pair so you know when you need to replace them.
Good running socks are important too. They’ll help prevent blisters and offer your foot some additional support.
Finally, dress for the weather. When it’s hot, make sure you have light, moisture-wicking, quick-drying tops and bottoms. When it’s cold, make sure you have the proper layers to adjust to the varying temps. Other items of importance include sunglasses, sunscreen, gloves, and maybe a hydration pack or water bottle.
#6 Spend Time on Prehab
You all know by now that I’m a staunch advocate of prehab.
Do the pre-run stretches, do the hip, core and glute work. These are crucial to staying healthy and injury-free and ensuring your 3-mile a day plans stay on track.
The 30 Day Core Program is 10 minutes a day with glute, hips and core work that you can do pre-run! So it’s fast and effective for preventing injuries.
#7 Mix Up Your Runs
Just like you shouldn’t be afraid to add in some walking, don’t be afraid to mix in some harder runs too. Add strides at the end of some runs, add in some race pace miles, or run a little bit longer 1-2 days a week.
Another idea is to run in different places. Visit new neighborhoods or head into the woods for some trail running and mountain climbing. The varying terrain and change in scenery will engage your body and mind in different ways and make it easier to get those miles done.
#8 Sign up for a Race
A great motivator to sticking to a training plan or a commitment like this is to sign up for a race. Find a great 5k or another distance that excites you that’s a few months down the road and use your daily runs to train for it.
Just because you’ve committed to 3 miles per day, doesn’t mean you can’t run more than that.
#9 Take Care of You
I won’t harp on this too much more but taking care of your body will be crucial to ensuring you can continue your streak once you’ve started. Wear the right clothes and shoes, fuel properly, and do the dang warm-up!
A healthy runner is a happy, motivated, and consistent runner!
I could go more in depth on every single one of these details and I have in another of the 2000 articles on this website! But here are a few places for extra reading:
- The Best Running Motivation Quotes
- Great Audiobooks While Running
- Treadmill Training Guide – Keep your streak alive over winter
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