But unless you’re a marathon runner, you’re probably looking for a distance that’s attainable without causing you to miss that effectiveness window. 3 miles per day can be considered a nice sweet spot to target, even for moderate runners.
Here’s a look at the potential perks of a regular running routine and what 3 miles a day will get you.
Running fast facts
Do you have to run at least 3 miles to burn calories? Nope! Any amount of running can burn calories. But generally, more miles = more calories burned.
Does distance make a difference? In theory, running longer distances can help you lose weight quicker than running shorter distances. But that’s not always the case. It also depends on how often you exercise, the quality of your workouts, your diet, and overall lifestyle.
How often should I run? The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio 5 times a week for healthy adults. Keep in mind, this doesn’t have to be running. You can mix it up with other types of cardio and strength-training exercises.
Even if you HATE running, you have to admit it has some pretty dope perks.
Running is a top-notch cardiovascular endurance activity. It helps you maintain increased breathing and heart rates for an extended period. Over time, this can increase stamina, reduce fatigue, and improve heart and lung function.
There’s also a chance running on the reg can increase your lifespan. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. According to a 2015 study, even 5 to 10 minutes of running a day is associated with a reduced risk of CVD and death. So, a 3 mile a day habit couldn’t hurt, if you’re able.
Cardio gets a lot of credit, but running also boasts strengthening benefits. It activates a full range of leg muscles including your quads, hamstrings, and calves. Additionally, you’ll feel the burn in your butt, back, and abs.
You should also consider incorporating some resistance training into your workout. Research shows it can help improve your running performance and may reduce your risk of injury. So, taking on your daily 3 miles should gradually get easier.
Strengthens bones (maybe)
Running is a weight bearing exercise, which means it might help with bone health. According to a 2019 study, running is more effective at increasing bone density in healthy adults and kiddos when compared to walking. But we def need more research to prove this 10/10.
Basically, your 3 miles per day can put the right amount of stress on your bones to promote strength.
Running is a super effective way to burn calories. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 154-pound person will burn about 295 calories when jogging for 30 minutes at 5 miles per hour. A very general rule is that you burn about 100 calories per mile. But the exact amount of calories burned depends on:
- your sex, weight, and body composition
- weather conditions like extreme temperatures and wind resistance
Upping your mileage
A 3-mile run will help you hit your daily recommended cardio output. But you can burn more calories if you run even further, so don’t feel limited. But do allow yourself exactly what you need to feel like you’re hitting your goals.
Reminder: Weight loss also depends on the quality of your fitness routine, your diet, and other lifestyle factors.
Terrain can totes affect the amount of calories you burn on your runs. Generally, you’ll burn more calories on tougher terrains than clean, flat surfaces, due to the amount of energy you need to exert. Your joints and muscles work extra hard to keep your body upright and balanced.
Incline is also super important. According to a 2018 study, walking on an incline promotes peroneal strength, which might help peeps with weaker ankles. You can also burn more calories when running uphill.
According to Dwight Schrute, “If you want to win, you got to fuel like a winner.” And NGL, Dwight is right. Staying hydrated and staying on top of your nutrition can help you make the most out of your runs.
Before your run
Try to eat a balanced meal 3 to 4 hours before your 3-mile run. The ideal meal should be high in carbs, moderate in protein, and low in fat. BTW, the ACSM suggests drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water with this meal. But you may want to drink more if it’s super hot out.
Snack attack: You should have a snack about 30 minutes before your run. Just be sure, keep it small to avoid indigestion or nausea. A banana, crackers with peanut butter, or half an energy bar are all good choices.
During your run
Since your run is 3 miles, you should be able to have a good gauge pretty quickly on how much fuel you’ll need. But no matter how long your run is, always stay hydrated throughout your workout. Dehydration is no joke!
After your run
Post-workout nutrition is vital for recovery and results. A mix of carbs, fats, and proteins is best. Here are some tasty examples:
- 1 serving of salmon with half a baked sweet potato
- 1 can of tuna mixed with 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
- a rice cake with 2 tablespoons of nut butter and pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup of low fat cottage cheese with 2 tablespoons of wheat germ
- 1 slice of avocado toast on whole-grain bread with a glass of low fat milk
Don’t push it too far
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t overdo any exercise, especially if you’re just starting out or you’re less than 100% confident in your physical abilities. Remember, the idea is to make progress, not hurt yourself. So set realistic goals and take it one step at a time. If 3 miles a day is your running wheelhouse, then focus on consistency. The results will come.
P.S. Make sure you give your body enough time to recover. Overworking your muscles and joints can increase your risk of injury and discomfort.
One of the biggest benefits of running is that you don’t need any fancy equipment. But you still gotta gear up.
Your running shopping list should include:
- athletic socks
- running shoes
- reusable water bottle
- light, breathable clothing for hot weather
- thermal undershirts, thick hats or winter headbands, and a winter running jacket for colder climates
If you’re running off the beaten track, you should always have a way to get in contact with someone in case of emergencies. You should also carry a portable GPS tracker and a whistle for safety. To learn more, check out our guide to trail running.
SPF PSA: Don’t forget to use sunscreen (even on overcast days)!
Running 3 miles on the reg is a great way to burn calories. It will also help you increase strength and cardiovascular endurance. Just keep in mind, it can take time to develop enough stamina to hit the 3-mile mark. So be patient with the process and stick with it. You got this.