Embracing the journey of running 3 miles a day has been transformative for me.
I was a dedicated gym rat for the first 12 years of my fitness journey, solely committed to pumping iron. I did a couple of weekly cardio sessions, alternating between running, biking, and rowing, to maintain a balance in my calorie intake.
However, the rise of hybrid training pushed me to take up running. In the last four years, I have tried all types of running — sprinting and middle and long distance.
Running 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) a day is the perfect middle ground. Three miles isn’t too much for beginners and is just enough for experienced runners. Running three miles can take between 15 to 36 minutes, depending on your experience level (more on this later in this article).
Running 3 miles a day is more than just a fitness routine. For me, it has evolved into a philosophy of persistence, resilience, and self-discovery. Besides its physical fitness benefits, running three miles daily can also improve overall health, well-being, and longevity.
A review in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases indicates that runners typically experience a 25 to 40 percent lower risk of early death, irrespective of their gender, age, body weight, or existing health issues. Moreover, they tend to enjoy a lifespan extended by approximately three years compared to those who don’t run. (1)
In this article, we delve into everything you need to know about running 3 miles a day, including the benefits, psychological advantages, time involved, common challenges, and how to get started. We have a lot to cover, so sit tight and read on.
Physical Benefits of Running 3 Miles a Day
I’ve experienced firsthand the numerous benefits of a daily three-mile run. This straightforward and impactful practice plays a vital role in fostering peak health, fitness, and overall wellness. Let’s dive into some of the perks of embarking on this three-mile journey every day:
Calorie Burn and Weight Loss
Running long distances each day is an incredibly effective calorie-burning strategy that can promote weight loss. Maintaining a calorie deficit, burning more calories in a day than you consume, is the most crucial fat loss factor, and running three miles daily helps boost it.
That said, the amount of calories you will burn with a 3-mile run will vary depending on your body weight, running pace, and fitness level. On average, an individual can burn between 300 to 500 calories when running 3 miles at a moderate speed.
Here is a table of the amount of calories an individual can expect to shed by running three miles daily:
The average weight of males in the United States is 198 pounds (90 kilograms), whereas it is 170 pounds (77 kilograms) for females. As per the table above, men will burn around 382 calories running 3 miles a day while ladies will burn 320, which is excellent, especially for folks trying to lose weight.
Remember, the actual number of calories can vary depending on diet, lifestyle, and genetic background.
Check out our calories burned while running calculator for a more accurate assessment.
Efficient Workout Routine
Most people never start a workout routine because they cannot spare over an hour in their schedule to hit the gym. While a gym workout might take 30-45 minutes, traveling to and fro from the gym can add around 30 minutes to the tally.
Running is one of the most time-efficient forms of exercise. Your workout begins as soon as you put on your running shoes. Running 3 miles can take 15 to 35 minutes, depending on your training experience, fitness levels, and pace. Here is a general breakdown:
- Beginners: New runners usually run at a pace of around 10 to 12 minutes per mile. At this pace, running three miles can take approximately 30 to 36 minutes.
- Intermediate: Folks who run regularly and are in good shape usually average between 8 to 10 miles per minute. At this pace, three miles can take about 24 to 30 minutes. Most people fall into this category.
- Advanced: Experienced and competitive runners usually run at a 6- to 8-minute-per-mile pace and can complete the stipulated three miles in roughly 18 to 24 minutes.
- Elite: These are the top-of-the-line runners, folks you see on the TV. Professional runners can run at a pace of less than 5 minutes per mile, resulting in a sub-15 minute 3-mile run.
Remember, these are the averages. The actual results can vary depending on factors like terrain, weather conditions, and even running gear. For example, running three miles on an uphill terrain will take longer than running the same distance on a flat surface.
Reduction of Health Risks
Running three miles daily can significantly reduce various health risks. Regular running improves cardiovascular health, enhances heart function, and reduces the risk of heart-related diseases.
A review published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that running, as a vigorous physical activity, is linked with better overall survival and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease-specific mortality. (2)
Running and Knee Pain
Running is a high-impact activity that places significant strain on lower body joints. People dealing with lower body injuries should get their doctor’s clearance before starting a new exercise regimen.
That said, most people exaggerate the impact running has on the joints. A study published in Clinical Rheumatology found that “running does not increase symptoms or structural progression in people with knee osteoarthritis.” Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is typically the result of wear and tear and progressive loss of articular cartilage. (3)
The research added that self-selected running in individuals 50 years and older with knee OA is associated with improved knee pain and does not lead to worsening knee pain or radiographically defined structural progression.
Psychological Advantages of Running 3 Miles a Day
The psychological benefits of running are often overlooked. I began noticing the psychological advantages of running one week into my running practice and was amazed at why people don’t talk about them enough.
Here are a few mental advantages that are induced by a regular running practice:
The repetitive nature of running facilitates a meditative state, which helps you zoom out of all the noise around you and reduces stress levels. It can also improve mood and cognitive abilities, including memory and learning, and is correlated with a reduction in inflammatory factors. (4)
Improved Sleep Quality
A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that moderate aerobic exercise, like running, significantly improved sleep quality in adults with chronic insomnia (5). An improved sleep cycle can boost memory, mood, and cognitive function.
Establishing a Routine For Mental Clarity
Running three miles every day demands dedication, commitment, and consistency. These factors can translate into a structured approach to one’s daily life, leading to improved mental clarity and focus.
Why Choose 3 Miles?
My job as a personal trainer involves designing training programs for people of all experience and fitness levels. I’ve observed that 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) hit the sweet spot, as it is enough to stimulate cardiovascular improvement without being overwhelming for newbies or time-consuming for busy folks. A 3 mile-rune encourages consistency and progress.
Furthermore, three miles is roughly equivalent to 5K, which is a significant mental milestone for runners. Running 3 miles daily can help you build the necessary endurance and stamina to participate in community runs or charity events.
Once my beginner clients start consistently hitting the 3K mile goal, I move them to 5K daily runs, considering it aligns with their training objectives. The next stop after the 5K is the 10K, which is usually as high as most hobbyist runners will go.
Getting Started: Overcoming Common Challenges
Now that you know the significance of running 3 miles a day and its associated benefits, all you need to do is pull the trigger. However, if it were so easy, everyone would be clocking 21 miles a week.
Starting your running journey with a 3-mile daily run can be daunting. I have my beginner clients start with small, manageable goals. Newbies should begin by alternating between walking and running for the first couple of weeks of their fitness journey. This will help build the necessary endurance, avoid stress injuries, and prevent early burnout.
Beginner runners should start with a 10-minute run. As you begin running father in the desired time in the 10 minutes and notice an improvement in your endurance, increase the workout duration until you can run three miles.
Remember, endurance can take a while to develop, and consistency is more important than speed or distance.
Pro Tip: Wear a smartwatch to track your running metrics, including total distance, calories burned, steps taken, pace, and cadence. Use this data to compete against yourself and outdo your previous performance in every subsequent workout.
Developing a Consistent Running Habit
Cultivating a consistent running habit is about grit, strategy, and discipline. Setting realistic goals is the first step toward a consistent running habit. Novice runners shouldn’t expect to start their running journey by logging 3 miles daily unless they want to quit before hitting their training objective or getting injured.
I have my beginner personal training clients start their running practice by having them run for 10 minutes a couple of times each week. I then gradually increase their training volume and frequency until they hit their objective.
Remember, consistency, not intensity, is the key in the early stages.
Importance of Rest Days
Contrary to what is promoted on social media these days, rest is not for the weak. You break muscle tissue and strain your CNS (central nervous system) during a workout. Your body repairs and grows stronger while you rest.
You must sleep at least seven to eight hours each night to allow your body enough time to recuperate from your workouts.
Plus, learn to listen to your body. Feel free to take a day or two off from training if you feel beat down after an intense week of training.
You must also balance longer running workouts with shorter, more intense sessions to add variety to your workouts and boost growth.
Three miles is perfect for building endurance without working yourself into the ground. You must start your running practice with shorter workouts and incorporate variety into your regimen until you’ve built the endurance to hit your running goals consistently.
If you have any questions about running 3 miles a day, drop them in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to help.
- Lee DC, Brellenthin AG, Thompson PD, Sui X, Lee IM, Lavie CJ. Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2017 Jun-Jul;60(1):45-55. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2017.03.005. Epub 2017 Mar 30. PMID: 28365296.
- Lavie CJ, Lee DC, Sui X, Arena R, O’Keefe JH, Church TS, Milani RV, Blair SN. Effects of Running on Chronic Diseases and Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015 Nov;90(11):1541-52. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.08.001. Epub 2015 Sep 8. PMID: 26362561.
- Lo GH, Musa SM, Driban JB, Kriska AM, McAlindon TE, Souza RB, Petersen NJ, Storti KL, Eaton CB, Hochberg MC, Jackson RD, Kwoh CK, Nevitt MC, Suarez-Almazor ME. Running does not increase symptoms or structural progression in people with knee osteoarthritis: data from the osteoarthritis initiative. Clin Rheumatol. 2018 Sep;37(9):2497-2504. doi: 10.1007/s10067-018-4121-3. Epub 2018 May 4. PMID: 29728929; PMCID: PMC6095814.
- Nowacka-Chmielewska M, Grabowska K, Grabowski M, Meybohm P, Burek M, Małecki A. Running from Stress: Neurobiological Mechanisms of Exercise-Induced Stress Resilience. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Nov 1;23(21):13348. doi: 10.3390/ijms232113348. PMID: 36362131; PMCID: PMC9654650.
- Reid, K. J., Baron, K. G., Lu, B., Naylor, E., Wolfe, L., & Zee, P. C. (2010). Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Sleep Medicine, 11(9), 934. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2010.04.014