The damage of long distance running is similar to that of a poor diet: it will show itself in the long run, with some immediate damage that is not easily recognizable.
I think totally avoiding running is also foolish. I would say a 5k a week is no big deal, that's three miles, if you can't run three miles you need to turn in your human card.
I vastly prefer sprinting, it just makes a lot more sense. Sprinting 2x/week is safe and should be enough to provide good results. I would think 2x sprinting plus a 5k (or thereabouts) a week is very prudent.
I personally don't do much slow running because I really dislike it. There is almost nothing about jogging that is appealing to me. That said, I've done quite a few 5K's with friends and am always able to complete them with a good time and without feeling like I put in much effort.
I always read about people on facebook talking about their love/hate relationship with jogging, and it's usually almost always more hate than love and I wonder why the fuck they bother. If jogging was such a miraculous activity nobody would be fat.
I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.