Updated: March 5th, 2022
How to find time to fit in a run plan.

“I would love to sign up for a race and train to a scheduled running plan, I love running and want to get back into it, for some ‘me time’. But I just don’t have the time, I’m too busy…”

Sound familiar?

Thought so. Before signing up for a race, any run coach will tell you to do so ahead of time (to make sure you can train for it) and be mindful of the training load you will need to adhere to, to have a successful race.

  • For beginners to 5k, 10k there are plans out there for 2-3 days a week training prep for 6-8+ weeks.
  • For a half marathon, you are in the 3-4 days a week bracket for 8-12+ weeks.
  • Stepping up to the marathon you’re looking to expect 4-5 days of training a week 12-16+ weeks
  • And ultra? 6 days a week and some of those are 2x a day for up to 6 months.

Static stretching

They are not all running sessions though, cross-training is vital when it comes to the longer distances, as is resistance training, which you can swap around to best fit your plans that day/week. For example, fitting your runs in with the after school clubs on Tuesdays, there’s an hour of running you steal instead of the plan demanding a gym day.

Swapping your training plan around is easy. There are a few ‘rules’ to follow though, just to make sure you stay injury-free and recovered enough to smash each session:

  • Do not put two difficult sessions back to back.
  • You must have a full-on rest day after the ‘long run’ – active recovery is fine though.
  • You can split a long run into 2 slots if you’re time-limited.

Slotting in time for running

So now you know how to safely alter your training plan sessions, let’s look at how you can find the time to run, that you never thought you had:

  • Short runs are important
  • Essential, actually. Training for the longer distances, half marathon, full 26.2 and ultras, the long run is the key to building on your stamina. However, that doesn’t mean shorter runs are not worth getting out of bed for. In fact, taking shorter, more intensive runs like interval training, fartlek and threshold training sessions are vitally important. They super-boost your fitness as well as your pace.

    Any type of endurance activity over 15 minutes has a positive impact on your cardiovascular system, and thus, your training. So you see, by doing a smaller session, you can clear your head, sweat it out and benefit your running.

    The most difficult days to accommodate is more often than not the long run days. If you are stretched for time, try splitting the session into smaller increments that can help you fit it in. Instead of a 2 hour run Sunday afternoon, try one hour in the morning, one hour in the evening, so as not to derail your Sunday plans.

    Keep sessions short and sweet

  • Morning runs
  • Waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning to get your run done is one I can personally attest to; it works. Waking up before the sun rises, for a lovely steady jog to start the day, even the week on the right foot is a serious mood booster. It is said to promote productivity in the day, brain clarity and even helps us make healthier choices throughout the day (eating better for example) and let’s face it; nothing beats watching the sunrise.

    Please do not skip breakfast! A banana before heading out will see you through your run, and then make sure you eat after too please, to start the day off completely on the right foot!

    Note: Although it is considered safer to run in the morning as a pose to the evening, running in the dark and near roads, you still need to consider your safety. Make sure someone knows where you are, and invest in some reflective gear – just to be on the safe side.

    Run in the mornings

  • Get the Family involved
  • “I can’t run, I’ve got nobody to look after the kids” sound familiar? Well, no problem. Why not take them with you? Grab their scooter, bike, a soccer ball, or have them run along with you. It’s such a fun way to spend time together – plus it introduces them to some healthy habits too. Parents are such inspiration and role models for their kids, more than I think we often realise, so if they can see us making healthy decisions, and enjoying keeping fit – perhaps they will too!

    Are your little ones too young? Jogging strollers are the answer! You can even burn more calories depending on which technique you use to push the stroller. There are some fantastic options, never has running been so easy!

    Jogging with a stroller

  • Lunch hour
  • Ah, your lunch hour! If waking up early hasn’t worked for you, lace up and pound the pavements for 20-30 minutes (don’t forget to each lunch after!) It will keep you energised and alert for the rest of the working day and could offload the morning’s stressful meeting with your boss.

  • Hold yourself responsible
  • Okay maybe a running buddy can help with this too, but there is something official when you write down your training plan. No matter what it looks like. It can be one online, or one you’ve created yourself – keep it somewhere seen, on the fridge or your mirror to help stay motivated. If every Thursday morning before work you run, and then every Sunday afternoon whilst kids are playing football, then that is what you write, and that is what you stick to the best you can. Eventually, it will become a habit and you won’t be able to imagine your life without that routine – it takes 27 days to create a habit after all…

So what do you think? Have you found new ways to fit running into your schedule? Think you can balance work and training better now? And please, tell us what else you do, to find the time to train for that all-important race.

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