I don’t have the time to run.
If only I had a dime for every time someone said that to me, I could buy a new GPS watch.
There was a time when people believed that new technology would make life easier and create more leisure time, but everyone seems busier now than ever before. Training time often dwindles down to a few precious hours a week, and hopes of properly preparing for a marathon are quickly crushed.
It doesn’t have to be that way. With a little planning and creativity, you could not only get in your weekly runs, but even train for that marathon you’d been hoping to sign up for. Here’s how.
Obviously, the biggest issue is scheduling, so first figure out what your key workouts are and when you can do them. If you no longer have the luxury of going for a run every day, it would be unrealistic to plan to do that. But if you target the most important runs, you can find that you can be as fast and strong – or more so – on fewer running days. As I explain in Smart Marathon Training, intensity is more important than sheer volume. If you can’t run every day, make each run count.
Long endurance runs will probably have to be on your days off, so build your program around that. Here are options for your other workouts:
1. Get up earlier and run. If you need to get up at 5 or 6, it can be done. I do it, as do my training partners, and you’ll be surprised to see how many other runners you’ll see out there at that time. It takes a little getting used to, but the best part is that no matter what happens later in the day, you’ll have gotten your workout in (which is why I hate to schedule my runs for after work — I’m tired, hungry, and not in the mood then, and if a work emergency comes up, I can’t do it anyway).
2. Go for quality over quantity for mid-week runs. An intense 30-40 minute tempo run once or twice a week could really improve your speed and fitness, without taking up too much time.
3. Figure out how to run-commute to work. Find out if there is a locker-room/shower facility that you can use, or join a nearby gym. In a pinch, wash up in the restroom. Bring in clothes once a week and leave them at work, and if you have a long commute, park/metro miles away and run the rest.
4. Do a stairwell workout. This can be a great and convenient way to build explosive power, improve running from and economy, and to do a relatively low-impact alternative to running. It’s also time-efficient; an intense workout takes just 20-30 minutes.
5. Two-a-days. Split your workout into mornign and evening runs. The benefits will almost be as good as one long runs, and you might even be able to sustain a stronger pace for the two runs than you would be able to hold for one long run.
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