Get the most out of your running time

Maximise your running time and potential

Get the most out of your running time with these tips and advice. We'll show you how to fit in your training, establish a good running base and carry out maintenance training to keep you in good condition year-round. Plus, by making better use of your time and understanding basic training principles you can achieve results which will surpass your expectations.

Making the most out of your running time: Finding time to train

Making the most out of your running time

Think about how much time you spend each day doing your daily activities, and it's likely you waste at least an hour.

Lunch time, the morning commute, the Sunday morning lie in are all examples of opportunities that could be used to fit in training. Here's some ideas to help make the most of your available time and fit in some training:

  • One day a week wake an hour earlier to fit in a workout.
  • Workout straight after work before going home.
  • Make use of that commuting time by running in and out of work.
  • Make use of your lunch hour with a workout and snack throughout the day instead.
  • On weekends, rise early and get the workouts out of the way before the family even rises.

Finding this regular hour is the key to training properly. Being able to train for an hour non-stop generally means you could race for two or three hours non-stop, which means a half marathon or more is within your realm.

Making the most out of your running time: Fitting running into your week

How well you develop is dependent on how well you recover – if you don't recover well, then you get injured, ill or run down. While most elite athletes have the advantage of not working, we have to factor in the working week to our training and recovery.

Your long run sessions should naturally be reserved for weekends because it's difficult to find the time to fit in a long run during the week. If the long run is at the weekend (usually a Sunday), then Mondays will be reserved for recovery. Likewise, by the time we get to the end of the working week (usually a Friday), you're probably tired, so Friday becomes the other recovery day.

This leaves Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which being in the working week, are still limited for time. This makes them perfect for higher quality workouts like tempo runs, intervals sessions and hill workouts. Try harder workouts on Tuesday and Thursday, with shorter, easier recovery run on Wednesday.

Making the most out of your running time: Use hill sessions as a running shortcut

If you don’t have time for a long run then you can use hills as a shortcut. Long runs build muscular endurance via repetitive stride patterns, but hills help build a combination of strength and endurance. A shorter run done uphill can replace a long run.

Hills are also good for replacing hard interval sessions. If you haven’t got time for your track interval session, then a hard run on the hills is the next best thing. The resistance builds leg strength while the effort of the hills produces similar heart rates to speed work.

Making the most out of your running time: Annual fitness base plan

Training for a one-off goal, regardless of whether it's a 10k (6.2 mile) event or even a marathon, can set you up for the the rest of your year. The level you get to is called a 'base' and once established you can maintain that fitness on less than half the work it took to establish it. A well thought out maintenance program can see you maintaining fitness and racing surprisingly well for several months. (See Table 1 below)

Table 1: Annual plan (adaptable to any major event.)

Month Emphasis Training Volume
1 Major Build-up 50% max mileage
2 Major Build-up 65% max mileage
3 Major Build-up 80% max mileage
4 Major Build-up Max Mileage
5 Major Goal Race Reduce 20% per week
6 Maintenance Training Rebuild to 40% max
7 Maintenance Training 40-60% max mileage
8 Maintenance Training 40-60% max mileage
9 Maintenance Training 40-60% max mileage
10 Maintenance Training 40-60% max mileage
11 Maintenance Training 40-60% max mileage
12

Recovery (followed by next 20 week build up to major goal) 0-25% max mileage

 

Making the most out of your running time: Maintenance training

Many of us would be quite happy and race quite well simply by following the maintenance schedule all year round. Essentially, maintenance training is a cyclical regime covering the standard principles of long, hilly and hard, but mostly the emphasis is on using the actual races as training.

A four-week cycle where you train for two weeks, taper for a week before a race, then take it easy for a week after the race, before going back into the two weeks training for the next race, is an ideal way to maintain fitness. (See Table 2)

Looking at the four week schedule you’ll see that the long sessions, hill sessions and hard sessions are still in there, but weekly races in the individual disciplines and the major monthly tri-type race is the main focus. Note also that the overall structure is based on recovery from both training sessions and your work week.

The program will work best when you have a solid base already. Of course, some of us might never have the time or inclination to build up for something like a marathon. That’s fine; the maintenance training will still work for you because it is designed to get the most out of whatever time you have available

Table 2: Four-week maintenance cycle (The following four-week schedule is based on the recreational runner looking to get more out of whatever time they have to train. It is designed to follow a major build-up, but could be used as the basis for time efficient training at any time.)

  Wk 1 35% max Wk 2 50-65% Max Wk 3 50-65% Max Wk 4 35% Max
Mon Day off Day off Day off Day off
Tues



30-60min
Easy


30-60min
Hard, inc
4-6x800m
5k-10k Pace
30-60min
Hard, inc
4-6x800m
5k Pace
30-60min
inc 1k-3k
at 5k Race Pace

Wed

Day off

30-60min
Easy, Hills
30-60min
Easy, Hills
Day off

Thurs


30-60min
Easy

30-60min
Inc 5x200m
strides
30-60min
Inc 5x200m
strides
20-30min
Easy, inc 5x100m strides
Fri Day off Day offDay off Day off Day off
Sat

30-60min
Hard, Hills
Minor Race
or 5k Time Trial
Minor Race
or 3k Time Trial
15-20min
Easy, flat
Sun

1hr-2hrs
Easy, Hills
1hr-2hrs
Easy, hills
30-60min
Easy, flat
KEY RACE
5k to half marathon

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