Sometimes We Really Don’t Have the Time

Although we have all heard how people like Helen Keller, Leonardo Da Vinci, the Wright Brothers achieved amazing things in their lives; and they too only had 24-hours in their day, just like the rest of us, I sometimes don’t find these comments quite as inspiring as they were probably intended to be. I at times feel more like, “Great, so I’m the schlub who can barely get my laundry done and put in a frozen pizza when I get home, but these wonderful folks changed the world – whoop-tee-frickin’-do!”

And when your training schedule says to put in a quality run like a 15 to 20 miler to get ready for your next marathon, tri or other endurance event, sometimes you get stressed out. Not because you can’t run that far, but because there are only so many hours in the day (Yes, Ms. Keller I understand you were deaf and blind and had a total of 12 books published – kudos to you!), if you want to remain married, keep your job, have your kids recognize you when you pick them up from school and not have your entire house fall apart, then there are going to be days and times where an 1-hour run, never mind a 3-hour run, is not going to happen – period. But instead of throwing up your hands in sheer frustration, I’m going to share with you a way to get a great quality workout if you only have a quarter or half the time to workout as you wanted.

Intensity over Miles

While the long run is a critical part of your training for race distances of 10 miles or more, I would argue that the long easy run is something that some of us overuse in our training cycle. Don’t misunderstand me, if you are running 5-7 times per week, then you definitely need to incorporate some recovery workouts. But if you are running every other day, you may want to ratchet up the intensity in the majority of your workouts. When do you recover then? You recover on the days in between your runs. It’s also alright to take an entire day off from any activity from time-to-time as well.

30-60 Minutes

So here is a list of some of the ways you can get in a quality workout in 30-60 minutes if you can’t get in your long run (1:30 to 3 hour run):

  1. Warm up for 5-10 minutes and then run 20-45 minutes at half marathon pace, then cool down for 5 minutes
  2. Warm up for 5-10 minutes then drop your pace every 5 minutes by 5 seconds, last 5 min cool down
  3. Warm up for 5-10 minutes then run 2 min hard (85-90% effort), 1 min easy (continue this for the duration of your run)
  4. Warm up for 5-10 minutes then run 5 min @ 5K pace, 10 min @ 10k pace, 20 min @ half marathon pace, 10 min cool down
  5. Warm up for 5-10 minutes then run 30 sec @ 90%, 30 sec @ 30% effort for 20-24 minutes, 5-10 min cool down

Quality over Quantity

The idea here is to obviously keep the intensity up. What this will do is have you tired in a shorter amount of time and provide you a  higher quality workout. Better to run 30 minutes with intensity in lieu of a long run, than a 30 min easy run where you barely break a sweat.

You will see great improvement with your speed if you do this on a regular basis. Speed is a key component – in my opinion – whether you’re running a 100-meter dash or a 100-mile ultra.


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