Tight For Time? The Run Sessions To Prioritize


, by Nick Bester

Photography by: oneinchpunch

Many athletes increasingly find themselves 'time-crunched', and exercise is often the thing that gets forgotten about. Fortunately, there are sessions you can prioritize and things you can do to help maintain progression when life 'gets in the way', as Run Coach Nick Bester explains.

Every year, things seem to get faster and faster and we all seem to have less and less time. As a result, it’s more important than ever for us to prioritize important things like family, friends, and our health. Making time for our families and friends should be a given, but if we don't make time for exercise, all too often we never get around to it. After all, later usually means never.

Most of us aren’t professional athletes, which means when it comes to exercise we need to find time for it around the other aspects of our lives. If you are tight on time, here are some of my tips for getting the most out of those precious hours carved out for training and general health:

When it comes to your easy/hard training ratio think: 80/20, 70/30, or 60/40

What I mean by training ratio is that the bulk of your training still needs to be easy, everyday, maintenance stuff. The commonly recommended ratio out there is 80/20, meaning that 80% of your training should be easy and 20% of your training should be quality, higher-intensity speed work.

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However, it is completely understandable that you might change this ratio if you don’t have time to follow your planned training schedule. In this instance, I would strongly suggest that you still keep the majority of that training in those easy zones - with around about 60% easy training and 40% more intense speed work. This might increase the chance of picking up small injuries, but at least you’re still getting the quality sessions to help you see significant improvements. Try to avoid spending more than half of your week doing speedy stuff as that will make training unproductive.

Photography by: oneinchpunch

Stretch in the shower

Instead of budgeting time out of your busy day to stretch, get this done in the shower. I usually focus on main muscle areas such as quads, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors. Ideally, a hold of around 12 seconds on each side is what you’re after. Once you build this into your shower routine, it becomes a daily habit and second nature. Training combined with corporate life often results in stiff bodies so by doing this daily, you’re reducing some of the tension in your body and, in turn, improving overall mobility.

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Run to work or build in a running segment of your commute

This is a case of killing two birds with one stone. If you’re heading into work and you can at least run a section of the route, then I would highly suggest doing that. Once again, you’re fitting your exercise in, and not having to budget too much excess time in your day. If you live very far away from where you work, you could always run a section of the route before jumping on a train or other means of transport.

Plan your week accordingly as preparation is key for this. If you know you have work clothes waiting and ready for you, you’re much more likely to do it. When carrying a backpack with you, try and keep it as light as possible. I’ve seen a lot of runners with very big heavy backpacks but it has an adverse effect on their running form.

Most of us aren’t professional athletes, which means when it comes to exercise we need to find time for it around the other aspects of our lives.

Foam roll in front of your TV

When you switch off in the evening for a bit of TV time, it’s a great time to fit in foam rolling. Try and set up your lounge in such a way that it’s inviting and appealing to do this - for instance, soft carpets, a mat, and a decent amount of foam rolling space.

This way instead of just sitting on the couch, you’re doing something productive and rolling the tightness out of your muscles, loosening them up, and allowing for enhanced recovery to take place when you go to bed that night. A light stretch sequence can also be done here.

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Try to get sessions done first thing in the morning - busy days can get away from you

On days that you know you have a lot of meetings or are just very busy in general, try and get your run done first thing in the morning. What I’ve noticed on this kind of day is that if you delay your run, and then your day gets super busy, it is often what you end up sacrificing. At the end of these busy days, we are often physically and mentally tired, and it can be really hard to find the motivation to get out the door.

Get it done in the morning; it’s by far the best way to start a busy day. I can guarantee you they will be a lot more productive than had you not done any exercise.

Foam rolling in front of the TV is a great way to be productive. Photography by: SarahMcEwan

Aim for at least: one track/interval session and one long run with recovery time in between

Exercise can be hard to build into a busy week. However, you should target a couple of essential run sessions each week to ensure you continue to progress:

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  • One track or interval session. This is the session where you snap out of your comfort zone and push speeds quicker than your target race pace.

  • One long run. Even when training for shorter distance goals. your long run is one of the most important runs of the week.

  • Target 60 - 80% recovery in between. Recovery doesn’t necessarily have to be running, it can be in the form of cross-training (like swimming or the spin bike), or even a brisk walk.

Let’s make the time for these important bits and keep moving forward.

Onwards and upwards,

Coach Nick

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