Essential Runs For Busy Runners

Jannine Myers

It’s a borrowed post this week, one from Coach Jay Johnson. His advice on how to make the most of your training when you lead a hectic and busy life seems somehow very appropriate at this time. But first, I have a confession to make; I’ve been so inspired lately by some of the long and intense workouts some of my friends have been doing, but if the truth be told, a little discouraged as well.

Have you ever felt like you are one hundred percent committed to achieving your training goals, but you know you can’t commit because you just don’t have the time? That’s me – at least for now. I want to train, and I want to train hard, like all my friends, but time is not on my side and my priorities are ordered such that training is not at the top of my list. It’s on my list, just not at the top of my list.

So when I see friends posting about their double workouts, brick workouts, cross-training classes, and even coffee breaks between workouts, I’m excited for them and most definitely inspired by them, but also a little discouraged because their progress unintentionally draws attention to my lack of progress.

With that said, Coach Jay Johnson posted some practical advice for runners like me, who through current uncontrollable circumstances, cannot commit to a greater level of training. If you’re in the same boat, read what he has to say:


By Coach Jay Johnson

Most of my online coaching clients have busy, hectic lives.  Running is not and cannot be their first priority.  I’ve had to adapt my coaching over the past few years as I spent my first 15 years coaching primarily collegiate and professional athletes.  What works for collegiate 1,500m runners may not necessarily work for a mom who works full-time.

Here are a few things a busy person should consider when they look at their training.

First, you need to do a long run each week.  The aerobic fitness you gain from a long run is tremendous, even if you’re running shorter races like the 5k.  If you’re running a marathon this run is obviously the most important run of the week.

You need to get in one workout a week.  Most of the year this will be a workout that develops the aerobic metabolism.  A few weeks out of the year this needs to be a workout where you run race pace, i.e. the pace you’ll want to run in an upcoming race.  The race pace workout will develop your aerobic system as well as the anaerobic metabolism.

Don’t worry about running seven days a week.  You don’t need to.  Yes, you will run faster if you are active seven days a week, but this is where you need to embrace the principle of consistency.  If you stay injury-free you will be consistent in your training; a consistent runner will race well after they put weeks and weeks of work together.  You can cross-train one or two days a week or you can go on a brisk walk the day after your long run.  Be active seven days a week but don’t think you have to run every day.

Be willing to take days off when life stress is high. The obvious example is when you’re sick.  Simple rule of thumb is that you can’t go back to training until you are 85-90% well.  It’s the same with work travel or big deadlines at work.  If you normally do a 45 minute run but don’t have time, just do some general strength and mobility (GSM) for 10 minutes and call it a day.  If you try to train through life stress, you run a higher risk of getting sick a few days later. You have a finite amount of energy and you need to be honest about how much energy you can devote to training when life is busy.

That’s a short list.  There is much more we can cover…and I will keep coming back to this concept of how people with busy lives should train.

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