For many runners, one of the most common challenges impeding their ability to train for a long race such as a 10k or especially a marathon, is simply finding the time to workout. Following are some tips that my clients use to make running and exercising a habit.
If it’s hard to figure out when you could possibly schedule a workout, try tracking your time in a planner or use an app. If you are struggling to fit in a 30-45 minute workout, you may find that you spend that much time doing tasks that you could easily rearrange. This is appropriate for household chores like laundry, house cleaning, etc that you could do in the evening.
When you find a good time to exercise, I suggest marking it on your calendar and keeping it like you would any other appointment. Alternatively, to stay consistent, use that time in your routine every day.
Break up your runs. Sometimes you might only have 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes later in the afternoon/evening. Trying running during both time frames to get in 6-8 miles.
Find a training plan that’s appropriate for your physical abilities and follow it. Oftentimes, I find that the real reason people don’t seem to have time, is they don’t know what to do. Think of a personalized training plan as a blueprint for your success. Simply follow the workouts prescribed.
Make running a priority. This means that you should plan when you run. Every Sunday, I look at my training plan and determine where/when I will get each workout completed. I plan around my workday, family activities and other commitments.
Take full advantage of downtime. Unless you’re sick or injured, make sure that you get out for a run or get to the gym for some kind of workout. Even if you don’t have time to complete the run that’s on your training schedule, get something completed during downtime if it’s the only time you’ll have to exercise.
Run in the morning. Make sure you get to bed early enough, so you can get up early and run. Completing your planned exercise prior to breakfast is one of the best ways to start your day.
Train during lunch. This one’s for those that work out of an office or from home. I think it’s easier than identifying a separate workout time (like early in the morning or after work). This is a good strategy because you’re exercising during a time that’s likely least important to you. Don’t go to a restaurant for lunch, instead pack your lunch and eat it at your desk after your workout.
Complete a 20 minute High Intensity Circuit Workout using Body Weight. This workout, detailed in ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, promotes strength development for all major muscle groups of the body. This sample workout, is a series of exercises that are performed in quick succession, with proper form and technique Exercises are performed for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of transition time between each. Total time for the entire circuit workout is approximately 7 minutes. Repeat the circuit 3 times for a 20 minute workout. See the image below for details.
ACSMs Health & Fitness Journal (May/June 2013)
Train alone if you need the time to clear your head.
Keep your weekly training routine consistent regarding when you go.
Run to/from work or to/from the bus stop. This works great if you have a place to shower/clean-up at work.
Invest in a jogging stroller. Most middle age runners don’t have kids, but as we approach our mid 50s and early 60s, grandkids come into the picture. If you’re helping to care for your grandkids, consider using a jogging stroller so you can complete your run while your grandkid gets some fresh air or a nap.
Find a gym with childcare. Same as above. If your kids have graduated from child care, this may not be an issue. However, if you’re old enough to have grand kids, don’t let their presence keep you from working out or going for a run. Check them into the childcare for 60 minutes.
Partner with another parent. For runners with younger kids, this is a great strategy. The concept is simple. You run while your friend watches both yours and her kids. Switch places and allow your friend to run while you care for the kids.
When you make time for exercise, you’re likely to keep up with exercise that has value for you. Either the workout’s enjoyable or you benefit from the results you get out of it. When you find a workout has a place in your schedule and a reason to keep coming back, then you’ve created a habit.
Marathon training can be difficult for professionals with commitments like weekly travel and 10+ hour work days. If you add family commitments that fill nights and weekends, it may seem that it’s nearly impossible to complete a 12-20 week marathon training plan.
I would like to focus on my marathon training and coaching other runners full time, but the reality is that my day job in sales, pays the bills for now. My schedule is busy with frequent airline travel and late nights in the office. However, I have trained for and finished the last 2 Boston Marathons (15+ minutes under my BQ in both races). To stay fit and prepare for upcoming races, I must incorporate my marathon training into my busy schedule (professional and personal). The secret to my success is planning my marathon training at the beginning of each week.
In this post, I reveal 5 tips any runner can use to stay in shape while on business travel. I will provide specific workouts that can easily be completed while traveling on business. Additionally, I will also provide details for one of my marathon training weeks that I used leading up to the 2014 Boston Marathon.
1. Pack your workout gear – Obviously you can’t go running or workout if don’t have appropriate attire. It’s surprising how many people use this as an excuse for not working out. Don’t be lazy, pack your running gear first so you can’t use the excuse that you “forgot your running shoes.”
2. Plan your workouts – This is critical. Take a look at your schedule at least 2-3 days in advance and determine when you will have at least 45 minutes to workout. Don’t simply assume you’ll have time at some point in the day. If you’re not truly motivated, you’ll find an excuse somehow unless you a prior plan to workout at a certain time. Getting up early is often the best time to workout, however, ensure you get enough sleep otherwise you’ll feel run down during the day. I’ve also worked out in the hotel gym at 1000pm.
3. Seek to maintain your level of fitness– This should be your goal while traveling on business. Unless you have at least 90 minutes, you likely don’t have time for long runs. Also, it’s rare that you’ll have access to a running track. Knowing that you will have time for long runs or intervals when you get home, should help you to be content with a 30 – 45 minute workout or run to simply maintain your level of fitness.
4. Don’t fear the treadmill– I know a number of people that don’t run on treadmills because they think it’s too boring. These days, most hotel exercise rooms have a treadmill equipped with a TV. If you don’t like the treadmill, maybe try other machines. I wrote a detailed article about cross training for marathons that should provide plenty of ideas and help to keep you fit. At a minimum, turn on your favorite station and start running or using the elliptical for 30+ minutes. In order to add some variety and get more out of your treadmill workout, I recommend either of the following treadmill workouts. Both workouts can be completed in their entirety or modified depending on your time constraints.
5. Be creative with your workouts – variety makes any workout more exciting. Use the elliptical for 10 minutes, then the bike and stairmaster or stairs, each for 10 minutes. Follow these aerobic exercises with dumbbells, weights/weight machines and body weight exercises.
In order to stay on pace with my marathon training plan, my track work/intervals and long runs are completed at home when I’m not traveling. My day off/rest day is always one of my travel days.
Workouts I complete while away from home on business travel include:
Outside Running Workouts – Fartlek, repeat hills, stairs (inside your hotel), tempo runs of 4-6 miles, runs at elevation (get out for a run when you’re in Denver, Salt Lake City or Albuquerque (all at 4,000ft+)) and strides (complete on side street without much traffic near your hotel). If you’re following a marathon training plan, you need to push yourself 2-3 times per week on your runs when you can.
Treadmill, elliptical and weights – treadmill runs for 30-40 minutes at varying speeds and inclines, elliptical for 30 minutes at 15+ incline, dumbbells & weight machines.
Body weight or plyometric workouts – I either complete the plyometric workout outlined in this blog or I use the free iPhone app Workout Trainer.
Hotel Gym Workout #1:
a) Treadmill for 4 miles – start at speed of 6 and elevation of 1 and gradually increase to 8 and elevation of 3.5.
b) Bodyweight exercises – push-ups (2 x 30), planks (2 minutes), mountain climbers (1 x 60), burpees (1 x 30), squats (1 x 30) and lunges with 20 lb dumbbells
Hotel Gym Workout #2:
a) Elliptical for 30 minutes – increasing intensity from 10 – 15+. Ensure you are really pushing yourself the last 5-7 minutes.
b) Dumbbells – squats with 20lbs (1 x 20), lunges with 20lbs, arm curls with 30lbs (2 x 15), tricep curls with 30lbs (2 x 15), incline shoulder press with 25lbs (2 x 15), bench press with 30lb dumbbells (2 x 15). Your goal when using dumbbells during your marathon training is to get stronger, but not bulk up. This is why we avoid using weights that are too heavy. If you cannot complete all 15 or 20 reps, then decrease the weight being used.
Marathon Training Week #11 (while in Las Vegas for 4 days) – 40 miles
1) Monday (at home) – 8 mile easy run
2) Tuesday (at home) – track workout, 1 mile warm-up, 8 x 100m strides, stretch, 7 x 800m at 10k pace with 90 seconds rest, 1.5 mile cool down
3) Wednesday (in Las Vegas) – rest day
4) Thursday morning (in Las Vegas) – Hotel Gym Workout #1
5) Friday morning (in Las Vegas) – 35 minutes on treadmill (approx. 4 miles) + 35 push-ups, 50 sit-ups
6) Saturday morning (in Las Vegas) – 1 mile warm-up, 4 mile tempo run, 1 mile cool down
7) Sunday (at home) – 12 mile easy run